How To Keep Up With The Laundry

How to keep up with the laundry from

Ever find yourself ready to tear your hair out wondering how to keep up with the laundry? Me, too.

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I have a secret Super Power: I am the only person in my house who knows how to do laundry. Oh, I wish this weren’t true, but no amount of written instructions, coaxing, bribing or threats has taught my family how to launder their own clothes. Here’s how to keep up with the laundry, without going insane. (And for those who like visuals, there’s a free printable laundry routine at the end.)

How To Keep Up With The Laundry

Everyone has a hamper. Mine is in the walk-in closet of our master bedroom. The kids’ hamper is upstairs in their bathroom. I don’t wash clothes that don’t make it to the hamper. Period. The first time my son’s Band shirt wasn’t clean the night before his concert was the last time he forgot to put his clothes in the hamper. (Fortunately, he caught this the night before and got his shirt to the laundry room the next morning.)

Every hamper has a stain stick attached. I tie one end of a string to a Resolve Stain Stick, and the other to the hamper. As we undress, we check for and treat stains. This saves me a lot of headaches on Laundry Day.

Use a sorter in the laundry room.  I bought this sorter from Amazon, and absolutely love how sturdy it is. Also, it has four compartments instead of the standard three. So every day or so, we all take our hampers to the laundry room and sort them into the darks, brights, lights and undies/socks slot. (I have signs posted, because they forget.) As they sort, they check and turn out pockets.

Do laundry at least twice a week. I go through the house and gather sheets, pillowcases, towels and wash cloths to wash early in the week, then launder them all on the same day since they take up so much room on the line. The rest of our clothes get washed on other days, depending on how full the sorters look.

Know the length of your wash cycles. My washer takes 25 minutes for a full load. Knowing this, I’ve built it into my daily house tidy routine, just as I’ve built in the time to switch from the washer to dryer.  If you’ve got to be at work early in the morning, you might need to start laundry as soon as you get home so your wet clothes aren’t sitting in the washer mildewing all day. Switch it to the dryer before you sit down to dinner, and they’ll be ready to fold by the time your meal’s done.

Speed up drying time. Remove clothing items from the washer one at a time, giving each a good shake before tossing them in the dryer. This helps reduce wrinkles and makes sure your clothes can freely tumble-dry, so they’ll dry faster.

Remove from the dryer properly. Don’t simply haul the entire load of clothes into a basket. That’s how stuff wrinkles! Take items out one at a time, spreading on top of the washing machine anything that needs to be hung.  Put the clothes that need folding in your basket and go fold them.

Sort items as you fold them. Sort each family members’ clothes as you fold them, and make separate stacks for bathroom and kitchen towels. Next, go back and put the other items on hangers, then separate the hangers by family member.  Now you only have to make one trip per room to put things away.

Put away each load as it’s done. This is the big secret laundry trick, folks: do NOT wait until you’ve finished every load of laundry to put things away! If you’ve got kids who aren’t around to put their stuff away, place it where they’ll have to take care of it as soon as they get home. (Stairs are great for this.) Put everything else away as soon as it’s dried. That way your kitchen table is clear if Aunt Edna unexpectedly shows up, and you have a built-in stopping point should something more interesting than doing laundry come up.

Want an easy way to put it all together? Help yourself to my free printable Laundry Day Routine!

Laundry Day Routine checklist printable from




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    • says

      Thanks, Anne! Folding straight from the dryer is a great idea. I take mine to the kitchen to do it, though, because my cats’ litter box is in the laundry room and, well, it’s not a pleasant place to be no matter how often I scoop and sweep!

  1. sara says

    Love this! Never thought to keep the stain stick with the hamper. Then I wouldn’t miss stains!
    Great tips!

  2. Jean says

    Wow! What a great post to come about on laundry day. I never thought about timing the wash cycle and have been known to forget the clothes down there for longer than I should and end up re-washing the same load the next day. I will definitely be giving that tip a try.

  3. says

    Dear Katie,
    Love your aunt Edna mention… ha-ha. I’ve solved it that way that in my laundry room are three laundry carts with four bags each (+ pouches for socks etc). So sorting is easy. Bringing it downstairs from the bed- and bathrooms helps organizing things. Bedlinens go straight from the beds into the washer. Shaking things out and hand-dry for easy and immediate ironing is a must. If I cannot for some reason iron my bedlinens, I fold them neatly as they come hand-dry out of the dryer and place them in a laundry basket inside the freezer. YES, that is a great and neat way of solving that problem. Take the basket out and within half an hour you can iron it away easily. No wrinkles and not a chore you will dread. For towels I wait till I have a load of them as I only wash towels separately as they will cause pilling on other items.
    Keep up your great posts as there are so many useful tips and hints!

  4. says

    Have you seen this? If I can ever get the rest of my house in order, I’m building it.

    Then I’m going to put laundry baskets on top of the washer and dryer, one for each family member. Then I’m going to start throwing out entire baskets of laundry when they don’t come get their clothes. (Can’t leave them on the stairs, I’ve tried that and I just end up washing them again because the pets and kids run right over them.)

  5. Grace says

    I have that hamper, and actually keep it right in our bedroom so we sort immediately upon getting undressed (ATM there is only two of us, so it’s easier that way). Great tips! I also love the stain remover stick. Thank you!

    • Katie Berry says

      Isn’t that hamper the greatest? I love being able to just bend over and grab a properly sorted load to throw in the machine when I have time. Glad you like the stain stick tip, too!

  6. Keebelf says

    Katie, I read this post a few months ago and since then, laundry has
    been so much easier (dare I say fun?!). I had hubby relocate some of
    his tools off of a hip high dresser and scrounged up four baskets and
    labeled them all. I have one hamper that I absolutely LOVE (it has the
    notch for the hip but it is round so it is easier to fit up and down
    the steps). I fill up the basket from the upstair hampers and sort it
    once I get down stairs. I do that until I am able to start a load
    (usually darks and socks/undies fill up first). Every time I go
    upstairs, I take another hamper load down and sort. I set the timer on
    my phone once I start the washer/dryer and it reminds me to get back
    down there and take care of everything. It sounds confusing but there
    is a method to it and so much better than what I was doing before and
    knowing that I only have 8 loads of laundry for the day (4 for me and
    hubby, 4 for the kids) it seems to go a lot faster. I usually do the
    adult clothes on one day and the kids clothes the next and can take a
    break of a day or two before starting again.

    • says

      You’re on top of it, Keebelf, well done! Sorting it through the week really does make a big difference, doesn’t it? I used to wash tiny loads of brights only to wind up spending the whole weekend catching up with socks/undies and darks. Sorting really made a big difference for me. I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you!

  7. Unexpected Housewife says

    I love your tip to put away each load as it’s finished. I feel a little stupid for never having done it this way. You’re absolutely right that taking the 3-5 minutes now to fold and put away a single load saves so much head-ache from the usual frustration of 3-5 loads sitting in towering piles (that ultimately fall over and must be re-folded) that take forever to put away. I also love your tip that laundry isn’t “done” until it’s put away. Both tips are a little bit life-changing. Now if only I could get my other half to follow them… Any tips for house-training men who still want to live like college-aged bachelors?

  8. Juhani says

    Great ideas, will use!
    After I’ve tumbled our clothes I take them to the spare bedroom and spread them open, one by one, on top of each other and leave them there for a day or two so I don’t have to iron.:D

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