Girl School for Grownups

Like having a big sister, but better because I can't boss you around!

How to do laundry better

ProductDetailHero-Shout-Color-Catcher-ImageThere are some certainties in life, and one of these is laundry. In college, I did not wash my sheets until I absolutely had to. And then I’d usually sleep for a week or so on the bare mattress before I slowed down long enough to put the sheets back on the bed. And the clean laundry pile would just grow and grow, because anything was more fun than folding laundry.

Once I got married and had kids, laundry got more complicated. It’s the micro-decisions that take the biggest toll. So figuring out whose shirt was whose (which got more difficult as my sons got older and their shirts were closer in size to my husband’s shirts) and which person’s clothes got hung up vs folded — well, it makes me tired to even type this. I used to tell my husband that I was going to make everyone be naked for a day, just so there would be a moment in time when all the laundry was clean! Another problem was getting the laundry to smell clean. With gymnastics and dance, and running, and golf, we’re an active bunch. And sports clothes are notorious for retaining smells. Yep, I’ve been a laundry failure for a long time.

But I have learned from my mistakes and an pleased to share with you here some ideas┬áthat work for me. I hope you’ll find something in this that helps you too.

1. Ask people to take stuff out of their pockets before the laundry goes into the hamper. just one pen, one innocent looking pen, can cause hours of cleanup with all the ink it can deposit on a load.

2. Ask your people to bring their laundry hamper into the laundry room. They have to be a little invested in the process.

3. Separate out clothes by the person who wears them. When all the clothes in a load are for one person, there are no micro-decisions to be made.

4. With the possible exception of deeply died reds or turquoises, all colors stay together. This is because I use “Shout Color Catcher sheets.” I didn’t know about these until Austin moved out of his dorm room freshman year. His roommate was already heading back East. I saw two big boxes of the color catchers on the floor and asked if I could have them. They’re now a standard part of every load.

5. Fabric softener is overrated. I think it was more needed when everything was made from cotton. And it interferes with towel absorbency. I rarely use it and things seem to turn out fine.

6. Regarding the sweaty smell that can linger, the solution is OxyClean in every load. Baking soda works too if you’d prefer a more natural alternative.

7. If you’re doing laundry for other people, get those people to help. I am hopelessly bad at asking for help and assigning chores to my kids, so I didn’t do this. I wish I had. Not only would it have made the process go tons faster, but it would have helped teach them an important life skill from an early age. Well, as I always say “nobody escapes childhood unscathed!”

8. This is completely unnecessary, but on so lovely. If you can, have hangers that match. It makes the closet feel peaceful.

If you have laundry tricks and tips, I’d love to hear them. And remember, when you’re doing laundry, you are never alone, as there is always someone else in the world doing laundry too.

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