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When I was a teenager picturing myself as a wife, I never thought that at the forefront of that image would be a giant pile of clothes waiting to be folded.
All these Disney movies misled me in that regard, unless Cinderella’s pre-Prince life is a more accurate representation of what my role ought to be here…
Regardless, I find myself wondering what other families do to avoid having their couch serve as a second laundry room. Some days it’s more about moving that pile to different places in the house where people can’t see it than it is about actually folding and putting it away. Because let’s be honest, that same pile will be greeting me again in 4 days.
So, here’s a list I put together of ways to deal with this problem in life called laundry.
1. Hire a maid
What? If I’m going to lay out the best options, I might as well start with the easiest. If you can afford this (and the time to train her—or him?— on how you organize clothes and such), then why not? It’s a heck of a time saver, and you’ll have time to do other things other than throwing loads in the washer, switching loads to the dryer, and pulling your hair over what to do when you’ve got lots of clean clothes but not enough hangers or space or time to fold.
2. Do laundry as soon as a basket is full.
Maybe this is common sense but more often than not, my husband and I spend hours on Saturday trying to get all our clothes from the past week or two washed before Monday and it is such a headache. I think if we were smarter, we would just do one basket at a time, but then again, it means you might be doing laundry every other day versus once a week. It’s your choice.
3. Separate underwear and socks from your clothes.
During my maternity leave, both my husband and I (and baby) were using up so much clothes from being spit on or from just being home rather than somewhere else, that we found ourselves not necessarily running out of T-shirts and pants but rather underwear and socks. Tank tops were another must for me, so I started sorting clothes based on what I needed. The sorting happened from the pile on the couch, but I think it would be wise to just have a basket where the underwear and socks get thrown, so at the end of the week, you can just wash that instead of all your work clothes.
4. Take turns
My husband and I have a decent system for handling our laundry, but it’s because we both get involved. He starts loads in the washer and I switch them (only when he forgets). Then, he throws everything on the couch and I quickly fold what I can day by day. It’s not a system that works great if you have real clothes that need to be put on hangers, because from all the waiting, these clothes have gotten wrinkled. But since what we mostly wear is home clothes like shorts or pants or T-shirts or pajama pants, it doesn’t matter what they look like.
We do the baby’s clothes separately, and my son gets his own load as well. I’m a firm believer in not mixing adult clothes with kid clothes. It’s my preference, and it’s worked well so far. This means I can do delicate cycles with the kids’ clothes and heavier washes on mine and my husband’s clothes, and I don’t have to separate things when they go to the dryer either.
5. Buy quality detergent
I can’t tell you how much I hate throwing socks back in the washer that look like they were not cleaned properly. If you have a favorite detergent that works well for your family, stick with it, because the day you switch to a different one just to save money, you might end up wasting time rewashing.
Find a system that works for you and make sure everyone’s helping! Some days, even my son helps me with laundry (and sweeping) which is both cute and refreshing, because otherwise I might lose my mind from the realization that I spend hours every week on laundry.