Beyond Killing the Monster – Tips for Maintaining Laundry (One Laundry Basket & Specific Loads)

How to Kill the Laundry Monster and More Laundry Tips to Maintain

Considering I didn’t even know how to do my own laundry when I went to college and my husband had to teach me everything he knew about laundry when we got married, it is sometimes hilarious to me that I talk so much about laundry on the blog and have so much advice on the subject.

And the even crazier thing is that I STILL HAVE MORE TO SAY ABOUT IT!!!

In a way, though, it makes a little sense that I’d have a different perspective on it than most. My personality is prone to the perfectionist trap of all or nothing. And though I advocate for recovery from perfectionism, in this case, I’ve taken the ALL approach to Laundry over the years. I’ve gone all-in to figure out how to make Laundry as efficient and pain-free as possible. I’ve put more thought and effort into the strategy of laundry than I would let slip in a social situation. My lack of history means I have no sentimental attachments to outdated ways of doing it.

Before I get to today’s new tips/reminders –  I want to remind or let you know about an article I wrote a while back called How To Kill the Laundry Monster. It really is the best place to start if you are overwhelmed with Laundry and want my advice.

How to Kill The Laundry Monster

If you’ve been around my blog or social media much, you may have noticed I love laundry baskets. I use them to organize my linen closet, hold stuffed animals, pool stuff, and they are my favorite thing to grab when I need to load up stuff to take anywhere … so there are plenty of laundry baskets around.

A year ago I made the decision to only have ONE laundry basket in my laundry room because I decided I didn’t need the temptation to leave clean clothes in a basket and start filling multiple baskets. The load gets put away right away if possible, but definitely before the next load comes out of the dryer.

Tip #1 – Have just 1 laundry basket and put away every load of clean clothes promptly if possible, but definitely before the next load comes out of the dryer.

Maintaining a Laundry Routine is impossible without Follow-Through, which includes actually putting away the clean laundry! Commit to the follow-through.

Tip 1 - Use 1 Laundry Basket and Commit to Follow-Through

The other tip I have has to do with how you organize your laundry. Separate your laundry by the wash cycle you use on your machine INSTEAD of color and you will have smarter piles. (This does require using a color protecting product! These things have forever changed laundry! I am not partial to a particular brand or type and usually let price/sales guide me. You can find this in the Laundry products aisle at the grocery store. It is a cloth you add to the load that absorbs stray colors in the wash water.)

Most things that get washed (and dried!) similarly get put away similarly, even if they are different colors. You know what this means? You just made putting that load of laundry away so much easier. This system creates very specific loads of laundry. That’s a good thing. 

For example’s sake – I often give the “general terms” for the laundry I do on the different routine days, but here are MY loads broken down. And remember, I have a family of 6. And it looks like a lot written out. Because it is so specific, each task actually goes very quickly and is easy to knock-out.

I have a separate place (hanging laundry bags in my closet, hampers in bathrooms, bucket under kitchen sink, small baskets in laundry room, etc.) for all of these dirty loads to accumulate so that it is very easy to grab and put in the wash without any sorting, switch to the dryer, and then fold and put away all in one place.

My Personal Schedule

I never sort laundry. Yes, it’s true, this is a no-sort system.

Monday

  • Kitchen cloths (sanitize cycle)
  • Tablecloth and cloth napkins (permanent press cycle)

Tuesday

  • All the kids’ sheet sets and pillowcases together (normal cycle)
  • King size sheet set (normal cycle)

Wednesday

  • 1st Daughter’s clothes (normal cycle with color protector sheet)
  • 2nd Daughter’s clothes (normal cycle with color protector sheet)
  • 3rd Daughter’s clothes (normal cycle with color protector sheet)
  • {On rare occasions I will pull fancy church/event clothes out of each kids pile and wash together (hand wash cycle & hang dry)}

Thursday

  • Upstairs Towels with Powder Bath hand towels (normal cycle)
  • Master Bathroom Towels (normal cycle)
  • Cleaning Clothes **every other week** (sanitize cycle)

Friday

  • Some of my clothes that I’m willing to put in the dryer on ultra-low heat (delicate cycle with color protector sheet)
  • Other half of my clothes that will only be hang-dryed (hand wash cycle with color protector sheet)
  • Under-clothes (delicate cycle)

Saturday

  • Only Son’s clothes (stain cycle with color protector sheet)
  • Husband’s Work Clothes (permanent press with color protector sheet)*
  • Husband’s Darks (normal cycle)*
  • Husband’s Lights (normal cycle)*

*These are not full every week, so we just check them on Saturday. He has enough white athletic socks to last a while.

Yep, that is 18 loads of Laundry. Wowzers. Before you dismiss me as insane for saying more loads could possibly stream-line the process and make it more efficient, you have to try it first. EACH OF THESE LOADS IS VERY EASY TO DO and I’m starting & shifting them all throughout the day (sometimes just morning and evening), not setting aside one chunk of “laundry-doing-time”. Of course, I might have even more piles if I tried to separate by color AND wash/dry cycle.

So, let’s review.

My Suggested Starter Schedule

(Until you tweak it for your life!)

Monday

  • Kitchen cloths (sanitize cycle)

Tuesday

  • Bedding (normal cycle)

Wednesday

  • Towels (normal cycle)

Thursday

  • Clothes (cycles vary)

Friday

  • Kid Clothes or Misc. (cycles vary)

Saturday

  • (free day or adjust from another day)

 

Tip #2: Stick to very specific loads of laundry whenever possible/reasonable.

Tip 2 - Stick to Very Specific Loads

So, there you have it, if you are overwhelmed with Laundry right now, you know you need to start by Killing the Laundry Monster, then get your system organized with specific load types, and then really follow-through and maintain your system with one laundry basket and putting away your clean clothes!

Always keep it clean … especially your laundry. ;)

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23 thoughts on “Beyond Killing the Monster – Tips for Maintaining Laundry (One Laundry Basket & Specific Loads)

  1. Whst is the color protector sheet you mentioned? Is it made by Shaklee? That is what i use….the get clean powder and liquid.

    1. I edited the post to include an answer, so thank you for helping me realize I left out a description. There are many brands/types, so you can google to find out about the options. I buy them in the Laundry aisle at the store (and since I use Shaklee laundry soaps, they are the only thing I get in that aisle!) The color product is actually a cloth that goes in the load and absorbs stray colors in the water. Pretty simple!

  2. Love this post. Even though I feel like a horrible mother when you say you got married not knowing how to do laundry. How could I have let that happen?!?! I don’t know. Oh well. I have had to learn to live with regrets. So moving on. I totally agree with the follow through approach. I always put away each load as it comes out of dryer. Sometimes when my husband “helps” with the laundry he runs all loads through washer and dryer and then I am faced with big pile of clothes, towels, everything to sort and fold. It is so much easier to fold and put away one load at a time. And Mary dear, I am sorry I did not teach you all the specifics of keeping a clean home. But I think I did an ok job of teaching you the joy of living in a clean home. And I love that you can teach and help others realize this joy. Much love, your mother. xoxo

    1. Perhaps if you had taught her everything she wouldn’t have felt the need to create her wonderful organizational business that has helped so many of us organize and love our homes. Thank you for raising a courageous daughter that is willing to share the good, bad and ugly in her life.

    2. Yes! You certainly did give me an appreciation for a clean home! I loved the feeling in our home and the feeling of coming home – something I’ve always wanted to give my kids and now the world. ;)

  3. My husband and I are retired. We do laundry like this. No planning, just kinda happened. He does his own clothes…dumps everything in one load. I tried to teach him to sort, but he would have none of it. I wash my clothes, I do sort, day after he washes. In the following days I wash….shower curtain and bath mat, bathroom towels, kitchen towels, cleaning towels. There are days that I don’t wash anything! Very easy.

  4. My girls have a few delicate items in the wash each week…..do you put delicates in with the rest of the wash on the normal cycle? Even though they’re not special Sunday clothes or anything I wouldn’t want to ruin them. Or should I wash them as I usually do….separately on the delicate cycle?

    1. If my girls happen to have something delicate in their wash (it does happen once in a while – even though a lot of their Sunday dresses can be washed with their normal clothes because I dry everything on ultra low), I will either do a load of all the girls delicates together after doing all of their individual loads. Or I’ve been known to go put their delicate item in my clothes hamper in my closet and just wait for my laundry day because I always have a load of “hand-wash cycle” and “hang-dry” to do. Since it isn’t very much and it isn’t all the time, it usually isn’t a huge deal to work out.

  5. I have my list in the calendar on my smartphone. Every night, I announce what I will be washing the next day. Everyone has to have their laundry in the central basket by the next morning, before breakfast. That is the only load I do that day. Throw it in while I’m cooking breakfast. After breakfast, I told in the dryer. It’s folded and deposited in the correct bedroom before everyone comes home. They are responsible for putting it away.

    1. Do you mind sharing what days you do which loads? I am trying to create something like Monday is whites, Tuesday is colored, etc. curious to see what others do!

      1. I tend to sort by color. Monday – reds and Browns. Tuesday – sheets Wednesday – Darks (includes towels) Thursday- lights/whites Friday- catchup and odd things Saturday and Sundays – none

        1. If it works – go for it! I have too many people in my house to sort by colors, it would take so much extra work to collect it to sort and then to put it away into so many different places every day. :)

          There are definitely lots of different “right” ways to do laundry!

      2. I had considered listing it out by days, but last minute decided not to … your question changed my mind and I actually updated the blog post. :) Your question is now answered above!

  6. Love this! My best friend and I sat around one night talking about our Laundry Monsters. My laundry was done but always folded and put in laundry baskets until the pile was a mile high and toppling over.

    I had an “Ah-Ha” moment and decided to remove the laundry basket(s) from my laundry room! I have 2 hampers under the cabinets in my laundry room, but nowhere to keep clean clothes. So, as the dryer dings that it is done, I immediately go in, fold the clothes, hang what needs to be hung and put it all away. Takes only minutes. I have been doing this for 2 years now and have not had clean laundry pile up one time!

    Best.Decision.Ever.

  7. Actually I have 2 of those folding laundry basket/hampers that I can stuff between the washer and dryer since my laundry area is in the hall between my living room and kitchen. One was getting ratty but hasn’t died yet. My clothes are done a bit differently: Blacks (work uniform), jeans (hubby’s things), blues, reds, towels, white underwear, kitchen. I have 1 hamper for towels (bathroom), 1 hamper for white underwear (bathroom), 1 built in hamper in hallway with slot for jeans (hallway)/everything else/clean bed linen. When either is full, it’s time to wash. Bed linens get pulled off bed, washed, dried, make up bed. For some reason the only time I use 2 laundry baskets is when I do the white underwear and towels on the same day. And I’d like to mention that when all laundry is clean, it has a designated place to go. New stuff coming in…something goes Out!

  8. I totally love your challenges. Otherwise I just keep up with daily stuff and don’t get into dedicated “weeding”.

  9. Thank you for putting this in writing! This is exactly what I’ve been failing to explain clearly to my family for years. I’ve spent too many frustrating days (weeks?) trying to undo the laundry chaos that ensues when some well-meaning person tries to “help.”

Leave a comment! I love to hear what you think!