Laundry is one of those things that can seem to take so much of your time as a parent without adding much back to your life. Sure, clean clothes are important, but why spend more time on laundry than you have to?
As a mom of four, I’ve got mountains of laundry to do each week. I’ve spent years perfecting my craft of spending as little time as possible on laundry, and I’m here to share my best time-saving laundry hacks.
Simplify your life and reduce stress by making the regular chore of laundry a little easier.
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Update your laundry sorting habits
Shave time from your laundry routine and add it back to your day:
1. Sort laundry by person, not by color
Sorting laundry by color takes extra time, and it’s an unneeded step. I haven’t sorted clothes by color for years! If there’s a newer item that I’m worried about, such as dark denim or red, I’ll throw in a color catcher sheet with the load. I’ve never had an issue with colors bleeding.
Instead, each person has a hamper in their bedroom or bathroom. I just wash each person’s in a load, all colors mixed together. This saves time in putting them away, because you don’t have to re-sort the clean clothes by person.
I do pull out towels and sheets to do separately since I wash those in hot water and everything else in cold.
2. Simplify your socks
If you do just one laundry hack from this list, let it be this one. Sock matching is so time consuming! All the random pairs of socks from my kids were enough to make me crazy.
Now each person gets one color and style of socks. I buy a mega-pack, which saves money too. Older son gets black, younger son gray, daughter white—you get the idea. Nobody sees them anyway so they’re not missing out by having uniform socks.
My husband and I do the same, save maybe a couple pairs of dress socks. This is a huge time saver in matching and folding, and if one goes missing, it’s not a big deal. This one simple change was huge in decreasing my weekly laundry headache.
3. Skip checking pockets
My husband was surprised when some things from his pockets went through the wash. “Don’t you check the pockets?” he asked. Apparently his mom used to do this. I ain’t got time for that!
So I told the whole family: mom doesn’t check pockets. You don’t want your stuff to get ruined, empty your pockets before your laundry goes in the hamper.
It’s never really been an issue. I find some weird stuff in the dryer, usually rocks and legos. Once a Jolly Rancher—how that survived the washer AND the dryer is still baffling. Little kids don’t have much of value that can fit in a pocket.
I’m sure if I felt the weight of a cell phone or something, I’d fish it out. But other than that, in everything goes without a worry!
Do less laundry
The average family does over 400 loads of laundry per year, or 8 loads and 10 hours per week! If you can shave a bit off here and there, imagine how much savings this will add up to.
4. Reuse towels
How many times have you found a bath towel laying on the floor, probably used once to dry off a clean body? Save time and money by teaching your family members to hang up their towels—what a novel idea!
Make it easy for the kiddos by having a labeled hook just for them. You can purchase letter hooks or make your own labeled hooks using letters from a craft store or framed photos above regular wall hooks.
5. Re-wear nearly clean items
This is probably the easiest laundry hack of them all.
If your kids are old enough and out of their getting completely filthy every day years, you can teach them that pants and shorts can be put back in their drawer a couple times if they are still clean at the end of the day. The same goes for pajamas. When they take them off, they can lay them out on their bed to wear for a few nights in a row.
I do this myself. It saves water, money, and time. Denim especially is not intended to be washed after every wear. The CEO of Levi’s famously went 10 years without washing his favorite pair of jeans.
6. Try vinegar for musty smells
How many times have you gotten busy throughout the day and forgotten to advance your laundry? Then you find it the next day all musty. It can be hard to get rid of that smell, and you don’t want to have to rewash the load several times over, wasting time and money.
Just do one quick cycle with a cup of white vinegar, and you’ll be all set.
7. Teach kids to do their own laundry
For kids age 10 and up, teach them how to do their own laundry. They may need some help if they can’t reach the bottom of the washer, but getting them involved early will teach them responsibility and hopefully lighten your load a bit.
Younger kids can also help out by bringing clothes from their room, tossing into the washer, and helping to load and unload the dryer. Surprisingly, many kids find it a lot of fun to help with the laundry!
Don’t iron anything
I have a secret: I never iron anything. I hate ironing, and I’m pretty terrible at it. It seems like such a time waster to me. Here are my laundry hacks for avoiding the iron.
8. Use a timer when drying clothes
Stop wrinkles before they can get set in. If your dryer doesn’t have an alarm you can hear, set your own alarm so you can remove the clothes quickly.
If you’re able to, hang or fold any clothes you need to stay wrinkle-free as soon as the dryer finishes (or even just before). If you’re in a time crunch, you can also try laying them flat on top of the dryer, though this doesn’t work quite as well.
I don’t really worry about kids’ everyday clothes getting a bit wrinkly. I mainly concern myself with any dress or work items.
9. Try the wet towel trick to remove wrinkles
If you’ve ever tried hanging your clothes near a steamy shower to remove wrinkles, you know it doesn’t really work. This does.
If you have a newer dryer, you might have a steam cycle you can use for getting wrinkles out. I use this frequently. I toss in my clothes for the day before I hop in the shower, and they’re done while I’m still getting ready—no time lost.
If your dryer does not have this function, don’t worry. You can create the same effect with my low-tech laundry hack of putting a damp hand towel in the dryer with a wrinkled outfit or two for 10-15 minutes.
You might need to experiment with the amount of moisture versus the amount of clothes you’re loading, but once you’ve got a system, just set it and go!
10. Use spray starch without ironing
My neighbor taught me this trick. You can use spray starch to remove wrinkles without ironing. This will work for a mild to moderate amount of wrinkles (not deep-set wrinkles). Just spray it over the clothing item, then shake, gently stretch, and smooth the item with your hands (I usually lay mine on the bed for this). Voila!
Be smart when buying clothes
Save yourself laundry time by making smart choices at the store that will benefit you later.
11. Buy wrinkle-free fabrics
For my collared dress shirts, it’s worth spending a bit extra to spring for wrinkle-free fabric. They come out of the dryer ready to wear and don’t feel any different than regular shirts.
Even if you’re not buying wrinkle-free, you can get a feel for the types of fabrics that are more forgiving when it comes to wrinkling. For example, linen can be impossible to get crisp without ironing, whereas knits and stretch blends are more forgiving. Go for pieces that are easy to hang and keep wrinkle free.
12. Avoid clothes with special care instructions
In my busy mom life, I don’t have time to remember items that require special care or make trips to the dry cleaners. As much as I like an item, it’s just too risky that a piece of clothing requiring special care might get thrown in with the regular laundry and ruined (it’s happened before).
If I see hand wash or dry clean only on a label, it goes right back on the rack. I think I still manage to look nice at the office. I’m a realist when it comes to my clothing, and it saves me from a laundry headache.
Make folding laundry easier
Folding can be so time-consuming and monotonous. Try these tips to make it just a little bit easier.
13. Try a folding board
My husband claims he “can’t fold laundry” or “doesn’t know how.” Enter the folding board. I personally don’t use it, but my kids find it a lot of fun, and it gets them to fold their own laundry on occasion.
There’s a smaller size for kids clothing and a regular size for adults. It can also help with making your folds more uniform for storing neatly in drawers.
You just lay the item flat, then fold the board in 3 quick sections to create a neat and tidy rectangle. It’s like you work at the Gap ?
14. Don’t fold underwear
Why fold things unnecessarily? I hear there are some people out there who actually fold their underwear?! I have never done this. It all gets tossed into the underwear drawer for each family member.
15. Get some folding entertainment
This laundry hack isn’t so much a time saver as a sanity saver. Unless I’m folding and hanging things right out of the dryer, I don’t fold anything without some entertainment.
I’ll put on a podcast or Netflix show—standup comedy is great for this since you don’t need to be looking at the screen the whole time. It makes the laundry a little less of a chore.
Tackle your laundry in less time
I hope these laundry hacks have given you some inspiration to make your regular laundry chore quicker and easier. I haven’t included any tips around scheduling your laundry, because I find that really comes down to personal preference. Some prefer the one load a day method, and others batch it all on a single day.
I do the batch method, because I’m honestly too tired on weekdays to even think about laundry. It’s not my favorite weekend activity, but it gets done (usually).
If you’re looking for more ways to simplify your mom life, check out 3 Simple Rules to Declutter Your Family Schedule for Good