Smart suds: With laundry, timing is everything

Mindy Malkie and her son Jack fold laundry in their Manchester Township home (Photo by Jason Plotkin)

Mindy Malkie and her son Jack fold laundry in their Manchester Township home (Photo by Jason Plotkin)

To tame the laundry monster, figure out a schedule and stick to it.

You’ll be more efficient, according to Cheryl Mendelson, author of “Home Comforts,” and it will “go far toward keeping life pleasant and orderly.”

The schedule has to work for you and your family, said Debbie Rutter of Manchester Township, who helps people with organizing their homes.

Keep in mind when particular clothes will be needed, such as uniforms, she said.

Some people might like doing a load every day, while others prefer to save laundry for one day a week.

Make a nice space for the laundry, Rutter said. Keep laundry products in stock so you don’t run out. Have ironing and mending supplies handy and take empty hangers from closets and put them next to the dryer so you can hang clean clothes right away.

As for dirty clothes, you’ll want a hamper or basket to collect them. You can provide a basket for each bedroom or have a central hamper for everyone to use.

And remember that not everything needs to be washed after one use, so check for odors and stains and hang clean items to air instead of overloading the laundry basket.

How to separate

Donna Sweesy, owner of The Clothes Basket Laundry in Gettysburg, said she separates clothes into three groups for washing: whites for bleaching, lights and darks. But she said that by using a color catcher, you can mix colors and light clothes in the same washer load.

As you load clothes, check pockets and look for any stains that need to be treated. Put lingerie in a hosiery bag.

Look over the instructions that came with your washer and dryer, Mendelson said in her book. Knowing how the different cycles work can simplify the job and save you water or detergent.

Smart tips

Less is more
Using too much detergent is a common error, Sweesy said. Rinse cycles don’t always get rid of the extra soap, leading to wrinkles and fabric wear.

Try using half or even a quarter of what is recommended on the detergent package unless you have heavily soiled clothes.

Rutter suggests folding and hanging clothes as they come out of the dryer to prevent wrinkles. Then put them away in drawers or closets, not piled on tables or beds.

Enlist helpers
Rutter said younger children can match socks and fold simple items. Teach older children how to use the washer and dryer, and not only will they be able to help you, they’ll have a valuable life skill.

If you are swamped and need to catch up, consider a trip to the Laundromat to get everything done at once, Rutter suggested. If you do go, Sweesy said to keep in mind that washing machines in Laundromats are bigger than your washer at home.

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2 Responses

  1. Having a laundry system is one of the most common challenges that many of my clients have. Since there are many parts to doing laundry, it’s usually one of those parts that causes families difficulties. It might be the laundry collection or the folding, or the putting the clothes away. You’ve given some great tips to make that cycle go more smoothly.

    One thing is true about laundry…it’s an ongoing thing. You can’t just do it once and your done. I suppose it’s an opportunity to practice getting the process as organized, easy, and fun as possible.

  2. April Trotter says:

    Well said, Linda! It’s definitely a trial-and-error process. We hope ladies can get some good ideas to start from this article. Thanks for commenting.

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