Laundry Hacks for This Mother’s Sanity

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Laundry.

Enter the bane of my existence. It is the chore that I have always dreaded the most. Let’s face it, the satisfaction of a job well done lasts maybe until bedtime (when yet more clothes go in the hamper or dirty clothes bin) and the job is no longer “finished”. I like to accomplish things, and with laundry, it seems, there is no accomplishing because it is NEVER DONE! Add on top of this that my laundry room is always a disaster zone, and that creates another source of stress. Why is it that everyone in my family wants to use this as their “drop zone” when they come in the house? (I NEED a mud room…but that is another blog.)

I decided to tackle my biggest domestic obstacle. I crowd-sourced a bit for ideas, revamped my process (and my laundry room), and here’s how everything measured up…(pun intended). The first thing that I did was search the web. I found some helpful videos out there to give me some ideas of how to change some things around. Also, many thanks to my friends who let me crowd-source them on Facebook to solicit suggestions for improving my system. Believe me…much improvement was needed.

After a month of trial and error, I have found a pretty decent system that works for my family. So here you go.

1. Use a 4 section rolling laundry sorter like this

My laundry sorter has been a game-changer for me, and I actually bought two: one for upstairs and one for in the laundry room. This way, I just bring one canvas “bag” downstairs at a time and bring an empty one from the laundry room upstairs so that we can continue using the hamper…this helps with the problem of bringing the hamper down to do laundry, and then not having anywhere to put the accumulating clothes. The other thing I LOVE about this system is that it is SO easy to tell when you have a full load that is ready to go in the wash. I sort our family’s clothes differently than some people. I use a fabric sorting system instead of relying solely on color. This inspiration came from Jordan Page of FunCheapOrFree

This means that my four sorts are usually:

  • Parent clothing/heavy fabric items
  • Kids clothing 
  • Clothes that need bleach
  • Towels and sheets

The reason that I sort this way is because heavier and bigger fabrics soak up the detergent and water in the washer, and all of the tumbling can be rough on the smaller, lighter-weight clothes.  This has helped the kids’ clothes stay looking much newer and in better shape.  Another mom told me that she sorts by person in her household so that putting clothes away is easier. I think if I had more than one daughter or son who were close in age, I would definitely sort this way as well. But, with a five-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son, it’s easy to tell whose clothes are whose.

2.  Use mesh bags for small items

One of the frustrating things for me was that undergarments and socks were always getting twisted around other items or taking a huge beating in the washing machine. NO MORE!  With the mesh bags, I simply put underwear, socks, bras, etc. in the small mesh bags before I put them in the washer. Then, I move everything into the dryer that way as well. One other benefit of this system is that I can easily designate sock matching and putting away undies to the kids because it is already so easily sorted. I store my mesh bags on the wall in my laundry room. I use the metal binder clips (I know, I know…I’m such a teacher) to connect to the bag’s zipper and then I just hang them behind my laundry sorter. 

3.  Pre-treat and use the Delay Start Option

I use Oxiclean laundry stain spray or Clorox 2, depending on my mood and how the stain looks. I spray the stain right away (if I remember) or when I get to it.  It obviously works best if you catch it right away.  Then I put the clothes in the washer right away and just set the delay start function on my washing machine. This way, the stain spray can soak in and I don’t actually have to remember to go back in the laundry room to put everything in the washing machine (because who has the time or the memory for that? NOT this mom.)

4. Hang the clothes up in the laundry room

I have to credit my childhood friend with this one. She asked me what was MOST frustrating to me about laundry. I replied that I hated putting laundry away. Why? Well, in our conversation she was able to see that part of the reason I hated it so much was because I was duplicating my efforts constantly.  I would fold laundry downstairs, then go upstairs and unfold half of it to hang it up. What if I had something to hang clothes in my laundry room? Yes. I had tried this before, but found that my system wasn’t working, so I bought these. This way I can hang and fold laundry in the laundry room, and putting it away is simpler. And, again, it’s easier to delegate jobs to the kids when I do it this way. 

5.  Products matter

I used to just buy different things based on what was on sale (and I still do to some extent), but having your go-to products all the time really does make a difference. I always use Oxiclean in the bottom of the washing machine with just about every load. I really do feel that it makes a difference. I have my preferred bleach brands and stain fighters as well.  I use unscented and dye-free detergent for every load except for my sports loads.  A few friends suggested using white vinegar in place of fabric softener. While I don’t use it every time, I do find that it cuts down on the residue on clothes, and helps the sports clothing not to stink so terribly. I also have found that it’s great for keeping towels fluffy and absorbent.  Finally, don’t overuse products. If the recommended amount of detergent is good, more is not better, for your clothes or your machine. The HE designation really does make a difference. Use a washing machine cleaner every once in a while to clean out the residue in your machine. It does make a difference especially in a front loading machine!

I hope that something in these tips was new and helpful. I’m assuming that I am not the only mom who struggles with laundry. After transforming my laundry room to a no-clutter, efficient place, it is now my peaceful, happy place. Who EVER thought that could happen? Now…if only I could get everyone on board with the system. Oh well…#squadgoals

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Erica
Erica is an Omaha transplant from Northern California and has lived in Omaha off and on since 1993. She is mom to two wonderful children who fill her with love and joy. Because her husband’s career requires him being gone for long stretches of time, she has learned to streamline being a career mama while flying solo for months at a time. Her middle school reading students add some excitement to her days, and her kids keep the humor going strong into the evenings. Erica also manages to have a Mary Kay business in her "free time". She has many tips for traveling with small children as well, since she travels internationally with the kiddos at least once a year. She enjoys reading, and belongs to the best book club ever; being active; and sharing an occasional cup of coffee or wine with friends. You'll find her out and about on weekends and evenings embracing every drop of motherhood.