How I Do Our Entire Family’s Laundry in 1 Day (Without Losing My Mind!)
I often find it fascinating to talk to people about their laundry routines. Whether it’s “a little every day” or “let it pile up until there’s no clean underwear,” it seems each person/family has their own way of dealing with this not-so-fun-but-oh-so-necessary chore. Admittedly, I have tried many times to adopt the do-a-little-everyday approach. Yet every single time, I leave the load in the washer for way too long, so it ends up stinky and in need of another wash. If a load miraculously gets all the way through to the dryer, it almost always sits in the laundry basket unfolded as we hand pick out random items until someone finally gives in and folds the few things that are left. Nope – the little-bit-every-day approach doesn’t work for us at all, but you know what does? Doing our entire family’s laundry in 1 day. It’s not as awful as it sounds, and after tweaking my method for years, I’ve settled on some tricks that make it as efficient as possible. If you need an adjustment to your laundry routine (or need a laundry routine in general), here are some ideas to try!
Admittedly, I didn’t always have the “done in a day” method down pat. Sunday has always been our “laundry day” because I like starting the week with all the laundry done and put away. But more often than not, our day would get away from us and we’d end up shuffling loads through their wash-dry-fold-put away cycle well after dinner time and late into the night. When Sam was just a few months old, the addition of his laundry was really catching up with us, so I made some minor tweaks to our system that made all the difference.
We now do our entire family’s laundry, from start-to-finish in less than 24 hours…and no, we don’t feel a slave to the laundry baskets. We start running loads Saturday night and have it all put away by Sunday afternoon. Here are the main tricks we use to get it done:
Sort It All At Once
Every Saturday night, right after we get both boys into bed, we sort ALL the laundry. All of it. Greg usually grabs the boys’ hampers while I walk the house picking up every last cloth napkin, rag, towel, strewn about socks, and hanging bathing suits. We have three laundry baskets and three hampers, so we line them all up in our master bathroom and sort it all at once. (For anyone curious, our loads are typically: Darks | Lights | Brights | Light Towels and Rags | Colored Towels and Rags | Greg’s Uniforms.)
TAKE AWAY: By having every last item that needs washing pulled out and sorted into loads, it becomes very easy to push loads through one after another.
Store Where You Sort
We were storing our empty laundry baskets down in the laundry room, but we sort upstairs. To get started, someone had to go down to get the baskets; and once done, someone had to bring them back down. This routine involved moving the empty baskets (twice!) for no reason. After realizing the silliness in this, I moved the empty baskets to a spot in our master closet. We’ve now eliminated the unnecessart work carrying them up and down, and whenever we are ready to sort, the baskets are there and ready to go!
TAKE AWAY: Remove any barrier…as small or silly as it may seem…to getting your laundry routine started.
Start the Night Before
We used to start our laundry day on Sunday morning when we got home from church. And as I mentioned above, there were many a time when the day got away from us and we were literally waiting for laundry to finish so we could go to bed. Then one Saturday night a few months back, while I was waiting for Greg to finish up reading stories to Henry, I decided to get a jump on our laundry by sorting it all and then throwing one load in before we settled in to watch a movie. By the time Greg and I were ready for bed, we could swap in a second load. That meant when we woke up on Sunday morning, #3 could go right in. After breakfast and before heading to church, load #4 went in…and I think you get the idea.
TAKE AWAY: By starting the night before you want all your laundry done, you can take advantage of sleeping/TV watching/relaxing time. Getting just a few loads put through during late/early hours allows you to get all the loads washed and dried in seemingly less time. Saturday into Sunday works for us because we are almost always home. Pick a night-int0-day that works best for your schedule!
See-Through to Stay Stocked
Have you ever had your laundry all sorted and even loaded into the washer only to discover that you are 100% out of detergent? Yep, me too. So our “Done in 1” routine doesn’t go off the rails from the start, we store our laundry supplies in clear containers. Now, at a glance, I can see when we need to add certain things to our shopping list and we always have what we need come laundry day.
TAKE AWAY: Make it easier to see when you are running low on laundry supplies by switching to clear containers.
Turn the Washer Alarms On Loud
Folding and putting away laundry isn’t really our family’s problem – where we struggle is typically getting all the loads through the wash/dry cycle. When we lived in small apartments and single-floor homes, we never needed to use the buzzer on the washing machine or dryer. But now that we’re in a busy household in a large two-story house, it was becoming all-too-easy easy to forget about the laundry. Hours would pass between loads and you guessed it…by dinnertime, there would still be 3 loads to get through. Now that we have the buzzers turned on nice and loud, we are prompted to immediately get up and swap loads whenever they finish. It’s a simple change that has made a huge difference in getting the wash through quicker!
TAKE AWAY: By turning up the alarms on your washer and dryer, you increase your chances of getting as much laundry moved through in the shortest time possible. Just be sure to train yourself to respond to the buzzer right away!
Fold All At Once
If it hasn’t been clear from following my blog or even reading this post, I am very much an all-or-nothing person. And when it comes to folding the laundry, the same holds true. Instead of stopping what I’m doing several times during our laundry day to fold laundry, we simply line up all the completed loads in our master bedroom as they come out of the dryer. Sometime during the afternoon, usually while Sam is taking his afternoon nap, I will wander up, turn on some music and fold all the laundry at once. I actually don’t mind folding laundry, and often Greg will come in to help. Even on my own, it takes about an hour to get it all folded and stacked by family member.
TAKE AWAY: Your laundry routine doesn’t have to occupy your entire day. Focus on getting all the loads put through the wash and dry cycle and then fold everything at once. If necessary, turn on a movie, podcast or your favorite playlist to make it a bit more enjoyable!
Match As You Go
Folding clothes really doesn’t bother me. You know what does? Matching socks. So I used to toss all the socks in a pile as I folded everything else. More often than not, that big ol’ pile of socks never got matched and would stare at me, from the floor, all week long. Recently, I started laying out socks as I came across them. This better visibility allowed me to match and fold as I go. I can’t believe what a difference this really simple change has made in actually getting socks folded up and put away!
TAKE AWAY: Try skipping the popular “sock pile,” and match as you fold. So when you’re done folding all the clothes in the basket, you’re really done.
Fold In a “Problematic” Location
I used to fold all of our laundry in front of the television on Sunday nights. By the end of the evening, I’d have a basket of nicely folded laundry for each family member to put away. Guess where all the laundry (usually) stayed? Yup. In the baskets. And it would typically stay there until I needed the baskets to start the next week’s loads! About a year ago, I started folding all the laundry on our bed. Why? Because it’s pretty hard to crawl into bed with stacks and stacks of nicely folded laundry on top. After implementing this strategy, we’ve never had an issue getting all the laundry put away the same day it’s washed!
TAKE AWAY: Don’t put your clean, folded laundry back into baskets that can be easily ignored and forgotten. Fold your laundry in a really inconvenient area like your bed, the stairs, or the couch to ensure it gets put away right away.
Make Putting Laundry Away a Family Affair
Although I usually fold all the laundry myself, everyone (well, except for the little boys) is responsible for putting away their own clothes. And we’ve found it works best to all do it at the same time. Usually before I start Sunday supper, we all gather in the master bedroom to put laundry away. Yes, Henry often needs a bit of prodding to get it done. But just as sorting it all at once and folding it all at once saves time and mental energy in the long-run, so does putting it all away in one swoop.
TAKE AWAY: When you fold laundry, keep piles sorted by family member. Then make it the family member’s job to put the laundry way. Even if kids are too little to put away their own laundry, putting away all the laundry at once keeps you from making multiple trips to multiple closets and dressers throughout the day!
Tiny Labels, Big Help
While Henry is able to put his own laundry away, he was pretty much dumping everything into one or two drawers. That made the drawers impossible to close AND he could never find his church pants or basketball uniform when we needed them. So I grabbed our label maker and let him decide where everything was going to go. He typed and printed his own (small and simple) labels and stuck them right to the drawer fronts. Now he’s much more willing to put his laundry away (since he knows where everything goes), and his drawers close without problem!
TAKE AWAY: Don’t assume your kids know what goes where or how to place items neatly into drawers. Spend some time teaching them (and add labels if necessary!) so the folded clothes stay…folded!
I hope you guys enjoyed this look into our laundry process! I know the all-in-one-day method doesn’t work for everybody, but I’ve found knocking it out in a single day starts our week off on a strong note and also gives me the mental “break” from worrying about it or remembering to do it. No matter how you do your laundry, I hope you found some tips here that might streamline your process a bit! And as always, if you do anything that makes your laundry process quicker and easier, please share in the comments below!
By the way, thank you so much for being patient with me as I took some much-needed time away. Little by little, I’m starting to recognize the signs of burnout before they really take hold of me. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I step away from all the technology for a little while. There may still be some bumps over the next month or so as I work through some things behind the scenes AND get back into my grove after some time off. As usual, I’ll do my best to keep you guys updated to when new content will be hitting the blog. Speaking of which, I’ll see you back here on Friday with my foyer reveal. Yes…finally 😉 See you then!