Laundry is one of the biggest time zappers when you have kids, yet needs to be done. Working families seem to be in 2 camps when it comes to laundry: doing smaller washes at night during the week so they can keep their weekends free or otherwise having the washing machine on continuous cycles throughout the weekend. When you do it makes sense based on your personal preferences, but here are my best washing machine tips that can help make managing the endless piles of washing less exhausting.
Breaking the usual washing rules – washing by drying method vs. colours
Most people sort their clothes to wash by their colour i.e. they put their whites and very light coloured clothes together in a wash and their dark and colourful clothes together in a separate wash. Given my family usually saves up all the dirty clothes during the week and then has a massive pile of dirty clothes to deal with on the weekend, I usually sort them into light vs. dark colours first. However, I then sort those 2 piles even further.
Especially in winter, I sort loads by those that I can quickly throw into the clothes dryer after they have been washed and those that need to be hung out on the clothes line to dry as they don’t tumble dry so well. I put a load of clothes that need to be hung out to dry in the wash first so that those clothes have more time in the day to dry.
We choose to do loads of washing throughout the weekend unless we know we have people coming over i.e. they are invited for lunch or dinner vs being a casual drop-in. For casual drop-ins, I don’t apologise that my living area looks like a professional laundromat, as there is often a massive pile of clean clothes in the corner. We try and cycle all the washes so they land in one big pile of clean, dry clothes before the end of the weekend.
My best washing machine tip: Enter “The Sorting Game”
Once all the loads have been done and are dry James, the kids and I play “the sorting game”. It worked well when the kids were younger to make it sound like a fun game. They obviously don’t buy the label now, but know they need to do it in order to have clothes to wear that week.
It goes like this:
1. Put all clean clothes in a big pile in the middle of the floor
2. Each family member looks for their own clothing and moves them from the big pile in the middle to create their own pile of clothes off to the side until there are no clothes left in the middle where the big pile was at the start
3. James folds his clothes and puts them away, as do I, while the kids sort out their own clothes into further piles separated by undies, socks, school uniforms, t-shirts, jumpers, shorts etc
4. The kids then put their undies away and match up their socks while we fold their clothes
5. They then put their folded clothes and matched socks away
Getting the clothes to the laundry in the first place
To get their dirty clothes to the laundry in the first place, they usually come via one of the laundry baskets we have in specific rooms in the house. This is still a pain point in our house … I’m looking forward to the day the kids do it without constant reminding! A little trick though that helps with being able to throw the clothes directly into the machine once they been sorted into the light vs. dark colours and which clothes need to hang on the line vs. go in the clothes dryer: everyone has the job of turning their own clothes the right way around (i.e not be inside out) BEFORE they put them in the laundry basket. Turning clothes from inside-out to the right way around takes time, so getting everyone to do this for their own clothes cuts down laundry time for James and me.