Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibility, and one of the most pesky tasks just might be laundry. From tough stains to piles and piles of dirty clothes, it seems like as soon as you finish a load, there are three more waiting. To help you nail down a less chaotic routine, we asked Becky Rapinchuk, blogger behind Clean Mama and mom of three, to share her tried and true techniques.
#1 Limit Your Loads
Rather than separating your kids’ clothes into whites and darks, Rapinchuk recommends tossing all their clothing in your washing machine and running it on cold. While you might worry about the colors transferring, she notes that she’s never had any issues with this method—the key is running the cycle with cool water.
Not only does washing multiple colors together at once limit the number of loads you need to do, but it also makes it easier to sort the clothing and put it away.
#2 Enlist Some Help
Summer is the perfect time to teach your kids how to help with laundry. Rapinchuk thinks two years old is an appropriate age to start involving kids in simple tasks, like sorting socks or dumping clothes into a washing machine.
For older kids, Rapinchuk says that eight and nine were good ages for her kids to take on more laundry responsibilities, like bringing the basket down to the laundry room, folding, and putting away clothes. “Increase little by little as your kids get older and help them along the way.”
#3 Create a System
Sometimes chores can feel more manageable when they’re broken into smaller tasks. Every family is different, but Rapinchuk encourages parents to try and stick to a set schedule when it comes to washing common household items. For example, Saturday is “Sheets and Towels Day” at Rapinchuk’s house, so she launders all of her sheets and towels every Saturday so she knows all the beds and bathrooms will be replenished with fresh linens. If sticking to a once a week routine feels like a lot, rotate through your kids’ sheets. If you have three kids, launder one set a week and then repeat.
Pro tip: Begin washing sheets first thing in the morning when beds are empty to assure that everyone has clean sheets to hop into at bedtime.
#4 Upgrade Your Machine
If you’re in need of a washing machine upgrade, consider purchasing an appliance that has a timer. Rapinchuk explains that most newer machines (within the last five to 10 years) have this function, and if you’re in the market, it’s one feature that can really hack your routine.
The main perk is that if you work outside of your home, you can set your washer to start an hour or so before you wake up in the morning. Then, once you get up, you can toss the washed clothing into the dryer and fold it before leaving. If you’re in a rush to get out the door, you’ll at least find some peace of mind knowing that the clothes won’t be sitting in the damp washing machine all day (although, we’ve all been there.)
Tools of the Trade
Prevents bed sheet tangles in the washer and dryer. $19
Natural, toxin-free laundry detergent. $59
For faster and softer clothes drying. $10
DIY Laundry Stain Bar
This solution works best on simple clothing stains that are fresh and not set-in. Rapinchuk loves this natural and non-toxic alternative to stain sticks and sprays. Her favorite way to use it is on kids’ clothes and pant knees after some play in the dirt. Try it the next time you have a stain that needs some attention.
What You’ll Need:
- One bar of Castile or vegetable-based soap
- Scrub brush, if necessary
- Use a knife or scissors to cut the top off the wrapper. This creates a little storage case for your bar.
- You can store the bar in the wrapper when not in use and it will dry out completely in a couple minutes after using it. Push the bar up a bit out of the wrapper to use it.
- Wet the top of the bar under running water or in a dish (I like to use a dish because it’s more controlled.)
- Rub into the stain and re-wet if necessary. Scrub if necessary with a clean, soft bristled brush.
- Launder as usual and admire your stain-removing abilities!