I often think about all the years I spent making the chore of laundry harder than it needed to be and wishing my family and I were born into a nudist colony so I would not have to deal with it. These days I have transformed my disdain for laundry into a well-loved ritual and what I would tell my younger laundry-loathing self, is the contents of this article.
The day that my laundry mentality changed forever was January 30th, 2016. We had returned from our first family vacation abroad. After living out of our backpacks for a month with no issue of clothing debacle, returning home to an excess of laundry and clutter felt stifling. The conclusion I came to at this point was to purge, which is my first radical tip on the path to transforming your laundry experience.
1. Less is more! There is no way I needed the clutter or time-suck that all those extra clothes created in my life. I now know for a fact that it is possible to fit the entirety of my family’s everyday clothes into 4 backpacks. Unable to ever unknow this information I decided that a single drawer (or 2) per person was equally reasonable for clothing storage. By adhering to the miraculous Konmari purge and utilizing the Konmari folding method we achieved what at first seemed impossible, all of our everyday clothes now fit perfectly into just two dressers. Fewer clothes are actually more clothes! They get washed sooner and are available more often.
At the time I’m writing this my kids are 11 & 7. They share a sock drawer. My son has one drawer for all his other clothes. My daughter has one drawer for bottoms of all kinds and one drawer for tops of all kinds. My husband and I use the same system. All of his socks and underwear are in one drawer and all his other clothes fit in another drawer. Same for me, but like my daughter, I need two drawers for all my clothing. All bottoms in one, all tops in the other. All our formal-wear and sweaters hang in one closet. For the past two years, it’s been incredibly easy for everyone to manage their clothes this way.
2. Keep it together! “It’s so fun to move the laundry seven different times before it’s actually where it belongs.” – said no one ever. The 2nd most impactful change I made to my laundry routine, after purging was moving the two dressers containing everybody’s clothes into the laundry room where I fold and sort. Not only did it give us all more space in our bedrooms, but it made it 100% easier and faster for us to fold and put our clothes away.
3. Do away with individual hampers. Hampers are the disheveled deceiving elephants of any room! For us, hampers were a literal disaster. The laundry always ended up spilling over or collecting around the hamper and I have to admit I viewed it more like a trash can and would wait till it was full before thinking about collecting and washing it all. This dispersed collection method can kill any chance of a well-loved laundry ritual. The idea is to only have to deal with a pile or two of laundry at a time, not all the laundry EVER! Also, I personally have no desire to collect the laundry from every room every day. I’d honestly rather it just collected itself. And so, in the spirit of true laundry-loving revolution, I did away with individual hampers and trained my family to place any laundry directly into the washer until a full load accumulated. Then all we have left to do is simply turn the washer on… Life-changing stuff!
4. Have a sacred, sweet, and inspiring laundry folding session once or twice a week. Most days I don’t worry too much about the clean laundry that gets piled on top of the dryer because I know by Thursday or Sunday afternoon I’ll fold it and put it away. And by then I’m actually looking forward to the time I will spend doing it. 30 minutes is usually all I need. First I make myself a chai latte, maybe grab a few chocolate covered almonds or pretzels. If I am feeling inward and hungry for inspiration then I plug in an audiobook or an inspiring podcast. If I am feeling outward and social, I put in my headphones and call one of my favorite feel-good people. I love this time and I appreciate the fact that I only have a few drawers of laundry to deal with and that everything I need to complete and enjoy the work is right in front of me.
4.5. Teach laundry. House-manners and self-care are important life skills that I want to teach my children so they can feel confident and realize their impact on the household they’re part of. Now that they are old enough I’ve started to delegate 15 min laundry folding sessions to them once or twice a week as part of their household responsibilities. And I just love it when I catch my daughter preparing herself for a folding session by first making herself some tea and locating her headphones.
5. Have a perpetual donation and a trash bag that lives near your laundry folding space. While I’m folding and putting away laundry I look for outgrown pieces that can be donated or things with too many holes that need to be trashed. This cuts down on the clutter especially when you have young kids who are growing fast and playing hard. It also keeps space available for new clothing. I may have minimalistic habits but I have a taste for change and variety as well.
*** Disclaimer: I do not live a life of perfect routine or immaculate housekeeping. In fact, I’m naturally rather distracted and fun-loving and have plenty of weeks when I put the housework off till I simply can’t stand it anymore. My home-blessing rituals help me to avoid overwhelm and embrace a sense of joy and stability.
I hope one or all of these tips make your life as a clothed creature more enjoyable! May you find simplicity and joy in the work of your days.
Please share your spring cleaning hacks with us in the comments.