Today, I’m talking laundry hacks! Five of them (well, plus a bonus) to be precise. These are the tried and true things I do to keep on top of laundry for my family of six.
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We have four kids, ages five and under.
First, we have Lizzie: she’s five and your typical first child. She follows all the rules, apologizes when she gets even slightly out of control and likes everything to be “just right”.
Next come our twin boys, Fitzgerald and Milo. They are three years old and couldn’t be more different from each other aside from their affinity for ketchup and dipping their fruit (what!?) and sleeves in it at every meal.
And finally, we have Lucia. She’s our tiniest, but mightiest, family member. She barely weighs in at 20 pounds and yet might have the biggest presence in our household. Much to my dismay, she’s entirely immersed in the “me do it” phase of her eating life.
Between these four, an engineer-by-day/lawn and tractor enthusiast-by-night husband and myself, who hits the gym five days a week (I live by a general no-workout on weekends rule of thumb!), we have no shortage of laundry in our house! So, how do I stay on top of it all? Let me share my five life-saving laundry hacks and tips. These help me stay on top of the endless loads six people can create.
Do NOT Do One Load Each Day!
I know, this laundry hack goes against the usual advice you read to “do one small load each day!” But I tried that, and you know what? I felt even more overwhelmed than if I just saved a load until it was a little bigger. Usually this means every other day for the kids’ clothes and once or twice a week for ours. Sure, starting the load and putting it in the dryer every day was no trouble. But I found I wasn’t able to keep up with the constant folding and putting away. Plus, I felt like I was living in Groundhog’s Day. I was matching socks on repeat and it was driving. Me. Crazy!
So instead, try doing a kids’ load as needed. For me, the boys are typically my deciding factor. They run through pants pretty quickly. Between mud, grass stains, crafting and a few potty accidents every so often, it’s usually every other to every three days. This way, I don’t constantly feel like I’m living in sock purgatory.
And speaking of socks…
Mesh Bags For All!
Well, remember that pesky sock matching task? Solved: give every family member a mesh bag to put their socks in. When it comes time to wash and dry, put the bags in the wash as they are. Once the bags come out of the dryer, the task of finding matches is much smaller. This is because the “pool” of socks is much smaller.
Another option if you’d rather not do a bag for each person is equally simple. Get all your kids the same “everyday” socks (we prefer these for all of my “big” kids. No pilling, the socks don’t bother my more sensory child or slide down in their shoes, and they seem to last quite awhile). That way, the amount of searching is completely eliminated: every sock matches every other sock.
Yep, you heard me! This is one of my favorite laundry hacks. Before you even think about separating clothes into categories like lights and darks, please, I beg you: stop! If you just leave all clothing in one load, you suddenly cut out an extra task (sorting). This also means cutting out one ENTIRE load of laundry.
But how can I not sort by color? Won’t the colors run?
Yes, they will… unless you have my most favorite secret laundry weapon on your side…
Have you ever heard of these? Shout Color Catcher sheets are seriously the ultimate laundry game-changer. Forget ever needing to sort clothes ever again… ever! Toss everything in the wash, throw one of these little sheets in, and, viola! No sorting, no extra loads of laundry, just one load, DONE! And, bonus… they’re on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save! (Please, please tell me you do Subscribe & Save… it’s so wonderful for those things you know you need. They ship automatically and give a 15% discount! So good.) I’ve been using them for over a year now, and we have yet to have any dye transfer issues.
… Except When It Comes to Kid and Adult Clothes
I know, I just told you to stop sorting — but I really have found it helps to keep my kids’ clothing separate from ours.
For awhile after I started using my holy grail, I threw all caution to the wind and threw everyone’s clothes in the wash together! But rather than making things more efficient, I felt my head start to spin. I’m a definite type-A personality. Needing to have six different piles of clothes on my living room floor while folding made my need-for-order brain overwhelmed and anxious. For me, I learned that less different people in one load = less piles = more sanity.
I also noticed when I would put everyone’s clothes together, the loads could get pretty big. Keeping our clothes separate from the kids’ prevents loads from getting too big. This makes them feel more manageable. Unless there is something specific you need from a load, it’s best to wait to do a load until there’s enough to make it worth your while. Rather than having one pair of pants and one sports bra to put away in my drawers, why not wait until I have more items? Do yourself a favor and put a bulk number away at one time instead. Doing so is much more efficient, which is key.
This is also a simple task to execute. We have two hampers: one similar to this in our bedroom and one in my girls’ shared bedroom, where we also put the boys’ dirty laundry. We have this round basket for the girls, but if I were on the market for a new one, I’d definitely have to consider this one… so cute!
Need I say more?
I kid. Kind of. Even at the age of three, my twin boys can help with laundry — and it really does make a big difference. They can match socks (there they are again!), organize underwear into piles of who’s who and match jammies. My five year old has finally mastered the art of sock folding. This is one of the laundry hacks that is a total game changer for me!
(Also, it’s actually sock rolling for the kids. With Marie Kondo as my inspiration, I got the brilliant idea for my husband and me to fold our socks, much to his dismay. But, happy wife, happy life! So he does it for me. I tried to fold the kids’ socks for a few weeks and it only stressed me out; I wouldn’t let them pick out their own socks or underwear, much less even TOUCH their sock/underwear drawers during those two weeks, so I abandoned that plan. Excellent life decision on my part after making an initial terrible one.)
Anyway, by allowing the kids to help out, it truly does cut down on the amount of time spent organizing and finding matches when clothes come out of the dryer. I’ve also taken some time to really help them know where their clothes go in their drawers. I do put away their shirts and pants (again, the whole Marie Kondo thing isn’t super kid friendly). Still, they put away their underwear, socks and pajamas, and that is significant.
One last, small (but big!) bonus tip: use a basket with a divider.
A month ago, I’d had enough of our old laundry baskets with cracked handles our parents bought us each our freshman year of college (I know) and finally replaced them with two of these babies:
The divider in the middle can be moved around or removed entirely, if you prefer. It’s a fabulous invention. I really love using it to separate my clothes from my husband’s or the clothes for the girls’ room from the boys’. Such a simple change makes staying organized for putting clothes away (my least favorite laundry task!) faster and easier.
So there you have it — my five (plus one little extra!) super simple laundry hacks for keeping up with a busy laundry life.
Do you have any laundry hacks for staying on top of laundry in your house? Share them with me!