Tips for Creating a Manageable Laundry Routine
In this post, I will lay out all the ways you can minimize your laundry workload as well as provide you with steps you should follow to make your routine as efficient as possible. From gathering and sorting your clothes to creating a schedule, I’ll show you how to keep laundry from taking over your life.
Update: I just created a laundry scheduler to help you keep that one-load-a-day routine. To use it over and over, have it laminated or place inside a picture frame. Then use a dry erase marker to create your schedule. To get your scheduler, fill out the form at the end of this post.
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Creating Your Laundry Routine
What a Simplified Routine Should Look Like
For a family of 4 or 5, your laundry routine should consist of:
- One load a day
- Actual time spent dealing with it should be no more than 20 minutes a day*
- And unless you have infants, everyone in the family does their part.
Now, for very large families, time spent on laundry will increase to about 10 minutes* for each additional load per day. So even if you have 5 loads to do in one day, it should not take you more than an hour to deal with it.
*The time indicated excludes the time your clothes spend in your machines.
Setting Up Your Laundry System
Okay, so that title makes laundry sound complicated, but it’s not. You just want to set up a routine that you can do with your eyes closed. It should be automatic and quick.
First, you should appoint a main hamper. This is the hamper that you will be carrying to your
So, assuming that some members of the family have their own hamper, every day their hampers must be dumped into the main one. For example, my husband and I have our own hamper in our bathroom. This is also our designated main hamper.
Every morning, I place this hamper near the staircase. When my boys wake up, they bring their hampers and dump their dirty clothes into it.
Oh, and just a side note on this main hamper. This hamper should be big enough to hold one day’s worth of laundry from everyone in the home. And it should be portable. I found this one a few years ago and it is perfect for hauling large loads around the home.
Not only is it flexible which makes fitting into a small space in my already small bathroom, but it is also tall, light, and has handles for carrying it around easily.
Now back to the system. Make it clear to your family that they need to dump their hampers EVERY MORNING. It may take them a few days to get used to this so keep on them.
It is so automatic in my household that whenever I am late putting the main hamper by the stairs, my boys actually come looking for it in my bathroom. How’s that for training?!
By the way, for every step in this post, I’ll keep track of the time so you can see how I get it done in less than 20 minutes.
- Placing the main hamper by the stairs: 10 seconds.
- Taking hamper to the laundry area: 20 seconds.
- Total time so far: 30 seconds
Sorting Your Laundry
So, now that you’ve made it into the
Sorting one’s laundry can sometimes feel like a science class when dealing with clothes made of different materials. And I’ll be honest, I’m probably doing this wrong but I simply sort my clothes into 4 main categories: darks, whites, colors, and towels.
If you prefer to follow the labels on clothing but have no idea what all those symbols are, check out Porch’s How to Read Laundry Labels by clicking here.
I keep four collapsible hampers for each of those categories in my
So, if you have space, I suggest doing the same to help you keep your clothes sorted until the next wash. You can also use a sorter like this one.
Now, if you just do not have the room for separate sorting hampers, try to keep just one hamper or bin in the laundry area, or else you will have to trudge those clothes you just sorted back to wherever you keep that main hamper.
clothing: 1 minute.
- Total time so far: 1 minute 30 seconds.
Need help sorting your clothes? Click here to learn how.
Other Sorting Cases
Now, you may have more categories of
Usually, these items do not amount to a full hamper’s worth. I suggest using a small bin, basket, or even a drawstring bag you can hang on a
Washing & Drying Your Clothes
Now, with your laundry sorted, pick the largest pile, prep your machine with whatever detergents you use, and get that pile of clothes in the wash. If you prefer, set a timer to remind you when the wash is done.
When it’s done, get it in the dryer. Now because the washer can spin my clothes so tightly, I will fluff them out before putting them in the dryer. Not only does this give the clothes more surface area to dry but it can save time spent in the dryer and save you money on your electric bill as well.
- Putting clothes to wash: 1 minute.
- Fluffing out clothes: 2 minutes.
- Removing dried clothes: 1 minute.
- Total time so far: 5 minutes, 30 seconds
Folding & Storing Your Clothes
Once you have removed a load of clothes from the dryer, it’s time to put them away right away to prevent wrinkling. The first thing you want to do is separate the clothes according to their wearer.
Sometimes I do this myself and other times I have everyone fish their own
Now, I believe that anyone over the age of 10 can fold and hang up their own clean clothes. These things are not hard to do.
At first, you may need to spend time teaching family members how to fold and store their clothes properly. But once they have the gist of it, they can take care of their own clothes. And if they are struggling with folding, don’t take over. They will figure these things out. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
By the way, toddlers can help with matching socks. And kids between 5-10 can put their clothes on hangers. The earlier you train them, the better.
So, folding and storing are where you will spend the most time when it comes to dealing with your laundry. And depending on how many pieces of
Assuming there are a lot of pieces to put away:
- Time spent folding/hanging/storing: 10 minutes.
- Total time on one load of laundry: 15 minutes, 30 seconds.
And that’s how you deal with a typical load of laundry in under 20 minutes.
What About Other Types of Laundry?
Bath rugs, blankets, kitchen linens, hand-wash only, etc. will require extra time. However, you can add these special loads on days when you have the time time to do an extra load.
If you have dry cleaning, place them in a bag or tote, and leave them in your car. The next time you happen to pass by your preferred shop, drop them off.
To save even more time, ask the shop if you can start an account. Many stores will give you a special bag marked with your account number so that you can easily drop off your bag at the counter without having to check-in.
If you do not have a lot of items for dry cleaning, try doing it at home. There are many products on the market like this one that let you dry clean your clothes from the comfort of your home.
Where Does Ironing Fit in All This?
Personally, I do not iron clothes. I avoid this dreaded chore by purchasing clothes that do not need ironing and by following the recommendations below for those clothes that could use a smoother look:
- Remove clothes immediately after the dryer cycle. If you let laundry sit in the dryer too long, it will wrinkle. So set a timer if your dryer doesn’t have an alert tone.
- Immediately, (by hand) smooth out any
clothingthat could use a little more straightening then hang them up. Let gravity take over.
- Purchase a dewrinkler spray like this one.
- See if your machine has a dewrinkler setting.
- Spritz the article of
clothingwith some water and run it through the dryer for 10 minutes.
- Avoid placing wrinkle-prone items in a large dryer load.
But what if I have
During the week, I would place cleaned items that needed ironing in a basket. Then on Sunday afternoons, I got out the
But I have 10 Loads Easily Right Now!
If you are ready to attack your laundry piles, I suggest doing so on a day when you can dedicate your time to getting to “hamper zero.” Don’t overwhelm yourself by doing it on an already busy day.
Pick a day off and get started. Once you have caught up with all your laundry, you can begin following the one-load-a-day routine starting the next day. This brings me to the next topic: scheduling your routine.
Scheduling Your Routine
If your days are pretty busy, I suggest scheduling your laundry time in a planner. And if you are sharing laundry duty with other family members, then a schedule is a must.
If your children are old enough (12 and up), add laundry to their list of chores. And if you have a few kids that can share this job, then create a schedule assigning each kid a day to do the laundry. Keep this schedule posted on the fridge, command center, or
Another thing you can do is create a checklist of all the things that your laundry routine entails. Draw empty boxes next to each task then laminate the list. Using a dry-erase pen, kids can check off all of the tasks they need to complete. This also works for husbands too, ladies!
What Is the Best Way to Get My Family to Help Out?
Doing laundry isn’t an easy thing to sell to other members of the family but I promise it will make doing laundry easier for you.
First, you should teach your family members, or at least your husband (if he doesn’t know how) to sort, wash, dry, and fold clothes.
We don’t like to think about it but if anything happens to the “only one” who does the laundry then chances are family members will either end up wearing smelly clothes or they’ll be forced to learn how to do laundry.
Two years ago, I tore my rotator cuff, and hubby ended up having to do it all while I was recovering.
As my shoulder got better, folding time became family time. My husband would carry and lay out the dried
The ten minutes we spent folding our clothes were nice. We got to talk about our day without interruptions. And sometimes we had sock fights where we flung balled-up socks at each other. It certainly made doing laundry a little more fun.
Eventually, I did recover, and guess what? We still gather around the bed and fold our own clothes. So, don’t believe that husbands or young children aren’t capable of doing laundry. They can. You only need to show them a couple of times and they’ll get it.
On that note, make sure to teach them how to use the machines properly to prevent them from causing irreparable damage. This includes going over the maximum amount of
Final Thoughts on Creating a Doable Laundry Routine
- Get to hamper-zero…set aside a day to get your entire
laundry roomfree of clothingpiles.
- Aim to do one load a day; two if you have a large family.
- Create a system and schedule your new routine.
- If delegating family members to do laundry, write out all the tasks involved in doing laundry and post it for your family to use as a reference.
- You may also want to write out other laundry help like how to sort clothes and which laundry product to use for certain types of clothes. Then post this in your
- And finally, delegate some of your laundry duties. This includes ironing.
Ready to Get Your Free Laundry Scheduler?
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Other Clothing-Related Articles
- Want to get your
laundry roomorganized as well? Click here to get started on creating an organized laundry roomor laundry area.
- Ready to organize your clothes? Click here to learn how to organize your wardrobe.
- Click here if you’d like to get your master closet organized.
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Deborah Wilson says
I live alone in an Apartment complex that has a laundry, but I’m one person. Do have any suggestions for my situation?
Deborah, in this situation, you may not have enough clothes to do a load a day.
When I was single, I would wash my towels with socks so I had enough for a load. I also don’t do this often, but if I have half a load of colors and half a load of darks, I combine them into one load.
This means that you don’t have to follow the load-a-day wash routine. You may only need to do two loads a week instead.