Can’t keep up with laundry? Join the club. Whether you’re developing a system for a party of one or manning the offense for a family of five, we’ve collected 12 little laundry hacks that will make doing a million loads a little bit easier.
1. Confused by laundry symbols? Download this app
Going dizzy trying to decode exactly how to wash (or not wash) your new eco-sustainable denim? You don’t need a doctorate in archeology to decipher that label. Instead, try this app, which uses the camera on your phone to tell you what exactly that triangle with an X really means (don’t bleach!).
2. Invest in more than one mesh bag
You probably have a mesh bag to use for delicates like bras or that silk pillowcase, but when you’re knee-deep in a five people’s worth of laundry, mesh bags serve a greater purpose: Keeping things separated. Whether it’s your daughter’s socks or your wife’s scrubs, it’s A-OK to use more than one mesh bag per load to keep things organized from the get-go. (People seem to love this set of five for only $7.99 at Amazon.)
3. Pass those mesh bags like candy
If you’re a parent or living with a partner or other people, assign everyone the task to put their socks or underwear in their own bags (obviously, don’t overfill!) so they can organize clothes from wash to dry without you having to play Sorting Hat.
4. And get more than one hamper
Every person under your roof should have their own hamper. There, we said it. In fact, make it two so they can separate darks and lights, or in some other efficient way (like this hamper that divides between darks, lights and delicates) that makes sense for your family. For example, maybe your twins share two hampers—one for regular clothes and one for their grass- and dirt-stained softball gear.
5. Don’t settle for an eyesore
Don’t have room in the closet for a big ol’ hamper? Invest in a hand-worn woven basket with a lid—they’re not just functional, but they also double as décor. (Psst: These can be a bit pricier, so keep an eye on Facebook marketplace or Craigslist!)
6. Have some sort of “batching” plan of attack
Batching makes life easier. So start off with a goal. Maybe that’s to make folding easier or to be done with this load—washed, dried, folded and put away—before the last episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians airs. Either way, this will involve grouping like things (aka batching) so you can fold all those towels, match all those socks or hang-dry your work clothes in one batch without hopscotching between these different tasks, which can become tedious and exhausting. And if you want to throw some extra things in there for time’s sake, use those mesh bags to keep them separated!
7. Get wool dryer balls
If you love dryer sheets for cutting down drying time and reducing wrinkles but are concerned about their safety and environmental impact, swap for some wool dryer balls (this set of six is only $10), which are cheap, safe and re-useable alternatives. These babies get rid of static and fluff up your clothes, and they’re also super great for keeping large linens from tangling up together, which keeps them from fully drying.
8. Use a salad spinner for hand-wash drying
We know you haven’t been using it for kale. So put it to good use on your smaller delicates.
9. Create a home for lost socks
Look, we’re optimists. But no matter how much prep you do, there will be some maverick socks that get away. Instead of putting together a search party, simply give these solo socks a home—a small basket, a hanger with some laundry clips, whatever—so that when another solo sock shows up, you know where to look to make the match.
10. Have your kids be on “inside out” patrol
Maybe your 5-year-old can’t fold a fitted sheet, but she can certainly make sure all the clothes in her hamper aren’t inside out, which will make the process soooo much easier when it comes to folding
11. And have them fold their own clothes too
As one mom tells us: “It will look like crap, but they don't stay folded as they rummage through their drawers anyway so why put in the effort to fold perfectly in the first place?!”
12. Buy a fabric shaver
That pilled sweatshirt isn’t ready for the giveaway pile just yet! A simple tool (like this one for just around 12 bucks) is easy to use and will make your clothes look brand-new.
13. Set up a folding station
If you build it, they will come. If you don’t…you’ll probably wind up dumping your clean clothes back in the hamper and waiting for the perfect time to do it all, which is, spoiler alert, never. And by folding station, we really just mean a space that’s flat and cleared for you (and hopefully your team) to get to work. So clean off that coffee table, rug or bed (whatever you’re working with) before you start a load to you have a work station primed and ready to finish the job—might we suggest placing it in front of a TV?