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Laundry Woes: Finding the Motivation to Follow Through

For lack of a laundry fairy, Keri searches for a remedy to her laundry problems.

This morning, I put a load of laundry in the washing machine.

Will it be A) folded and back in their drawers by bedtime, B) discovered three days later, still wet with a distinctive soured sock odor, or C) cleaned and returned to my bed where it will live as a wrinkly mountain from which we pick our outfits for the rest of the week?

Well, your guess is as good as mine, but if I were a betting woman, I wouldn't pick choice A. While doing laundry is a necessary EVIL, it has yet to become a habit in my life. After doing my own laundry for about 20 years, you'd think such a mundane chore wouldn't be problematic, but here I sit, fully knowing none of my family members have clean socks, and rather make a trip to Target for new socks than work on the laundry pile today. Ok, I'll compromise and just write an article about it.

My disdain for doing laundry has many layers, so I'm breaking down my laundry issues and searching the internet for those household gurus who have time to both fold their clothes and blog about it to see if they have words of home economics wisdom to mend my ways.

Problem #1- I hate my laundry room.

Laundry room is an overstatement- a corner of my basement is the reality, and while I do my best to keep this area unfettered with luggage, wrapping paper, and seasonal decorations, it's not welcoming in the least.

Over at I Heart Organizing, blogger Jen Jones shows you how to beautify your laundry space while making it super functional as well. 

These bright and colorful laundry spaces would entice me to stay more than thirty seconds, but it will take more than some wicker baskets and a coat of paint to change my laundry procrastinating ways, so on to...

Problem #2- Lack of Routine

I neither have a day of the week nor a time of day that I do laundry, which explains why I'm always doing laundry in emergency mode (ie. we're having a naked day tomorrow if Mom doesn't get moving!)

There are two schools of thought on laundry maintenance-

One-day Marathon- The skilled launderer at Home Ec 101 can coach you through this method where you pick one day a week to do all of your laundry. All of it! Hydrate, crank the music, and set your timer, and you're constantly flipping loads, folding and stuffing it all back into drawers before day's end. I know some folks who do this. We don't see them on Mondays.

Daily Habit- Aby Garvey from Simplify 101 says doing a chore you hate more often will make it less tedious. She suggests doing a load of laundry as part of your daily routine. "Maybe you’ll throw in a load every morning right when you wake up and transfer it to the dryer after you’ve dressed and eaten breakfast. Or you could throw in a load at dinner and fold it during T.V. time. Whatever you decide, building laundry into your routine (much like brushing your teeth) takes a lot less energy than dreading it."

Problem #3- Sorting it all out

Little socks, little underwear, and a husband who can't (refuses to) read size labels...Getting the laundry back to the proper owners is an overwhelming task, particularly when the laundry mountain is the size of my bed and height of my four-year-old. Looking at the size labels and sorting them into piles just adds to this time-sucking task.

I once read somewhere that the fellow mom just did not sort laundry and washed it all together. I was like, "Say Wha!?!" Then she explained that she had a laundry basket in each kid's room, and on said day, she'd throw all of that family member's basket in the machine, set it on a cold wash cycle and, Voila, everything from that load went back to the same person. It's kinda genius. Beware of two things: brand new dark/bright colored jeans should first be washed separately, and clothes soiled with bodily fluids like cloth diapers and "I had an accident" outfits should go in a warm or hot cycle to better clean out the nastiness.

Laundry phenom at Home Ec 101 recommends the Shout Color Catcher to end your laundry sorting woes. Instead, she puts clothes in until the washer’s full enough and then tosses in a Shout Color Catcher. She says she hasn't had a single pink sock since starting to use these.

Another great recommendation suggested having a laundry basket for each family member at your laundry folding station, so you stack items into baskets as you fold them from the dryer. Folding items straight from the dryer also saves a trip from the dryer to wherever you're currently folding your clothes.

Barring a magical Laundry Fairy intervention, cleaning my family's clothes will be with me indefinitely. I might as well embrace some organization and a system to get it done as painlessly as possible. Now to figure out where all of our family's socks disappear to...

Andrea October 18, 2012 at 03:40 PM
I love the Shout Color Catchers, too, but be warned that there are some tasks too overwhelming for them. I once washed a dark brown (previously washed) couch slipcover with an off-white queen-size sheet and an ivory throw pillow case; the color catcher came out completely brown, but the sheet and the pillow case did, too.

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