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5 ways to save time in the Laundry

It’s what we all want right?  Less time spent on boring domestic chores and more time for fun.  Since hiring a housekeeper is out of the budget, and sadly this stuff doesn’t do itself, laundry is the never-ending story of my life.  I was recently listening to a couple of good friends moan about having piles of washing that needed folding and it dawned on me that I don’t really have that particular problem.

Courtesy of the way my brain works, I am constantly finding ways to refine processes and cut out unnecessary steps.  Always looking for the short cut.  Some call it lazy.  In a work place, it’s called Continuous Improvement.  I’m going with efficient.  I forget that everyone’s brains work differently and what’s obvious to me may not be to everyone else.  So I was surprised at my friends’ moaning and realised that if I shared my laundry process, it would help them.  Then I realised I could probably help a few other people too.

So here it is.  My laundry process.  Prepare yourself for a trip through the part of my brain that clearly has too much spare time…

Get everyone to turn their clothes in the right way and put them in the washing basket.

The amount of time wasted turning kids and partners clothes in the right way to check for stains does my head in.  If it’s not in the basket, it doesn’t get washed.  If it’s not turned in the right way and it’s stained and doesn’t wash properly, bad luck to the owner.  The hardest part about this one is standing your ground until everyone gets it through their heads.  I struggle to walk past dirty clothes on the floor and I also struggle not turning them in the right way to see if they are stained.  I can’t stand it when things don’t wash properly. I just keep reminding myself that it’s my job to teach the kids life skills and one day they will thank me for it (HA!).

Get people to spray their own stains.

I keep a bottle of my pre-wash stain remover spray in the bathroom. I get the kids to spray their clothes, if needed, as soon as they take them off each night (and turn them in the right way).They love it! They think it’s great fun.  If only they knew!  This also saves hours of sitting on the floor in the laundry sorting through clothes and spraying.  Plus, I find, the sooner I get the spray on, the more effective the stain remover is.  I generally don’t need to soak much at all!

Since I use a natural pre wash spray that doesn’t contain any petrochemicals, I can leave it on the clothes for as long as I want before I wash (usually around a week) and there’s no damage to the fabric.  It also means I don’t have to worry about the kids breathing in anything they shouldn’t.  Click here to see what I use.

Pair Up!

Don’t put single socks in the wash or on the line.  I always make sure I am putting in pairs only.  When I am pegging out the washing, I peg the pair together too.  I do this for two reasons.  One is so that I don’t go mad looking for missing socks.  If I can’t find two to go into the wash, the one sock goes back to the owner to locate the missing one and resubmit to my laundry.  The other reason is so that I can roll them up straight away once they’re dry and I don’t have to sort through the washing and pair them up later on.

Paired up socks
Paired up socks on the washing line

Fold as you take down.

A little bit of extra time while you are at the line saves hours of ironing and a pile of folding later.  You are already touching the washing, you may as well fold it while you have it in your hands.  Otherwise, you have to double handle it (touch it again later when you didn’t need to). If you fold neatly, you will find you have way less wrinkles (especially compared with scrunching into the basket) so ironing won’t take anywhere near as long!

Sort as you fold.

This is where we get into the truly dark and twisty part of my brain.  I sort all my washing as I fold.  Actually, I take down my washing in a very specific order, fold it and then put it into the relevant basket.  I take it down in the reverse order of how it gets put away.  Get it?

No one else does either.  Ha ha.  For argument’s sake, lets say I only have the kids’ stuff on the line.  I have a pile for each child.  First I take down the pyjamas, then the pants, then skirts and shorts, long sleeved tops, t-shirts, and finally jocks and socks.  When I get into their bedrooms, jocks and socks go in the top drawer, t-shirts in the next, shorts, skirts and long sleeved tops in the next, pants and then pyjamas.  Anything that needs to be hung up goes on top of the basket but my kids rarely wear dresses so they don’t often go through the wash.

Since my kids are small, their washing fits into 2 piles in the one basket.  When there’s gown ups’ washing as well, I start taking that down and folding it first, then kids’ clothes on top.  Once the kids’ clothes are put away, the grown ups’ clothes are in the bottom of the basket and ready to be taken to be put away at the other end of the house.

Folded Laundry
Folded Laundry ready to be put away.

So there you have it, a wander into the corners of my mind dedicated to making my life just a little bit easier. I hope it helps you too!  It does take a bit of a commitment to do this for 2 weeks and change your current habits.  Getting “helpers” (kids and partners) to follow this process is a whole other set of training. But if you can do it yourself, you will find that it saves you time and your sanity.

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