Laundry is easily my least favourite chore out of all of them — mostly because it always takes so long to sort, wash, fold and iron all of my clothes. Here are a few clever tips that take little work but can speed up the task exponentially.
Before You Wash: Plan Ahead
The biggest thing I've learnt is this: If I'm rushing to get laundry done when I could be doing other, more important/fun things, I'll hate it even more. So, now I plan ahead and do my laundry when I know I'll be doing something like relaxing in front of the TV — that way, when it comes time to fold, I don't feel like I'm taking time out of my day to do it. I've even programmed it into my Google Calendar so I remember. No amount of laundry tips can make it more fun when you'd rather be doing something else.
A bonus to this is that, by planning ahead, I can fold laundry as soon as it comes out of the dryer. That way, my clothes have fewer wrinkles and I don't have to do quite as much ironing — which is by far the biggest time sink in the process.
Eliminate Sorting Altogether with Multiple Hampers
I have two laundry baskets: one white, one blue. It occurred to me that I could just throw whites into the white one and colours into the blue one as I take off my clothes at the end of the day, and I'd never have to pre-sort my laundry ever again. Apparently this is a somewhat common practice, but the thought had never crossed my mind before. If you don't like laundry baskets or stationary hampers, our own Alan Henry recommends this standing laundry bag from IKEA, which makes it easy to transport clothes between your closet and the washing machine.
Another good way to speed things up is to save those heavy fabrics and wash them all together. One heavy fabric item can be the weak link in a load of laundry that makes your dryer take longer than usual to finish a cycle. If you can keep them out of your regular loads, they should go a little faster.
Lastly, if you have certain fabrics that can't go in the dryer or require other special care, weblog Home Made Simple has a good way to keep track of them:
If you have clothes that need to be washed in cold water or can't go in the dryer, mark the tags with a permanent marker. You'll make them easier to identify and save yourself from having to decipher the small print on the tag.
If you have a lot of clothes that require special care, you could even use different colours to differentiate what kind of care they need. Then you can just glance at the tags as you're throwing everything in.
Don't Even Give Socks the Chance to Fake You Out
If laundry is hell, then socks are the devil. Whether they're disappearing in your laundry or they just take an hour to sort, they decide how much your laundry will suck on any given day. Sure, a lost sock basket can help sort it a little, and if you have multiple people in your household, a mesh laundry bag can help keep them all together. You can even use a binder clip to keep each pair together in the wash.
However, I've found that the best thing you can do is declare "sock bankruptcy", throw away all your white socks, and buy a two or three week supply in bulk. A six-pack of regular white socks is rarely more than $20, and if you only have one type of sock, you never have to fold them. Just take them out of that mesh bag and throw them in your drawer. From then on, each day, you just reach in and grab any two socks — if all you have is one brand, you have a 100 percent chance of them matching.
Fold and Hang Your Clothes in Seconds
Folding is the most coma-inducing part of laundry, but if you've done your job and planned ahead, you should be doing this during your relaxation time. However, there are a few things you can do to make the process go by super quickly. For regular shirts and sweaters, you can fold them in two seconds flat using this Japanese method, or hang them using this speed-hanging method. It won't work for your button-downs and other outerwear, but you can speed through your t-shirts, polos, camisoles and other shirts in no time.
Clear Out the Clothes You Don't Need
Lastly, I've found that because I'm always behind on laundry there are certain items of clothing that just never get washed. When paring down a load of laundry, I pick out the things I'm least likely to wear and put them back in the hamper. I now have a new rule that if they've been in the hamper for more than a few months, they migrate to the trash instead. Not only does it keep my laundry from piling up, but I don't have to go through my hamper and pick which things I want to wash — each load is much more manageable. We've discussed a similar tip using clothes hangers, but I've found that I'm much more likely to just leave things dirty than leave them hanging up, so this has made my life much easier.
Some of these tips you may have done your whole life, while others are completely new to you. We all grew up being taught different things, so if you've discovered a great laundry tip I haven't mentioned, by all means, share it in the comments.