Laundry is a never-ending cycle: sort, wash, dry, fold, and put away. It is like a child that does not get the proper attention. You can catch it hanging out in unsavory places: mildewed in hampers; stinky and soured in washers for days; cold and wrinkled in dryers; wadded up in baskets stashed beside beds; or folded nice and neat and left abandoned in the laundry room. If you will give your laundry the attention it needs, it will not grow up to become an unruly pile that consumes your home, time, and peace of mind.
You Can Conquer The Laundry!
There are several approaches. Think about laundry as a 5-step process: sort, wash, dry, fold or hang, and put away. When you leave out any of the ingredients, the laundry takes on a life of its own and one that is not so pretty. Maybe we need to think of laundry as a baby that can’t be left unattended or a pot of food cooking on the stove. We have to keep it in the back of our minds all the time. I even have to set a timer or I forget that I have put a load in the washer. What if we made a rule? No! Rules don’t work for us. It has to be a routine. My washer and dryer are in the basement. Sometimes when I need to work in the basement, I have found that if I spend the 35 minutes in the basement while the washer is running I can kill two birds with one stone — keep my mind on the project at hand and clean off a shelf or sort through some stuff to give away in that dungeon we pretend is a basement.
“Kelly says ‘Your dryer is not a laundry basket.’”
We are so easily sidetracked when it comes to laundry. How often you do laundry depends on the size of your family. In a perfect world I would do a load on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. True confession here. I am not the best at keeping up with this and Robert helps me quite a bit. He actually enjoys doing it. Have I ever told you just how blessed I am? The hard part is getting it started, following through to the dry, and then folding and putting it away. Oh, sorry, that is all of it, isn’t it? So we have worked out a deal. He puts the load in the washer and then the dryer, and hangs up the good clothes as they come out of the dryer. Then he brings up the basket of clean unfolded laundry and sets it in front of my face (per my request). He puts it on the footstool that I keep my laptop on. Talk about the “Do It Now” principle! This has been working well. I get up and go fold and put away the clothes while they are still warm from the dryer. Teamwork. (He does not have a talent for putting them in the drawers. He would live out of the laundry basket.) His excuse is, “I don’t know where your clothes go.” I used to not know this either. I had to put Post-it notes on the drawers for a long time. I am getting better. So I can put them away and purge something at the same time. If your drawers are too full and you are unable to put your clothes in them, spend 5 minutes tossing some of the stuff that is unworn. Give it away! It will make your life much easier.
So now you have heard my true confession about my problems with laundry. Some of you are not laying out your clothes in the evening. Instead, you are dragging around in the morning looking for something to wear and putting off getting dressed until the last minute. I want you to stop this. The best way to get a handle on this behavior is to plan ahead. I know these are bad words for sidetracked people, but this is what will remedy your “sidetrackedness.” One of our members suggested this: as you are doing the laundry, put together your outfits. Do this for your children, too. Put their whole outfit on a hanger or in a folded-up group. Hang it on a hook in the closet separate from the rest of the clothes or in a drawer that is just for their outfits. I know this is a change from the way you have always folded your clothes in neat little stacks of socks, underwear, and T-shirts. This way makes more sense. We take it off as an outfit, why not put it away as a complete ensemble almost all the way to shoes? This is great for children and adults. With children you are not trying to find the socks that go with that outfit. With adults, you can be packed at a moment’s notice for a trip. Try it. I know it is hard to do things differently, but new can be fun and it just might help alleviate your getting-dressed problem. As we have agreed above, all of us have to do laundry, some only a couple of loads a week, while others have a dozen. It affects us all the same way, we put it off until it gets to be such a big job that we are paralyzed by the thought of it. You know exactly what I am talking about: piles of dirty laundry on your bedroom floor that just keep growing.
Do you want to know why they continue to multiply? Perhaps the reason is that you have too many clothes because you have compensated for not doing laundry by buying more clothes to cover this problem. Then you struggle for two days to finish it all, but it never really gets put away because your drawers are too full to put anything away. So then you live out of a clothes basket or the piles on top of the dresser or dumped on your bed or in a chair. After a while you can’t tell the dirty ones from the clean ones, so they all get tossed back into the dirty clothes pile. How in the world can I stop you from doing this to yourself? Let me tell you how I quit doing this to myself: I cleaned out one drawer for myself and one for each family member. Then I labeled the drawers so I would know where to put the clothes. At one time, when I lived alone, I would let everything I owned get dirty before I would go to the laundry and do them. (I did not have a washer or dryer.) I mean two huge garbage bags of dirty clothes. Did I tell you I had too many clothes? Then I would go to the laundromat and spend half a day getting them done. At least they were done, but I would start the vicious, draining cycle all over again. I could go several weeks without doing the laundry. My remedy was to cut out some of the steps that would trip me up and keep me from taking the first step to doing the laundry. Sorting!! As I took off my dirty clothes, I would sort them into a dark basket and a light basket. Yes, I actually have a dark-colored and a light-colored basket to remind me to sort. Robert does it, too. In fact, I think he taught me this. He also taught me to take my socks off, right side out. Push them down over your heels and then pull the toes. Poof, your socks are right side out. No more having to turn socks after they are washed. I love this part. So now as a basket gets almost full, I can do a small load and it actually takes less time than a huge one. It is no longer overwhelming to me. It gets put away much faster, too. And the socks are easier to match. I hated that part, but not anymore. Now, you have to have a simple routine to accomplish this. I have it included in my morning routine. As I leave my bedroom in the morning, I grab one of the baskets that looks almost full and take it to the basement. Turn on the washer, then come upstairs and set my timer for 40 minutes. This is how long it takes for my washer to do a load. Do not leave the washer running while you are going away from home. Just stop the washer and let them soak. Do not leave appliances running when no one is home. Also, have a smoke alarm in the area of the washer and dryer. Many home fires are started here. After the washer has stopped, grab some hangers and head for the dryer. Put the clothes in the dryer. Now when the buzzer goes off, you will already have the hangers at the dryer. Here is the rule! You have to go to the dryer when you hear the first buzzer. No excuses. Hang up the good clothes first, put the rest in the basket, and take them to the room where they belong. I have a secret, I do not fold underwear. I just put it in the drawer. Then I mate the socks and fold everything else in the small basket. I have timed myself and I can do this in 2 minutes. I’ll wager you can, too. I don’t have to do a load every day, but I check my baskets to see if I do, every single day. It is so much easier to do when you just have a routine for it. This is why I have three reminders every day to keep you on top of your laundry. It is so easy to forget. This reminder is one of our most beloved. KID Note: When my son, Justin, was 9 years old, he started to do his own laundry. Did you know that children tend to mess up fewer clothes when they are doing their own laundry? Even 6-year-olds can be taught to do laundry with a little help. Get them their own color-coded baskets for their closets.
“Nothing says ‘I love you’ like clean underwear!”