16 tips for making laundry easier and more fun




Speaking for myself about the only thing I can say for laundry is I’m glad I have a machine to do it for me. I really don’t know how people managed in the days before they existed. In fact, I don’t know how I managed in my London days when I had to use launderettes. Anyway, as you’ve probably gathered from that, I don’t like laundry so I’ve worked hard at learning how to make it easier on myself and here are 16 tips I’ve gathered over the years.

Before you wash

Make members of your household responsible for their own ironing, folding and hanging up

Sometime clothes need to go in the wash after just one wear (e.g. if you’ve worn them to work out) but mostly they don’t, but if you do all the ironing folding and hanging up then you’re asking for people just to chuck clothes in the laundry without thinking about whether or not they actually need to be there. If, by contrast, you delegate this as much as possible, you’ll encourage people only to put clothes in the wash when they actually need it.

Divide folding shared items between family members

Similar comments apply here. It’s highly unlikely a towel needs to go into the wash after just one use, encourage people to think about it.

Have individual sock bags

By now, most people probably know the tip about putting socks into some form of bag (or pillowcase) to keep them together. Take this a step further (no pun intended) and give each individual their own sock bag so each person’s socks are kept together and they can sort and fold them afterwards.

Turn odd socks into deodorizer bags, works for tights too

Some socks are going to go missing, I don’t know how, but they will. Likewise, tights will eventually get torn. In either case, they can be turned into deodorizer bags, just fill the foot part with bicarbonate of soda, add the essential oils of your choice, if you wish, then tie them off at the top (or use a hairband or similar). Then pop them into shoes, laundry baskets or anywhere else you want to keep smelling sweet.

Have a sorting system in place which splits out laundry how you like it

Whatever your system for splitting out laundry, have separate containers, even if it’s just strong bags, so that whoever owns the laundry has the task of putting it into the right piles (having emptied the pockets first).

Turn clothes inside out before you wash them

This does no harm to any clothes and can really help to reduce piling and to protect decorations. If you do wind up with piling, a razer will get it off. Obviously use it gently and be particularly careful near the seams.

Put your own marks on labels for guidance

Even if you have a good sorting system in place and especially if you can’t (due to space or for other reasons), you can put your own marks on labels so you can see at a glance if a garment needs special treatment like cold wash or kept out of the dryer. This information will be on the label, but is often in the form of tiny icons, whereas you can make your own marks nice and clear.

Washing

Use the right washing solution in the right quantity

I’m not going to go into great length about washing detergents here other than to say that my preferred approach is use one quarter of the recommended amount of detergent plus 2 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda for the wash (washing soda is good if you can get it) and to add half a cup of white vinegar to the rinse. Whatever you use just remember to make sure you use the right amount.

Choose hot v cold water

Hot water does a great job of cleaning but it can be very harsh on modern fabrics, which are intended to be washed in cold water. Hot water cuts down on the amount of detergent you need to use, whereas cold water uses less electric. Personally I try to wash in hot water if I can, but be guided by your fabrics.

Shake clothes as soon as they come out of the washing machine

If at all possible do laundry when you can take clothes out of the machine as soon as they are done. Some machines have timer functions to make this easier. In an ideal world, you’ll shake them and then hang them out on on the line immediately. This makes for minimal ironing. If you can’t do that, then as a minimum take clothes out and give them a good shake before putting them in the dryer.

Clean your machine with vinegar

Using vinegar in the rinse will help to keep your machine clean, but every couple of months run a short wash cycle on empty with vinegar in place of detergent to give your washing machine a bit of a deep clean.

Drying

Air dry if possible

Good for the environment, good for your pocket, good for your clothes. Ideally air dry outside, if not air dry inside. At absolute worst, use the dryer to get your clothes fairly dry and let the air do the rest.

Load your dryer in stages

Clothes need to be able to tumble in a dryer so you need to make sure that there is space for them to do so. If you have a washer/dryer combo and do a full load of washing, you need to take out at least half before you start drying. Even if you have a stand-alone dryer, you may not want to fill it full. One trick is to put in your heavier items and let them spin until they are (nearly) dry and then take them out and put in your lightest items and just let them sit in the drier, i.e. don’t turn it on. This may not dry them completely but it will help and then you can air dry them to finish. The key point is to change over the clothes quickly so you keep the heat which has built up in the dryer. Alternatively just stop the dryer before your clothes are as dry as you want them and let them finish drying in the heat which has already built up.

Put some ice cubes in your dryer

Seriously, about a cupful per dryer load (or half a cup if you’re using a washer/dryer combo). As the ice melts, it forms steam and this helps to reduce wrinkles, meaning less ironing. Yes, it means that the clothes take a bit longer to dry, but I’d say it was a fair trade off.

Ditch the dryer sheets

For the sake of the environment, for the sake of your pocket, for the sake of my sanity, please ditch the dryer sheets. Instead use a combination of dryer balls (or tennis balls) to help speed up the removal of water, a couple of balls of aluminium foil to remove static (you can usually reuse them) and a towel (or washcloth or rag or whatever) with some vinegar and/or essential oils on it.

Clean your tumble dryer filter

Seriously, it’s cheaper than expensive repairs to a tumble dryer which probably won’t be covered by a warranty (or replacing it).

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