Simplify Your Laundry Routine

posted by Andrea | 02/28/2011

Laundry might seem like a never-ending chore — especially if you have a large family. But it doesn’t have to be!

Make this task go more quickly and easily with these simple tips to help you get you out of the laundry room and back to more important things!

1. Stop sorting.

I was always told to separate my laundry by darks, lights, and whites — and I did this religiously for several years.

Then I realized it wasn’t necessary!

Thanks to better washing machines and higher quality fabrics that aren’t as likely to run, I simply shove the laundry into the machine and shut the door. I mix towels with t-shirts and skits with socks. I really don’t care as long as it’s clean!

2. Stop ironing.

I’ve pulled my iron out about 4 times in as many years! I don’t love ironing, so I make a point to only buy wrinkle-free clothing, and I fold or hang our clothes immediately when the dryer stops.

Plus, we don’t cram our closets full so our clothings stays neatly on the hanger until we wear it again.

3. Use vinegar.

Instead of expensive fabric softeners, I’ve switched to vinegar and safety pins as a really quick and inexpensive way to reduce our static cling.

Vinegar is also a great {eco-friendly} way to remove soap build-up from your clothing, which will help them last longer.

4. Streamline your baskets.

It’s OK to have several laundry baskets, but if you streamline and get all the same size and style, they will stack together nicely and take up much less space.

I like the smaller square baskets because they fit inside most closets and can double as a hamper.

5. Delegate.

Don’t feel like you have to put all your family’s clothing away for them. Even young children can be taught to put folded clothing in their drawers.

Also, if you have older children, consider delegating ALL the laundry responsibilities to them. This will free up your time and teach them a valuable lesson. {You son’s wives will thank you some day!}

6. Do a little each day.

Don’t let your laundry pile up until you have no clothes left to wear. Do one load every day and you’ll never be overwhelmed.

I know this sounds simple, but seriously, it works!

7. Get organized.

Laundry becomes much less efficient {and much MORE stressful} if your laundry room is cluttered with various detergents, products, and other items.

Take time to go through your laundry room and clear the clutter. Now!

8. Get more use out of your clothes.

There’s no reason why you can’t wear clothes more than once before washing them.

Unless I spill something or get very sweaty, I will usually wear my clothes at least two times before putting them in the wash. The same goes for our towels and sheets.

Obviously, socks and underwear don’t get second chances, but everything else sure can!

9. De-clutter your closet.

If you don’t have as many clothes to pick from, you won’t have as much laundry to wash. Get rid of anything you don’t love, need, want, or use.

Plus, if your closet is less crammed, your clothes won’t get wrinkly as quick! {see # 2 above}

10. What are YOUR best laundry tip?

Do you have a trick to simplify your laundry routine? Please share :)

With a few tweaks to your laundry routine, you can simplify this dreaded chore and save yourself a bunch of time each week!

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50 comments

  1. Sharon

    07/28/2010

    Wow…such great tips.
    I’m always overwhelmed with laundry but I think your suggestions will help me get back on track.

    I LOVE your website and will be returning often.

    Thanks for sharing your organization wisdom with all of us!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Sharon!
    So many seem to be overwhelmed with laundry…it just piles up so quickly. These tips seem to help a lot of my clients so hopefully they’ll work for you too!

    [Reply]

  2. Lauren

    02/28/2011

    THANK YOU for giving me public permission to cram all those colors into one load. I have been a closet multi-color-washing-mama for years, and now I have the courage to stand next to you and admit it! Now, I won’t wash a new red shirt in with all my lights… I wash dark items once by themselves first before throwing them all together… but that’s the end of my strategy.

    Thank you for making me feel normal! :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh you’re welcome Lauren!
    Laundry has always been one area where I’m all about “getting it done” as quick as possible.

    I usually wash the darks at least once by themselves too…but I don’t buy expensive clothing so if something gets ruined, I’ll just use it for a rag!

    [Reply]

  3. Terry Elisabeth

    03/01/2011

    I love hearing that you don’t have to separate the colors. However, if I want my white t-shirt to saty really white, I have to keep those kinds of white from any other color.
    My trick is to put vinegar in the water to make colors stick and I use my old essential oils to disinfect/deodorize clothes.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, sometimes we keep our “nice” whites separate from dark clothing, but if it’s just towels and rags, I don’t care.

    I use vinegar too — which does seem to help, but I haven’t tried essential oils yet…

    [Reply]

  4. Tiffany @ No Ordinary Homestead

    03/01/2011

    Great tips!
    I can’t imagine not separating darks from lights –but it’s not such a chore since I only do laundry once a week for adults and once for or daughter. Don’t the whites end up dingy?

    Everything else comes as it needs to be cleaned so I really don#t stress about laundry. It’s the folding that tends to be the issue now. Even when I tell myself to just fold it in the evening on the couch, I still tend to put it off.

    Use vinegar all the time and natural detergents — but have been playing with the idea of making my own detergent for a long while now. Just have to get up my nerve and order the materials already ;)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    We almost always mix darks and lights together — just to keep it easy. Of course, if I get a new pair of dark jeans or other very dark clothing, I’ll probably wash it with only darks one or two times…just to be safe.

    Lately, I’ve even been washing our whites in with the colors {as an experiment} and they come out looking just fine. You might just have to try it sometime!!

    [Reply]

  5. oh amanda

    03/01/2011

    Yes! I have finally stopped sorting! I mean, really, what’s the point when you buy a shirt for $5 at Target?! ;)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Amen — our clothes are not expensive and most everything is cotton. So when they pass their prime…they turn into rags!

    [Reply]

  6. Antoinette

    03/01/2011

    Have absolutely LOVED the vinegar tip for reducing static cling and our clothes don’t smell any different. I’m also thinking that it will save my dryer because the lint catcher won’t get the waxy buildup from all those dryer sheets.

    I also use a fraction of the soap “recommended” and wash everything in hot water – again most of our clothes are cotton or cotton/poly so no “sensitive” fabrics…we also buy most of our clothes from thrift stores so everything is nicely pre-shrunk :-).

    For grease stains (toddler wipes peanut butter all over his shirts and pants), Dawn liquid dish soap is FABULOUS. Just slather it on and then toss it in with a regular batch of wash. It even works well if you don’t happen to catch the mess the first time through the wash and bake-it-in dryer :-).

    I still use Shout as my go-to stain remover but am toying with the idea of making my own (got a “recipe” from a lady here at work).

    P.S. haven’t sorted for years (other than toddler’s clothes, teen’s clothes, our clothes, our underwear, socks/towels) and LOVE the freedom. Hmmm – I guess that could be a tip – usually one load of wash per room/person that way I’m not traipsing all over the house delivering to multiple rooms every time I do a batch.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yay…so glad the vinegar tip worked for you too! And I love your tip for sorting laundry based on person. That must make quick work of putting everything away.

    Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  7. Jennifer

    03/01/2011

    I just stopped sorting about a month ago and feel like a free woman! Thanks for the tips. You have a great site! I’ve been inspired to buckle down on some of my organizational projects I’ve been putting off. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow…thanks so much Jennifer!

    Glad to hear you’re making progress towards a simple, more organized life…that’s always my goal too!

    [Reply]

  8. Kim

    03/01/2011

    Haven’t sorted for years. Once in awhile I’ll do a load of bleached white tops. My laundry tip is this, only own two laundry baskets, one for dirty, one for clean. Then you’ll never have loads and loads of laundry laying around. My teens all do their own laundry, they have since they were about 8, or I’ll barter with them (cuz I like folding) and I’ll get them to do one of my chores and I’ll do their laundry.

    [Reply]

  9. Miranda

    03/01/2011

    Great tips!
    I only sort into two categories: our clothes and our daughter’s clothes since I wash hers in dye and fragrance free detergent. I have a separate basket for her clothes so that it isn’t a huge pain to sort.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like a good system! Someone else mentioned they sort by person too — I’ll have to remember that tip!

    [Reply]

  10. Betsy (Eco-novice)

    03/01/2011

    I agree with and do lots of these, including: no ironing, same baskets, have kids help, wear clothes more than once, and de-clutter your closet, but I absolutely disagree with #6. I do laundry as seldom as possible. Besides cloth diapers (which I was twice a week), I only do my laundry about once every 2 weeks. Then I do it ALL at once, all full loads. But I sort, cause I like my delicates on delicate and my disgusting cleaning rags by themselves.

    My sister, with 6 kids, has a laundry day once a week. She starts with the lightest clothes, fills up a load, and then just continues on using the lightest of the stuff left until she has another full load and so on. So she only sorts that one day while washing. AND her kids start doing their own laundry around age 8.

    [Reply]

  11. LisaE

    03/01/2011

    Between my 4 kids (3 teens and a preteen) and my husband and I, socks were always going missing…there’s a dark hole somewhere for socks, I just know it! :) I decided to buy each person a mesh lingerie bag, and everyone’s dirty socks go in their own bag; I just throw the bag in the washer then the dryer, and everyone’s socks stay put! AND – no more sorting socks!! It’s working well for us – hope it helps someone else, too.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Oh my word Lisa…that is possibly one of the BEST laundry tips ever! Who doesn’t struggle with lost or mismatched socks?

    Your mesh bags are genius! Thanks for sharing :)

    [Reply]

  12. Suzanne

    03/02/2011

    I have found that doing a load of laundry first thing Saturday morning that doesn’t take folding, like my son’s bedding, or his clothes which are small and can sit in the basket for a bit, so I can at least start on laundry, even if I’m sleepy and don’t want to hang things up yet.

    I also use mesh bags for bras. I don’t handwash or do delicate, but they are more protected in a regular load that way.

    [Reply]

  13. Rebecca

    03/02/2011

    LOL! I *never* sort my laundry, which {for some inexplicable reason} really freaks my husband out. {I think his mother must have been a compulsive sorter, or something.}

    I loved all your points … the only thing I would disagree with is #6 {Do a little each day}. For about two years I lived in an apartment with no laundry facilities, which got me in the habit of doing laundry just once a week. Now that I have a washer and dryer again, I have been trying to stick that that schedule. It actually is less stressful for me that way – instead of feeling pressure to wash {and then dry, fold, and put away} a load every day or two, I can get it all done with at once and not have to think about it again for another week.

    Thanks for all you do! I really enjoy your site and look forward to reading your posts each day.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Rebecca,
    Yes, I suppose the “one load per day” is someone controversial — but because of my business schedule, I’m often not home on Saturdays {or for extended periods of time during the day} so if I can do one load per day, it really helps me out.
    Plus, I have lots of working moms who read this blog and they might only be able to get one load done after dinner each night — which is better than nothing!

    p.s. your mother-in-law comment just cracks me up!

    [Reply]

  14. Joules

    03/02/2011

    Vinegar and safety pins? Huh, wha? Sounds just crazy enough to work, I am all over this:)

    [Reply]

  15. Carrie

    03/04/2011

    I’ve been working on potty training recently and I discovered how much easier it is to stay on top of the laundry if you do a little bit every day. I used to think it was best to have a big laundry day once a week…but that was not fun!! :-)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I used to do all our laundry on the same day too…but then I got really busy and didn’t have an entire day to do laundry anymore. That’s when I switched to one load a day {or more} and it’s working great for us. Glad to hear I’m not the only one too busy to do laundry!!

    [Reply]

    debi korfker Reply:

    maybe i’ll try this one-a-day thing-’cause this once a week schedule IS NOT WORKING! with 7 of us-it is SOOOOOOO overwhelming! ;)

    [Reply]

  16. Ways to Simplify Your Laundry Routine | A Purpose Driven Home

    03/04/2011

    [...] over at Simple Organized Living has some great ways to Simplify Your Laundry Routine.  Laundry definitely piles up at our house, especially with me being so pregnant and ready to [...]

  17. Kymberly

    03/15/2011

    Mine are the same as yours – and it’s always such an epiphany to others.

    I’m still evangelizing “Don’t sort!” to the skeptical masses.

    Other than brand new items which wisely need a test wash first, I don’t sort. At all. With the same fine results you have.

    Will def try the vinegar as I have a son allergic to the scent/dye in fabric softener.

    My additional tip: stop sorting socks. I’m frugal but for the men in my house, we periodically dump all the old worn socks and replace with a couple packs of brand new athletic socks. Feels so ritzy but it’s like $12.

    When all the socks match – there is no “matching” socks.

    Some families go so far as to have one big sock basket. I can’t go there (yet) but it’s intriguing.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    ha…you make me laugh Kymberly. Glad to hear you’re another organized laundry woman! And yes, I do get a lot of questions about my “no sorting” policy.

    Thanks for the sock tips and let me know how you like the vinegar :)

    [Reply]

  18. honour

    04/15/2011

    dump socks in a mesh lingerie bag to end ‘orphan’ socks. Buy socks by the dozen, all the same; no matching needed.

    take empty hangers along with dirty clothes basket to machine. Hang as much as possible as quickly as possible from the dryer; ends the need to iron. Anything that seems to wrinkled to wear, spry with a bit of spray starch and ‘finger’ press.

    Everyone over 8 y/o takes their own clothes from laundry room to their closet/dresser. Serious penalty meted out for those who dump clean, not worn clothes, into laundry, rather than re-hung, when the teen changes his mind!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for all your great tips — sounds like you have things down to a science!

    [Reply]

  19. Helen

    05/03/2011

    My family goes through a lot of clothes from school uniforms, work clothes to casual homes clothes. Since we live in damp coastal town I found that the clothes in the laundry basket will get musty fast so I had to design a system that everything is washed and dried within 24-36 hours. Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays I do all of the whites which happens to include my bed linens, the kitchen towels and and most bath towels. On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays I wash the colors and darks and the bathroom mats. Sundays I usually only wash the wet wash cloths and bath towels so they are not sitting getting musty.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    sounds like you have a pretty good system that works well for you and your family. That’s crazy that your clothing gets musty — I’ve never heard of that before! It must be REALLY humid where you live!

    [Reply]

  20. Marcie

    08/01/2011

    I hate laundry. In college I would reward myself with a vending machine treat while I did it! Now I have 7 kids and am required to TRY to be organized. I put a curtain rod up that spans the washer and dryer. I keep all empty hangers there. EVERYTHING gets hung up except underwear, socks, and pajamas. I ALWAYS do whites together because I can’t imagine them getting clean enough in cold water! I use different hangers for different people so putting them away is easy (unless my husband “helps”)! Because I hate doing laundry, I usually do it all on the weekend when I have more help, but during the school year, when things are calmer I like to do a few loads during the week.

    [Reply]

  21. Jessica

    10/10/2011

    I too like to keep laundry stream lined and organized. That’s why I have set up baskets in our rooms. My favorite system is the laundry baskets in our master closet. We have three tall baskets all labeled “darks, colors and whites.” When our clothes are dirty throw them in the basket and when it’s full it’s a perfect load. We have all white towels, wash clothes, and dish rags to make a full load of whites since I like to bleach them. My daughter has one tall hamper in her room since all her clothes are the same colors. I end up doing 4 loads a week, and 5 every other week when I wash the sheets. I also hang dry our clothes, laundry gets done much faster and everything is put away at one time. It also forces me to empty the washer and move it to the line.

    [Reply]

  22. I need HELP reClaiming My Laundry Room [IF it is possible!?] « Kids On The Grand

    12/29/2011

    [...] Organizing Junkie to eliminate the sorting ritual.  Really, can you do that? And she, along with Andrea at Simple Organized Living suggest using VINEGAR in your wash.  Doesn’t that make your clothes stink?  If I could cut [...]

  23. Kamila

    02/05/2012

    This is what I did. I have a 2 and a 4yo. I set two baskets into the hallway closet and put a picture of a white cat over the white basket and a picture of blue train over the blue basket. My kids are taught as soon as they take their dirty, filthy, muddy clothes of to take them to the blue train basket. All white/light stuff goes to the kitty basket. The pictures are just visual cues so my little daughter can sort them more successfully. So far it’s going well.

    Also, I live in a very dry part of Colorado and the static in the entire house is very high. I was several times a week, do it about an 1.5 hrs before going to bed. Hang my laundry on a rack before going to bed, clothes are super dry in the morning. I’ll take them the rack first thing in the morning and put away the rack. House is humidified and my laundry is done before breakfast. In the super dry summer, I do laundry once a week and can do as many as 3 loads per day, drying on the line outside is almost instantaneous and it smells wonderful.

    Hope this will help someone! Thanks for your great post.

    [Reply]

  24. Cammie

    03/12/2012

    Here is my tip for those of us who still like to sort but don’t want it to take all day every day. Have your kids (yes even the little ones!) bring laundry hampers to a central location once a day. Sort right then in to the nice hampers that have multiple areas that stay in the laundry area and call it a day. Whatever compartment/color fills up first gets washed that day. I do the 1 load a day for sure! With 5 people in our family it’s a must! We sort like this: Blacks, Lights, Jeans, Colors, Pinks/Reds (two girls so there ya go!), Towels. Lets you do 1 load a day Mon-Sat. Sunday is our day of rest. No laundry! YAY! :)

    [Reply]

  25. Becky

    03/12/2012

    I do most of those except I do separate my whites. Not sure f it was the water or
    Something but I found they would get a little dingy if I waned them with everything else. So I wash them separately and then every once in a while add a little bleach. Works wonderfully for our stuff

    [Reply]

  26. julia

    02/20/2013

    How can you wash all the clothes together without them bleeding and everything coming out a different color??? Would appreciate the help!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    This is just what I’ve always done Julia — and I’ve honestly never had an issue with colors running. I usually wash white separately, but all colors go in together. I will say, the if we have a brand new, bright red/orange/black shirt, I will wash it in cold water with only “like” colors for the first time… but other than that, I never, ever sort!
    Also, I know they make “color catching sheets” that look like dryer sheets. You can get them at most super markets and they go in the wash with your clothes and “catch” any colors that might run. I don’t use them, but I know others who swear by them.
    Hope this helps!

    [Reply]

  27. Dawn

    02/20/2013

    I personally like to sort since I wash different colors in different temperatures. (Whites in hot with bleach, etc. ) but I have found that sorting really isn’t a chore anymore. A few years ago we bought multiple hampers in different colors and each one is for a different color of laundry. White hamper is for whites, dark blue hamper for darks, and light green hamper for lights. Nice and simple! So now when we are putting things into hampers we just toss into the correct hamper and no worries come laundry day of sorting these major piles. When I do a load of laundry I just grab a hamper and I have a manageable amount of laundry to carry to the laundry room with me from the bedroom :)

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Wow Dawn — that’s a great idea! I don’t sort laundry because we’d have to wait a month before we had enough of one color to do a load, but I’ll definitely keep this idea in mind for the future once we have more kids / more laundry! Thanks :)

    [Reply]

  28. Lisa

    02/20/2013

    Along with the no sorting… I have a laundry basket in each of my kids’ rooms that their dirty clothes goes into. I wash only one kids’ clothes at a time (when the basket gets full of dirties). Makes putting it away even easier because it all goes back into the same room it came out of.

    [Reply]

    Davina Sanchez Reply:

    I really like this idea! I think I need to give my kids a basket instead of a hamper and have them wash it when it’s full. It would make MY life so much easier!

    [Reply]

  29. judi veilleux

    02/26/2013

    On the sorting issue … When I had small children … I tried to do a load a day but never had a full load of whites, colors or darks . So I started dressing myself & the kids in like colors . If one was in red we were all in red . Made life easier for me with laundry .

    [Reply]

  30. Shara Bieniek

    04/20/2013

    I am hoping some of you wonderful people will have some great tips on pet hair removal in the dryer. We have 3 Dogs, 2 cats all rescues and wow the hair. I have switched to Ava Anderson Nontoxic laundy tabs and we love them, we use vinegar for the fabric softener and my dear hubby still wants to use the dryer sheets. I would love to get away from using these as they are full of chemicals. Thank you for any suggestions. I will definitely be trying the safety pins and I love the separate basket idea.

    [Reply]

  31. Caitlin Anderson

    08/21/2013

    For all the soap nut lovers, or anyone with sensitive skin… I use a laundry ball that cleans with ceramic beads and recharges in the sun. It works awesome and lasts most families around 18 months. You can check it out at MyH2OAtHome.com/CAnderson. I will definitely be trying the safety pins! I’ve also heard that crumpled up aluminum foil balls work, but haven’t tried them yet. Thank you for all of your wonderful tips Andrea! Your blog is a joy!

    [Reply]

  32. Shannon

    02/26/2014

    I don’t sort my laundry either. One thing that I have found to be a great time saver is I don’t mix everyone’s laundry. One day I do my daughter’s, then the next day I do my son’s, and then my and my hubby’s. I makes folding laundry much simpler….this is great since I HATE FOLDING LAUNDRY!!!!!! :)

    [Reply]