My 7 Laundry Don’ts

posted by Andrea | 03/12/2019

I’ve blogged a lot about laundry over the years — but never-the-less, it’s still one of the more common questions I receive each week. 

I have to chuckle to myself every time I get a laundry question because laundry is one of the household chores I am 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 — BUT, as you’ll read in this post, I am 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, it’s just never something Dave or I wanted to do.

After 7+ years of changing multiple diapers a day (we had 2 in diapers for several of those years) I’m extremely happy with our decision  — mainly because I don’t love the idea of ALL that extra laundry!

We’ve been super happy with the Seventh Generation diapers (and wipes) from ePantry, and I love the humongous boxes of Kirkland diapers from Costco!

 

2. I don’t shy away from white.

OK, so white might seem like a negative when it comes to doing laundry (or having children!) 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 white rugs in our bathrooms, 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 8 years.

The kids jump all over it, play on it, use the cushions for forts, and spill on it… it always comes clean again. 

crayon on our white couch

3. I don’t pre-treat stains.

I don’t pre-treat anything — it all just 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, 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.

NOTE: I do almost always use hot water.

4. I don’t sort colors.

Besides separating the whites out, I don’t sort anything else… 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.

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)

One thing I have started doing in recent years is washing the “upstairs” items in one load and the “downstairs items” in another load — this is simply because one hamper’s-worth of clothing is pretty equivalent to one full load for our washing machine. This makes it super easy to put things away again because one basket goes straight upstairs, the other stay on the main floor. 

NOTE: Read more about our currently laundry system in this post

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 very relaxed clothing most days… which means we don’t have a lot of delicate, fancy, or expensive clothing to worry about ruining in the wash.

Since 98% of our clothing are secondhand finds, we aren’t out more than $0.50 or $1.00 if something gets ruined. We just toss it in the rag pile and life goes on. 

6. I don’t have lots of 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 sit 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?

I’ve made a point to only have 3 small laundry baskets in order 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 use laundry detergent.

I know, I know… this one is crazy! 

However, for almost a year now, I’ve been using Eco-Friendly Laundry Balls instead of laundry detergent — and while there is some speculation on the internet, I truly do feel like our clothing is just as clean as when I used detergent! 

I still put a scoop of Oxi Clean in with all colors, and I put a small amount of bleach in with all whites, but I have not used laundry detergent in over a year! 

NOTE: I share more about these Laundry Balls in this post, if you’re interested

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I realize some of you might think I’m crazy — if my grandmother had a computer to read this post, she would be shaking her head along with you. ๐Ÿ™‚

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 family, work, or free time, 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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123 comments

  1. Sheri D

    03/12/2019

    I am curious about doing everything in hot water. What about shrinkage? If you have cotton, it will shrink and I would think it would wrinkle a lot. Very curious. Thank you

    [Reply]

    Savannah Reply:

    I agree. I wash everything in COLD, have for years. It is much gentler on your clothes, there is no potential for shrinkage, saves a ton on our gas bill. We have never had issues with our clothes not washing well, laundry detergent (I use Costco liquid, the BEST) always rinses out cleanly.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — that’s amazing. Everything I’ve ever ready about laundry, detergent, stains, etc. says that cold water is not nearly as effective. Even the laundry balls I use specifically state that they do not work as well with cold water.
    Well, now I’m intrigued and sort of want to experiment with cold water ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    since all our clothing is used, I figure it’s already ‘pre-shurnk’ for us! So no, I really never worry about shrinkage!

    [Reply]

  2. Margaret

    03/12/2019

    I sort my laundry when I take it off, into whites, scrubs, and other clothing. I have bins for kitchen linens, cleaning cloths and mops, and washcloths and towels–I do each load when I’m about to run out–scrubs every other week, whites about every three weeks, etc. I dry anything wet on a rack before it goes in its bin, so nothing stinks or festers even if the bin sits for several weeks before it fills up. Sheets get taken off the bed and washed. It means I’m always washing full loads of like items with no additional work involved. Lazy people are always efficient, amirite?
    I refined this system over the years. I didn’t have a dryer until January 2018, so I put a lot of effort into separating items that shed lint from items that pick it up–wash towels with scrubs, line dry, and you’ll look like an unmade bed.
    I still dry outside when the weather’s good, but it’s very nice not to be hanging things on a rack on an unheated porch at -15F. Don’t miss that one bit. I never iron.
    Any time I start a load it is back in the drawer or closet the same day. If it’s on the clothesline outside there will be several hours in between, but I don’t quit until everything is put away. Apart from the fact that I loathe clutter, my cat would take a full basket of laundry as an engraved invitation for a nap, and she’d probably hack up a hairball on it as an extra thank-you.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this definitely does NOT sound like a “lazy system” to me. Thanks for sharing what works for you!

    [Reply]

  3. Avia

    03/12/2019

    Wow – 106 comments so far. People have big feelings about laundry!

    I separate by person and then by dryer vs. hang dry. I am a little bit of a clothes horse so I have quite a few things each week that I don’t want to go through the dryer. I pull those out and wash them separately – otherwise I’ll forget and they’ll go through the dryer. Other than those I do wash all colors together in cold with non scented detergent. I don’t usually pre-treat but if something comes out of the dryer with a stain (and the item of clothing is worth it to me) I’ll put a mix of hydrogen peroxide, Dawn and baking soda on it and the stain almost always comes out. I have started to limit my girl’s clothing options (which is hard for me – see clothes horse above) and have found that I am doing way less laundry.

    [Reply]

  4. Pascale

    03/12/2019

    Hi Andrea,
    I love your comment about being committed to simplying everything you can because thatโ€™s exactly how I feel and how I manage our home. I have an EcoWasher on our laundry machine so we stopped using laundry detergent, natural bleach and Oxi Clean. It was our handyman and his wife who recommended This. Knowing who they are and how spotless everything is in their home, I was convinced to give it a try. I donโ€™t regret it for a minute because not only does it save us money, but our clothes come out cleaner and brighter than before. Added bonus: Our washing machine doesnโ€™t need to be cleaned as often because it doesnโ€™t have all that detergent buildup. All of that being said, the most important thing for me is that there are no SLS, SLES, phtalates, fragrance and hormone-disrupting ingredient. In the dryer, I only use wool dryer balls. They cut down on dryer time and our clothes are static free. If someone wants to add an all-natural scent, they can put a few drops of essential oils on the wool dryer balls.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for this information — we’ll be shopping for a new washer/dryer this spring when we FINALLY get around to renovating our laundry room — I’ll have to look for the EcoWasher options.

    [Reply]

  5. Patsy Dodgson

    03/12/2019

    Check out Sodium Percarbonate at Amazon. It’s the active ingredient in Oxi- Clean which is only 10% Sodium Percarbonate. I use a tablespoon in every load of laundry and use it in a variety of ways for cleaning. My sister told me about it. It’s just short of miraculous. I hope you try it. If you do, I’ll bet you’ll never buy Oxi Clean again.

    [Reply]

    Kate Reply:

    Where do you buy this? Does it have a generic name?

    [Reply]

    Patsy Dodgson Reply:

    That’s the name. You’ll find it at Amazon. I tried to share the photo etc but could not.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks so much Patsy!

    [Reply]

    Patsy Dodgson Reply:

    You’re welcome.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    wow — thanks so much. I will most definitely look into this!

    [Reply]

  6. Amy

    03/12/2019

    I sort laundry in a way that would make my grandmother faint… Clothes that are put into the dryer, clothes that are air dried and towels. If there is more than one load for a category, I’ll sort by parents/kids clothes for ease in folding and putting away.

    In the summer, most sorting is by kids/parents as we clothesline dry most everything (underwear is dried! )

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    haha — but it works for you! Also, washers and dryer (and clothing) have come A LONG way since your grandmother’s day. We can ‘cheat’ a lot more now and don’t have to follow all those old-fashioned laundry “rules”!

    [Reply]

  7. Sam

    03/12/2019

    My laundry routine has changed drastically since I limited the number of outfits.

    My friend told me she sticks to the number 10.

    10 pants, shorts, shirts etc.

    This way, it can’t build up to an unmanageable laundry mountain.

    You’re forced to do the laundry at least weekly.

    I’ve found this is a good number.

    I agree with you on whites. I love being able to bleach them.

    I sort for whites, delicates (my work clothes), towels and everything else is ok together.

    I also found out gym clothes shouldn’t be washed with the gym towel. Wash separately.

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Adding:

    I wash, dry, fold and put away immediately rather than waiting.

    The put away is the most important, but often skipped, step!

    [Reply]

    Sam Reply:

    Ok, me again!

    In terms of laundry “challenges” I try to have all laundry clean and put away by Sunday so we can start the week fresh.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    this is awesome — thanks for sharing Sam!

    [Reply]

  8. Jen

    03/12/2019

    Well-we’ve found something that we are POLAR opposites about! LOL! I separate everything into dark, white, and “normal” (which I consider colors like gray, light blue, pink). I NEVER use bleach although I do occasionally use Oxi-clean White Revive, I pre-treat stains always, and I can’t imagine not using laundry detergent. I like my laundry to smell GOOD so I use Downy Unstopables, Tide detergent (I’ve tried them all and nothing compares to good, old fashioned Tide powder), and Downy fabric softener. Our clothes smell amazing and I get lots of compliments. LOL! And, yes, I’ve heard all the arguments against fabric softener and scented detergents, etc. We’ve never had a problem with any of it, so I figure if it’s worked for 30 years, I’m good. I also hang dry A LOT of clothes–always have. If I had a laundry line, I would hang everything (and have many times in the past) but our neighborhood doesn’t allow them now. And I also iron almost everything. I think laundry (at least for me and my kids) is definitely something that you do the way you learned. My mom did all of the above and my husband’s mom did also (she irons sheets!). Now, my kids–even my boys–do all of the above. My boys hang many of their clothes and iron daily–even at college! I think our boys were probably the only ones moving into their dorms with drying racks, ironing boards, and irons.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    well… we had to be opposites at something!
    I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten our iron out in the lats 12 years (other than for craft projects). Dave, however, irons all his clothing for the week every Saturday night ๐Ÿ™‚
    Also, I do NOT like our clothing to smell like anything (Dave and I are both not big on scented anything) so even when I did use detergent, I always used unscented!
    I like the idea of hang drying our clothing, but it just takes too long for me! I just put everything in the dryer and call it good. I know, I’m horrible!
    Your boy’s wives will thank you some day — I know I really appreciate that Dave knows how to do all his own ironing!

    [Reply]

  9. Barbie

    06/26/2015

    Totally agree, I never sort whites, I do wash towels separately but only because the towels fill a load on their own. And I do a seperate wash for cleaning rags. Straight from the washing machine I hang on a hanger clothes that may require ironing (uniforms, going out clothes) and dry them on a mobile clothes rail under the fan. They stay on that rail until I iron them. The rest: PJ’s, underwear, socks and home clothes go straight in the dryer and get folded from one of only 2 baskets for a family of 5. At least 1 load of washing goes on every day because I don’t have to wait to have enough for a colour sorted load.

    [Reply]

  10. Alex

    02/26/2014

    Amen! I thought I was a disgrace to domestic life. I just need more motivation to out it away ๐Ÿ™
    Just discovered your blog. Love it

    [Reply]

  11. 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]

  12. 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]

  13. 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]

  14. 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]

    Barbie Reply:

    It’s probably like our Napisan I think.

    [Reply]

  15. 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]

  16. 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]

  17. 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]

  18. 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 […]

  19. 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]

    Dawn Kaestner Reply:

    I had to re-read your sentence, ” I just took a week off to re-think the way I do laundry” twice. I thought you took a week off of work to simply think about how you should approach laundry. Was totally jealous and think I might follow my first thought. Might even call it: sick time” since laundry makes me want to vomit on occasion!

    [Reply]

  20. 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]

  21. Patty@homemakersdaily.com

    07/29/2013

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

    [Reply]

  22. 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]

  23. Jelli

    07/27/2013

    I DON’T iron. Ever.

    [Reply]

  24. 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚

    [Reply]