How to Single-Task Your Laundry – Best Laundry Hacks Ever!
If you’re looking for the best methods for removing stains… I’m probably not your girl (I tend to just google these at the time of crisis).
But if you’re looking for a way to:
- Make sure all your household laundry gets done,
- That it’s done as quick as possible, and
- That once all clean and dry, it gets put away immediately - leaving your laundry room clean and tidy each day…
then that, I can help you with.
Through plenty of trial and error (aka… the stress of no clean uniforms to wear, overflowing laundry baskets and an enormous ironing pile getting shoved behind closed doors), and with an active family of 5, I’ve found a system that works well in my home and I’m sure with a few personal little tweaks, it can work well in your home too.
And it’s all based around the amazing productivity trick of single-tasking.
What is single-tasking & why should you apply it to your laundry?
Pretty much what the name implies, you focus on a single task at the one time.
Getting it done, avoiding distraction with other things and then moving on to your next task.
It’s simple, but it does wonders for your productivity, especially with those mundane tasks like laundry.
By applying single tasking to your laundry routine, you will save time in sorting clothes, drying, folding, ironing and putting them all away again.
And who wouldn’t want that?
How to Single-Task Your Laundry:
Set up a simple laundry routine
I know, routines can be boring, but when it comes to laundry, they are a vital piece in the home management puzzle.
Sometimes all the laundry baskets in the house can be overflowing and you just don’t know where to start. By the time you’ve made your way through them (sorted, washed, dried, folded, ironed etc), you’ve just spent the entire day on laundry – not fun.
And it just never seems to be a completed task, which our brains really don’t like when its time to wind-down.
Having a set routine with your laundry can reduce the overflowing laundry baskets, minimizes time looking for things and allows you to gain control over a somewhat thankless but necessary task.
You also never get caught out (like sports uniforms that somehow didn’t make the laundry basket and are instead under your 5-year-olds bed!) because everything gets washed at least once per week.
Better yet, having a laundry routine means you can have laundry-free days – yep the stuff motherhood dreams are made of!
Personally, I split my laundry up into the following groups, and have the weekends off (as much as possible of course):
Monday: All kids and adult clothes
Tuesday: All bedding
Wednesday: All Uniforms and whites/delicates
Thursday: Towels, cleaning cloths and sporting clothes
Friday: All kids and adult clothes
Work out what days suit best for your schedule and what days you have more or less time at home to be putting washing in and out.
Check out this article if you want an easy way to work out the routines you need in your life.
Sort all clothes by 'tops and bottoms'
This means exactly how it sounds.
Some people like to sort their laundry by lights and darks, and some like to sort by fabrics. Others like to wash whichever laundry hamper is bursting at the time.
Remembering that our goal here is “maximum productivity in the laundry”, so it’s best to do a bit of single-tasking here and sort clothes into ‘tops and bottoms’.
For example, on a Monday, I wash all the dirty clothes for 2 adults and 3 children.
Starting with the kid’s combined laundry hamper, I dump it in a big pile on the laundry floor and quickly sort into 2 piles:
- Tops, tanks, t-shirts, dresses etc.
- Pants, shorts, jeans, pyjamas, underwear and socks.
I then put pile 1 into the washing machine and get that going.
Once that’s done, I wash pile 2.
Because I do this twice a week, it all fits into one load at this ‘season’ of my household. If there was more than 1 load for the ‘bottoms’, I would split it again into ‘pants/shorts/jeans and then pyjamas/underwear and socks etc.
The only exception is if there are whites or delicates and this gets done on a Wednesday.
It might seem odd at this stage, but the time savings comes later, believe me….
Use Hangers Wherever Possible
Okay, so pile 1 of the kid’s clothes is finished in the washing machine and ready to line dry (weather permitting).
Next, I grab a pile of hangers (all the kids have smaller white hangers and hubby and I have the same black hangers).
I quickly give each top a shake out (to reduce wrinkles), pop in a hanger and hang straight on the line.
Bonus points here if you keep each person’s tops together, i.e. put child 1’s clothes on the left-side of the line, child 2 in the middle and child 3 on the right etc).
This not only saves you time in folding and ironing, but once dry, you simply grab each person’s tops from the line and take them straight to their wardrobes.
Of course if you are using a dryer instead of line dryer, the same principle applies….once all the tops are dry, give them a shake and place on hangers and put them away straight away.
Sort Laundry Pile 2
Once pile 2 has been washed, I then quickly sort it before going any further.
The pants, shorts and jeans get hung up (again, bonus time-saving points if you keep each person’s clothes near each other on the line).
Leaving me with the socks and underwear. I have to admit, I’m a little lazy here and usually throw these small items in the dryer….
Once all dry, I get my 1-and-only laundry basket and take it to the line.
I fold the pants/shorts/jeans/pyjamas as I take them off the line and place them in the basket in a separate pile for my 3 kids:
I then take my trusty basket to the dryer and then add the socks and underwear for each child on top of their pile.
Then it’s just a matter of taking that basket with me to each child’s room and putting them away.
Note: I do get my kids involved in the putting away of the clothes, if my patience level allows it at the time!
Rinse and repeat (pun intended)
I then follow the exact same process with hubby’s and my clothes, dump them in a big pile on the floor and then sort into tops and bottoms.
This simple process means that I’m doing 4 loads of washing on a Monday and 4 loads on a Friday (the days when I have the most time for laundry), and all the clothes are getting washed and the laundry hampers don’t ever overflow.
It all gets put away easily and there are no piles of clean laundry sitting in the laundry that need folding and rummaging through to find something.
It’s a simple process, that saves time by applying focus to get a certain job completed and ticked off that never ending to do list!
Bonus laundry hacks to try:
- Load the washing machine at night. A lot of machines have timers now, and it can really help reduce the morning chaos if the washing has already completed its cycle and is ready to be hung out after breakfast.
- Keep odd socks in a small container in your laundry but go through them at the beginning of each month. If the other one hasn’t found its way back by then, it probably won’t and therefore it’s best to clear the clutter of odd socks.
- Help avoid this altogether and keep socks in their pairs by putting them all together in a mesh laundry bag before washing and drying them.
- Reduce drying time in your dryer by adding a dry towel to the load (a small hand towel does the trick).
- Stick to 1 laundry basket. It’s tempting to have multiples, but it just creates the likelihood of it being kept full and creating clutter. Wash, dry, fold and put away all in the same day is the most productive way so aim to have that solo laundry basket clear at the end of each day.
- Reduce or even halve your laundry powder. I no longer follow the instructed amount on the laundry powder box. Not only does it cost more money to use more product, it’s worse for the environment and it also leaves your fabrics (particularly towels) crunchy. Check out the recommended amounts as per your washing machine and not the commercial packages.
- Get rid of fabric softener altogether for your towels, by using a small amount of white vinegar instead (I use about a 1/3 cup).
- A towel bar above your washing machine is great for keeping your spare coat hangers handy and for hanging up your tops as you get them straight out of the machine. This also helps to reduce the wrinkles!
- The need to iron is definitely reduced by hanging your tops to dry, however some ironing is inevitable. Add an ironing day to your laundry schedule and get it done all in one go. Better yet, this is a great task to multitask with catching up on one of your favourite shows!