The Secret to My Daily Laundry Habit Will Surprise You

published Jun 26, 2023
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When I was 18, delighting in the independence of my first apartment, I cleaned the bathroom sink and promptly realized I didn’t yet own a towel hamper. I wasn’t ready to sully the first place of my own on day one, so instead of dropping the towel on the floor, I tossed it in the washing machine.

In the days it took me to make a trip to (then thriving) Bed Bath & Beyond, I realized that, while I definitely needed a hamper for my clothes, the washing machine-as-towel-hamper situation was serving me quite well. I never got behind on laundry because I washed at least one load a day.

Whenever I needed to wash delicates, I actually washed two loads: first the towels and then my clothes. And with this system, the activation energy to start a load was almost nothing. It was always ready to go — just add detergent. Best of all, I didn’t have to handle dirty towels or make space for a smelly hamper. 

On that note, I’ve learned that experts don’t like my method. The concern is that the washing machine can’t fully air out if I keep tossing damp towels inside, creating an environment conducive to bacteria growth. But here’s the thing: My towels have to go somewhere. They can create their damp environment in a hamper that I empty when it’s overflowing and disgusting, or they can sit for less than 24 hours in an open washing machine before being washed and dried. I like my way better. 

If you decide to ignore the experts and do as I do, be sure to clean your washing machine whenever you get that self-clean alert. If your machine is old-school, just set a reminder for once a month on your calendar. You can go at it with a steam cleaner and throw in a washing machine cleaner at the end or simply run loads with vinegar and baking soda, wipe it down, and let it air dry completely. 

If you live alone and don’t go through a lot of towels, this just means your daily towel loads will be smaller. On the plus side, they’ll get even cleaner and smell amazing. If you’re worried that running half-loads is wasteful, you could add socks and other hardy clothing to your towel load, or let your towels dry completely before tossing them in the machine to buy yourself some time. Leaving damp towels in your washer for days is probably not wise (I must agree with the experts here), but, hey, if that’s your jam, you’ll just need to clean your machine more frequently. 

When my family and I moved into our forever home a few years ago, I made the mistake of purchasing a front-load washer. In my opinion, it’s the worst. I don’t know who designed this machine, with its rubber gasket and tiny drainage holes that get gross fast, but I will never forgive them. If your machine, like mine, is already prone to mold because of its design, this method might not be for you. It’s on hold at our home until we buy a new washer, and rest assured I will never again subject myself to this.

But with the right machine and routine, this method saves space in your home and makes doing the laundry a breeze.

Let us know in the comments if you think this idea is ingenious or gross.