My 7 Laundry Don’ts

posted by Andrea | 07/26/2013

laundry don'ts

I’ve blogged a lot about laundry over the years — but never-the-less, it’s still one of the MOST common categories I receive questions about on a weekly basis.

And while I’m thrilled that you think I might be some sort of laundry guru, I must be honest and admit that laundry is one of the household chores I’m MOST relaxed about. I don’t slack off, I don’t procrastinate, and I don’t leave piles of dirty (or clean) laundry laying around my house for lengthy periods of time — I’m just super relaxed with the way I do laundry.

In fact, when it comes to laundry, there are several things I DON’T do that have drastically helped me to simplify this otherwise time-consuming household chore!  

1. I don’t use cloth diapers.

I have no issue with cloth diapers, nor do I think it’s bad for others to use cloth diapers, it’s just never something Dave or I wanted to do.

Based on my experience using disposable while watching several close friends and family members use cloth, I’m extremely happy with our decision  – mainly because I don’t love the idea of extra laundry, and my gag reflexes still haven’t subsided even after 20 months of changing poopy diapers :)

Also, for those of you who will inevitably try to sway me by saying cloth diapers are cheaper in the long-run, I should also mention that I’ve spent almost $0.00 out-of-pocket to keep Nora in disposable diapers her first 20 months of life (and I still have several large boxes of diapers in an upstairs closet waiting) — thanks mostly in part to Swagbucks and lots of bargain shopping.

Plus, the diaper boxes are just SO fun to play with.

2. I don’t shy away from white.

OK, so white might seem like a negative when it comes to doing laundry — but in my experience, white is one of the easiest “colors” to keep clean.

ALL our sheets, blankets, pillow cases, towels, wash cloths, rags, cloth napkins, etc. are white or cream — which means they can easily be bleached (or cleaned with Oxy-Clean… see below).

We even have a bunch of totally white rugs, which I realize sounds absolutely insane, but I promise they are not grungy looking and I don’t spend tons of time keeping them clean. I just toss them in the washer about once a month and they are bright white again.

Even our white couch (which everyone warned me  not to buy) has held up marvelously over the past few years. Nora can try to destroy it all she wants — because I’ve easily managed to remove crayons, strawberries, coffee (from Dave, not Nora) and more with just a quick pass through the washer and dryer.

crayon on our white couch

3. I don’t pre-treat any spots.

I don’t pre-treat ANYTHING (seriously, I don’t even own spot treatment of any type). Everything, even stuck-on stains, gets thrown in the washer with a large scoop of Oxi-Clean and 99.9% of the time, things come out spotless.

I’ve removed completely dried and set-in ink, spit up, strawberries, spaghetti sauce, grape juice, wine, coffee, crayon, and more with no spot treatment, no scrubbing, and no stress. Just a scoop of Oxi-Clean before I press start and I’m good to go.

4. I don’t sort any colors.

Besides separating the whites out, I don’t sort anything… period! This is not because I’m lazy, just simply because after years of sorting, I realized that it really wasn’t necessary — at least not with the newer washing machines.

So yes, this means that Nora’s light pink dress might get thrown in with a bright blue beach towel, Dave’s work jeans, a red sports jersey, and my nice gray sweater. Seriously folks, I throw every thing in together regardless of fabric type, color, weight, or washing instructions — even the hand-wash items and dry-clean-only items get thrown in the mix. (Read more about how I wash “dry-clean-only” items in our washer)

I have never had issues with bleeding colors, and if I’m concerned, I just use cold water.

5. I don’t buy fancy or expensive clothing.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I’m not a huge fan of shopping — especially for clothing. We’re satisfied wearing jeans and a t-shirt most days… which means we don’t have a lot of delicate, fancy, or expensive clothing to worry about ruining in the wash. If one of our t-shirts somehow gets ruined, we turn it into a rag and life goes on.

And in the rare instance that a stain isn’t totally removed (usually on Nora’s clothing), I simply get creative with iron-on patches to cover the stain or layer clothing to hide it.

6. I don’t have many clothes baskets.

In my own experience (and working with many disorganized clients) laundry overload is caused not by the amount of dirty clothing waiting to be washed, but the amount of CLEAN clothing waiting to be folded and put away.

Piles and piles of clean clothing that sits on the couch, on the kitchen table, or on the bed… some gets knocked onto the floor, then you’re unsure if it’s clean or dirty so you put it back in with the dirty clothing just to be safe. In the mean time, no one has any clean clothing in their closet and you can’t use your couch, your bed, or your table!

Sound familiar?

So I made a point to only have 3 very small laundry baskets to force myself to quickly fold and put away clothes from one load before the clean laundry backs up. If 2 baskets are filled with clothing, I know I better start folding before the next load is done as my goal is to never have all 3 baskets full and waiting at one time. I know this might sound like a silly game, but it works well for me and is just the right amount of “pressure” I need to stay on top of the clean laundry!

7. I don’t run the full-length cycle for washing.

I’ve done plenty of laundry experiments of the years, and I’ve decided that our clothing is just as clean if I use the quick cycle versus the regular full-length cycle — and I can save about 40 minutes plus a whole bunch of water in the process.

Plus, since our dryer is so efficient, it actually dries our clothing FASTER than the washing machine can wash it. So by using the quick cycle on the washer, the two units finish within minutes of each other, which means I don’t waste any time waiting for one or the other.

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I’m guessing that many of you think I’m crazy right now — and if my grandmother had a computer to read this post, she would be shaking her head along with you :)

I promise I’m not lazy about our laundry (or any other household chores), I’m just committed to simplifying anything I can, and these 7 factors have definitely helped me to simplify our weekly laundry routine.

I don’t hate doing laundry by any means, but it’s certainly not a priority over work, family, or relaxation… so why make it any more challenging or labor-intensive than it has to be… right?

Do you share any of my laundry don’ts? Do you have any of your own don’ts?

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96 comments

  1. Luba

    07/27/2013

    I sort laundry, but not a ton: whites/towels, colors/darks, and delicate. Most of the time I try to line dry them (or on a rack). I love the biodegradable laundry detergent I recently discovered. It leaves clothes smelling clean instead of smelling like chemicals. :) If I use softener, it’s vinegar.

    [Reply]

    Sandy K Reply:

    Luba, what is the name of the detergent you recently discovered? How much vinegar do you use for softener? I’d be interested in trying it.

    [Reply]

    Luba Reply:

    Sandra, I use Multi Purpose Detergent for my laundry detergent. For more details, please e-mail me at clarinetgal (at) randomlysa (dot) com. I use probably a tablespoon of vinegar for white loads, but maybe half of that amount for colors (I learned the hard way that vinegar also fades colors if it is used too much). Also, no, the clothes do *not* smell like vinegar. :)

    [Reply]

  2. Jelli

    07/27/2013

    I DON’T iron. Ever.

    [Reply]

  3. Kristen

    07/29/2013

    I agree with those who not always so impressed with OxiClean. I started using it with Baby #2 and it seems like I need to let things soak for a really long time to see results (I’m talking about spit-up rags, soiled outfits etc.) Maybe the temp of the water is key here (I usually mix hot and warm water)? I don’t spend money on super expensive clothes but I do always take the time to tend to stains. I really don’t think that the OxiClean would take care of them without a little extra work.

    Also, how do you get so many of your diapers for free through Swagbucks? I do Swagbucks but have never really thought about using them for that. Do you just order them through Amazon? I pretty much always get the Amazon gift cards because I think they are the most useful for a variety of things. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  4. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    07/29/2013

    I’m right there with you. I pretty much do it the same way you do.

    [Reply]

  5. Jeanene

    08/01/2013

    I just read your blog post and totally agree with you! Having the majority of your laundry one color like that is so smart, no sorting. In the past I would hold off on washing a load of, say red garments, because there wasn’t enough for a full load yet. And I would wait and wait….so I have smartened up and us color in other ways, like scarves and jewelry, shoes. Anyway, I use cold water almost exclusively as well, so it really doesn’t make sense to sort all the colors, and it doesn’t make a bit of difference. (Except that purple bathing suit, I did wash it separately the first time, and good thing I did….) I don’t use fabric softener, no vinegar, or a clothes dryer. I use a wooden drying rack and a fan if I’m in a hurry, or hang the laundry outside in the fresh air and sunshine, which are the best anti-bacterial agents ever! I do believe in cloth diapers, though, for environmental reasons as much as anything else. I use only my own natural handmade laundry detergent, so it is safe for the environment as opposed to all the paper and plastic.

    [Reply]

  6. Charity

    08/12/2013

    Love this post! I just took a week off to re-think the way I do laundry. I had serious clothing management issues in my family of 6. I got very tired of clothes on the floor and vowed I never wanted to spend more than 15 minutes doing laundry. I realized that putting folded laundry away was the biggest barrier to success. So I made it as easy as possible. I put my folded laundry directly into their appropriate cubes instead of laundry baskets. Then I just slide the cubes into their drawers. Done. No clothes on the floor… ever. With 6 people, I also realized that my “piles” of laundry could be as many as 36 seperate piles to put away with every load. I only wanted two per person, so there was never an excuse for not putting laundry away… all my children are fortunate enough to have 2 hands for working. So I also changed the way I sort laundry. I sort it by the way I put it away – tops, bottoms & pjs/etc. I realized that for each set I would never need to do more than two loads. I did a lot of other things as well to get it worked out, but all in all I successfully acheived my goal of never more than 2 loads a day and no more laundry on the floor. My clothing mangement system was all about doing it my way… and breaking ALL the rules. I am VERY happy with it!

    [Reply]

    Mrs. W Reply:

    What do you mean by cubes? That sounds really interesting!

    [Reply]

  7. Links I Love This Week

    08/24/2013

    [...] I loved Andrea’s list of her 7 Laundry Don’ts! I know there are lots of strong opinions on laundry, but I find myself agreeing with Andrea. I [...]

  8. tomi

    08/24/2013

    So I am late to the game…but what’s it with oxiclean? I was jsut a a friends hosue and she was soaking clothes in oxiclean in her tub….do you use it in place of your detergent?

    [Reply]

  9. Jojo

    09/01/2013

    I agree with you on all points but one…Cloth diapers. Conventional disposable diapers are full of chemicals and petroleum – based plastics, not stuff I want on my baby’s sensitive skin! ( Babies and young children will absorb toxins and pesticides through their skin far more quickly than older children and adults ) Not to mention the environmental impacts of the millions of disposable diapers getting buried in landfills every day. Even if they are “free”, they are just not a healthy choice, for our planet or for baby .

    We used “Fuzzi Buns” cloth diapers (and loved them) but when we did need a disposable we chose chemical- free, biodegradable brands like “Nature Babycare” . Even Target and Diapers.com carry them!

    [Reply]

  10. jK

    09/28/2013

    I agree, for the most part. .The only sorting that I do is by dirt type (seriously). With the farm dirt and outside dirt, I have found it most efficient to run those clothes like shirts on a short load, and work pants, barn pants, outside clothes in general on heavy. I will note this: I own a new top load and a new front load; the front load is very bad at getting out actual dirt. Yes, you are TOTALLY right on the clothes baskets! I love it when clothes goes ‘missing’, to one kid’s room and they never find it for their siblings.

    [Reply]

  11. Louise

    09/29/2013

    All sounds good but I am from Australia and have never seen oxiclean…does anyone know how to get it in Australia or another similar product?

    [Reply]

  12. Shelley

    09/30/2013

    Hi Andrea, I have a question. Do you only use Oxy Clean for your Laundry? Or do you use Oxy clean + other detergent? Do you use softener?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I use Oxiclean as you would use spot treatment — so I just dump a scoop in along with whatever regular detergent or bleach I’m already using. I don’t use fabric softener.

    [Reply]

  13. mickie

    12/16/2013

    I am also in the non-sorting camp. I only separate out whites/towels if I’m going to bleach them. In 25 years of doing laundry, I’ve had maybe one or two episodes of bleeding – and they were both with new items (sorting new dark jeans for the first wash is a good idea). Makes life easier! My bottleneck is always at putting clothes away. I wash about one load a day, and don’t fold the kids’ clothes or kitchen towels – I just sort them into “their” baskets in the laundry room, and fold big towels and grownup clothes.

    [Reply]

  14. Pascale

    01/14/2014

    Hi Andrea,

    When I told my husband that you don’t pre treat anything and use OxyClean, he was asking if you could do that when using a natural detergent such as 7th Generation.

    He was also asking which laundry detergent you use.

    By the way, thank you for all the other answers you gave me. I tried to reply to your email, but saw that it was a no reply email.

    Thank you.
    Pascale

    [Reply]

  15. Alex

    02/26/2014

    Amen! I thought I was a disgrace to domestic life. I just need more motivation to out it away :(
    Just discovered your blog. Love it

    [Reply]