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Laundry Survival
June 2, 2012 10:24 am | by

On the heels of Heather’s Laundry Lament, I bring you some tips on how to stay on top of your laundry during the busy & crazy times of life. Which, let’s face it, ends up being every other week this time of year between vacations, full schedules, lots of special events and fun summer activities. When you’re out and about it’s way easier to forget about the laundry in the hamper, or worse, in the washing machine and fall behind. Then you have a mountain of laundry to tackle all at once the night before you’re leaving for a trip and you have to stay up late to do it before you can even pack. Not that that’s happened to me or anything.

While I am no means perfect, I have found a plan that – when I actually follow it – works pretty well and keeps my family and me in clean underwear (and diapers!) every day of the week.

Designate days for your cloth diaper laundry. This is essential for me. Too often, I would have to wash something specific to wear and the washer would be halfway through a load of cloth diapers. Or worse, I would put off washing diapers until I was down to my last few and have to deal with a stinky diaper pail and rushing to finish them before my daughter pooped again. Now I wash my cloth diapers every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and I don’t run into those issues anymore. I always have a clean stash of diapers for Vicki and I know that my other laundry should be done on the remaining days. No more stressing about it.

Set a timer. I am fortunate enough to have a washing machine that sings me a song when the load finishes (really! It’s cute.). My old washer, however, didn’t have a buzzer or anything. I can’t tell you how many times I would wash a load of clothes and then completely forget about them until I went to do more laundry… 2 days later. Ewwwwww. Now I (almost always) remember to put the clothes in the dryer as soon as I hear the end-of-cycle tune. If your machine doesn’t have this (or it’s too far away to hear it), set a timer to alert you when to switch the clothes so you don’t end up with a moldy stinkfest.

Use the quick cycle. I have a front loader HE machine, and the full wash cycle takes an hour. An hour! If I have a few loads of laundry to do, that can easily suck up the whole day. My life changed the day I saw in a magazine that the quick cycle is just as good for lightly soiled clothes and takes half the time. I now use that for everything but diapers, delicates, and really dirty clothes. I haven’t even noticed a difference in my clothes.

Don’t sort into 100 different loads. I sort into 5 types of laundry: lights, darks, delicate lights, delicate darks, and diapers. We don’t have delicates every week, so it’s basically 3 different types of laundry each week. Towels get thrown in with whatever load is smaller – usually whites – or with the diapers per the famous towel trick. Our sheets & mattress pad take up a whole load themselves so I just consider them lights. Vicki’s bedding and clothes just get mixed in with our clothes so I’m never waiting to have enough to fill the washer. I don’t have the patience to sort out jeans, my clothes, my husband’s clothes, towels, etc. before washing them. This saves time and just gets the job done.

ABF – Always Be Folding. This is my BIG problem with laundry. I will wash and dry the clothes, then put them in a laundry basket and leave them on top of the dryer. When I need some clean pants, I rummage through the basket of clean clothes until I find the ones I want. Not only is this inefficient, I end up annoyed with wrinkled clothes. I just need to accept that I have to fold laundry every day. When I’m on top of it, I fold laundry while watching tv in the evening or while I’m sitting on the floor playing with Vicki. I tell myself that I can’t watch a show unless I’m also folding clothes. Then I have to put them away before I can go to bed.

Just do it. Unpack that bag from vacation. Go throw in a load right now. Fold and stuff your diapers while you watch The Today Show. Make your kids and spouse help out. Yes, laundry is a never-ending chore, but it’s a necessary evil. As for me, I’m off to run the rinse cycle on my diapers and fold the load that’s been sitting in the dryer since Monday.

How do you stay on top of your laundry?

About the Author

Jessica von Wallenstein is a stay at home mom who chronicles her parenting adventures at She has three children and is buried in cloth diapers.



  • Mel@TheDizzyMom said...
    June 5, 2012 at 10:24 am

    Ha! I need to follow the ABF. My rule is that the husband throws a load of laundry in after dinner and I am folding it before I go to bed. So, every night we do a load. I do allow myself to have 1 basket of unfolded laundry at any given time. I just need that wiggle room. While I’m folding I listen to pod casts or watch a tv show. It can be relaxing!

  • Claire said...
    June 4, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Confession: we don’t even separate lights and darks. We just dump in whatever is in the dirty laundry bucket(s) and go for it. Knock on wood, so far it’s been fine. I do keep anything that needs a gentle wash off in it’s own pile so it doesn’t (usually) get ruined by mixing in with the regular wash.
    We also tend to fall into the habit of just having a pile of washed but unfolded clothes though… I need to stay on top of your ABF tip.