Though your washing machine and dryer do the bulk of the work when it comes to your family’s laundry, somehow all that sorting, cleaning, drying, and folding can end up taking hours every week. Ready to cut down on the time you spend on laundry? Read on for easy ways to minimize your effort without letting the dirty clothes pile up.
Pre-Sort and Pre-Treat
If you have hampers dedicated to each of your laundry loads, then pre-sorting adds exactly zero time to your laundry routine – it is just as easy, after all, to drop your whites in the basket on the left and your delicates in the one on the right as it is to throw them all in together, and it saves precious time on laundry day when that part of the job is already done for you. Pre-treating stains may take a few extra minutes, but by attacking them as soon as they happen, you’ll save time in the long run (no more battling dried-on dirt and holding up the rest of the load).
Set a Schedule
Look carefully at your family’s clothing habits and figure out exactly how often you need to do laundry in the first place. Are jeans – which can go through multiple wears before they get washed – your family’s staple pant? Does your husband wear undershirts that mean his button-downs could get a second use? If you make sure everyone in the family has enough socks and underwear to last two weeks, then you can do those washes less frequently. The same is true of sheets and towels: If you have more than two sets, then you can wait until at least two sets are dirty and wash them together while the third is in use.
Know Your Appliances
Whether your washer and dryer are brand new to you or came with your home, it’s helpful to read the instruction booklet cover to cover to make sure you’re using them as efficiently as possible. Figure out what constitutes a full wash and how dirty your clothes need to be to require a heavy wash cycle – you may be able to wash most of your items on a shorter cycle and with less water (so you’ll spend less time waiting to transfer them into the dryer). Also be sure you’re keeping your dryer vent cleaned so that your auto dry is working as efficiently as possible. Bonus: Keeping your appliances clean and operating efficiently will also save you money on water, energy, and maintenance.
Organize Your Space
Giving your laundry area a makeover may not be at the top of your home improvement list – especially if you’re the only one who ever sees it -- but a neat, organized space will be much easier to use. Store your detergents and stain treaters in easy-to-reach baskets or shelves; leave space for a drying rack or retractable line for hanging delicate items; make a spot for your pre-sorting hampers; set up a small table or counter to hold your laundry baskets and keep the tops of your machines clear. We’d even suggest putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls and hanging some favorite photos – whatever it takes to increase the chances that you’ll actually enjoy spending time there.
Be a Faster Folder
If only the geniuses who keep making washers and dryers more automated could figure out a way for the machines to also fold and hang your clothes, right? But until then, you’re on your own for this last part of the laundry routine. Speed the process up by learning some quick-fold techniques (like this two-second shirt fold) or storing hangers in your laundry room to hang clothes as soon as they come out of the dryer and keep them wrinkle-free. This is another easy place to enlist the kids to help – even your littlest ones can put stacks of shirts in their own drawers or pair up daddy’s socks.