I hate that I’m writing an entire post on the laundry process, and even more, that I’ve been excited to write about this for a while now. But, I’m pretty sure I’ve perfected the laundry process. I hope you can pick up some tips that will simplify this dreaded chore.
One of the best laundry inventions is the laundry separator. It’s not time efficient to throw all laundry into a basket, and then spend time separating the whites, darks, and delicates. At night, just throw your clothes in the correct bin in the separator. Also, keep a bin right next to the laundry separator. In the morning, when you take clothes off a hanger, put the hanger in that bin. When it’s time for laundry, bring the laundry separator and hangers to the laundry room.
You should also keep three bins in the laundry room: one for clothes that need stain removal, one for clothes that need to be ironed, and one for unpartnered socks (as an alternataive to a bin, here are some cute ways to keep track of missing socks: Department of Missing Socks, Wanted Socks, Missing Socks). All the family members should know that they need to put stained clothes in the bin instead of their laundry basket.
If you have stains, check out the printable at the bottom of the page for a link to the American Cleaning Institute’s Stain Removal Chart. For general stains, I just use a stain remover spray for the store. I also keep a stain removal pen with me to prevent them from sinking in (and so I don’t walk around all day with a stain on my shirt!). Before you start washing the clothes, rub the stain remover into the stains and let them sit for about ten minutes. I’ve tried putting the stain remover on at the end of each day (and keeping it next to the laundry basket), but I’ve found it works better if you wash it shortly after rubbing it in. After the ten minutes, turn the washing machine on and let the water run (this is BEFORE you put the clothes in, otherwise you’ll get detergent stains). While the water is running, put the detergent and fabric softener in the machine. Be sure to use small to medium-sized loads (large loads will end up dirty and wrinkly), and use the correct water temperature (colors, especially red, run in warmer water). Finally, put the clothes in and let the washing machine do its job.
When the cycle is finished, transfer the clothes to the dryer at the first chance you get. Remember to take out anything that should be air-dried (items that are very delicate and fuzzy sweaters). Dry on medium or medium-high, as the high setting will shrink clothes. Don’t forget to clean out the lint trap and throw in a dryer sheet. Dry for about 50 minutes, then turn the setting to high for the last few minutes – this will prevent wrinkling, and save you time from having to iron.
To save money on dryer sheets, you can make your own reusable sheet. Simply take a white wash cloth, saturate it in liquid fabric softener, then let it dry completely. You can throw it in the dryer and it will be good for 12 – 15 loads of laundry.
Take the clothes out as soon as they’re done drying so they don’t sit in the dryer and get wrinkly. You’ll have your hangers with you since you brought them into the laundry room with your clothes. Put clothes that get hung up right on the hangers to save the time from folding them, just to unfold them and put them on a hanger later. While folding the clothes, put them into piles of where they go in your room. For instance, make a pile of t-shirts, a pile of pajamas, and so on. Putting your clothes away will then take about two minutes.
And finally – here are some last minute tips to get out wrinkles if you don’t have time to iron. The best option is to put the wrinkled clothing in the dryer with a wet towel. Dry on high for about ten minutes, and the wrinkles should be out. If you don’t have time for that, you might want to invest in wrinkle release spray. It doesn’t work for extremely deep wrinkles, but for your average wrinkles it usually takes them right out and doesn’t damage your clothes.
A quick note about washing towels: it’s best to buy white towels so that you can wash them in very hot water. If it’s warm outside, and you have the time, hang them on a clothesline so they smell and feel fresh when they dry. If the towels stink, add 1/2 cup vinegar to the towels when they’re in the washing machine.
That’s it – not the most exciting topic in the world, but this collection of little tricks has saved me a lot of time. If you have any other laundry tricks please comment on this post!
Check out the American Cleaning Institute’s Stain Removal Chart – no one knows better than they do!