A laundry routine to simplify your life: Welcome to part four of this five-part series that shows you how to create your own routines to put you back into the driver seat for managing your life, family, and home.
Why a laundry routine simplifies your life
Every family has their own unique laundry situation based upon their needs, their time, their physical space, and their opinion of what the term ‘clean clothes’ actually means. Whatever system you currently use, the important thing is that you have a routine, so that laundry actually gets done.
However, if you can’t quite keep up with the laundry situation in your home, maybe the following routine will help you to simplify your life.
My FlyLady laundry routine
In my previous article I have talked about my FlyLady cleaning routine. This routine is not limited to house cleaning but also involves laundry. The principle is easy: doing a bit each and every day spreads the workload over several days and is therefore less overwhelming. For our family this basically means one load a day, sometimes two.
If you would like to learn more about the FlyLady approach, check out her website as well.
Start by separting clothes
My laundry routine starts with sorting the laundry. My husband is a carpenter and has built a special sorter right beside my washing machines for me but basically you can use any sorter depending on the type of laundry you have. In addition to this sorter downstairs, we have a built-in hamper in our bathroom which collects all the worn garments.
Every morning, I take this hamper to my sorter and start sorting the laundry into the baskets in the following manner: whites, delicate garments, colored garments, darks & heavier garments such as jeans, towels and linens. One full basket equals one load of laundry.
Keeping on top of sorting clothing as you go is key to my routine, otherwise, bottlenecks inevitably occur.
My Morning Laundry Routine
As mentioned above, each morning starts with sorting our laundry. As such, I grab the hamper in the bathroom, head down to the basement and start sorting. Once a basket has reached its capacity, I will take the garments out of this basket, put them into the washing machine, start a load and then start my day.
Quick Laundry Break at Lunchtime
Shortly after lunchtime I head down to the basement again and take care of the laundry: This means taking garments out of the washing machine and deciding if they get machine dried or hung, giving each garment a snap or two to help reduce wrinkles, and then set the dryer to go.
If I need to run a second load that day, this will be the time to do it.
In the afternoon
In the afternoon, when the dryer has finished, I start folding the laundry. This is an essential step in my routine as it ensures that no piles of clean clothes are building up. In addition, this also helps to reduce winkles.
After I have taken care of the folding, I check the clothes I hung to dry. If those clothes are completely dry, I fold them as well. The items that require more tlc than folding get ironed right away. Since we are talking only about a few garments here, this usually takes no more than 10 minutes.
Once I have finished folding and ironing, I will sort all items by person. I do not put it away immediately but wait until the end of the week as I am very lucky to have a separate laundry room and right next to it my little sewing studio, where I also have enough space to sort and stack laundry throughout the week.
If you don’t have a designated space (which I was also missing for years, too!), I recommend putting the laundry way immediately so there isn’t too much clutter.
In total, this daily routine takes about 30 minutes. 30 minutes a day well spend to keep on top of laundry without feeling overwhelmed and ensuring that everyone has clean clothes.
I will continue this routine until Friday afternoon. By this time, all our items have been washed, folded or ironed and are ready to be packed away.
As I have sorted them by person, each member of my family will grab their pile and sort their clothes into the corresponding cabinets.
When my kids were younger, obviously this was my part but now that they are old enough, they have to take over easier chores as well.
How to take care of textiles and garments in general
Textile care symbols
In our everyday lives, we use a wide variety of textiles in form of clothing, bedding, upholstered beds and other upholstered furniture. Their use inevitably leads to dirt and even stains. The correct cleaning and care of the various textile materials is therefore of great importance as it prolongs the useful life of such items.
In order to know how to properly care for a specific fabric, textile care symbols are used. These care symbols are symbols or pictorial representations that provide information on how exactly to care for a garment or other textile product so that it does not suffer any damage. The care symbols for textiles are largely unified or standardized worldwide, so that you will usually find understandable care symbols even for textiles from abroad.
How I take care of our textiles and garments
As already mentioned, certain materials require special care. Apart from general clothing, below please find a list of how I care about specific textiles.
Towels & Washcloths
Depending on the season, I wash our towels once or twice a week. In summer, I wash them twice a week, in winter only once.
Since I wash my towels at the highest heat, it pays to buy high quality towels, as they withstand quite some wear and tear.
As a detergent, I use biodegradable washing powder and instead of fabric softener I use plain, white vinegar.
The vinegar does two things:
- It removes any bacteria and germs from the towels.
- It cleans the washing machine at the same time.
And don’t worry, you won’t notice the vinegar at all in the washed fabric.
I constantly use microfibre cloths and towels in our house so these get changed out every other day or so. Cleaning cloths are a one-use item in our house. Once they’ve dried I toss them in a basket in the basement and whenever this basket gets full, they get washed in my separate washing machine.
When washing microfibre be careful not to use any fabric softener. This will have a negative impact of the cleaning quality of the towels and cloths.
Since we spent approximately 33% of our day in bed, I change and wash our linens once a week using my biodegradable washing powder and white vinegar. Normally, I use a medium heat sitting. This way the fabric gets clean and but not too wrinkely.
When cleaning wool fabrics, I strictly follow the textile care symbols. Depending on the type of wool, you either have to wash those items by hand or you can wash them in the machine. Since wool is a natural product and usually very delicate, I use a special detergent for wool fabrics.
Delicate fabrics and garments
Very delicate garments or blazers I usually bring to our local dry cleaner. It is not necessarily the washing itself that is problematic but rather bringing those special garments back into shape and getting them wrinkle-free. As such, whenever I buy anything new, I check the care label beforehand.
My cleaning approach to white laundry may sound a bit unusual: for years I washed our whites at the highest possible temperature setting. However, I’ve found that high heat doesn’t necessarily clean white clothing any better. Instead, today I use a very low temperature setting and my biodegradable washing powder. If there are any stains on the fabric, I treat them with a stain remover before washing them. In rare cases when our clothes are really dirty, I also use bleach.
With this article, I hope to have given you some help in making laundry a bit easier and less overwhelming. For me, this routine has become second nature and laundry is no longer an issue. However, since I’m always looking for ways to improve myself, I’d love to hear more about your laundry routine.