Tackle Laundry with Ease: 11 Steps to Streamline Your Laundry Routine

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Tired of doing laundry? Follow these steps to help you streamline your laundry routine and tackle laundry once and for all.


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See that big pile of dirty clothes in the corner?

Is it moving? Do you swear it’s haunting you?

If you’re wondering how to streamline your laundry routine (and get rid of that frustrating pile), we’re going to tackle it!


First, let me say that laundry isn’t my FAVORITE job in the world. (Is it anyone’s?) But it’s one of those household jobs where your laundry routine makes all the difference. If you set up a regular schedule, you will stay up on the laundry, and it won’t become quite so overwhelming.


Here’s how to streamline your laundry routine and get that pile under control once and for all!



1.      Organize Your Laundry Space

Every one of us has a different laundry setup and living situation. I’d love to offer you a one-size-fits-all answer to organizing your laundry space, but it all depends on your circumstances. Maybe you have a stackable washer and dryer in your kitchen closet. Perhaps you have a huge laundry space in the basement, or maybe you share laundry facilities with your neighbors.


The key to streamlining your laundry routine is to organize your laundry in a way that makes sense for you. If you have to do laundry off-site at a laundromat or in your building’s shared space, then it’s a matter of organizing your dirty clothes. If you have a washer and dryer in your own home, then you’ll need to organize the space.


A shelf, a folding table, and a few hampers and baskets are all you need. Keep your supplies on the shelf or neatly organized on the top of the dryer. The dryer can also double as a folding table if space is at a premium. You may want to keep hampers around the house for dirty clothes. Jordan and I use different hampers for the kids, but one “put away” basket. Using a single basket helps me when I get to the final step (I’ll explain).



The Laundry Hampers We Use




2.      Use the Right Tools for the Job

In your laundry area, you need to assemble the right tools for the job. Whether it’s just you or you have a full house with a spouse and kids, you’re going to need certain items to help you streamline your laundry routine.


Here are the best laundry supplies, I recommend:



Depending on your household, you may want several hampers. Look for options that are well-ventilated so clothes don’t mildew and smell before you wash them. As you set up a regular laundry routine, you’ll find that there won’t be long periods between loads so that you won’t run into odors as much.



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3.      Create a Plan of Attack to Streamline Your Laundry Routine

Every goal requires a plan. Yes, even laundry. I’ve found that setting up a plan of attack, whether it’s for laundry or your general weekly routine, really helps you feel more in control of life and on top of your schedule. Without a plan of attack, projects can feel overwhelming and impossible.


I’ve created a free printable Laundry Planner to help you decide which days you’re going to tackle the laundry. Writing out a schedule will help you set up your routine and build laundry into your daily habits. Even with young kids, if you do a small load every day or every other day, you won’t end up with piles of laundry ever.


Better still, your clothes will stay nicer and fresher. When clothing sits in a laundry basket, all bacteria and moisture start to smell, and laundry can get a bit funky. Even when you wash your clothes regularly, the smell can set in. Stains are tougher to remove after sitting around for a while too.


Laundry shouldn’t take a whole day every two weeks, especially if you have laundry appliances in your home. Streamline your laundry routine by writing and planning it out.



4.      Mark and Treat Stains ASAP

If you want your clothes to last, treat stains right away. Depending on the age of your kids, you can keep a few brightly colored clothespins near the hamper and teach them to “pin” the stain so you don’t miss it when you’re getting the laundry loaded.


The American Cleaning Institute has a comprehensive stain removal guide to help you know the best method for treating nearly any stain you can think of. For most stains, early treatment is critical. Once they linger in the laundry basket for a few days and dry, they can be much tougher to get out.


A laundry booster like OxyClean can help get rid of most organic stains in your laundry. Dishwashing liquid like Dawn can also be useful for grease and kitchen stains. Other stains may respond better to a spray like Shout. Always spot test expensive items before you treat the stain—you don’t want to damage the clothing further!



5.      Don’t Procrastinate—Do Small Loads Often

If you have a washer and dryer in your home, do small loads often. I know doing laundry every day (or every other) sounds counterintuitive to “streamlining your laundry routine,” but I promise you that it’s a game-changer.


We often throw in a small load of workout clothes, play clothes, and towels. Even if it seems like it’s not a big load, it keeps the items from getting smelly and from piling up. It takes just a few minutes to start laundry, and then when it’s time to put it away, it’s quick and easy.


Make laundry part of your regular routine. For example, I set the timer on the machine to start running about half an hour before I get home. When I walk in the door, I switch it over to the dryer, and the laundry is almost finished for the day.



6.      Find a Laundry Sorting System that Works for Your Family

Is that a dishtowel on the stairs? In our house, that’s a sign that something needs washing right away. I don’t love the look of items strewn on the stairs, of course, so the next time I’m headed down, I take it with me to throw in the wash.


Otherwise, we keep a separate hamper for everyone in the house. That’s what works for our family, but there might be a better laundry sorting system for yours. We use white towels because they’re easy to bleach clean and keep fresh. If you have red towels or black towels, then sorting them with the “whites” doesn’t make as much sense. It’s all about finding the right sorting system for your household.


Generally, laundry falls into four categories:


  • Lights and white
  • Darks and black
  • Bright colors
  • Delicates


But again, if your children have school uniforms, for example, or you wear a lot of black, you may want to sort it differently. I’ve found that drying kids’ clothes separately is a timesaver for us (rather than having them dry forever with towels or jeans).



7.      Don’t Be Too Picky with Sorting

At the same time, when you’re sorting, don’t feel like everything needs to be separated. Find the system that feels the best for your lifestyle and your household.


Wash like colors together. Be aware that new items, like towels, for example, can shed onto your clothes. Bright colors or darks might bleed onto lighter items. For most other things, washing them in small batches on cool will be fine. Getting your laundry done is far better than waiting for the perfect “batch” that’s all sorted together.


The other key to sorting laundry is to turn clothes right-side out and keep them from getting balled up. Kids’ socks often end up in tiny balls, sleeves turned inside-out and pant legs crumpled together. Take time to quickly shake out items (and check pockets) before they go into the wash. This will help your clothes dry more evenly.



8.      Use Mesh Bags and Never Lose Another Sock

Mesh bags (a.k.a. lingerie bags) are great for your laundry. Get a few bags in various sizes and keep them with your laundry hampers. You can put your swimsuits, underwear, and even socks right in. I use these mesh bags in just about every load!


Using a mesh bag makes it so much easier to fish your delicates out of the washer (assuming you don’t always wash by hand). You’ll preserve the life of the elastic in spandex and underwear by avoiding the dryer, which can ruin the elasticity.


Better still, mesh bags help you keep socks from getting lost in the washer. If you have many small items (kids’ socks, gloves, and underwear), then a laundry bag will keep you from searching for mismatched clothing later on. You’ll never have to worry about it getting lost in the washer.



9.      Dry Everything Immediately

One of the biggest laundry sanity savers is to dry everything immediately. Not only will you prevent clothes from getting mildew, but they’ll dry better and turn out less wrinkled if you put them right into the dryer every time. After about 8 hours of sitting in the wash, clothing can start to get a sour smell, and you’ll need to rerun the clothes to get rid of it.


I know it’s easy to forget to change a load over when you’re busy, but set a reminder on your phone and keep track. Pull out the items that shouldn’t go in the dryer and then set the rest to dry. Hang up the delicates and the “do not dry” items.


If you find you have many “do not dry” pieces, you may want to invest in a drying rack. Since we have two wall-mounted racks (these are similar!), I find myself consistently using them for all my athleisure wear to keep them in tip-top shape. If you don’t have wall space, find a collapsable metal one. These are relatively inexpensive and simple to store—fold up and keep right by your dryer. By properly drying your clothes, they’ll look better and last longer.


10. Keep Hangers Handy

If you have room in your laundry area, keep some hangers handy right there. As you take items out of the dryer, hang them up or fold them. Similar to leaving things in the washer, when items sit in the dryer, they can end up wrinkled. If you take clothes out and hang them up, you’ll hardly need to iron.  


Occasionally you might forget about a batch and end up with some wrinkled items—don’t despair. There are quick fixes to remove wrinkles. Try throwing a couple of ice cubes in the dryer or a damp towel and letting the batch of laundry run for 15-20 minutes. Another option is to hang clothing up in the bathroom while you shower. While it won’t take the wrinkles out of everything, it will improve the look if you’re in a hurry.



11. Put Away Right Away

The last critical step of streamlining your laundry routine is to put clothing away right away. If you’ve followed all of the above steps, you should be working with very small batches of laundry, and it should take just a few minutes to unload the dryer, hang or fold the clothes and put them in their respective homes.


The bonus of putting your clothing away quickly each time is that you don’t need a bunch of laundry baskets around your house, either. If you’re always working in small loads, you can put the laundry away and have an empty basket ready for next time.


Getting a regular laundry routine set up will keep those piles from getting overwhelming and insurmountable. If you’re wondering how to streamline your laundry routine, the biggest hurdle is getting started. Commit to the idea that you’re going to keep your laundry under control, set your game plan, and follow it (adjust as needed, of course). You can do it, I promise. Laundry will no longer seem like the WORST chore on your to-do list.











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