10 Best Ways to Simplify your Laundry Routine
The laundry baskets are overflowing, again.
The clothes in the dryer have been fluffed three times because you are absolutely going to fold them this time but wait..
Is that a pile of clean clothes on the couch? That should probably go back in the dryer too.
If this sounds even close to your laundry experience, then chances are you are overwhelmed, and it’s time to simplify your laundry routine.
When I began researching how to simplify your laundry routine, it was because I wanted more time. More time for me, more time for the kids, and more time out of the house.
Unfortunately, laundry wasn’t something I could eliminate from life without becoming a full-time nudist, a prospect my husband isn’t entirely against, but I get cold when it’s 70 degrees out, so on to plan B.
Since laundry was here to stay, I decided I wanted to simplify it as much as possible to avoid the overflowing piles of clothes and the stress.
1. Rethink your Products and Declutter
When I downsized my laundry products, I ended up with three products.
- Stain remover
- Reusable dryer balls.
There are endless products out there for laundry, but most are unnecessary and honestly don’t work as well as we always hope they will. Downsizing your laundry products is by far one of the easiest ways to simplify your laundry routine.
Detergent – My Favorite Hack to Simplify your Laundry Routine
I buy Tru Earth Eco-Friendly Detergent Strips for Laundry detergent, and I love them. In case you don’t know, a detergent strip is ultra-concentrated laundry soap in the form of a mess-free strip that resembles paper.
Not only do you buy nearly a year’s worth (depending on how often you do laundry) with one click, but it’s easy to store, mess-free (no powder or liquid soap messes), and easy for kids to use—no measuring or pouring. I can’t recommend them enough.
For stain remover, I like Ecover Stain Remover. It goes on easily and takes care of most of what my kids throw at it. Every time I notice a stain, I put the stain remover on and throw the item into the laundry basket, knowing it’s pre-treated for the next load.
Reusable Dryer Balls
We use wool dryer balls and love them. These replace dryer sheets; they are reusable, reduce clothing wrinkles, soften clothes without chemicals and shorten the drying time. My only complaint is that they look too much like snowballs, and my kids consistently run off with them. I like this brand from the Smart Sheep Store.
Those are my three laundry products, and the best part? Aside from the occasional replacement of stain remover, I only buy detergent once a year and never need to replace the dryer balls.
Are my clothes as soft as they could be? No.
Do they smell like an angel rolled in lilac flowers? No.
If anything, my clothes don’t smell like anything at all. Not bad, not good. Just neutral.
Am I okay with that to keep my life simple? Absolutely.
2. Re-wear your clothes
You can re-wear your clothes more often than you think. Re-wearing clothing is something I knew but never put into practice until recently, and it has cut down on laundry loads.
A general rule is to wash your clothes if you sweat in or stain them. Or, the further away from your body, the less often you must clean it.
Always wash socks and underwear after every wear but for everything else, consider following the guidelines below.
How often can you re-wear clothing?
Outer layers, including sweaters, hoodies, and cardigans. Wash after 4-5 uses.
Women’s blouses and men’s dress shirts. -Wash after 2 uses
Pants or shorts (excluding Jeans) – Wash after 2 uses.
Bras and slips (excluding sports bras) – 2-4 uses, though it is suggested they air out for 24 hours between wearings.
Swimsuits and Workout clothes- wash after every use.
Dresses, skirts, and business suits. – Wash after 4-5 uses
Pajamas – wash after 2 wearings.
Jeans– 4-5 wearings
Toddler clothing– Save yourself the time and let them become the nudist of the family. How is this stained? You’ve had it on for 23 seconds!
When establishing re-wearing clothing as a new habit in your laundry routine, the most challenging part (at least it was for me) may be putting the clothes away to be worn another day.
Establishing this habit gives you an excellent opportunity to enact the 60-second rule. Tell yourself if the task at hand will take less than 60 seconds (i.e., hanging up that shirt or folding the jeans), then do it now, don’t delay.
3. Don’t have a Dedicated Laundry Day
I know many people who have a day dedicated to laundry, and suddenly, they spend their Sunday buried under a mountain of clothes. Don’t let laundry build up! When the laundry hamper is full, start a load.
My preferred laundry schedule is as follows.
- Wake up – Start a load
- After work or kids drop off, throw clothing in the dryer.
- After the kids are asleep or during kids’ nap time- Fold while watching your favorite show (You’ve earned it)
Doing it this way will reduce an entire day of doing laundry down to 20 minutes or a 30-minute episode. Some people may need to do this daily or only once a week. We do laundry about three times a week.
4. Limit Laundry Baskets
It’s hard to know when to start laundry if the laundry is scattered throughout the house.
Assuming your Laundry room is easily accessible, consider having a primary basket in the laundry room to simplify your laundry routine.
If you are still in charge of everyone’s laundry, have children deposit dirty clothes and towels into the laundry room hamper (you may like to have a separate basket for linens).
Then when you walk by, it’s easy to tell if a load is ready to go or not.
My husband and I also have a basket in our room, but I walk by both baskets often enough to gauge when to start a load.
The number of baskets your family uses will depend greatly on three things—the size of your family, the age of your children, and the layout of your house.
5. Have Children do their own Laundry
When I was growing up, there was a day we would start doing our own laundry. It wasn’t a particular birthday or a punishment; our height determined it.
It was time to start doing laundry if we could reach the washing machine buttons without the help of a step stool.
It’s an easy chore, a necessary life skill (I’ve met young adults who didn’t know how to do laundry), and if they are promised screen time while folding, it’s a win for everyone.
Having children become responsible for their laundry is also helpful in convincing them to re-wear clothing and put away unworn clothing to help save themselves a load of laundry later on.
6. Sock it to me
One of my favorite hacks that I’m still working towards is owning all the same kinds of socks (in regards to each sock category and each person).
For example, my son has all the same socks. All black. All the same brand.
They are easy to match, and when one inevitably goes missing, I throw its counterpart in the sock drawer because let’s face it. It’s only a matter of time until another goes missing, and then BAM, I have a new sock pair!
To further simplify your laundry routine consider choosing a specific color for each member of your family to make sorting and folding that much faster (and as a bonus, you will know who to blame when there are dirty socks on the floor)
7. Separating colors and Specialty items.
I know a lot of people who separate colors, have items they wash by hand, other items that need a gentle cycle, and some that absolutely cannot go in the dryer.
That’s fine, but it’s not how I live my life.
It’s hard to simplify your laundry routine if every article of clothing needs special attention.
The only separating I do is clothing vs. linens (i.e., towels, sheets, rags).
Regarding separating colors, it only crosses my mind when I have a brand new and very bright item of clothing.
I avoid this often by buying most of my clothing second-hand, but I might wash something new and bright solo the first time to be safe.
We also own very few white clothes because I don’t want to worry about keeping them perfectly white. As far as specialty clothes go, I never read the washing instructions.
It goes in the washer and then to the dryer; if it can’t hack it, it’s gone.
8. To fold or not to fold
Folding is undoubtedly part of a laundry routine that people struggle with the most.
But that makes sense because the fact is that putting the clothes into the washer takes about 60 seconds, changing the clothes from the washer to the dryer another 60 seconds but folding the clothes?
Well, now we have a commitment on our hands. But the reality is the clothes need to get put away, or else the wrinkled mess that awaits us is less than ideal.
When I started this post, I framed the question- to fold or not to fold, and I wrote it as a joke because, obviously, folding is required but not necessarily.
- One option is to hang up all your clothes and skip the folding process altogether. It might be an option if you have the closet space for this. Aside from underwear and socks, hang up every T-shirt, every pair of pants, and even pajamas, which could expedite the process.
- Another option is to hang up clothing that tends to wrinkle. Still, anything else, pajamas, leggings, underwear, workout clothing, or kids clothing, is put in the corresponding drawer and never folded but simply laid flat in the drawer. While this doesn’t sit well with my OCD, it could be an excellent option for some people, especially for kids’ clothing.
If you’re like most people, you probably have a combination of clothing that is both folded and hung up.
To expedite this process, you have a few options.
- Ask for help – one great way to get the kids involved is by buying a shirt folding board to make folding fun and easy.
- Be more realistic about what does and doesn’t need to be folded – Does underwear need to be folded? Can more T-shirts be hung up?
9. Donation Basket
Children grow out of clothes at a remarkable pace. Any parent can attest to this.
To ensure that clothes my children have grown out of don’t continue to infiltrate the laundry or be put back in drawers where I will inevitably grab them and try to put them on my child again, I started using what I refer to as the Donate basket.
In my children’s closet, I have a laundry basket for clothes they have outgrown.
Wherever you place your basket, ensure that it is easily accessible to incorporate this new hack to simplify your laundry routine.
Put the clothes in the basket, dump them once the basket is full, and organize them into three piles. I usually only need to do this once every few months.
-Keep for a younger child (if applicable) or Sell pile
This could also be a great hack for adults who want an easy solution for clothing that no longer fits or they no longer like.
10. How many clothes should I own in regard to laundry
In my quest for the perfect laundry routine, I wanted to answer the question,
Would the amount of clothing I own change my laundry routine?
The answer is yes.
For example, if you only own one outfit to work out in and you work out every day, you will find yourself doing laundry every day, albeit a small load.
On the flip side, I don’t think the more clothing you own will necessarily impact your laundry routine, assuming you follow the rule of doing laundry once your basket is full.
If you have a large wardrobe and wait to do laundry until you run out of clothing, just like the person on the far end of minimalism, someone with a massive wardrobe will also run into problems.
I hope you discovered a new way to do laundry through these hacks. A method that is not overwhelming, stressful, or leaves you with piles of unfolded clothing.
The reality is our lives are a culmination of so many things that need to be done on a day-to-day basis that we have no choice but to find the most straightforward methods to do every task.
Please comment below if these hacks were helpful or if you have a life-changing laundry hack that isn’t on the list.