8 Laundry Tips to Keep Laundry from Taking Over Your Life

If laundry feels like it’s never-ending in your house, try these laundry tips to streamline your system and keep your clothes looking good as new! 

I started doing my own laundry when I was five.

laundry tips

My dad made a big hook out of a wire hanger so I could get clothing out of the washer. My parents made up a little song about me taking things out of the washer and handing them to Merrick who would put them in the dryer (“Janssen takes ‘em out; Merrick puts ‘em in, I said Janssen takes ‘em out. . . “ I didn’t say it was a great song, but it’s definitely been memorable for the last 25 years).

I’ve never particularly loved laundry, but now that I’m in charge of all the laundry for six people, I’ve developed some laundry tips to make it as minimally invasive to my life as possible. Because folding t-shirts is not my idea of a great time.

how to do laundry

My Best Laundry Tips

Pick one day to do the laundry
This is MY best laundry tip, so if you’re one of those people who would rather do a load every day, go ahead and ignore this. I personally do not want laundry to be part of my daily life, so I only do laundry on Monday so I can have six glorious laundry free days. Everyone in the house owns enough clothing, pajamas, underwear, and socks to make it through a full week, so unless there is a major emergency, I only do laundry that one day a week. I throw a load in the minute I wake up, run them through, remake the beds and put all the clothing away, and don’t think about laundry again for another week.

Sort your laundry as you go
In our closet, we have two laundry baskets (just these basic square ones). One is for whites and one is for colors, so I don’t have to sort laundry before I throw it in. I can just grab the white basket and throw everything directly in the machine. Next I do our colors, then our towels, then our bedding (I only wash our bedding every 2-3 weeks. Judge away). Then I dump out the three laundry baskets from our girls’ rooms and sort those (or have them do it) into lights and darks and run those loads. I usually have to do two loads of their darks because there are too many to fit in my washing machine.

best laundry detergent

Use good laundry supplies
For years, I bought the cheapest laundry detergent available and . . . surprise. Stains were for life. One drop of melted butter on your shirt? Don’t even bother washing it – right in the donation pile. Now I’ve learned that it’s cheaper in the long run to buy the best laundry detergent. My favorites are Tide (Bart think it’s the best smelling laundry detergent ever), OxiClean and Persil ProClean. I think you can’t go wrong with any of them. I happen to like a liquid laundry detergent better than a powdered one most of the time (I have no actual reason for this and when I write this down, it sounds kind of ridiculous). I also keep a Clorox Bleach Pen with my laundry supplies so I can bleach out stains on white things as needed. And if something is really gross, Lysol Laundry Sanitizer is nice to kill all those germs too.

oxiclean stain remover

Have a bucket to pre-treat stains
I worked with OxiClean a couple of years ago and they said that their legal department says they aren’t allowed to talk about things soaking for more than like 6 hours even though they told me the know that MANY people let things soak for a couple of days or even up to a week. Fortunately, this post isn’t sponsored so I’m not held to their legal standards and I can tell you that one of my best laundry tipis is to have a big bucket in my laundry room (up high where it’s not a drowning danger to my children – this disclaimer is because I don’t want to be sued any more than OxiClean wants to) that I fill with water and a big scoop of OxiClean stain remover and then as things get stained during the week (blood, grass, oil, food, etc) I just dump them in the bucket and let them soak until Monday. This system means that I have VERY few ruined clothing these days. Hallelujah!

Stain treat every load
In a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any stains (actually, in a perfect world, there wouldn’t be any LAUNDRY), but with little kids, there is a plethora of various spills and stains on the laundry, and I’m not on the ball enough to catch them as they happen, so I just put a scoop of OxiClean Stain Remover in every single load and then I don’t have to worry about whether or not I noticed spaghetti sauce on a pair of white 2T shorts or a baby sleeper that mysteriously got spit-up on it. Everything comes out sparkling clean and I didn’t have to do any extra sorting. I should add that Ralphie told me about OxiClean Stain Remover after Ella was born and stains were suddenly a major part of my life and now I live and die by it.

dirty laundry

Put together a clothes storage system that works for your life
Set up your closet in a way that you can put things away pretty easily. I would rather hang things than fold, usually, so I hang up most of the shirts for everyone in the family because I’m not a great folder and I find hanging easier to put away and also to get dressed in the morning. I have bins for socks and underwear so they don’t need to be folded (sorry, Marie Kondo).

Put your clean laundry on your bed
I always put our clean laundry on my bed so that I won’t go to bed without it getting done. Because if I wake up on Tuesday and have to deal with laundry a second day in a row, I’m not a happy camper. I usually put away all our whites early in the day (it takes about 7 minutes to fold and put the whites away because it’s almost all socks and underwear and maybe a few white shirts that just get hung up) and then Bart and I both fold and put away our own dark laundry in the evening.

laundry tips

Involve your children in the doing the laundry
Everyone in our family knows that on Monday nights, we fold laundry. I dump out all the loads of the girls’ laundry on the rug in the playroom and I sort it into four piles while the girls start folding it. After it’s sorted, I fold and put away all of Tally’s laundry, then I help whoever is working hardest to finish folding theirs (and then when that’s done, on to the next child if they’re not done). They put away their socks, underwear, and pajamas and I hang up the shirts and dresses (except for Ella who is tall enough to hang her own) and put their pants, shorts, and skirts up on the  I will say, that it took more than a YEAR of consistency on this before certain children stopped whining and crying incessantly about laundry, but now they know it’s not optional and we have virtually no complaining and they’re all pretty good at it. It was fairly painful for that year, but I simply don’t have the time or inclination to fold all their laundry when they’re perfectly capable and it’s THEIR laundry, and now it’s paid off big time. I guess one of my laundry tips is “be able to withstand a prodigious amount of whining.” That might actually be my main parenting tip too.

how to sort laundry

Any other laundry tips to make the whole thing easier? Or would you like to come do my laundry for me?

I’ll happily take either.


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folding laundry

Photos by Christie Knight Photography

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  1. We pre-sort too. It makes it a lot easier. I don't have a laundry day. I just grab a basket when someone is getting low on clothes or when the basket is getting full. It can take a couple of days for the clothes to get back into our rooms, but I don't mind it being spread out like that. I work full time, so a laundry day would need to be on the weekend, and I like to do stuff on the weekends, so I don't want to spend it doing laundry.

  2. I'm the same as you! It all gets done one day a week. Although I'm terrible and it mostly all never leaves the laundry room because I never put it away. I'll have to throw it all on the bed like you to force myself into it! We usually just do one massive white load, one massive dark color load, one massive bright color load and call it good.

  3. I think I've kind of surrendered to laundry taking over my life at this point. I have three little boys and a husband with exceptionally dirty clothing, because we live in the country and my husband does things on weekends like dig wells out back or fix the lawn tractor. And the little boys . . . well, they're little boys. And we live in a place with a lot of mud. I do laundry about every other day, but I don't seem to mind it as much as some other things (like, say, mopping floors) and I don't seem to have that reluctance to doing it and getting it put away that a lot of people struggle with.

    I count myself lucky to have a dryer in my cellar, because for the first few years we lived here, there wasn't one, and that was no fun at all. It's all about perspective.

  4. I definitely prefer one load a day. I can't imagine being trapped at home in a Monday, just because if laundry. 🙂

  5. I definitely prefer one load a day. I can't imagine being trapped at home in a Monday, just because if laundry. 🙂

  6. Laundry is my favorite task. You mean I just throw everything in the machine and the machine does it for me? I thank my lucky stars that I was born in this era. But folding can be a real drag. My trick was to get a TV show that I was only allowed to watch while folding laundry. This way, I look forward to it! I've watched ten seasons of Smallville and five of Leverage since I've started this trick… that's a lot of laundry, heh.

  7. I LOVE OxiClean — it's definitely the best stain remover I have used. I'm like you, I'm not super on top of treating every possible stain, but I toss a scoop of OxiClean in most loads and it really does get 'em out.

  8. I do laundry every day. Our house is small and the laundry room is also used to store extra towels and sheets and health/beauty supplies, plus it's home to the cat box. There is no extra room in there for towering piles of laundry. And since the house is small and the kids don't even have a closet in their room, none of us have a lot of clothes. My son tends to wear the same clothes anyway, regardless of what else he has. And because they wear uniforms to school, they each have enough for three days. They wear gym uniforms to school on gym day but that day changes every year. Throw in sports and muddy clothes and letting stuff sit for a week isn't an option.

    Shortcuts-I don't sort, except for whites, and that's because the whites are usually cleaning rags and dish towels. Everything else gets done together on cold. My mom is horrified but it's a time saver and my clothes haven't suffered at all. I also don't fold very precisely. The kondo method of rolling stuff doesn't work if all your clothes are black.

  9. I prefer to do all my laundry at once too. I feel so accomplished when there is zero dirty clothing in my house. It irritates me when everyone has to change into pjs and there's new dirty clothes again. (also, I didn't get to my last load yesterday so I have one left and it's nagging at me even though I'm not home and couldn't do it if I wanted to, which I do.)

  10. We don't use dressers in our family, either. All shirts/dresses get put on hangers, and the pants get folded and are put on the closet shelves (they are low hanging shelves 🙂 ) Somehow I feel more accomplished seeing all the hung up clothes rather than them being folded away in a dresser.

    I like your idea of having a single laundry day. I sort of like having it spread out though, because the sound of the washer makes me feel like I've been productive in at least one thing that day. Also the hum of the dryer is relaxing 🙂 But it would definitely be nice to have a single housekeeping day, and leave the rest to focusing on other things.

    Love your blog, by the way 🙂
    -Chaun from http://www.hiccupsandpastries.com

  11. You know you're old when you enjoy a post about laundry, haha! 😉 But seriously, I enjoyed this post! While I love the idea of only doing laundry one day a week, I can't seem to execute this. I also hang a lot of things to dry and that gets tedious and makes me not want to do laundry. I agree – hanging everything is easier than folding, and especially makes getting the little ones dressed a lot easier. Otherwise I find I forget about clothes for my son. Also makes it easier for my husband to get our son dressed 🙂

    Ok, now that laundry is covered, what I really want to know is, how do you deal with dirty dishes?! It's like a never ending battle over here! I feel like I'm doing dishes all day long. Especially tupperware!

    1. Ha ha, Iove hearing about how people do things like laundry too! Like most people here in Australia we hang out most of our washing (laundry) so once a week isn't really an option if you have more than a few loads. Fortunately I don't actually mind washing as a chore, but like Brie hate dirty dishes! Even with dishwasher. I think you've said in the past you cook and your husband washes. Unfortunately my husband and I both like to cook and not wash so we alternate days…

  12. Laundry once a week is SOOO my thing. But I find that my dishrags can't wait all week. So I have a mini laundry day in the middle of the week. It keeps my laundry room from smelling like a gym locker.

  13. Laundry once a week is SOOO my thing. But I find that my dishrags can't wait all week. So I have a mini laundry day in the middle of the week. It keeps my laundry room from smelling like a gym locker.

  14. I'm a one-load-a-day kind of girl. If I have to do more than one, because I've missed a day or something, it really does feel like it's taking over my life. And I've finally started folding things the Marie Kondo way 🙂 I thought it would be awful, because I didn't fold the kids clothes before (I put them in the drawer laid flat), but it's oddly relaxing and I do feel like I appreciate the clothes more. I get rid of more, too, because I actually think about each item. I still don't fold socks, though.

  15. I the opposite in one regard: I prefer to fold everything and hang nothing. I find that hanging is hard on clothes. I even told a bunch of my dresses so they won't get stretched out. Also, we have small closets and I'd rather that everything was tucked away in a closed dresser drawer.

  16. YES! I also only do laundry one day a week. I work outside of my home throughout the week, and I work from home on Friday. So Friday is my laundry day. I do it all at once and I'm done with it for another week! haha I have been doing this for years and it works just fine (though you'll hear my husband often say he needs to go buy more underwear and socks for himself LOL)

  17. I'm glad to learn about OxiClean White Revive. I'm looking for a replacement for the Vanish I loved in Ukraine—it really made a difference with the whites.

  18. Hi Janssen! I tried out some of your routine and wrote about it on my blog at http://www.booksbugandbear.com – and I wanted to share how it went with you.

    I've been reading your blog for almost a year now and it has been part of my inspiration to start my own blog, which I did recently. Thank you so much for that!

  19. My best laundry tips: I do it every other day because one load is much quicker to fold and put away then a full weeks’ worth. I don’t sort colors and whites (I know!) These days the machines and detergent are good enough that it’s really unnecessary. And finally with particularly stubborn stains, the sun works magic. Just put it outside in bright sunlight!

  20. I do laundry on Sunday and I kind of hate that it ties me at home. I sort by if it needs to be hung or folded immediately or if I can sit in a pile on the bed all day while I do the rest. I feel like we have way more laundry than you- We usually have three loads for Mike and I, two (or three in the summer!) loads of towels, and three or four of kids clothes. I do whites every other week. On weeks that I feel on top of things I’ll do towels/socks/underwear/pjs/anything that doesn’t need folded, all week and feel smug on Sunday when there’s only a couple loads to do.

  21. My mom used to watch tv while she folded laundry, but I alway get too caught up in my show and stop folding. So I’ve started listening to my audiobooks, and now laundry day is my favorite! Okay, so I listen to audiobooks whoever I do any of my household chores, but I especially love folding laundry because it is the most mindless task, and I can pay attention to my story. Sometimes I try listening to audiobooks while cooking, but I can’t read a recipe and listen to a book at the same time and I’ve had a few near-disasters that way 😂

  22. I do a load most days, just because it feels more manageable to fold when there’s just a few pieces. Otherwise, we start the process of dressing from the dryer (not my favorite!). I also don’t sort colors and whites. I toss a shout color catcher with each load, and that’s it. And I’ve noticed that when the loads are smaller, stains come out better too :).

  23. “I always put our clean laundry on my bed so that I won’t go to bed without it getting done.”
    I put clean clothes on the bed too and the result for me is …unreliable, let’s say. Sometimes it all goes back into the laundry basket until the next day, and the basket-bed-basket-bed cycle has been known to last all week. More than once I’ve slept under piles of clean laundry.

  24. Thanks for this! I’m adding the stain remover to my Target list. I don’t mind doing laundry but I don’t like having to do it. Probably why they have so much clothes. 😬
    For folding I caved and bought that folding board Sheldon uses on Big Bang. It makes folding a little more fun for the kids and me.
    About that Murphy’s Law: I wrote a blog post about our family closet not being messy and instantly the kids started leaving the bins crazy.

  25. I do it one day a week too – and I love it that way!! I do a few of these things you’ve mentioned but the stain bucket is a wonderful idea. The only thing I do that makes these things a bit easier is not fold things – my kids just put clothes away themselves – and I keep all of our laundry in one huge hamper in our room including kids clothes and towels. Pre-sorting is a great idea so I should get on that!!!

  26. I have been looking at this laundry sorters and it seems as though it might work well for you.
    Also, I have tried Oxiclean, but there is something about the smell of it that I don’t like. I use Borax for protein stains and find it is really helpful as a presoak.

  27. I know I’m a few days late to the party on this one, but my best laundry tip is to give yourself permission to pay for a laundry service during busy seasons of life. If this means all of May and December, so be it. Most cities have laundry services that cover pick-up, washing, folding, and delivery (or just wash/fold if you drop it off at their facility), and it is SUCH a big help when life gets crazy or overwhelming.

    I’ve even asked for gift cards to my local laundry service as stocking stuffers so that when something comes up and I really need help, I don’t have to feel guilty about spending extra money. And can I say, this would also be a great baby shower gift?

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