Arrrgghhh. For most people the mere mention of the word laundry conjures up a pretty negative image. Hey, it’s repetitive and mostly boring but it’s gotta be done.
I think that we can make it a little less painful for ourselves. I’ve been scouring the internet and added in my own experiences as a professional organiser to come up with a bunch of possible tips. Now I say “possible” because there is no one PERFECT way to do this. Each household is soooo different.
Before your start the read, spend a few moments pondering how your laundry process currently works from start to finish. Could it be improved or simplified? Is it clear to everyone?
Now check out these tips and pick which ones might be useful to have a go at. I’ve also added quite a few links in this blog so that if you want to know more it’s real easy to delve in. (If it's underlined you can click for more)
1) Can you WAIT? Have a little assessment of WHEN clothing goes in the wash basket. Do things really need to go in after just one wear? Of course, if something is totally ponging then it should go in the wash but more often than not, we can usually wear clothes for a little longer before they need a cleanse. If you want to explore more on how often it is recommended to wash certain things like towels, sheets etc. then read this.
Make sure you have a designated area for hanging up or storing clothes that have been previously worn.
This equation sort of sums it up for me: LESS stuff in = LESS stuff out = LESS WORK = HOOORAY !
2) Use a DIVIDED LAUNDRY SORTER so that everybody is responsible for separating their clothes. When the basket is full it’s time to put a load on. Ensure wash loads are put on regularly. Waiting until the last moment just means the job becomes humongous.
3) Got kids? Then GET THEM ON THE JOB. This tip is kinda linked with no.1. It’s so easy for children to just fling stuff into the basket if they are not involved with the whole process. When they connect the big pile of dirty laundry to the amount of work, they are more likely to be considerate when chucking clothes in. (Sometimes anyway !)
4) Heard about FREEZING YOUR JEANS instead of washing them ? No, I hadn’t either. The CEO of Levis proclaimed that machine washing jeans was completely unnecessary and advocated sticking them in the freezer. Yikes.
Alas, there is no scientific evidence to prove this is effective. Interestingly though, some microbiologists believe that there is no need to wash your denim. In 1 study a pair of jeans were worn for 15 months without a wash. The level of bacteria found was nearly the same as after they’d been washed and worn for another 13 days. They went on to suggest that popping them outside for an air in the sunshine would be a more effective way of getting rid of both bacteria and odours. Certainly something to ponder on.
5. Be aware of how to get rid of pesky STAINS like coffee, pen, grass, make-up and blood. If you’re not a fan of the mainstream stain remover sprays then there’s plenty of natural options, especially vinegar and bicarb of soda.
You can even use the vinegar to give your washing machine a good clean.
Maybe pop up a handy stain removal chart on the inside of a cupboard door near the washing machine. A quick internet search will reveal an array of printable options. Having this info easily accessible means it is more likely you’ll tackle the stain in advance instead of just popping it into the machine and hoping for the best. You know it’ll save you time in the long run.
6. Kids again! They get messy within moments of getting dressed right? Can you CLEAN AS YOU GO? Perhaps dab off spills, instead of changing them. Don’t feel the pressure to keep pristine. There’s lots of evidence out there that we all benefit from a bit of dirt! Read more here on dirty habits to encourage.
7. HAVING LESS clothes / towels etc. often helps to keep the laundry flowing. If you have a big bunch of towels on offer then it's really easy to just keep using them up.
8. Can you use LESS DETERGENT? Although this is not going to save time it will be better for the environment and could save you money. According to the experts, many of us may be using 10-15 times more detergent than we actually need. Vernon Shmidt, a long standing appliance repairman argues that modern machines are built to use less water and therefore need less liquid. Detergents have become more concentrated and so a little can go a long way. In fact, using more washing liquid / powder than necessary can leave residues and it doesn’t even make your clothes cleaner.
9. SOCKS may be one of the smallest things that head into the machine but they seem to offer us some of the biggest headaches! There are multiple options to deal with them – give them a go and see if they improve your current situation:-
· Use some sort of SOCK CLIP to keep them together. If you haven’t seen these before there are quite a few to choose from. Essentially, they all do the same job of keeping your socks together throughout the wash cycle. Easy if it’s just you, but you’ll need to get the “buy in” of the rest of the household if you want it to work well.
· How about giving each member of the family a socks only mesh bag? That way they all stay together in the wash and in the dryer (If you use one).
· Have an odd sock “orphanage” until the matching pair turn up. Remember to regularly move the leftovers on. If they’ve been sitting alone for months it’s unlikely their mate will turn up.
· Wear odd socks!
10. DRYING – Now this is one area of the whole process that I actually enjoy! When the weather allows (Which, unfortunately, is not that often in the far north of Scotland) I can get a heap of pleasure from hanging up the washing outside on the line to dry. I’m not sure what it is exactly I love but there is definitely something enchanting about your clothes fluttering in the sunshine.
Well, until the raindrops begin. Then it’s a pain in the backside as you’re interrupted, you have to bring it all back in again having created double the work. The case for drying outside is pretty strong though. Read this interesting article from Ruth Goodman (British historian) about why we should ditch more of our tumble drying.
If your using a tumble dryer then do separate items by weight so that you don’t end up with the heavier items still damp and the thinner ones overly dry.
If possible I opt for air drying instead. There seems to be lots of ideas out there on how you should “hang” your garments for best results.
11. Consider what system will work best for your IRONING.
· Some people choose not to iron at all.
· Others just do the particular item at the time they want to wear it.
· Alternatively set up a regular time that the pile of ironing will be attacked. Remember all members of the household can be involved in this.
Choose carefully where to store your iron and board. A downstairs storage cupboard may have most space but perhaps slotting it into your wardrobe may be easier, especially if you opt for ironing at the point of wear.
12. And lastly. Can you identify SOMETHING in this whole process that puts a SMILE ON YOUR FACE? Maybe it’s putting away fresh sheets, ironing beautiful baby clothes or the relaxing whirr of the drum turning in the background.
If you’re struggling on this one (And I’m sure there’ll be a few) then have a read of this laundry trivia article and just be thankful that you’re not working in the laundry in Disney World !
I'd love to hear from you guys on how laundry works (Or doesn't) for you.
I work with people on ALL areas of their homes including their laundry systems. If you would like to find out more then get in touch now.