Simplify Your Putting-Away-the-Laundry Routine
Laundry. I could write a novel about the laundry. It is one of those domestic tasks that will plague you from the day the responsibility to do your own laundry gets handed over to you, until the day you die. But it's not as bad as you think! Just remind yourself that we are amongst the privileged minority of all peoples who have ever lived to actually own washing and drying machines! Whenever I start grumbling about the laundry, I try to remind myself, "Oh yeah, I could have to wash all of this stuff. BY. HAND." Phew! Well, that pile doesn't look so bad anymore now, does it?
So, although we are super grateful for the machines that do the grunt work for us, we still have to deal with the before and the after. This post is about the after. I will explain how I used to put away the laundry, and how I put away the laundry now. My brain is wired to constantly be problem-solving for the easiest, quickest solution to any daily task that impedes my efficiency, or tends to steal my joy, or gets in the way of me sitting down to enjoy a cup of coffee while it is still actually hot.
How I Used To Put Away The Laundry
I'm one of those people that prefers to launder all clothing on the same day, mainly so I can put pajama or baby clothing sets back together, but also because I don't like to do laundry more than once or twice in a week. So, at the end of laundry day when all my laundry was clean and ready to be put away, I would:
1. Sit at the couch and fold everything, making piles for each person. Piles of pants, piles of shirts, piles of undies, piles of socks. I would also drape over couch cushions anything that needed to be hung because why would you fold something that is going to be hung up anyway?! Sometimes I would watch TV while doing this if it was evening and the kids were in bed. Honestly, this always slowed me down, so I didn't do it regularly.
2. Once everything was folded, I would then pile all the piles into hampers, one for each person/room in the house.
3. I would then carry the hampers to the designated room and pull all the piles out and put everything away.
Here is what is wrong with this method:
1. I have two dogs, a husband and three young children. If I ever get interrupted (which is guaranteed) during the folding process, that means piles are being left unattended, which means they are left vulnerable to attack from maniac dogs running rampant on my couch or making beds out of the piles (happened all the time), or toddlers that like to sneak over and knock down every last neat looking pile I have carefully made. Or, the husband comes home and wants to sit on the couch, or the kids want to use the couch and have no problem shoving everything out of the way. Basically, I have ended up re-doing many perfectly folded piles because I do not live alone in this house.
2. I typically would do all the folding after everyone was in bed to avoid most of the above issues, but that ends up delaying the process because then I have to wait until the next day to put most of it away. I ended up with baskets sitting around in all the rooms with folded laundry that needed to be put away, and once I got to the point that everything was folded, I was typically out of laundry steam. I just did not want to finish the job because I was so sick of dealing with laundry at that point. Also, it's pretty much a major bummer to spend your finally quiet evening time to yourself folding laundry.
3. There are several extra steps involved here that are unnecessary. The bummer with this method is that once you have everything folded, you then have to load everything into a hamper, haul it to where it belongs, and then unload it to put it away. Or, run back and forth taking pile after pile individually to where it belongs.
Here Is What I Do Now
1. I bring two or three hampers with me to the dryer when a load is done. I separate the clothing as I pull it out of the dryer based on where that laundry is going and who it is for. I put adult pants on top of the dryer, and sometimes drape my shirts over the dryer door.
2. I fold the pants on top of the dryer and leave them there. I do this because I cannot stand having wrinkled clothing, and it seems my pants get wrinkled the most if left in a laundry pile too long. So, if I can just fold them right away, it is usually a pretty quick task and I avoid the wrinkles.
3. All hampers get taken to the rooms they belong in. I dump my husband's laundry into his closet, and put mine next to my closet.
4. My oldest is responsible for putting away his own laundry, and my second child is still learning so I help her and teach her with most of her stuff.
5. Everything gets folded in the room it belongs in, preferably right next to where it belongs. That way, as soon as it is folded, it can be put away.
For my kids, we will fold a stack of shorts, then put them in the drawer, fold all the pairs of pajamas, then put them in the drawers. This way, there are no piles laying around to get knocked over or transported from one room to the next, etc. If we get interrupted, we leave a pile of unfolded laundry on the floor, which doesn't bother me as much as leaving a pile of folded laundry unattended. Frequently we do this right before bedtime and it does't take more than ten minutes with the three of us working together.
6. I put everything away in small bits, especially my own laundry. I don't spend an hour or two folding laundry and then another thirty minutes putting everything away. I start with the easy stuff, like undergarments and socks, and just throw those in the drawers first. It noticeably reduces the pile, so sometimes I keep going right then. If I can't hang my shirts right away, I drape them across a chair in my room so they don't get wrinkled, and hang them up before I go to bed. I grab the stack of pants off the dryer and bring them straight to their drawers during one of my trips up and down exchanging dirty loads with clean ones.
7. I don't fold or put away anything that is going to be worn that same day.
8. I only keep two extra folded towels accessible at all times. I used to have an extra towel for every person in my house rolled neatly on a train rack in my bathroom. It was a total waste of time. When I would do the towel laundry, I ended up having to fold tons of towels AND hang towels back up. Now I just wash a load of towels about twice a week, and hang everything right back up again. No folding necessary. (I have all my extra towels hidden in my closet just in case we have lots of guests or we all get sick and I can't do laundry, etc.)
9. If I get all of our stuff put away in decent time, I will even put away my husband's laundry. I don't mind putting it away for him, but I'm not always as efficient at getting it done as he is. He likes to get his clothes put away right away when they are clean, so I leave them out for him so he's not searching for something.
Here Is Why I Love This Method
Once that dreaded task of folding all the laundry is done, the job is done.
I no longer have baskets of folded laundry laying around my house.
I no longer have to continue with the laundry the day after laundry day because everything got put away once it was folded.
I no longer spend my quiet evenings on the couch trudging through basket after basket.
When everything is immediately taken to where it belongs, instead of sitting in baskets waiting to be folded, it gets put away quicker.
When everything is sorted and put in different rooms, the task itself doesn't seem as overwhelming. Each individual pile is much smaller than when it is all jumbled together unsorted.
People can find their stuff more quickly and easily. When you pull everything out of the dryer and sort as you go, no one has to dig in basket after basket later looking for the school uniform or baseball pants. Everyone's stuff is already sorted, so there's really only one basket to look in if it all hasn't been put away yet.
I no longer have to worry about someone messing up my piles and organization strategy because I got interrupted and couldn't finish the job right away.
What do you do to make laundry easier? Any quick short cuts that have made a huge difference in the time and effort you put into getting the laundry done? Share below!