7 Ways to Simplify Laundry

Fridays are tip days at SimpleProductivity blog.

Photo by rickIt’s no secret that I detest doing laundry. Most of that came from the way I was taught to do it “properly”: sort, go through every piece looking for stains, wash in appropriate temperature water, sort line-drying items from dryer items, evaluate everything for ironing, fold, iron and put away. For three people, my mother would generally do 6 to 9 small loads of clothing and 3 loads of other items a week.

The truth is that laundry doesn’t have to be that difficult. Here are the ways that I simplified laundry to make it more bearable:


If you can sort your clothes as you take them off, you will save yourself a lot of effort. We keep three laundry baskets in our closet: one for whites/light colors, one for dark colors, and one for towels. As we take off clothes, we put them in the appropriate laundry basket. This not only saves time, but it also means that we don’t have to hunt down laundry. If it’s not in the basket, it doesn’t get washed.

Stain Treat As You Remove

We’re pretty aware if we have spilled something on our clothing; yet if we waited until the end of the week to treat those stains, things would be forgotten. We keep a stain stick in the closet near the laundry basket and treat the stains before they go in the basket. Warning: if you do this, make sure you get a stain treatment that does not require immediate washing!

Simplify Laundry Products

My mother uses detergent, chlorine bleach, color-safe bleach, liquid fabric softener, and dryer sheets. They are used in varying combinations depending on what she is washing and how it will be dried.

We simplified. We have an all-purpose detergent, color-safe bleach and Nellie’s Dryer Balls (yes, they work). Simplifying the products means we don’t have to worry about what goes into the load, and using the dryer balls means we don’t have to worry about running out, or used sheets sticking to our clothing. (Dryer sheets also gum up the lint filters, so avoiding them has an added bonus in decreased maintenance). Fewer products also means less expense.

Smooth While Hanging

If you air-dry your clothing, smooth the wrinkles out with your hands as you hang them up. This will cut down on the amount of ironing needed.

Fold Immediately

If you fold the clothes straight out of the dryer, smoothing as you go, you will dramatically cut down on the wrinkles. This means also means less ironing.

Don’t Iron What None See

I have memories of having to iron during the summer. I worked my way through baskets of shirts, handkerchiefs, pillowcases, sheets and dishtowels. Simplify ironing by only ironing things that are important. Shirts for work, yes. Dish towels? NO!

Buy Easy Care Fabrics

Buying fabrics that can handle standard washing and drying can cut down on laundry tasks. I love the look of linen, but there is no getting around ironing it. I also love washable silk, but it requires special handling I’m not prepared to give regularly.

By buying fabrics that are easy to care for, you will cut down on how many loads you do, as well as work you have after the clothes are dried.

By implementing these strategies, we have streamlined our laundry process, saving time, effort and money.

Photo by rick


  1. Tim says

    With potty training triplets I am doing more laundry then ever. My wife deals with pee all day long while I am at work and I clean up the debris at night (good deal for me).

    To simplfy I have almost completly done away with sorting by light/dark – unless something is new and may run. I haven’t noticed any color mishaps yet.

    • LJ says

      I can’t even begin to imagine triplets. Potty training one was hard enough!

      We only separate light/dark colors because of the types of clothes that are in there. The lights are generally things that need to be hung up right out of the dryer to prevent ironing and are lighter weight, and the darks are heavier and require more drying time.

      I do not differentiate wash temperatures, either, unless necessary. I just had to run a bunch of towels through hot to (hopefully) stem a breakout of poison ivy. (Note to self…count the leaves before you pick it!)

      Apparently there is some sort of product you can buy to eliminate color runs, but I haven’t heard of anyone actually using it…Any experience out there?

  2. Ray says

    Laura, I’d like to hear more about your set up of getting your laundry done for you. I think it’s a great idea, but haven’t been able to find anything close to economical for a family (of 5). For a single person or maybe even a couple, yes, but not family-sized laundry needs. But I also live in the Midwest and suspect such options are more abundant in the East. So, not to be critical, just curious what your situation is.

    • LJ says

      I’d like to hear it too, but apparently the answer will not be forthcoming. Short of moving home and having mom do laundry, I can’t think of anyway to get someone else to do laundry for that price!