Back in the day, when we only had 1 or 2 children who wore tiny little baby clothes, I thought we had so much laundry. It took so long to fold all those tiny clothes and sort them into neat little piles. But at least I could fit everyone’s darks or whites into one laundry load together. But now we have 4 kids, and their clothes keep getting bigger. I have to do a load of laundry every day to keep up. (And that doesn’t count my bed-wetter,which is several extra loads per week.) So I have developed a new system: sort clothes by person, not by color. It may sound blasphemous, but it works. For my 3 older kids, I have a laundry sorter in the hallway. The 3 bags are supposed to be for darks, whites, and colors, but we use them for child #1, #2, and #3. The baby has a separate hamper in her room, and then my husband and I have a hamper in our room. Almost every day, I bring someone’s individual load to the laundry room and wash their clothes together. I do this for several reasons:
- In a week, each kid generates their own load. So I have to wash each person’s clothes once per week. They might as well all go in 1 basket. Now, I have a small washer, so each of my kids can fill it up in 1 week. I have had some friends tell me that their kids don’t quite fill up their machine with 1 week of clothes. You could still use this method, but you may have to wash each person’s clothes every 8 or 9 days instead.
- It makes folding quicker. If the clothes are mixed, sorting and folding would be quite a process. Especially because my 2 boys are almost the same size, and I have to check all the tags if their clothes are mixed! This way, I can take 1 person’s basket into their room, and fold it directly into their drawers in about 10 minutes.
- It makes it easier to find things. If each person has their own basket, and they are looking for a certain shirt or uniform, I can just say ‘It’s in your basket.’ Then they don’t throw everyone else’s clothes on the floor while trying to get ready for soccer practice. Also, if I know someone is running low on clothes or needs a particular outfit,I can just throw all their dirty laundry into the machine at once.
- It enables the kids to help out. I’m all about teaching my kids to do chores and tasks that are reasonable for their age. When they have their own basket of clothes, they can have more personal involvement. My oldest is able to fold, so I sometimes put her clean clothes in her room and ask her to put them away. My boys can’t really fold, but I can still ask them to put their socks and underwear away. They can easily go through their own basket and find them.
- It keeps the laundry room less cluttered. The only clothes in the laundry room are clean clothes in baskets waiting to be folded. All the dirty clothes stay in hampers near the bedrooms, then go directly into the washer. So there are no massive piles of laundry sitting around. Everything is always in a basket that can be quickly moved out of the way.
- We don’t have many nice clothes. The main reason to sort by color is to keep newer darker clothes from bleeding onto your crisp new whites. Also, you can use warmer water on the whites, but colder water for dark, to prevent them from shrinking. Well, in this house we don’t have many new clothes. In fact, we all have a lot of hand-me-downs. So things are already shrunk and a little faded. Plus my kids are still at the ages where they are in a new size almost every season. So I don’t feel much guilt washing all their clothes on warm. For mine, yes, if I have something that is nice and requires hand-washing or a delicate setting, I may do it in a separate smaller load. But I get a lot of clothes used from the thrift store, too, so doing them all in one load is fine with me.
So, this is the system that works for me, as the only adult in a household of 5 people. I encourage you to try it! It could be life-changing! Let me know if it works for you!