How To Keep the Laundry Mountain Monster from Eating You Alive

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Lauren Kolyn)

Anyone else at war with piles upon piles of laundry? It never occurred to me how much motherhood and laundry go together, but here we are! While it’s still an uphill battle, I have learned that some things (when I actually do them) help keep the relentless laundry situation under control.

Five steps to taming the laundry beast:

1. A load a day

Obviously, this will be way too excessive for some people, but for anyone with a couple kids or more, this amount of laundry is just about right — and will save you from a day or more that’s consumed by catching up with laundry. Early on in my homekeeping life, I came across Flylady. Her mantra of “A load a day keeps CHAOS away” has been burned into my memory, in large part because I’ve found it to be true in my experience. (Note: “CHAOS” stands for “can’t have anyone over syndrome.”)

2. Follow through with each load

Load goes in the wash, then the dryer (or hung to dry), then gets folded or hung and then gets put away. My laundry troubles come when I linger too long between steps and loads begin to pile up at the clean end. I like to “save” folding for when my kids are in bed and I watch a TV show, but if I’m behind at all, then this means piles that I probably won’t get through will be waiting for me… and grow and multiply. If I really mean business with keeping up, I’d fold right after the load is dry and then put it away. Honestly, this never happens. I’m still learning.

3. Address your sticking point

Usually there’s a part of laundry that’s a bit more of a mental block and this is what makes the piles grow and multiply. For me, it’s putting the clothes away. I like putting the clothes in to wash and dry. And I even enjoy folding. But putting the clothes away is just not my favorite thing to do, and, alas, I often end up with several baskets of clean, folded laundry waiting to be put away.

4. Set up strategically

For me, this means that I have to think about putting clothes away before I start folding them; I have to make putting them away as painless as possible. I set out separate empty laundry baskets per room or person and put folded clothes in piles according to which drawer they go into. I also have hangers at the ready for clothes that need to be hung.

5. Make it fun

As with many chores in life that just have to get done, take a page out of Mary Poppins’s book and make it fun. Turn on some music, make a party out of it, or reward yourself with a treat (chocolate, 15 minutes of pleasure reading, staring at the miraculously empty laundry baskets, whatever) when you accomplish either the laundry task as a whole or just the part you dread most. (Because really, is anyone out there ever truly caught up with laundry?)

I’m going to go take my own advice and put away the piles of folded kids’ clothes so my son doesn’t have to dig for clean Ninja Turtle undies after bathtime tonight. What are your favorite tips for staying on top of laundry?

Re-edited from a post originally published 11.6.2014 – TW