“I really want to spend a day at home doing laundry instead of having fun _____ with my family/friends.” -Said no one EVER. “A load a day keeps the cray cray (crazy) away” has become my mantra over the years with a growing family. I only wish I had learned it sooner! In college my roommate and I had this amazing orange mid-century modern chair that someone had picked up dumpster diving and we rarely got to sit in it because it was our dumping ground for our clean laundry piles. It was always draped with tops we didn’t want wrinkled, and piled high with t-shirts and jeans, and we were perpetually frustrated with each other because of those piles. I wonder what ever happened to that chair?
The great thing about this “load a day” habit is that you can begin right where you are, there’s no need to tackle the mountain(s) in one day to get a fresh start. I think that is so motivating. It is like a spring board into the other projects I want to get done, or other habits I want to start because within a week of doing a load a day I have visible and tangible results and I get to spend Saturday playing games with my family or going out to do something fun without feeling guilty about what’s left undone at home. I can come home on Sunday afternoon and rest on the couch for a few hours… yes, I said a few hours, because I know that even though I probably won’t do a load on this day of rest my kids have clean underwear and socks for school tomorrow and I’ll do a load in the morning.
I love to have tasks that are achievable and measureable (because so much of what a mom does goes unseen or gets undone in seconds), so I’ll break down the logistics of how I approach the mountain, with a few methods I’ve used over the years. I’ll also share with you what products I feel great about using because they are non-toxic and safe for sensitive skin. I love it when others share their favorite products with me and I don’t have to do the research myself, so I’m so happy to share with you if it saves you some time and energy!
Confession: with only a few exceptions (you don’t make the mistake of washing a red item with a load of lights more than once), I don’t really sort our laundry! I avoid white and buy mostly dark clothes to avoid stains and I throw it all in together to make a full load. I do a load with heavier items like towels and jeans once a week because heavy fabrics and zippers can wear down other clothes quickly and cause holes. I also zip and button pants and jeans to avoid getting caught on other fabrics.
If you are ready to start this habit today, here is one possibility for sorting your piles for this week:
Day 1- lights (with underwear and socks)
Day 2- darks
Day 3- towels and jeans
Day 4- delicates
Day 5- sheets
Day 6- other household items- bathroom rugs, dishtowels, shower curtains (about 1-2 times per year), throw pillows etc.
I grab whatever dishtowels are hanging in the kitchen and throw those in every day, and I toss in the guest bathroom hand towel a couple times a week.
In reality, it looks like this at my house:
Day 1- little bit of… everything
Day 2- everything
Day 3- towels and jeans
Day 4- everything
Day 5- delicates
Day 6- sheets
Isn’t that the easiest laundry routine you’ve ever seen? I love that the pressure is off and I’ve got no judgement on myself to do it perfectly. My family is clean and I’m happy. And the best part is that I haven’t had to spend a full day doing laundry in years.
When our kids were little I would wash a load in the morning, hang it on the line to dry, then fold in the afternoon. If you have a dryer that has a nice flat surface on top, clear that baby and start folding laundry straight out of the dryer! I now have a slanty top dryer and I learned quickly that piles slide right off onto the floor, so unfortunately, they usually get wrinkled on the couch before I get to folding them. I can handle some wrinkles as long as my angels smell good. Grace upon grace.
My routine now is to put a load in the washer right before bed, transfer to the dryer in the morning (about when the kids are brushing their teeth after breakfast), fold after work while the kids are doing their homework in the afternoon and have them carry up their stacks after they finish. I honestly don’t care a whole lot about how they get put away as long as they don’t end up on the floor. Once in a while, I’ll put away laundry right before the kids get home and I’ll reorganize their drawers (and fill a Goodwill bag with holey or too-small items while I’m at it).
If you are overwhelmed by laundry, don’t wait another minute to start this habit! And don’t feel pressure to do more than one load or you’ll burn out. The first week the loads may be large but you will see them get smaller quickly. If the loads are still huge into week 2, you may have too many clothes ;). I highly recommend having no more than two hampers to get control of the piles. My hubs and I have one hamper in our closet and we have one hamper in the hallway for our four kids because I know that if they each had a hamper in their room I would forget about them and the kids would be shouting about running out of underwear in their mad rush on school mornings.
If you have a favorite laundry detergent, rock on, but I have tried them all (including homemade aka high-maintenance time-stealer) and then I discovered Lemi Shine. It smells lemony fresh, has only a handful of ingredients (all non-toxic!) and is gentle on sensitive skin. Their laundry detergent is available at H-E-B and the price is way more in our range than other natural detergents. I’ve also used their washing machine cleaner when my washing machine had started to smell a little iffy. Did you know you should leave your washing machine open when not in use so it doesn’t get mildew? Hmm. Well, now it smells fresh and I have the knowledge that it is working better at getting my clothes clean.
What about fabric softener and static? Honestly, I don’t like the residue fabric softener leaves on my clothes, and I hate to think about the chemicals my kids would be absorbing through their skin. But did you know you can throw a ball of aluminum foil or wool dryer balls in your dryer and get the same result?! And you can reuse the same ball a few times, so yay for more money saved!
Happy Mountain Moving, Mommas!
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