The best thing I ever delegated to my kids was their own laundry.
Never have I ever been reading a book or laughing at instagram videos and thought. “Shucks! I wish I could do the kids’ laundry for them again! This free-time I have now is really a drag.”
Never.

And while any time is a great time to delegate a monotonous, repetitive task to your children, the start of a new school year is an especially great time to assign new chores to your kids.

Even if your kids are already doing laundry for themselves, there are some helpful tips here. So read on, my friend.

Multiple laundry baskets

Part of the huge headache of laundry is sorting every item once they all come out of the dryer. If you are doing 4 people’s laundry in one load you are going to have enough sock confusion ALONE to justify giving up. Then there are underwear and t-shirts that could belong to a couple different people.
No one can help you sort and fold because it is a BIG FAT MYSTERY what belongs to whom.
Solution?
Give everyone their own laundry basket in their room or bathroom. Click To Tweet

There may be reasons why you absolutely don’t want to do this.
Maybe you have 3 kids sharing a room or a bathroom. Maybe you have very little square footage and 4 baskets is not worth the floorspace they occupy.
Or some other really good reason…
For you I have a compromise:
Have one basket for parents and one for kids.

Or
Have one basket for upstairs and one for down. That way you are at least not having to carry clothes up and down the stairs 2-3 times for ONE LOAD of washing. Holy cow that would be ridiculous. (And I’ve seen families who do this.)

Stack your hampers

Because laundry is a never-ending cycle, there is always a pile of clothes that starts to form while the dirty clothes hamper is in the laundry room. This is especially true if the basket is used by 2 or more people.
I got tired of picking up that smelly pile every time I replaced the empty hamper to it’s spot. So, I bought a duplicate hamper at Target (because they have tons of plastic, stacking hampers). Now when I bring the empty hamper back to its home, I pick up the duplicate hamper (which is of course filling up already) and stack the duplicate inside the empty.

Yes, this still involves lifting. But! The area stays neat and tidy while the laundry is being done. And! Like I said I’d rather pick up a hamper with some clothes in it than a smelly pile of sweaty clothes from the floor.

Remove the lids

get organized already, professional organizers
As long as we are talking about picking up dirty clothes from the floor, let’s talk about members of the family who can’t seem to summon the strength to lift the LID of the basket to put their dirty clothes inside. Ahem. Just take off the lid and throw it far, far away.

Pimp the laundry room

If you like to fold and hang your clothes in the laundry room, make that room as pleasant as possible! Park a bluetooth speaker in there and listen to a podcast or music while you work. Put up pretty things on the wall. Keep it tidy.

Make it as much of a pleasure as you can.
Less chore. More sensual experience.
Keep hangers in the room as well as some cleaning tools: a toothbrush, a sewing kit, etc. etc.

Environmental tips

Laundry soaps and softeners, even dryer sheets have awful chemicals in them. The main culprit is Sodium Laureth Sulfate.
Buy natural, unscented or naturally scented soaps. I use essential oils to give my unscented detergent more personality.
Skip the softener all-together.

Skip the dryer all-together. If you have time, use a clothes line. Even if you only hang out a few loads a month, you will be saving energy.
My mom hangs her towels on the line still and they are always so fresh and absorbent! I feel like I’m in a commercial when I use her towels!
If you don’t have time to hang out your laundry, at least skip the dryer sheets. Use dryer balls instead. Dryer balls are another fun place to try different essential oils. Just put a few drops of oil on each ball and start the dryer.

All of these changes will take a minute to get used to. At first you may feel like you aren’t doing a good enough job washing the clothes. It feels weird to stop using products you’ve seen your mom use all your life. But the changes will save you SO MUCH MONEY in the long run and they will help keep so many chemicals out of our water. So thank you for trying!

I don’t think my kid is ready for this responsibility

I’ve heard this excuse many times when talking to elementary-school moms.
True story: If your kids can pour a glass of milk and read, they can do their stinking laundry. Here are some things which will help them be successful at it:
hanging organizer

  • 6 years old is a great age to start. 13 is too late. They won’t listen to you by then!
  • Teach them to wash everything in cold water
  • Start out “helping” them by standing there to make sure they add soap (ha! This happens a lot. No soap!) and to make sure they chose the right settings.
  • Cut out the fabric softener and the dryer sheets. Fewer things to remember
  • Decant liquid detergent into a smaller container so it’s never too heavy. I bought 1 small detergent container and refill it from the less expensive, bulk containers over and over.
  • If you’d like their whites to be whiter, keep a whites only basket in the laundry room. My kids usually grew out of their white uniform shirts before they got too dingy anyway.
  • If a child hates hanging clothes up, try to find a way their clothes can be stored another way. These holders are my favorite solution to not having enough drawer space.
  • Ditto if they hate to fold. They could hang more things, or just lay everything into their drawers or bins. It really doesn’t have to look neat. That’s a fairy tale ending you can let go of pretty easily when you realize you didn’t lift a finger and your kids clothes got cleaned and put away. You feel me?

Not easy. Better.

Like any chore, it will be more work at first to teach and help your kids learn to do their laundry. It would be much quicker to do it yourself. It would also be a mistake to keep doing it yourself.
Yes, they are going to mess up.
Don’t berate them and don’t go and fix it for them. Show them how they can fix the issue. Then, let them fix it.
Always remember our goal: to send them into the world as young adults, not as leeches who don’t know how to cook or clean up after themselves. This is not just a goal. It’s our job!

So, it’s okay to remind them every time for the first year that they have to switch the clothes to the dryer. It’s okay to ask “Have you put your clothes away?”
You are parenting and that is a beautiful thing!

Schedule laundry days

Assign each family member or each basket (if you are stubborn and still plan to do all of the laundry yourself!) a day of the week. This may seem harsh, but it teaches valuable life skills– planning ahead and bargaining. As in: bargaining with your sister to swap days when you need your soccer uniform clean by TOMORROW but your laundry day was yesterday and you forgot.

This scheduling tip is specifically for families with more than 2 kids or those with a child who works better on a tighter schedule; who works better on a deadline.
This schedule also takes away the subjective factor. If your son is the type of guy who will smash down his dirty clothes only to postpone doing laundry for another 2 days, he’ll learn pretty quickly that that will not work in this scenario.

Laundry plan for weekend warriors

Lots of working families prefer to do all the laundry on the weekend. Go warrior princess! Go!
All but one of the above tips can still work for you.
You could keep a linens basket going near the kitchen and bathroom.
You could keep a basket for whites in the laundry room and separate as you load the machine.
These tricks make sorting and folding clean laundry go much faster.

Whew! That was a lot of words about a pretty banal topic!
Do you have any other tricks to share?
Did you hate any of this advice? Share in the comments, if you please. And by all means, SHARE this page with your friends on facebook or pinterest.

Subscribe to our email list for more organizing tips in your inbox each Tuesday.
Thank you as always,

-Nonnahs
Grab this FREE list of age-appropriate chores for kids.

A quick video where I show the stacked hampers and other useful organizing ideas:

Where to buy some great, natural dryer balls:

Articles about the bad chemicals in laundry soaps:

Your thoughts please