Why I’m {still} Not Sorting Laundry

posted by Andrea | 04/5/2016
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sorting laundry

Over the years, I have frequently mentioned that I don’t sort my laundry — like for real, I wash all colors and all fabrics together.

When I first shared my non-sorting ways, it was just Dave and I so we had much less laundry, fewer clothes, less towels, less sheets, etc. I usually only did 2 loads of laundry a week — and just threw everything in. I never had ANY problems with colors fading or bleeding.

To be fair, I often separated the sheets, towels, rags, etc. because I bleached those, but even when I didn’t separate the whites, nothing ever bled or faded.

Fast-forward 5+ years and 3 children later, I have toyed with the idea of sorting laundry again — just because we have so much more to wash, and could easily do a full load of lights, darks, and whites in the middle of the week and again at the end of the week.

I tried this method for a couple of months after James was born (because, after all, sorting laundry really isn’t much work.) However, I felt like it was unnecessary and an extra step I was taking “just because”.

I saw no benefit from sorting anything, so I went back to my previous method of doing 3 loads of laundry in the middle of the week and 3-4 loads at the end of the week.

More recently though, I’ve been doing laundry based on where the laundry needs to be returned to.

Instead of just throwing everything all in together, I’ll throw Nora and Simons clothes all in together (with the towels from the upstairs bathroom) so when the dryer finishes, I know everything in that load goes straight upstairs.

Then I’ll do our clothes and James’ clothes together since we are all on the main floor. Finally, I’ll wash all laundry from the kitchen and the 2 main floor bathrooms in one load (usually with bleach).

So technically, I’m still not sorting anything, just choosing to do certain people’s laundry together (we all have individual hampers in our bedrooms).

This non-sorting method of doing laundry is working SO fabulously for me right now — it doesn’t take any extra time when I’m tossing the laundry into the machine, and it is SAVING me a boatload of time folding laundry and sorting out piles for various people and places in our house.

Now, when the dryer buzzes, I just bring the upstairs basket back upstairs and leave the downstairs basket down here.

Eventually, as our children get bigger and start sharing bedrooms, I could see doing one load per bedroom to simplify things even more. And by then, my children will most likely be old enough to fold and put away their own clothing — which means I’ll have worked myself right out of a job (Nora has been helping to fold laundry for well over a year already!)

Want more laundry tips and tricks? You can read all my laundry posts here.

In the meantime, I’d love to know…

How do you handle laundry in your house?

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39 comments

  1. Faylinn

    08/23/2016

    Every week, I spend a lot of time sorting all of my laundry. I thought that that was normal, but I am totally in awe that you bravely don’t sort. I mean, how do you get pink or red clothes to not bleed out onto the white ones? That always happens to me, which is why I make sure to sort.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — you ARE normal. I think I’m the abnormal one 🙂
    But yes, I basically don’t sort anything… except whites. I’m obsessed with bleach so all our sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, washcloths, burp cloths, cloth napkins, etc. are all white/cream so I bleach those every week (along with Dave’s white t-shirts). But other than that, everything is washed together — all colors, fabrics, weights, etc. I really never have any issues with bleeding colors, although I’m sure my clothes fade quicker since I always use either warm or hot water.

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  2. lena

    05/20/2016

    I have never posted before, but I love this blog and laundry with 3 kids is a dear subject of mine. I also never sort and each of my children washes, fold and puts away their own clothes now (and has since they were 8-9). It’s wonderful!

    But here is the main point… After moving to a new home, I “upgraded” my old top loading Whirlpools to a very fancy, very expensive foreign front loader washer/dryer set (Asko). After 3 years of faded, stinky, icky clothes I tried to find another old Whirlpool set on Craigslist…but they are hard to come by! And the new ones are not the same!

    But, with a little research I found that you can buy the brand that they put in launder mats (Speed Queens) and they are just like my oldie but goodies! Since then I have clean, fresh, white clothes again! They do use more water, but guess what…that’s how you get clean clothes!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi lena! Thanks for the comment!

    I was actually just talking about this with my dad the other day. It’s true, companies literally “don’t make things like they used to” because if they did, they would go out of business. Appliances have roughly 1/3rd the lifespan of appliances 20-30 years ago. It’s a sad reality. Also, thanks for the tip about the Speed Queens 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. Lee Cockrum

    04/06/2016

    I occasionally sort a dark color load when I have a new pair of dark jeans etc to be washed for the first time or two. Otherwise I sort out sheets and towels to do hot water wash and dry. Our towels sometimes get used on boat, to clean dog feet etc, so I like to get them extra clean. the rest all gets washed together, cooler water and cooler dryer. Works great for our laundry.

    [Reply]

  4. Melissa

    04/06/2016

    I mostly do laundry by person and I try to do a load or two a day, but that doesn’t always work and I end up playing catch up on the weekends. We usually sort by person – my husband does his load or two on Sun. Tues, Wed and Thurs are reserved for my kids. I’m working with them on doing there own laundry, but I still help when needed. Mon & Fri are towels (I keep kitchen & cleaning towels separate from bath towels because I usually bleach those) and I do a separate load for socks & undies. I was my laundry through out the week, sometimes multiple times (I think I have the least amount of clothes out of everyone in our house) and I hang dry a good portion of my things – mainly because I don’t like things to shrink and because it seems like they last longer this way. I use cold and occasionally warm water for the majority of our laundry. The only thing I was in hot are the towels, socks & undies & bedding which I usually save for the weekend. Out of all the chores I really don’t mind the laundry…I just wish there weren’t so much of it 🙂

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like you have a really good system that’s working for you! also, I LOVE that your husband and kids do their own laundry — that’s great!

    [Reply]

  5. Trudy

    04/06/2016

    It’s just my husband and I. I sort lights, darks and towels. Depending on my mood, do a load of lights and darks on Wednesday and Saturday. Do the towels after cleaning the bathrooms and wiping floors, usually on Saturday (we air dry towels, so not a new one each day). I also line dry a lot of our dark clothes (DH likes to wear the wicking t-shirts) by putting them on a hanger and then on a laundry tripod. Since they are already on a hanger, once dry, just put them away. For sheets, take them off the bed, wash and dry, then put them back on.

    [Reply]

  6. Rebecca

    04/05/2016

    I wish I could toss our front-load washing machine out the window and go back to a $200 turn-the-dial only-two-temps-to-choose-from top loading washing machine. The more computers go in, the more problems come out. Stinky towels, fading colors, graying whites, shrinking clothes… I hate the science of laundry. Sorting is about all the fun I have left! 🙂

    [Reply]

    Liane Reply:

    Hi Rebecca,
    You are not alone in this! I can’t wait till I can get rid of mine. I have been staying at my mom’s house lately and doing her laundry for her as she recovers from a broken hip. Her top loader does all the things I miss! You can toss in a load of dirty white socks with a cup of bleach with enough water to soak for a while or even over night. Her dryer had curved vanes in it unlike my very pricy high end dryer that has short stubby vanes and only manages to dry things in lumps. I also like how everything comes out of the washer clean on the first time.

    As for sorting, I accidentally left a white sock that had been spun into an invisible spot in the washer in the subsequent load of medium dark towels and it picked up color. As do my husband’s white handkerchiefs if left in jeans pockets.

    Even though it’s two of us I end up with doing one or two loads every day. I cannot wash two sets of sheets at once or more than two or three bath towels without the spin cycle failing to extract enough water to dry the stuff. I regret this pricey laundry set, cannot wait to by a cheap GE top loader where I can control with knobs the amount of water, the temp of the water, and not have to worry about oversudsing errors! I switched to Tide Pods and that issue, thankfully is gone. In my area HE is hard to find. The pods are HE and I order from Amazon.

    Liane

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — you are not alone rebecca! In all honesty, I probably prefer the older top-loading unit we had at our first house over the much fancier front-loading units in our current house. The main issue for us though is that our laundry room is SOOOOOOOOO small that we don’t even have room for side-by-side units 🙁 Eventually, we have plans to switch the laundry room with a bathroom and then I’m hoping to go back to a top-loading machine!

    [Reply]

  7. Laura

    04/05/2016

    What a brilliant idea!

    We sort laundry by whites and colors as we take clothes off, and I usually sort “nice clothes” from towels and jeans I load washers (at the mat) because it works out to three balanced loads.

    I love the idea of doing it by part of the house though! I will certainly be stealing that idea when we have a bigger place/kids!

    Thanks for sharing!

    Laura

    [Reply]

  8. Alicia

    04/05/2016

    I used to not sort a thing, also! Now I pretty much don’t sort, but I have noticed my whites becoming discolored so as I toss in laundry, I set aside my white and by the end of the week I have enough for a full load, which I also bleach and use oxiclean.

    I wash the boys clothes all together, and then mine and my husbands separately just because it’s easier that way. Then I do a load of whites and towels.

    I also try to do one load a day, and usually just throw everything in together !

    [Reply]

  9. Jennifer

    04/05/2016

    I don’t sort anything either!! Each kid had laundry basket in their rooms and when it’s full, we wash it. We have 3 kids as we’ll so there’s normally a load of laundry atleast every day. I try to make sure by Friday night so that we don’t have to worry about it during the weekend. I’ve never had trouble with clothes bleeding or anything like that. The only thing that I guess gets washed together are towels. Again, just convenience reason I guess.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I used to always do laundry on Saturday, but now I just hate having to laundry over the weekend when Dave is home… so I’m like you and try to always get it done by Friday!

    [Reply]

  10. Erica

    04/05/2016

    I sort mine – for a long time I just did whites and darks, but last year my aunt started giving me some of her nicer clothes, and a lot of those need to be washed on the gentle cycle, so occasionally I’ll have a small load of delicates to wash as well.

    [Reply]

  11. Debbie

    04/05/2016

    I still wash dark and bright colored clothes of mine in cold. Some I have to do in gentle cycle. I’ve noticed a few clothes that I did in normal cycle that look already worn out or have some small holes after only owning it for one year (lesson learned). My husband often washes his own clothes and I can tell his are mostly faded and old looking compared to items I’ve washed because he washes in warm and puts them all in the dryer.

    It doesn’t take much time for me to wash them in cold or gentle cycle because I use the Time Saver option. Overall laundry is one of my favorite tasks anyway so I’m good with it.

    [Reply]

  12. Sarah

    04/05/2016

    I have found the perfect (for me) laundry system! My kids do their own laundry start to finish. They started at age 6. Tuesday is their laundry day. No sorting. They just put all their clothes in a load and go. They each do their own load. Their loads have gotten smaller as they have learned that the more clothes they wear, the more they have to wash and fold 🙂 so they have learned to check and rewear. 🙂 I start a load every night before bed. I just look for the biggest load (white, colors) and if neither are significant, that’s the towel night. When I wake up, I switch it to the dryer and fold and put away as soon as it is done.
    I love this system because I never feel like I’m behind on laundry, and I don’t have to plan a schedule around a laundry day. I know it isn’t everyone’s way, but it works for me!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds pretty good to me!
    Dave and I would like to get our kids involved in the laundry process ASAP — but I wouldn’t have thought of starting as young as 6 (now you got me thinking though!) Does your 6 year old do the detergent and everything? That’s impressive!

    [Reply]

    Sarah Reply:

    Yes! I taught them how to pour to the correct line, how to decide on the load size, and what settings to use. For a short time, I taped the settings for them. I watched over their shoulders for the first few times and when they clearly knew what they were doing, I let them go with it. My son’s folding is never up to my standards (ha!) but he is getting better at it, and they take a lot of pride in doing their own laundry!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is awesome! I am totally filing this away for a couple years down the road!

    [Reply]

    Nicola Reply:

    I did my own and my brother’s laundry (hmmmm it was 1970’s) from age 8. Lots of scrubbing shirt collars by hand before dumping in the twin tub semi automatic washer. When I started university I was astonished that I had to teach my roommate how to wash clothes as she had never done any before!

    [Reply]

  13. Anna

    04/05/2016

    We do laundry based on location, how they are put away (such as easy to grab shirts and hang them very quickly without a mix of clothes that aren’t hung up and folded) and the type of clothes – important to get dress clothes not wrinkled and uses a different washer/dryer setting. It also helps to teach the kids how to put up their own clothes on Sundays and put in a load of laundry and take them out.

    Mon. – all other daily/weekend clothes
    Tues. – none
    Wed. – dress shirts
    Thurs. – jeans
    Fri. – Sheets/blankets
    Sat. – Dress Pants
    Sun. – Kids clothes, under-clothes together

    Basically I only do 1-2 loads of laundry a day including weekends this week.

    I try to make it as mindless as possible, while still making it easy for my husband or kids to do laundry and put them away without much guidance.

    [Reply]

  14. sarah

    04/05/2016

    We have a simple system that might sound hard. my hubby and I have 5 baskets on a rack in our closet. We sort as we undress — white, lights, colors, darks and we have one for towels. Each Sunday HUBBY does the 4 main baskets of our laundry. Then during the week my kids (10 and 5) bring down their hampers. They sort out the clothes from the towels, if they have too many clothes they sort it down to pj’s and then clothes. so they have either 1, 2 or 3 loads each week (3 is more when they miss a week) and I help run them during the days and my daughter has to put hers away and I still help my son, but he sorts it into the washer and helps move the laundry and is starting to help more in putting away. I have one basket I keep in the laundry room that has odds and ends for the house to be cleaned with ever load it fits with. Sounds crazy but I’m only doing laundry a couple of days during the week not all week long.

    [Reply]

  15. Kim

    04/05/2016

    I do each individually: my son and daughter, I wash and fold it and they put it away. My husband and my laundry go together. Towels, sheets, etc. all done separately as each bed is one load. That way you know where it goes and don’t have to sort into piles to put away, that never made sense to me. And a mountain of laundry never builds. The dirty stuff just goes in a laundry basket in everyone’s closet and once a weekish it gets done again.

    [Reply]

  16. Bev @ TheMakeYourOwnZone

    04/05/2016

    I recently read that sorting laundry should be by the weight of the fabric, more than by color and that made sense to me, and that’s what I do the most too. I don’t like to have my fancy lightweight “office” blouses in with a load of hubby’s jeans and sweatshirts. I feel like they will get all tangled up and be in the dryer way too long. But I really like your idea of doing a load by where the items will be put away. A timesaver for sure!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, sorting by weight does make more sense to me as well. We don’t have much dressy clothing — but sometimes, I’ll wash a bunch of sweaters all together so I know they won’t get caught on a zipper or velcro from another item of clothing!

    [Reply]

  17. Ashley

    04/05/2016

    I don’t sort by colors but by fabric type. I didn’t used to be even that picky but got tired of little holes showing up in my lighter-weight shirts. I do a white load, but that’s mostly because all of my hubby’s socks are white, along with his undershirts and a lot of my undies. It’s easier to good ask of this together, especially when all of the socks come out together!

    [Reply]

  18. Amy

    04/05/2016

    I’m jealous that this works for you. I’ve tried not sorting and my darks always bleed onto my lights. My daughter and I both have several shirts that are no longer white, but are pink or light blue instead. I do wash in warm because I can tell a noticeable difference in how clean our clothes get compared to washing in cold. Also, we wash my husband’s work clothes separately because they are extremely filthy and stinky. I definitely think as our kids get older though that I will try one load per bedroom though.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, I always use hot or warm water — never cold! I had to laugh the other day, I bought a package of new white socks for myself (cotton athletic socks) and the washing instructions said to use cold water and wash on the gentle cycle… yeah, like I’m going to take that much care and consideration for socks!

    [Reply]

    Amy Reply:

    Exactly! I never bother reading the washing instructions. I figure if it can’t get washed with the rest of my stuff then it wasn’t meant to be 🙂 Even though I sort, it doesn’t really take extra time or loads. I wash a load of lights, darks, and towels about every 10-14 days. We just have one laundry sorter for the 3 of us in our bathroom so it works out well.

    [Reply]

  19. Leanne

    04/05/2016

    I do not sort by color… sometimes, I don’t sort at all OR I sort by clothing type… 4 men in my house is a lot of pants, athletic pants, shorts, swimsuits…because they are easy to fold and put away quickly and they have fewer of them than tops, I’ll sort that load out…
    the #1 think I ALWAYS sort is my clothes. I put my own clothes in my own dirty laundry basket. When it’s full, I wash the contents of the basket…. I have had too many things ruined over the last 10 years by crayons, chapstick, ink pens, mystery sticky stuff, etc!!! and I like to line dry a few of my things so the don’t shrink 🙂

    [Reply]

  20. Jen

    04/05/2016

    I have gotten less strict about sorting as my kids have gotten older. I still do a whites load though because I think that, even though you might not necessarily see light pink or light blue socks, over time the whites definitely start to “gray” when they are washed with darker colors. I always do towels separately also because I don’t like fabric softener on my towels. I also wash with hot water–I think it makes a HUGE difference in the cleanliness of the clothes and I’m willing to pay for that perk–and that can be dicey with darks and whites sometimes.

    My boys do their own laundry for the most part, but when I help them, I do the loads by “child”, meaning I do all boy #1 laundry in a load and then do all boy #2 laundry in a different load (I do combine whites usually for reasons noted above!). When I do them separately, I don’t have to worry about which athletic shorts or socks belong to which boy, and that makes it MUCH easier!

    I am one of those crazy people who doesn’t really mind laundry. I even love to hang laundry outside if I can! Of course, as my kids have gotten older, the task of laundry has gotten much easier. But I would take laundry over cleaning bathrooms ANY DAY!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I almost ALWAYS wash with hot water too — totally worth the few pennies it costs to heat the water! Sometimes, I’ll use warm — but I can’t even tell you the last time I washed anything with cold water.

    [Reply]

  21. Heidi

    04/05/2016

    My method is very similar, no sorting at our house. I wash me and my husband’s laundry on Monday, two of our sons’ laundry on Tuesday, Wednesday is our daughter and oldest son’s laundry and Thursday is our kitchen towels and any miscellaneous items that need washing. I just include each person’s towel and washcloths with their laundry. I used to do all our laundry on Monday, just like my grandmother did, but it became so overwhelming as our family grew. So now it’s just part of my daily routine and not a hassle at all.

    [Reply]

  22. Beth

    04/05/2016

    I sort out delicates for a cold load and I sometimes separate bedding too. However, I wash everything else together. There are 6 in our family and I’ve never noticed any fading or things coming out dirty. I agree with you that it is a simpler way of doing laundry.

    I really enjoy your site, Andrea. My mother-in-law showed it me a few years ago, and I’ve used a lot of your tips and recipes. Thanks, Beth

    [Reply]

  23. Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life

    04/05/2016

    That sounds like a really great system! We have a basket in our room upstairs and one in the only bathroom on the main floor so towels and clothes end up in each. I do our laundry all in one day and do a separate load for towels and for sheets, but everything else goes in together. I’m not too picky and we’ve never had problems doing it that way.

    [Reply]

  24. Chris

    04/05/2016

    I don’t sort laundry either. I use cold water. Sometimes I will use hot, like for sheets, so then I don’t want to put dark colors in that load.

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    I do try to somewhat sort of keep my son’s and my husband’s clothes separately, since I get their clothing mixed up and put their clothes in the other’s rooms.

    [Reply]