A Brief Post About Laundry

Today is laundry day, and that means that over the course of my work-from-home-day, I do five loads of laundry. We are five people, and that makes five large loads. I can sometimes get away with four loads in the summer, when there’s no socks or pants or sweatshirts to fill things up.

Lately, I have been thinking that it is probably time to welcome my fourteen-year-old to the wonderful world of Doing His Own Laundry. I know lots of other families do this. But I don’t understand how they make it work – I’m always hung up on the expense and bother of having the machine do extra loads when it doesn’t really need to.

For example, say he sorts his laundry into lights, darks, and socks/underwear. Then he washes these three little loads – when? Once every other week I think would be the minimum, otherwise he’d be out of clothes; he might even need to go weekly for things like socks and underwear.

So now our house goes up to 8 loads a week? And what happens next year, when Gal Smiley turns 14? We’re doing 11 loads a week? When we could be doing only five?

To that I say…HM.

Perhaps the answer is to have them do ALL the laundry, just only once every other month or so. Or to have them take on some PART Of the laundry, like say the sorting or the folding, as a first step.

Any advice on this difficult time of transition is most welcome.

11 thoughts on “A Brief Post About Laundry

  1. I’m in the same dilemma. So I place full, clean laundry baskets in front of the tv and they get to sort, fold and put away. 🙂

    Honestly, I’m particular about laundry. I like to wash certain things a certain way…and the less loads we do the better, right?

    For now, our method works for us. SpongeBob on tv helps (unless they do it too slowly in which case tv goes off). 🙂

  2. Karen

    I can’t justify the cost of having my kids do their own laundry. But I know people who have their kids do the families laundry. This is the way I’m leaning. I think I’m going to separate it for them because I don’t entirely trust them to do it correctly.

  3. Laurie

    My 12 year old is already on this, and it works perfectly. No need to sort socks and underwear from the rest of the loads (I never have done this, actually, and find the idea funny), just 1 dark and 1 light load each week. If there is not enough of a full load then grab some towels of a similar colour and throw those in to make it full. He has 7 pairs of pants only, so laundry weekly is a must. My thinking is the value in the lesson learned of doing one`s own laundry early and becoming self sufficient is TOTALLY WORTH the extra load each week, if it comes to that. I married someone who, at the tender age of 26 was still not doing his own laundry all that regularly and *kind of* expected me to do this and I have promised myself I will not raise my son to expect that of his partner….

  4. I’m with Laurie: I have the teen do one dark and one light load (I haven’t heard of separating out socks and underwear, and I don’t do that), and I consider the training/experience well-worth any loss of efficiency. (I turned a blind eye when it turned out they just put all their stuff in one load without separating at all.)

    It went even better when I had TWO teens doing laundry, because they combined their lights and their darks to make larger loads. But also, we have a high-efficiency washer that claims to automatically adjust water/power depending on load size, so that helps as well.

  5. Lisa Sansom

    My kids do their own laundry and have for a while. They wash everything together – no sorting – and I don’t care. It’s cheaper for me and less work for them so WIN! And they don’t have any clothes that they care that much about. Each kid has their own hamper in their room. They are in charge of the washing, drying, folding and putting away. It gets done to various degrees of satisfaction to me, but I’m learning to let go. They wash on cold and I’ve shown them how to adjust the water levels and soap to the laundry load size – though they usually wait until the last pair of underwear or socks so it’s pretty much always a large load. Honestly, their labour is worth a few extra dimes to me on the soap and water!

  6. I must admit I never did my own laundry until I moved out. My mum had her routine and this wasn’t something we were expected to help with (other than putting clothes in the dirty basket and all).

    I think laundry is best handled by one person, just for efficiency reasons. Now, doing the dishes or other chores is different…

  7. Carly

    My 11 year old has been doing his own laundry since he was 9, maybe 8. He really doesn’t have enough whites to bother with separating his clothes, and frankly we just wash underwear and socks with all the other clothes unless they’re particularly stinky for some reason. Due to time of day billing (thank you Dalton McShifty) we only do laundry on the weekends, and he does his one load when I’m done with the rest.

    If he happens to have something in the wash that’s dressy or I want to keep nice, I’ll wash it with our clothes. Otherwise there’s no sorting and frankly, I could care less how well the clothes end up folded or put away – as long as they are! Again, if there’s something dressy or fancy in there, I take care of it, including ensuring it’s folded or hung up nicely.

    This, like so many other things, is really a matter of what works best for your family! Good luck!

  8. bibliomama2

    I got nothing. 1) I coddle my kids. 2) I do laundry every night, usually just before bed. Washer load into the dryer, new load into the washer. I like this system and don’t feel like messing with it. 3)I once read about why you should wash underwear and sheets and towels separately from other laundry and I can NEVER UNKNOW THAT STUFF, so if you don’t do that, that’s cool, just don’t read about it.

  9. I’m 100 per cent with you – as with my recycling and composting, I am also very particular about my laundry. We don’t use a dryer. That’s right – never. This means I can really only do one load a day, because of our drying rack capacity. So, having extra people jump in and start doing extra small loads – chaos!

    My mom was also careful about number of loads and I didn’t do my own laundry until I moved out, and I instantly became very laundry savvy, so I wouldn’t worry that you’re stunting your kids’ growth or anything like that.

    In our house we kind of go by do what you’re good at doing. So, as an example, I get my very artistic son to do graphics for my business, or create gorgeous Christmas gifts for his cousins. This is his contribution to the household.

    And, of course, if you’re asked to help – you help! And that includes turning on a load of laundry if that’s what I ask them to do … 🙂

  10. A.Q.

    We don’t separate anything and wash it all on cold/cold. We haven’t had any issues.

    Sometimes you just have to choose not to care about some stuff, and as long as the kids don’t overload the washer and thus break it, I would take the win of not having to do it all myself and let them do it however they want–many small loads, one big one, whatever. I would actually have both kids start doing their own– if Gal Smiley is tall enough to reach the controls, she’s big enough to do her own laundry.

    In my family of origin, we were all doing our own laundry by the time we hit our teens. It’s not a complicated or difficult task, just a laborious one in terms of folding and getting stuff back where it goes. You might be surprised how far your kids push out doing laundry– I’m pretty certain we all wore things that weren’t washed between wearings at times. (I’m not saying this was good: just that if you let teenagers make those decisions, they may decide they’d rather pick “clean enough” up off of the floor instead of doing a load of laundry. And that this is a fairly harmless choice.)

  11. Shannon

    Like Allison I do one load of laundry a day, after 7pm when the rates are cheaper. I fold the load from the night before that is in the dryer. Lather rinse repeat. I couldn’t bear the thought of spending a whole day on laundry, but that is just me. Most nights I do the load, but more and more often I am having one of the kids throw it in and/or move it from washer to dryer. I can totally do the task more efficiently and with less complaining, but I am committed to raising kids who aren’t assholes, so there’s that. Also the little monkeys (and their dad) know that acts of service is my love language and they abuse it rampantly if I don’t keep us all in check.

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