Life Parenting SPM/MM

How I Gained Control Over Laundry (and You Can, Too, with These Laundry Hacks)

Laundry is the real Neverending Story. Especially if you have a big family. With two adults and three kids in the house, it seems like there is always a mountain of it somewhere, rotting in a corner and pleading to be cleaned. I honestly don’t know how people with bigger families manage.

Truth be told, I don’t mind doing laundry necessarily. I mean, I’d rather be spending my time doing something else, but as far as household chores go, it’s probably the least painful of them all. (The number one prize goes to cleaning toilets and bathroom fixtures, with scrubbing floors of any kind coming in at the number two spot.) Still, that doesn’t mean it’s not a plague on my to-do list (and my conscience). Which is why I’ve adopted a few laundry hacks for simplifying the process.

Be forewarned, however. If you’re a perfectionist in any sense of the word, most of these will probably make you cringe. But if you’re just barely surviving and don’t really care how shit gets done, these are going to save your life. A little.

I’ve abandoned sorting completely. I was raised on the notion that whites, colors, darks, sheets, and towels should be washed separately, on different temperatures and with different detergent additives (bleach, color protection, starch). And I dutifully followed these commandments from the laundry gods for years.

Now? FUCK THAT.

I throw all that shit together. Seriously. I do. With the exception of my own light-colored clothing, everything else goes in the same load. YES, my kids’ white shirts have more of a grayish hue these days, but you know what? They had that hue when I was washing them separately. Because if kids can spill it, smear it, or roll around in it, they will, and no amount of bleaching the shit out of everything more than once every couple months is worth it when you consider you’re just going to have to turn those items into dust rags before you know it anyway.

Not sorting has saved me SO MUCH TIME AND STRESS. And not one of my kids has complained about the few wardrobe items they have that are dingy, either.

I’ve quit folding anything that goes in my kids’ drawers. I have to credit Modern Mommy Madness for this hack. When she told me years ago about doing this, I immediately jumped on the no-folding train, and though I just about gave my mother-in-law a heart attack when I told her about it, I’ll never go back.

My kids dig through their drawers for clothes like feral honey badgers with rabies. When I was spending all my time folding, my kids’ drawers wound up looking like I hadn’t even tried within a day of putting their clothes away. So I stopped completely.

Now, when the clothes come out of the dryer, they go in a separate pile for each kid. And when it’s all been thrown in the appropriate spot, I scream at them to stop whatever they’re doing and put it away. And then I forget about it. Their drawers are a disaster, I have come to accept this, and I am so much happier for it.

I bought a crap-ton of laundry baskets. Big ones, little ones, rectangular ones, circular ones. If they make it, I probably own it. And those suckers get rotated from bedrooms, to laundry room, and back up to bedrooms like a well-oiled laundry machine. This way, there is always a place to put laundry and a device with which to cart it around, whether it’s dirty or clean. Which allows me to easily implement the next hack.

I don’t enter my kids’ rooms to collect dirties. Instead, I force them to bring it all to me. I even tell them that if they are running out of something — pants, underwear, socks — they need to give me two days’ notice before they’re completely out.

This seems like a no-brainer. Kids should be charged with taking responsibility for their own chores. But we all know how a hectic schedule can get in the way of the best laid plans. So I made it an official policy. Mom is not going to go digging through your cesspool of a bedroom for dirty clothes. That’s on you, kiddos.

Do they always follow through? OF COURSE NOT. And that’s why I’ve also implemented a little habit my mother used to do. If I’m about to do laundry, I make an announcement: “If you have anything that needs to be washed, bring it down now!” This guarantees that everybody has at least one or two days’ worth of clothing to wear before the well runs dry.

And if they don’t? Guess they’re on their own. Going to school smelly is a pretty shitty natural consequence they aren’t too keen on enduring again. (Except for my middle son. He’d wear the same thing every day for a month if I let him. So with him, I do have to issue daily reminders to change clothes and put his dirties in the wash pile. One out of three ain’t bad.)

I don’t match socks. Instead, I have a “sock bin” — one of my many small laundry baskets — into which all my kids’ socks get thrown. Then, in the mornings, they dig through and find a matching pair (or don’t; I honestly don’t care if their socks match, and neither do they). Do they wear each other’s? Yep. And everybody survives. As does my sanity now that I no longer stress about finding each sock’s mate.

I only purchase clothing that can be washed and dried. This includes items in my own wardrobe. If it needs to be dry-cleaned, washed on delicate, or hung to dry, forget about it. If it’s not conducive to the no-sorting technique, it’s not gettin’ purchased. Period.

Am I less fashionable these days because of my refusal to buy anything that can’t be dumped into a jumbo-sized wash load? I don’t think so. And if I am, IDGAF. I will sacrifice being trendy any day if it means I don’t have to drop my clothes off and pay somebody else a small fortune to clean them.

If you’re drowning in laundry and not at all concerned about being the hot mess mom, I recommend giving one or more of these hacks a go. Your cortisol levels will thank you.