As a new mom, my laundry pile is off the charts — especially since we cloth diaper. I used to get all of our laundry done every Friday morning before my shift at work, and then my husband and I were free to enjoy our weekend. But after my son was born, I find myself tramping up and down our rickety basement stairs at least twice a day doing baby laundry — and that doesn't even include ours, which is always piled sky-high now. So my old knees and I are wondering how to keep up with the laundry, because nothing is worse than having to lug a huge basket down the swaying basement stairs of my 1920s house. And I hate not having clean underwear when I need them.
With the new hit show on Netflix, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, it seems like everyone has gone into an organization and folding mania. I've seen photo after photo of perfectly folded clothes on my Instagram feed, along with freshly organized closets. But what I'm wondering is how they got there. How the heck did these people have time to organize their closets, perfectly fold and store all of their clothing, and make sure it's all clean before carefully placing their clothes in their immaculate drawers and closets?
These supermoms (and dads) are awesome, but I never see an overflowing laundry basket in the background of these photos. Maybe they're really good at keeping them out of the shot? Or perhaps they know something I don't about how to keep up with the laundry. I polled these supermoms and even spoke to some cleaning and organizational experts to answer the question plaguing all parents (and all adults really) — how do you keep up with the laundry before it overtakes your house?
1. A Little Bit Each Day Goes A Long Way
Mom Christina Holloway tells Romper that she throws in a load every morning before she goes to work, and puts away what's in the dryer — repeat every morning. "If you stay on top, you get a free morning every now and then," she says.
Tiffany Pazol Storrs, another mom, agrees and adds, "I do one load every day and put it away when my husband is home or after baby goes to sleep. Doing one each day keeps it minimal and it doesn’t pile up."
Samantha Darby Singleton, mom of two and Romper Lifestyle Editor, tells me she tries to throw one load in every single morning and finish that load all the way through — including putting it away. "Don't let it sit in baskets, and don't try to do eight loads in one day," she explains.
2. Or Pick One Or Two Specific Days & Stick To Them
Mom of an 8-month-old who wears cloth diapers, Sarah Beaver, tells Romper that while she does the cloth diapers as needed (usually once per day), she picks one day to knock the rest of it out. "I do laundry every Tuesday and let myself relax about it until then. There’s only three of us, so one day a week is enough. On Tuesdays I pound through it all — it feels like constant laundry for a day, but I catch up on shows and just do it," she says.
Another mom, Amanda Delee, says she has "Wash Wednesdays" at her house. "I wash all clothes and towels on Wednesday. I have my older children fold and put away their clothes and I do the rest," she tells Romper.
Kait Schulhoff, blogger at A Clean Bee, a website about all things cleaning and organization, tells Romper she uses a laundry schedule and sticks to it. "For example, Monday is bed linens, Tuesday is towels, Wednesday is kitchen towels or microfiber, Thursday is kids' clothes, Friday is adult clothes, and Saturday/Sunday can be saved for miscellaneous items — like soft baby toys and play mats or living room blankets, etc. — or for catching up on what you might have missed during the week."
3. Keep Things Sorted
Schulhof also says that she has three wicker baskets in her kitchen that hold three different types of kitchen laundry. "One is for dirty dish cloths, cloth napkins, and cloth baby bibs, one is for microfiber cleaning cloths, and a third is for reusable cloth shopping bags," she explains. "This system makes it super easy for me to grab a basket when it's full and toss the contents into the wash — no additional sorting necessary." This saves her time and keeps the laundry from becoming unmanageable and piling up. In addition to this "zone," as she calls it, she has other zones, including "baby," and "adult clothes."
4. Shop With Laundry In Mind
Marty Basher, a home organization expert for Modular Closets, tells Romper, "The next time shopping calls, take a look at the care tag as you might think twice about things that need to be hand washed or laid flat to dry. Try to choose wash-and-wear styles or those that can be dry cleaned if that is an option."
5. Split The Responsibility
If you're not single, and/or if you have older kids, there is definitely someone else in your household who can help burden the load (literally) of laundry. "If your laundry pile touches the ceiling, chances are there are more humans in your home than just you. Enlist their help," Basher says. He adds that teaching young children to pitch in early will ensure they'll be "running the laundry independently" when they're teenagers. "Small children are capable of sorting colors and making sure dirty clothing gets to the laundry room. Older children can take that a step further and fold and hang their own clothes, taking a virtual load off your shoulders."
Schulhoff agrees. "Having a zone system and a schedule clearly posted in our home also ensures that anyone in the house can do that day's laundry. My husband knows where the dirty items live and he can collect those items and toss them into the wash just as easily as I can." Schulhoff says the burden of loads of laundry feels less overwhelming when the responsibility can be shared.
6. Make Folding More Enjoyable
If you make it an enjoyable experience, you won't put off folding the clean clothes and having them pile up on your couch or "the chair" in your bedroom. While mom Sarah Beaver likes to catch up on shows while she folds, Basher says you could also try having a nice glass of wine. "Suddenly folding laundry takes on an entirely different light. You might even look forward to it," he says. "Folding laundry is the nemesis of most every mom, dad, and child, but it doesn’t have to be."
7. Pre-Treat Stains
Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer at The Cleaning Authority, an eco-friendly residential cleaning company, tells Romper that as a parent, "It’s always important to keep a stain removal pen or wipe handy in your purse [or bag] to deal with any spills or stains that might occur. The less time you’re working on stains in the laundry room, the faster the job will get done."
And Schulhoff has another system up her sleeve for baby stains. "Babies are messy and the various stains they create are hard to keep up with," she says. "Something that helps me stay on top of stain removal is keeping an enzyme stain remover in the baby's bathroom either up high on a shelf or locked in a cabinet under the sink. As I prepare to do the baby's laundry, I first sort out any items that have been badly hit with spit-up, baby food, or baby poop (bonus points if you designate a place to pre-sort these items) and spray or soak them with the stain remover in the sink for at least 20 minutes." She sets a timer on her phone and once time is up, she immediately takes the stain-treated clothes to the wash.
8. Prevent The Lost Sock Phenomenon
Why are socks always getting lost in the wash? I saw a meme this morning that said when you lose a sock it comes back as a Tupperware lid that doesn't fit any of your containers, and I think it's true. Honestly, how much time do you spend digging and searching for missing socks to go in the wash?
Stapf suggests creating a lost sock system. "Leave a small mesh bag in each of your kids' [or partner's] hampers just for their socks. You can then just toss the bag in the washer and dryer, leaving no room for them to escape. This is also helpful for smaller baby socks that are difficult to keep track of."
9. Organize Your Laundry Space
I so wish my laundry room wasn't my gross, dark basement as Stapf suggests organizing your space to save time. "A neat and organized laundry room will speed up your laundry process by making it much easier to use. Store your detergents and products on easy-to-reach shelves or in baskets, keep a spot for a drying rack, and make room for sorting and folding."