After years of laundry loathing, I have finally made peace with the spin cycle. I've learned to love the April freshness of Downy mixed with the pungent tang of Clorox. I love the warmth and softness of a crisp, clean batch of cotton sheets. Give me a basket of folded towels instead of a Picasso anyday. A load of well-done laundry is a true work of art.
First off, let me clarify that I do NOT have a dream laundry room. Far from it. If my laundry room were a state it would be Rhode Island. Clearly, the only Ultra Tide the man (because obviously it was a man) who designed this house knew about was the kind that rippled onto the shore of his Cape May beachfront property. Still, I have learned that you don't need a fully-loaded laundromat establishment to enjoy cleaning your linens. All you need is a good system.
Here are a few tricks that really knock my socks off. (And leave them gleaming white and static-free...)
- Laundry hampers. In every room where clothes are stored, removed or changed. I have them in every bedroom and bathroom. Some larger rooms have more than one.
- Regularly scheduled wash day. I only wash twice a week. Period. Usually Tuesdays and Fridays. It works best if you are at-home most of the day. (Or have a helpful home-officed husband who doesn't mind shifting the loads, in a pinch.) Promise yourself that you will get all the laundry in and out within a 12-hour period. It takes discipline...but there is nothing more depressing than seeing yesterday's whites still molding away in the washer as you are digging through piles of clean, but rumpled, permanent press searching for the soccer uniform.
- Individualized laundry baskets. Each kid has their own labeled clean-clothes basket. (Note: these are not the same as the laundry hampers...those are stationary, because there is always more laundry.) Depending on their age, at the end of laundry day, the kids will have either a pile of clean clothes to fold or pre-folded clothes to put away in drawers and closets. (Word to the wise: I don't advise looking in drawers too often. It can cause stomach upset.)
- Fold as you go. This doesn't work for everybody, but I've found that if I drag all the clean laundry into the family room and fold while watching Oprah or other educational programming, it takes a whole lot longer to finish. Plus, I am annoyed if my kids trip over my work. Time yourself. Folding even the biggest load only takes about twelve minutes. Just pull it out of the dryer and deal with it while it's warm and sweet. Less wrinkles, too.
- Bright whites. Sort and wash whites first while there is still plenty of hot water. For best results, rinse the load first with cold water. Tip learned from appliance guy: If you have an high-efficiency washer, it may fill with water before the water gets really hot. Before starting the hot cycle, run the faucet in your washtub or closest powder room to get the heat in the pipes.
- Sock basket. My laundry room is also the mudroom. The kids keep their shoes in there. So it makes sense to keep a big basket of clean white socks handy. I don't even match them. It has streamlined our daily out-the-door routine...and every second counts.
- Baking soda. Gets the stink out towels and socks. Can be used instead of bleach to brighten whites. Used as a paste will clean out a dirty washing machine. Cheap trick.
- Finally...buy cute clothes. When apparel shopping, don't just look at cost and fit. When buying any top or bottom, ask yourself, Will I still love this after I've pre-treated, sorted and folded it 50 times? If the answer is no, put it back on the rack.
What's on your laundry list?