Do you like doing laundry? I love the process of washing my clothing, I’m just not a huge fan of putting clothes away once they’re folded. I feel like we all like or dislike various phases of the laundry process. While we might not all agree on what is enjoyable about this never-ending chore, I am here to give you my top tips for improving your laundry game! These are strategies that I have been using since I became a homeowner 11 years ago.
Ready, set, wash!
1. Wash your clothes together.
For as long as I can remember, I have been putting all of my clothing into the wash, setting it to cold, and walking away from a happy camper. No sorting, no color-specific settings, just cold water, detergent, and some good ole’ spinnin’ around. So far, nothing bad has happened. Everything cleans well. But, I do have a couple of disclaimers:
1. If you are washing an item for the first time, put it with like-colored items on cold. For example, if you get new black tank tops, wash them with other dark clothing first, before putting them in with light-colored items. The initial dye that comes off new clothing could seep into your lighter clothes.
2. If you are particular about having your white clothing perfectly white, then I would separate your whites from your colors. I will admit, some of my white clothing is not the whitest it could be, but it’s not super noticeable, nor has anyone ever said anything. And I have a pretty keen eye for detail, so I would think that if it was unacceptable, it would have called out to me by now.
3. I wash towels in their own load, and bed sheets in their own load. I typically do warm water for these items, sometimes hot if there’s been a buggy in the house. But, back to my original tip – if it’s just everyday clothing – make your life that much easier and combine them all on cold.
2. Dry “like” items together.
Even though I recommend washing all of your clothing together, I do switch gears a bit before dry time. When I move items to the dryer, I pull out anything that can dry quickly or that shouldn’t go in the dryer, and I hang it on my drying rack. Usually, these items are already par dry. Think athletic tee-shirts, anything moisture-wicking, headbands, bras, delicates, etc. If it was in a delicate bag in the wash, it goes on the drying rack. I try to reserve my dryer for cotton-based materials.
I also find that the more similar the items are in the dryer, the more efficient my dryer works. If you have towels, sheer tops, jeans, cardigans, and athletic tees all in the same dryer load, everything is going to have different levels of dryness at the end of the cycle. Plus, if the item is already mostly dry after you wash it, better to preserve your clothing and line dry! Dryers can be tough on clothes over time.
3. Use baking soda and vinegar.
I LOVE using baking soda and vinegar in the laundry room. I always put baking soda in my towel and bed sheet loads, and sometimes I’ll throw baking soda into a clothing load if there are stains or odors. Baking soda is a natural deodorizer, and it gets your laundry extra squeaky clean (in my opinion). I toss about ¼ – ½ c of baking soda into any given load. Vinegar can be used as a fabric softener alternative – you just pour the vinegar directly into the fabric softener compartment. I don’t put vinegar in every load, typically just with towels and sheets. It’s also antimicrobial and all-natural. Sometimes fabric softeners can contain chemicals that irritate your skin.
4. Use wool dryer balls.
I am a huge fan of wool dryer balls like these. They are an alternative to dryer sheets, which can be heavily fragranced and irritate your skin. Dryer balls reduce static and help things dry more quickly, PLUS you can add essential oils to the balls to make your laundry smell extra great (think: lavender, orange, or lemon). I used my first set of dryer balls for 2 years before they started to deteriorate – that’s a pretty great life cycle!
5. Clean your laundry machines!
If you haven’t already read my blog post about appliance maintenance, be sure to check it out! I am passionate about appliance care in the home. The better we take care of our appliances, the better they take care of us. I highly recommend Googling the make and model of your washer and dryer, and printing out the care and maintenance pages.
With your washing machine, most machines have a tub clean cycle that you can run. I like to put ½ c of baking soda in the drum, along with some vinegar in the fabric softener compartment, and run a “tub clean” cycle. This is where your machine pushes out super hot water and “washes” the inside of your tub. After the cycle, I take a dry rag and wipe out the rubber gasket and detergent trays. I do this once a month! With your dryer, make sure you are cleaning the lint tray after every cycle (no one wants a house fire!!) There are additional maintenance pieces you can perform on each machine, just refer to your manual! I believe appliance care can save homeowners a lot of money in the long run; plus your machine just performs better. It’s all about pride of ownership.
6. Find a great laundry stain remover!
I swear by this Puracy stain remover. It’s plant-based and it literally gets Every. Stain. Out. Even ones that have been there a while! And with a toddler and a new baby on the way, I am ALL about effective stain removers. Baking soda and vinegar also hold their place when it comes to stain removal. You can make a paste out of baking soda and water, and spread it onto the stain, and let it sit. Or, you can spray vinegar onto the stain. NOTE: Always make sure to test new products in an inconspicuous spot before you use them! At the end of the day, the best way to get a stain out is to treat it immediately and then wash it ASAP!!
7. Do one load of laundry a day.
To prevent laundry accumulation and overwhelm, do one load a day. It seriously works wonders. It becomes a habit, and it’s so manageable to wash, fold, and put away ONE load of laundry versus SEVEN. Plus, then you don’t feel like you’re doing laundry all weekend. This is another benefit of just washing everything together on cold; you don’t have to wait until certain “types” of laundry accumulate before you have enough to wash.
8. Keep your door and tray open!
To prevent mold and mildew, keep that front door and your detergent tray open. Let them air out. Also, if you notice water in the front loader rubber gasket after a load is done, take a dry rag or paper towel and soak it up. Even if you have a top-loader, I recommend keeping the lid open to let air circulate. No one wants a smelly washing machine!
And that’s it! Those are my tricks. My everyday practices and habits prevent laundry from becoming stressful. And, I believe that a lot of these habits contribute to making laundry kind of enjoyable. I mean, is there anything better than a pile of hot, clean, fluffy towels?! 🙂