Confessions from the Laundry Room

Monday, March 4



Hello!  My name is Stephanie and I hate doing the laundry.  In fact, today marks the first time in almost a year that I saw the bottom of my laundry sorter.  Who knew it was so dirty?  To celebrate this proud moment, I decided to share a few sentiments and one of my favorite laundry room setups.

Over the years, I've made several attempts at finding a solution to my laundry woes (which I imagine many of you share--at least that is what I'll tell myself!).  I've purchased attractive laundry sorters, fancy linen sprays, pretty bins to hold laundry soap and beautiful potted plants to add life and vibrancy.  Recently, I even hung one of my favorite paintings in the laundry room, in a last ditch effort to create an incentive to want to spend time in the laundry room.  My report card would indicate that not one of my attempts was successful.  I guess I see why my husband does his own laundry (not complaining!).  

Currently, my laundry style is to spend one or two days doing laundry nonstop (or so it feels), dumping all the clean clothes in a big pile on the floor.  Then, I sit down for an hour or so and fold, fold, fold; while my kids play around me.  And then there's the struggle to actually get the clothes put away...another issue entirely!  It's madness I tell you.

If you've found a solution for your family, would you mind either telling me about it, or including a link?  Would love to hear your thoughts and see if I can't nip this one in the bud :)

image via here   |   a great laundry room featured in the Washington Post here   

50 comments:

Rebecca Alexis said...

SO funny, because I was thinking of posting the same thing. I hate it. Every time I think I am getting on top of it, it all falls apart. I am going to try to be more mindful of it though. Embrace it with intention for a bit and try a 30 day one load a laundry a day (clean, folded & put away). If I can get one load done, maybe that will be better than none...and the back load happening again. xo

Anonymous said...

Thanks to the best chore swap in the world (I never have to put away the dishes, take the trash out, mop, clean the bathroom or pick up the moldy grapefruits from the backyard). I handle the laundry for myself, my boyfriend, and my roommate. All 3 of us are actively training for cycling / triathalon events. This results in what can basically be summed up as clothes madness.

I've had great success on staying on top of it with a load a night system. We have a 3-4 day SLA (except for sheets and towels), with the main rule is as follows:
If you want it washed it has to go in the sorting bins.

We have the following bins: Sports wash cold for the athletic gear. Cold dark. Warm Dark. Cold light. Hot Towels & sheets. And the stain bin.

Since all the sports stuff hangs dry, piles up quickly, and is generally smelly that's loaded almost every other day before I leave for work (on a timer to wrap up about when i get home). I rotate through the others when I get home, pulling any load matching items from the stain bin to treat & wash (and then hang dry)

It's ridiculous, but I hate putting away dishes. And taking out the trash. And probably loath mopping the way you loath laundry.

Starr said...

Having a separate laundry room always makes it harder for me. Both in my childhood home & in most of my adult homes, they've been in the basement. It felt like punishment to drag laundry baskets up and down the stairs. However, twice (including my current home) we've had the washer in the kitchen. I'm always in there, so it's just one more chore that can get done as I'm preparing a meal or getting a drink of water.

Two other tricks:

#1. Only have one laundry basket. Each bedroom has it's own hamper for dirty laundry, but I only have one basket for rotating laundry from washer to dryer/dryer to "away".

#2. Fold the clean laundry in the room where it goes. If I've got a load of kid clothes, I got to that child's room & fold the clothes on their bed. Then it's only a couple of steps to the closet or dresser -- easy to put away. And if I can't fold it immediately, it'll get done before I get that child into bed. :)

Good luck!

Liz said...

I'm not a huge fan of laundry either. However, once I started doing certain loads on specific days, it has gotten a little easier. I do all the bath towels on Monday for example. When I notice my kids baskets are getting full I throw those in, same with my whites basket. It seems to help me stay on top of the laundry. As for folding and putting clothes away, I have my kids help. We fold in their room and they put their own clothes away. My 13 and 10 year olds do their own laundry and fold it and put it away- or at least they say they are folding it. :). Hope these ideas help you some. Oh, and my husband washes his own clothes too.

Mary said...

Yes who doesn't hate laundry!? I do it at least every other day, because it's the absolute worst when it backs up. I've found that keeping the kids' clothes separate from ours is helpful, so I try to do those in different loads. Makes the folding and putting away easier. I also have a standard day that I do sheets, and I avoid having to do clothes on that day. And yes I absolutely plan to have my kids take over their own laundry once they get a bit older.

Megan @Me and Wee said...

Ah, yes. I loathe laundry too. When you let it build up like that (which I used to always do) it is torture to have to do it all and fold it all. Then it sits in the little bin thingie for a week until I can find time to put it all away. But I grab from the bin thingie and never get a chance to put it away before the clothes are all worn and dirty again. ha! Our solution? Do a load every day or two. It's a small load, and it goes so quick. It's so fast, it kind of makes you not mind it so much. It's when you let it pile up that it becomes a nightmare. Try doing a small load every day (just one quick load!) for a week and see how the task is so much easier. I double-dog dare you. :)

Amber said...

Oh laundry! As a mother of 4, It's never done, not ever! Unfortunately I have helpful suggestions, I'm horrible at laundry! In fact at one point, my laundry habits got so bad that the kids were accustomed to coming to my room where the HUGE pile of unfolded laundry always sat, heaped on the floor, and dig thru the pile trying to find their clothes for the day. One evening after they went to bed I sat and finished the entire pile, folded and put in their drawers, the next morning they found me in the kitchen, and with confused voices asked where their clothes had gone. YOUR DRAWERS!! I said excitedly, doing a tiny victory dance. Oh the little victories, yes, I've got to celebrate each one.

Erin said...

A few years ago I started doing one load almost every day...darks one day, towels the next, etc... At that time I asked my husband to start helping me fold. He loves to catch up on sports or a tv show in the evening, so he is usually sitting around and laundry is easy to do while watching. He gladly said sure. I still help out with it too, but he has gotten pretty good at checking for it and just doing it. (I appreciate him so much for this.) Also since I am very particular about what I will and won't dry I usually have more to iron. I do that once a week.

kh said...

Two things that have helped me:
1. Paint the laundry room a cheery color. (Mine is currently pink.)
2. Download a really great book from Audible to listen to while folding. I actually look forward to folding laundry when I'm listening to something I don't want to turn off.

marian said...

Oh laundry for eight.

First thing I do is look at the framed photograph of myself washing sheets and clothes by hand in Honduras - after that little reminder I am very grateful for a washer and dryer and can go to work.

I wash on a strict schedule - clothes on Monday (plus my sheets) and Friday, towels on Wednesday. Every other Saturday we change the other six beds.

I fold on the kitchen table and try to be done with it before the kids are home (I try to start the washing the night before or as soon as I get up in the morning)so they can put away as an after school job.

Finally I think of a comment Sam Brown made in Sunday School one day in Cambridge about how NO ONE as smart and wonderful as we all were (HA) should ever waste their time on such a mundane task as laundry and then I look with satisfaction on piles of clean well cared for clothing and say to Sam in my mind - you are wrong Sam, any work well done is worth the doing especially when it contributes to having a peaceful, clean, happy home.

Good luck!

Emily said...

Tuesday is towels and kids clothes, Thursday is mine and my husband's clothes. That's the only way I can wrap my head around it. Thanks to the tip above, I'm totally going to get an audio book to listen to for folding.

My Mom was a genius and told us when we turned 12, it was up to us to do our own laundry (she helped us out with guidance on HOW to wash things, get stains out, hang dry, etc) but it was completely in our hands. She claimed the laundry room on Mondays and Thursdays, and declared no washing on Sundays (unless we were home from college for Sunday dinner).

That cut down on her time doing laundry a TON! I'm definitely doing the same thing when my kids are old enough. And it really prepared me to leave home and know I could handle it on my own.

Eryn said...

Our laundry room is not looking or functioning like I want it to be. But my kids 8,6 and 3 are responsible for sorting all the laundry into piles (mom, dad, and their individual pile) and then they fold their own pile and put it away. They also help fold the pile of dish towels and linens with our help if needed.

I usually get all the laundry washed before they come home from school on Friday and before we have a family movie night or outing they get the clothes taken care of. Our laundry room is upstairs, next to all the bedrooms. There is an open area outside the laundry room where I dumb the clean clothes and they sort and fold there and then run the clothes into their rooms and put them away. It's been a long process, making sure they fold their clothes properly and learn to hang clothes well, sort quickly and keep drawers organized (that still needs work). But they do a good job now and it really helps that they share the work.

Knudson Family said...

I do laundry on Mondays and Fridays and no other days. It gets washed, folded, and put away all on the same day. After returning from school, I have all of my kids come get the clothes that belong to them and put their clothes away. I don't think or stress about it on the other days. This has worked for me for about 2 years...there are six of us so we have no shortage of laundry. Good luck finding a system that works!

abbie said...

Exactly as another reader mentioned, my mom had us do all of our own laundry when we turned 12. She offered assistance if we needed it but otherwise it was completely our responsibility. Prior to that, starting at about age 5, it was a weekly chore to fold all of our (the kid’s) clothes. These are both things I plan on doing with my children. As a kid I never really minded folding clothes as a chore and thought it was cool to use the washing machine....and now I realize how helpful it was for my mom!

Lisette said...

We keep a small hamper in our bedroom. Once it gets full it becomes unsightly and I do a couple loads, this way I am never overtaken by the laundry.

Carrie said...

I'm laughing so hard at this post because laundry is my least favorite chore in the whole world. Right now, there are 4 loads on my bed needing put away. The best approach I have had is listing to the Ipod while doing it. It is better than just turning on the stereo for me, because if I have earphones on it makes the music drown my frustrations out somehow!

Stephanie said...

Ladies, you are the best. I am going to consider each one of these and restructure our laundry routine as well. Thank you!

Looking forward to more sound advice...:)

Stephanie said...

Ladies, you are the best. I am going to consider each one of these and restructure our laundry routine as well. Thank you!

Looking forward to more sound advice...:)

TGS said...

People today have too much clothing...that is the real problem. I would guess 5-10 times more than I had growing up. (60'-70's)

Another point of view to consider that has worked for me is my children have 5 school outfits that are changed as soon they walk in the door from school. If there are no food or dirt/grime spots and are not sweaty or smelly they are hung to air out then put back into closet for next school week (Monday is this outfit and so in) Depending on the particular child 3 wks has gone by without an outfit going into the washing machine. (To americans this seems gross because americans are clean freaks ) then the children have 2-3 sets of play outfits which generally end up with weekly washings but worn for a couple days.


Clothing is so inexpensive in comparison to former generations and more options and availability that we have become slaves to our apparel. Best always, TGS

Alice said...

I LOVE doing the laundry! I find sorting it all out really relaxing, and I LOVE the smell of clean clothes and sheets, particularly when they've been blown on the line! x

carol said...

Haha, this post reminded me that I have had clothes in the dryer all night and day! I'll go get them and listen to something too. Thanks!

Lauren said...

My kids fold and put away all their laundry.

I also always try to put a load in right after the kids go to school to get things moving for the day.

It's never completely done though:)

Reader 3 said...

Laundry! Hmff.
I think I am finally getting on top of it. These things have helped:
Each person and each area (eg kitchen, bathroom, linen cupboard) have their own small coloured shopping basket. When the washing comes off the line or out of the dryer, at the very least, it goes straight into the appropriate basket. hopefully it gets folded in and then deposited to the right area. If it doesn't make it out of the laundry we all know where to go to have a look for the sock/shirt/shorts we might need.
Also, when there are items that will eventually end up on a hanger or as a set - eg work shirts/school uniforms, I actually dry them on the hanger then as I am taking them off the line I hook the underpants, socks, shorts that can go with them on the hanger too. This way there is a whole outfit with all it's bits ready to be ironed (don't always get around to this bit) and hung straight in the cupboard ready to go. This works really well for the kids and is easier for them to get themselves ready.

Lulu the Baker said...

Aye, aye, aye! It's the never-ending problem. Last year, my new year's resolution was to figure out a better way to do the laundry. I don't know if it's better now; it's different.

So, I used to do all of the laundry in one day. It was crazy. We have the world's smallest laundry room and I just had to pile the dirty laundry in the downstairs hallway. Then I washed, washed, folded, folded, and put away. It took all the live-long day.

Now, we have two 4-basket laundry sorters, 1 outside the kids' rooms, 1 in our closet. There's a basket for underwear and socks, a basket for towels and washcloths, a basket for lights, and a basket for darks. I try to do a load or two a day. I just grab whichever basket looks fullest. I usually fold laundry after the kids go to bed while my husband and I catch up on TV.

I don't think doing laundry will ever be a joy! I think you just have to figure out the least horrible way to do it, lol!

Mumbai said...

There is no recipe for that, either you love it or not but with a bit of joy and with the final result, I mean, that everything is clean and good smelling, you will love it soon. Perhaps not very helpful I know, but
this recipe is valid for all things
we have to do and don't like to do.

Michelle Rackley said...

Loved all these tips! My favorite---remembering not having a washing machine (the thought of having to hand wash!---this has totally worked for me with dishes . . . after 12 years and 7 kids we finally have a dishwasher!). With laundry I found less is way more. Granted I have 2 girls and 5 boys (boys have a tendency to need less clothes), and we live in Hawaii, but we can get away with only 3 to 4 school outfits and 1 church outfit. Having so little means you have to do one load a day and even with a family of 9, the load isn't too overwhelming for my kids to fold and put away.

the Hawks said...

Great post! I recently switched to the 1-2 loads daily with my 3 kids under 3 making the one-a-week blowout laundry day a smashing failure. I did what you did Nd found that same pile of clean clothes on the floor from week to week. Now I post my loads for the hubs to see, and THIS is KEY: 1) I fold/hang immediately out of the dryer and 2) I immediately put my clothes into by-room-labeled clean baskets. That way I can put away more effectively, and if a kid naps when I want to put away I can nearly leave his/her things outside the bedroom door to do as soon as they wake.

This marks 3 weeks of total success!!

Hope that helps.

HDH. said...

I love to do laundry. It's my favorite chore. It smells so nice! And it's warm! And it makes me feel so accomplished with (really) very little effort! I'd do laundry over floors or bathrooms any day of the week.

Care to do a post on how to handle hardwood floors? Because I'm ignorant and overwhelmed on that one.

Liz said...

Don't love laundry. But can't stand it stacking up.
With a small house and the only bedrooms next to each other, I have TWO laundry baskets only. TWO.
One for whites, one for darks.
And when they are to the top, I wash. No system. But I make sure they are done and put away within a couple hours. Then it's not too huge and big or weighing over my head.
Sort and fold right next to the drawers/closets.
Rip it off like a bandaid.
Oh the joy of housework! ;)

dandee said...

The one thing that has made a world of difference in my home is limiting the amount of clothes we buy. This takes care of a multitude of problems from expense to storage and cleaning.

For fall/winter my children each have a few short sleeved tops, a few long sleeved tops and 3 pairs of pants to choose from. Of course there is also the under clothing, PJ's, church clothing, etc but we are very choosy about our purchases and donate items that have been outgrown as we bring new items in.

Lena Huerta said...

I love doing laundry. Only because I've found the perfect equation: laundry + trashy tv = pure stress relief.
So when the kids aren't around (they're too young to be helpful and I don't want them having too much screen time), I pile my loads that need to be folded (usually 1-2 loads) and put on an episode of trashy nonsense. You know, like the Bachelor or something similarly foolish. By the end of the episode everything is folded. I also am trying to teach my little ones to put their laundry away when the opportunity arises. Even a 3 year old can put some of their laundry away if their drawers are at the right height.

Anonymous said...

My secret? Non iron shirts for my spouse! Changed my life. I seriously consider when I buy something if it will needs frequent ironing. If so, its a pass for me.

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Lynne Millar said...

I think the thing that has worked best for me like others (when I remember) is to do a load a day, that way it's not too overwhelming to fold and put away.

The other thing that works really well is to bribe myself. I know you are not a candy girl, but I keep a little jar of candy in a secret place in my laundry room so I get a little treat when I fold. :)

Karen said...

I just happened on your blog from where I don't know but this is an interesting post.

I recently had back surgery and can not go up and down stairs or bend...well - can't do much of anything let me just say...so, my husband has to do it all.
To make it easier we put 3 laundry baskets in our bedroom. 1. Whites 2. Darks 3. Colors
When a basket is full he does it. When it's done he brings it up and we both stand at the bed and fold. Done in minutes and he doesn't do another load till a basket is full.

I will keep this up even when i can do laundry again...much nicer than standing in a huge pile of laundry - sorting - and counting out the loads...no more of that for me.

This is my solution - probably won't work for everyone.

Karen

Beth said...

Ugh, I hear you, sister. I mean, LAUNDRY. Gah! Unfortunately I have no answers. I go through those periods, too, where I do two days worth of laundry and then for a few days, because I'm kind of still not done, I keep throwing together everything that's piled up while I've been doing laundry and I keep pretty empty hampers. For a *few* days. And then, I feel like, "I DID LAUNDRY," and somehow I should be relieved of the duty for another few weeks and then lo and behold, the hampers are full again and HOW DID I LET THAT HAPPEN? I just cannot for the life of me figure out how to stay on top of it. I simply can't bring myself to create a laundry day each week. Then, my friends, the laundry has WON.

Rachel said...

Two things have helped me. 1) I don't match socks. I just really, really hate doing it and so I don't! I leave all the socks in a big basket in the laundry room and everyone finds their own. It's my pressure relief. 2) Everyone has their own towel, assigned by color, although a cute monogram would also work. I found that I was washing huge volumes of towels, but this way each child can reuse their towel a few times before washing, even if they forget to hang it up or leave it in their room. We know, by color, whose it is and can easily hang it up and reuse it without washing every towel every single time.

And the rest is just gritting your teeth and finishing the chore! I try to remember how sad I'll be when I only have to do two loads a week when the kids are all gone.

Kelly said...

Wow, 40 Comments. Funny how laundry will do that to us. I love doing laundry, but I hate dishes:0)

I found investing in fancy laundry carts does help me (unlike the mesh pop-up bags I used to keep buying and replacing before) makes me happiest about laundry.

This cart on Amazon is awesome http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00A35ZEJ4/ref=cm_sw_r_pi_dp_Cl1Mqb163262F

Also, having my boys help me fold and put away keeps them busy and doing it all together is somehow more fun!

Carmen said...

I just saw this post but haven't tried it. (I'm still single... :( )

http://orgjunkie.com/2010/04/the-laundry-system-that-changed-my-life.html

Stephanie said...

You guys are great...totally eating all this up and considering how we should restructure things. Also enjoying the links you're sharing too. Thank you!

Susan said...

After reading other responses, I see I don't have a unique system. I ONLY do laundry on Mondays and Fridays (ok, a few exceptions). Every other Monday, I do linens. I do towels on Fridays. I have 3 kids and a washer and dryer in a typicaly New England cape basement (i.e., no fancy paintings hanging there!). I start the loads early in the morning, and am usually done with everything by noon. I even use a clothesline in the summer. After washing and drying, I separate my kids' stuff into piles and they fold and put it away. I don't really care if it's well-folded, as long as it's put away. I almost always do just 4 loads a week. I admit I not longer separate whites and darks (I've read it doesn't make a difference, although not entirely sure) and we have basically no high maintenance clothes. This system means everything is washed at once, so it's easy to keep track of things. I know exactly how many clothes my kids need, which is not very much. I realize no system works for everyone, but laundry does not bother me one bit, and 5 days a week, I refuse to even think about it, because I don't have to! Good luck. I think everyone just has those certain chores they despise.

Stephanie said...

We started 2013 with each family member having their own laundry 'bucket'. As I'm taking the washing off the line/out of the dryer I place the clothes into their owner's bucket and there's the sorting done.

It makes it easier for little ones to put their own clothes away or at least find something if we fall behind on putting away.

Brooke Reynolds said...

I prefer to do several loads on one day (I usually do Mondays) rather than sprinkling loads throughout the week. Washing the clothes is the easy part (if you can remember to put them in the dryer.. and turn the dryer ON! How many times do I open the dryer only to find wet clothes!). I don't mind folding because I watch a movie or TV while I fold, after the kids are in bed. I actually enjoy folding the laundry while I watch.. and I don't feel any of the mom guilt that sometimes creeps in when I am sitting and doing nothing productive.

Anonymous said...

I'd recommend reading the Flylady website. It took me a while to get on board with her philosophy, but now I don't suffer from the neverending laundry blitzes like I used to.

Jenay said...

Laundry day became my favorite chore day when I decided to always watch a good movie while I fold. I try to save all my guilty pleasure movies that my husband hates for laundry day.

Jennifer Jordan Burns said...

Hi Steph! Hope you are well. Excited for you and your pie packaging business! The painting you posted, by Kelly Neidig is beautiful. Enjoying catching up on your blog. I can relate to the laundry, but I prefer laundry to other housework (like floors, ha!) Here's what comes to mind:
*Motherhood is a ministry. You are serving your family.
*Just returned from Mexico and I remember in France, as you well know, they do not use driers. I am finding having my washer and drier a complete luxury. . .maybe a shift in perspective.
*I usually watch something on tv, so it is a bit of a luxury and quiet time.
*I like doing laundry each day, rather than one day. Doesn't feel as overwhelming.
Happy Easter to you and your sweet family!!!

Jennifer Jordan Burns said...

oy, DRYER (spelling correction)

kayce hughes said...

My only hint of success came a few weeks ago when my 15 year old was going on a trip and REALLLLLLY wanted some spending money. So I told her that I would pay her if she did a lot of laundry. She did and the piles were almost gone ....for a day or so.

c is for cape town said...

Late to this but still fascinated - isn't laundry funny?
We only have 1 laundry basket upstairs which everyone MUST use (or have no clean clothes), when it gets full the girls and I make a game of them hurling the dirty laundry downstairs while I shout instructions: 'Whites!' 'Towels!' 'Darks!' etc. I'm at the bottom waiting to scoop the items straight into the washer.
It only backfires when I find some grubby undies have made it into the front entrance way ...

Anonymous said...

I love this..So cute! May I suggest you get your kids a copy of "Windy and Whirly". They will beg to do laundry after reading that.

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