I’ve spent some time over the last few weeks researching tips and listening to your ideas to help control and conquer the laundry routine.
I know that if you have a large family or a busy schedule it can be pretty overwhelming trying to stay on top of all the washing, ironing, folding and putting away.
However, with some planning and organisation, laundry management can be efficient and less time-consuming. In this blog, we’ll look at some of the best ways to create an effective laundry routine.
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Schedule your laundry day
To plan and manage your time better and avoid dirty clothes piling up, the first tip is to create a schedule for your household. Decide whether you prefer to throw a load in the machine every morning as part of your routine, or several loads in one day.
You could do the washing by room and ensure each room has two laundry baskets or hampers – one for dirty washing and one for clean to be put away, thus eliminating the need for the dreaded ‘sniff test’.
Or pick a day for each family member’s washing, for example if you have a sporty kid who needs their kit washing twice weekly, you might choose Sunday and Thursday for that. Whereas you and your partner may be able to get all your washing done on a Saturday.
It’s when you wash everyone’s stuff together that it can take ages working out which items belong to who – so separating it out eliminates this.
Make sure the laundry is a shared responsibilty – even younger children are usually capable of learning how to wash and put away their clothes. It’s also an idea to do laundry during off-peak hours to save money on electricity bills.
Sorting the laundry
It’s important to sort your clothes according to colours, types and fabrics. This way, you avoid colours bleeding onto other clothes and prevent damage to delicate fabrics.
Get your kids to pre-sort their laundry by giving them a colour-coded sorter that allows them to separate darks and lights. It will make things easier when you don’t have mounds of clothing to go through.
By pre-sorting your laundry, you can optimize the washing machine cycle and save time.
Using the right amount of detergent is crucial – too much can damage the clothes and cause excess soapy residue, while too little detergent won’t clean the clothes effectively. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the recommended amount of detergent to use. (Bonus tip: you can throw the detergent cap in the wash along with the washing to ensure it stays clean and doesn’t get gunked up and sticky.)
Fed up of bringing home large plastic bottles from the supermarket which don’t seem very environmentally friendly? Me too, so just recently I tried these Simple Sheets and found them quite effective and long lasting. They also take up much less storage space! (You can buy more eco-friendly laundry sheets here.)
Maximize drying space
Drying laundry can be as much of a headache as washing it. So maximizing drying space is an excellent idea, especially if you don’t have a tumble dryer. You can use drying racks or outdoor clotheslines to hang your clothes. It’s also a good idea to dry clothes according to the season, weather conditions and drying instructions on the garment (e.g. some woollens need to be dried flat).
Dryer balls reduce your drying times by helping to increase the circulation of hot air in the dryer, reducing the time by 25-30%. These balls also soften clothes and reduce static, with wool balls being particularly good as they work silently. Overall, dryer balls are a great buy as they save time, energy, money and are environmentally friendly.
Invest in quality laundry appliances
Investing in high-quality laundry appliances is a smart move, making the laundry process efficient and hassle-free. New appliances are generally more energy saving and quiet. Look for washing machines that have multiple cycles and settings to cater to different types of fabrics.
Wash less, fold less
Do yourself and the environment a favour by washing less. Shorts, trousers and jeans do not need to be washed after one wear – the same with hoodies if they aren’t stained. Things like bras, PJs and bed sheets also don’t need to be washed every day – in fact overwashing can lead to bobbles and colour fading, whilst reducing the lifespan of delicates.
Tackling huge loads is a lot of work, they take ages to dry and fold so by washing smaller loads you will skip the overwhelm. Make use of the quicker ‘eco’ wash cycles on your machine too, to save time, water and energy.
Getting everyone to re-use their towels is another tip. A towel is not ready to go in the laundry after one use, so get some loops on your bath towels to make it easier to hang them up and not toss them into the laundry basket.
Cut down on folding – undies and nightwear can be thrown into bins and baskets, as can kids clean clothing. If you do have to fold, then make sure you do it whilst watching TV or listening to a podcast!
I rarely use our iron these days as I tend to hang things up straight from the dryer (or the washing line in the summer). Obviously some items like cotton shirts do need ironing but other easy care fabrics are good to go.
Don’t have a pile of clothes waiting to be ironed which will just take up space and stress you out. Simply keep the iron and board somewhere handy so you can grab it and iron any clothing as you need it. Or you might like to try a clothes steamer to get crease-free clothes. These devices heat up quickly and are easy to use on clothes and soft furnishings too. They take up less storage space than an ironing board too.
Some extra tips
Keeping on top of the laundry means being consistent – if you don’t put clean laundry away quickly, before you know it two or three days have passed with baskets still hanging around.
Sock pairing is a nightmare so try to buy distinctly different socks for the family and keep a small ‘orphans’ basket by the washer/dryer for odd socks.
Bundle folded bedding sets into their matching pillowcase so you can grab a new set from the cupboard when it’s time to change the beds.
Keep laundry products stored in a convenient place to save time. Have stain removal products close to hand in the event of spillages or staining. When items get stained tell the kids to place in the washing machine drum where you can attend to it before putting on the next load – better than languishing unnoticed in the laundry basket for days getting more embedded.
Not everyone is lucky enough to have an aesthetically pleasing laundry room, but keeping our washing areas neat with tidy shelves and laundry products stored in nice containers can help maintain a level of organisation and actually make doing the laundry feel a bit less of a chore.
I’ve come to accept that the laundry baskets in our household will never be empty for more than about 5 minutes so I refuse to stress over the fact I rarely see the bottom of them. Life is busy, so if we can just stay on top of our washing, then that’s good enough.
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