Mom, are you spending way too much time sorting, washing, and folding laundry?
Here are some quick easy tips to help get you out of the laundry room!
1) Sort Less
With the exception of whites that need to be bleached, brand new dark or red items that bleed or delicates, you may not need to sort laundry as much as you think.
Most high quality clothing doesn't bleed. And there is no crime in washing towels with other laundry unless it will get linty (like microfiber cleaning cloths).
You might want to sort laundry by what room it will end up in. I throw my boy's laundry all in together and despite what home economics gurus might tell you, I haven't noticed any bad effects! This method simplifies things because each load goes to the same place. Instead of walking around the house delivering laundry to each room, you save energy and time.
2) Instead of folding...
Hang kid's shirts in their closet and simply lay small items flat in their drawers.
I use those cheap shoebox size plastic organizers in the boy's closet and throw unsorted clean socks in one, undies in another, pjs in another. Each child has his own containers so there's no confusion.
It's much simpler than spending time folding underwear and matching socks. They can find their own sock mates!
3) Use Your Tools
Put one laundry basket in each room where dirty laundry is discarded (usually one per bathroom or bedroom). Buy some of those zippered mesh bags at the dollar store and throw one in each.
4) Teach your kids and husband
Ask your husband and kids to put laundry in the hamper instead of dropping it on the floor, and to bring their hamper to the laundry area when you're ready to wash. Don't scold or nag, use natural consequences. When someone needs that favorite pair of Buzz Lightyear pjs or boxers, they will quickly learn that if it doesn't make it to the hamper, it doesn't get washed!
Train them too to put their dirty socks in the mesh bag. Even if they're too young to do so, put all dirty socks in the bag and throw the entire thing in the washer. They come out clean and the washer doesn't eat the baby's socks.
Enlist your kid's help when it comes to folding laundry.
A 2 year old can put dirty laundry in the hamper and throw clean clothes in the dryer when you hand it to them, a 3 year old can fold washcloths, and an older child can deliver clean folded laundry to their room and even hang items.
5) Forget Perfection
When I was a kid we had "play clothes" and "school clothes". The nicer things were what you wore to school and out of the house, and you changed into your play clothes (usually items that had a defect or weren't as nice as going-out clothes) as soon as you got home.
Using this method means that the nicer items don't wear out as quickly, and they may not need to be washed after every wearing. An item that is worn once (unless it's socks or undies) doesn't necessarily need to be washed.
And you may decide that it's not worth spending time removing stains on play clothes, thus saving you more time and money.
Also, try using Oxi-Clean or another non-toxic whitener instead of bleach on your whites. Since it can also be used on colors, it won't be the end of the world if a stray colored item gets in your bleach load.
I hope these tips help rescue you from laundry room shackles!