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My New Laundry “System” (if you can even call it that!)

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If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I have laundry issues. It’s the area of homemaking that I’ve always struggled with the most.

For years, I tried system after system to attempt to fix this issue:

  • I tried the one-load-from-start-to-finish-everyday system.
  • I tried the only-do-laundry-one-day-a-week idea.
  • I tried divvying the laundry chore between my kids.
  • I tried Laundry Parties.
  • I tried doing certain kinds of laundry on certain days (towels one day, whites one day, etc.)
  • I tried encouraging my kids to re-wear things over and over again.
  • I religiously cleaned out closets and drawers so that we didn’t have too many clothes.
  • I hired out the laundry chore for a few years.
  • I’ve even considered having our family become nudists… okay, just teasing. 😉

Yes, I’ve pretty much tried it all. While these systems can be great and work well for many families, none of them seemed to work well long-term for us.

How I Finally Discovered a Laundry System That Works

You see, I work full-time and have weird hours in order to homeschool. My husband works weird hours, too.

I travel regularly. And our family travels regularly. We also have an ever-changing routine because we’re an entrepreneurial family and our kids are very involved in their respective activities (something that we’ve decided is a family priority for us).

So all of these things mean that neat little systems we try only seem to work for a total of three days for us and then something comes up that derails the whole system.

This might sound like I’m making excuses, but I’m not. I’m just stating reality. It’s a reality that we’ve chosen and what we feel God has called our family to. And we’re very settled in it.

But it has meant that systematic approaches that work beautifully for other families, don’t work so well for ours.

As a result, for years I’ve felt like a laundry failure. Every time I’d pass a towering pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded I felt mocked and taunted by it.

“You’re not a good enough homemaker!” “You can’t get your act together!” “All the other moms can seem to create and keep laundry systems and you can’t.”

Yes, I felt shamed and discouraged by the laundry pile.

How I Finally Discovered a Laundry System That Works

In the last few years, I’ve learned to replace so many of my own incorrect deep-rooted beliefs with the truth. I’ve stopped feeling like I was a misfit. Like I didn’t have anything to offer. Like I wasn’t good enough.

I’ve realized that I do have many gifts and talents. I have great worth and value. And I want to own my gifts and talents.

So, in embracing this, I’ve been challenging myself to also stop listening to the voices of guilt and shame that I hear in my head when I see the laundry pile.

Instead, I’m working on making peace with my laundry pile. With the fact that our current life choices mean things can’t be tied up with a neat little bow. That things will be a little (or sometimes, a LOT) messy. That it’s probably a given that I’ll never be fully caught up on laundry on a daily basis for long periods of time.

And I’m okay with that. Because I refuse to be defined by my laundry pile.

How I Finally Discovered a Laundry System That Works

I have many homemaking gifts and talents. I’m great at keeping clutter at bay. I’m great at sticking with a budget. I’m great at keeping paper piles to a minimum. I’m great at keeping up with dishes. And our home is usually 15 to 30 minutes to being “Company Ready”.

You have different gifts and talents. You might never be behind on laundry. You might have an incredible system that works beautifully for your family. I’m so happy for you and want to learn from and be inspired by you.

But I am going to stop comparing myself to you and feeling like because I am not following the same system as you that I’m therefore a failure.

You see, that’s the “system” that I’ve discovered and that’s giving me so much freedom for the first time. To realize that there are more important things than always being perfectly on top of the laundry. That it’s okay to get a few loads behind in favor of investing in my marriage or hanging out with my kids or spending time with a friend or serving in our community or even sleeping.

It’s really and truly okay. My laundry pile does not define me.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to keep baby-stepping my way toward better success with the laundry. Or that I don’t want to continue to learn and try ideas I hear from others or read about on a blog. But if they don’t work for me or only work for a short time period, that’s okay.

How I Finally Found a Laundry System That Works

So, all that said, here’s my laundry “system” or at least my current philosophy for approaching laundry:

1) Be Grateful For the Laundry Pile

A clean laundry pile means that we have clothes to wear. It means we have more than one outfit per person. It means we have options in our closet. All the clothes are a reminder of the wonderful people I get to share life with. These are blessings that many, many people would love to have and I don’t want to take them for granted.

2) Try to Work on It a Little Each Day

I usually have great ambitions each day to get a load or two or three done from start to finish. But that’s just not always possible and that’s okay. However, I try to spend at least a little time — even if it’s 2 or 3 minutes! — on the laundry each day. Every little bit counts.

If I have more time, I can make a much bigger dent in it. I like to set the timer for 10 or 20 minutes whenever I can and work on it. I usually have the kids help put away while I fold and we can tackle a lot in a short amount of time.

3) Make Sure We’re Not Washing More Than We Need to Be

The less laundry we wash, the less there is to fold and put away. Making sure that we keep our closets cleaned out and pared down helps to cut down on laundry.

I’m also working on encouraging our kids to not put clothes or towels in the laundry that aren’t truly needing to be washed.

4) Have Our Kids Help Me

This has been key for us to not get hopelessly behind on laundry in the past year. Kathrynne’s job is to start the laundry every day and to help with folding every day. I also have Silas and Kaitlynn help with putting their laundry away.

Even though we’re rarely ever completely done with laundry, by working together in short stints multiple times per week, we usually have enough clean clothes to wear that we’re not digging through the pile to find something to wear (not saying that doesn’t ever happen, but it’s not an every day occurrence like it once was!)

5) Keep Trying & Experimenting

I’m holding out hope that I will one day be a Laundry Ninja. And so I want to keep learning and trying new things. You never know if something will work for you unless you try it!

I’m signing up for the Stress-Free Homemaking Course (not currently available online) and am committed to trying the system that Holly outlines in it in hopes that it just might be the perfect fit for us.

6) Continue to Give Myself Grace

In the midst of my experimenting, I’m also committed to continuing to give myself grace. To reminding myself that what works for one family won’t necessarily work for our family. And to remembering that a laundry pile doesn’t make me a failure. It just means I’m human and that life is full of other wonderful things that are taking higher priority right now.

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142 Comments

  • Emily says:

    I’ll come do your laundry if you’ll come declutter my house!

  • Tera says:

    My sis has discovered self-folding laundry. If she leaves a basket of clean, but not folded, laundry in her bedroom, it slowly disappears. She’s convinced that it’s folding itself and putting itself away. Because what else could be happening to it? 😉

    Best wishes with your laundry pile!

    • Jo says:

      😉 Too funny!

    • Heather says:

      That’s what my mother did: clean piles (you’d be surprised how many) precariously stacked on top of the dryer and small counter. That’s where we all went to find our clothes. It worked. I really don’t see anything wrong with that. Life is too short to worry about it. I would do it myself, but I have less space.

  • Julie C says:

    Do you have a hook for each child can reach to hang up their clean towel after they dry off their (clean!) body? We reuse towels endlessly (well almost) this way.

    Hanging up clothes that can air dry is one less way to handle the top/pants/skirt/etc more than one time. Best wishes!

  • Shannon says:

    Ah, sweet Crystal, good for you. Wish I’d learned this years ago, but I’m making terms with it myself. I’m good at laundry, terrible at cleaning floors. Great at sewing, lousy at cooking. Love to iron, hate to dust. You know, we all have our things we do well and our things we don’t, and it makes the world more interesting. Thank goodness we don’t have to do it all.

  • Vickie says:

    Yes, laundry does and will always pile up. A family will have more than not.
    I used to feel a lot of stress with this myself. I find that if I like the smell of
    the laundry deg. and maybe fabric softener, I enjoy doing the laundry. The
    smell of the laundry relaxes me. I also ask the twins to help me out. They
    are grown and the bigger they get the larger the laundry gets, haha. But
    I love finding a deg. that smells wonderful and it makes the chore not so
    much of a chore. I do at least 2 loads a day so it does not pile up. Sometimes more than 2 loads depending on bed stripping day. I like to
    fold as soon as it’s done so they don’t wrinkle. As soon as I pull them out of
    the dryer, they smell so wonderful and I love that. Don’t be stressed about
    laundy–the clothes and dishes are always there to be done. If not done just remember they will get done sooner or later. Hope this helps with the stress.

  • Sarah says:

    I’ve found what works for US in keeping up with laundry. First, my kids (7 and 9) do their own laundry start-finish every Tuesday. Once in awhile my son pays his sister to do his 🙂 next, I made starting a load of laundry part of my evening routine (routine that I set up thanks to YOU, Crystal!). I put a load in before bed. Then, as part of my morning routine (also you, Crystal!), I move it to the dryer and as soon as it’s done I take it out and put it away. I won’t let myself put it into a laundry basket because it’s dangerous territory. 🙂 I don’t know if it would work for anyone else, but it works for me! My son came up with an idea for laundry (his very least favorite chore, which is why he pays his sister to do it). His idea was this: each of us owns one outfit. Each night when we put on pajamas, we put those 4 outfits (one for each of us) in the washer and then the dryer and in the morning, we go to the dryer to get our outfit out for the day. See? He really dislikes the laundry process 😉

  • Sarah says:

    Having the kids help is crucial so, good for you! I didn’t despise the folding as much as the putting away of laundry. So, I bought a basket for each of our kids and labeled it with their name. As I fold the laundry coming out of the dryer, it goes into the basket for the person it belongs to and they are responsible for putting it away. Our oldest daughter is old enough that I just throw her clothes into her basket and let her fold her own. Now I only have to put away mine & my husband’s clothes which isn’t bad at all. Good luck to you on your laundry journey 🙂

  • Sue Ann says:

    I have my kids do their laundry by themselves. Each kid runs a load, no sorting colors. They wash, dry, return to their room. If I need the dryer and empty it, I empty it right on top of their beds. They have until the end of the day to put it away. SO easy. My kids learn to do theirs at about 6 or 7. Without mixing all our laundry together, there is a huge time savings in figuring out whose socks are whose, sorting, and folding. I have been doing it this way for years. It really is wonderful.

  • Tracy says:

    My chore that I cannot seem to work out in our family is dishes. I can keep up on them all day, but then dinner rolls around. I can’t clean as I go while I’m cooking because the baby wants to be held or is trying to “help” with the dishwasher. (Not entirely the baby’s fault… I can’t seem to get it together even when there isn’t a baby in the house, although I can’t remember my excuses :)) After we eat, it’s bath time and bedtime and general chaos. And a big ugly pile of dishes is staring at me still, but I am DONE for the night and can’t bear the thought of dealing with it. But, somehow they get clean eventually, and we do it all over again.

    However, I LOVE folding laundry. It’s like my “me time”–I will sometimes even save it for after my daughter is in bed so I can selfishly keep it to myself because she likes to help. Funny how different we can be 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      I wish that would rub off on me. I hate laundry. Towels is my biggest problem.
      My husband thinks if he’s touched a towel, then it’s dirty. He growed up in a household with 6 siblings. They must have shared towels, at least everyone but him. Since he would reuse a towel, no one else wants to either. But I hang mind up and reuse it. I love to work and I love to cook but laundry I hate.
      There’s at least 5 loads of clean laundry in my laundry room right now.

  • Melody Benschoter says:

    Well, I currently have 5 loads of clean laundry to put away, so I’m obviously no expert, but I do have two tricks that help a lot! First, I don’t mix the kid’s laundry- each kid is washed separately with (almost) no sorting, my husband and I have a basket for darks and a basket for whites that we share. Second, when I take the laundry out of the drier I immediately hang up shirts and dresses that would wrinkle (we have a bar in the laundry room) and I lay out pants and other bottoms flat in the basket on top of the socks and underwear. That way, even if I am pulling clean clothes out of the basket, at least it’s not wrinkled!

  • Shauna says:

    You have spoken to my heart. I cannot find a solution for my laundry either. I do well in so many areas around my house but have not over come the laundry pile. Good luck to both of us!!

  • Rebecca says:

    It’s your new “laundry mindset.” A change of thinking is often all that is needed to make progress (even if the progress is in baby steps).

    Thanks for all you do.

  • shannon says:

    One way I solved part of our laundry problems was to move the kids clothes into the laundry room. Then you don’t have the it is folded and now it needs to be put away issue. We have a board on top of our washer and dryer. All clothes go on the board, then it is folded and 2 steps later, it is put away. This has also helped with the kids not making a mess of their clothes when they were in their closets.

  • Amie says:

    Honestly, I’m not a natural homemaker at all. Just last month, we adopted a system and our house has been getting cleaner and more organized every day. My husband washes laundry in the morning and I fold it and put it away in the evening. We each do a list of tasks on the schedule. I assigned my six y-o and 4 y-o each one very easy chore per day – something they couldn’t fail at. Now, they easily do their chore and sometimes help me with some extra chores. My husband works second shift so I have all kid duties after I finish work. Last week, I was exhausted between work, physical therapy for my knee, and tee ball practice so we got a little behind. Over the weekend, I paid the boys to do extra cleaning and everyone was happy. Teamwork is the key for my family.

  • Tammy says:

    Laundry is the ONE household chore I really don’t mind! But it’s always seemed to me that it takes much less time to put clothes on hangers than it does to fold them, so everything that can go on a hanger, does. Each person also has a shelf near the dryer for items that can’t be hung, with two baskets on the bottom shelf – one for the girls’ socks & one for undies (I do pull out mine & my husband’s underclothes). All of it stays in the laundry room downstairs, so each of us (yeah, me too) can either get our clothes & put them away, or make a trip to the basement every morning to find something to wear. Now that my teens wear pretty much the same size, dividing things by kid is a little harder, but they always let me know when I put their sister’s stuff on their shelf!

    • Elizabeth Rogers says:

      I also hang everything that can be hung, as soon as it comes out of the dryer. This has helped me more than anything to keep laundry out away.

  • Jettsmom says:

    I’m an empty nester and still do not have a good laundry routine. Some weeks I’m on top of it and it gets done start to finish. I currently have three baskets full of clean laundry and one basket of dirty. I’ll get to it eventually. I don’t fret over it anymore. I just try to make sure I have most of it clean. There will always be laundry. It never ends

  • angie s. says:

    Do you know the absolute WORST thing about laundry is?!? SORTING! I have four kids (almost five) and I cannot imagine I would ever be caught up on laundry if I actually mixed their clothes up to be washed and then had to sort/separate/and put away. The thought is exhausting. 😉 So, each of the kids have a small basket (can hold about 5-7 days worth of clothes) and when they get full, I just wash/dry/put away. Simple. Same system with my husband and I. Also, I do “like” loads…gather everyone’s towels one day/sheets/rugs/dish towels/coats/etc. I love doing these because they are fast and I feel like I accomplished something. I think this is as easy as it gets in the laundry world!

  • HappyMama says:

    What a timely post! I was just saying to my husband last night I need to come up with a new laundry routine and I came up with a new one try. I have tried a few different ones lately and they haven’t worked. I seem to be really good at washing and drying the laundry (like I do loads everyday), but baskets never seem to get put away. So what I am trying new is two laundry folding/putting away days. Sundays and Wed. I will put away everything that has been cleaned. Today was my first day doing it. I of course made my children put their own things away to help. I am hoping this works. It will at least help me focus on the area that I am struggling and by putting a day to when I do it- I am hoping I get it done. Honestly, even if I just ended up doing one of those days (Sun or Wed) I would be doing better than I was!

  • Gabriela says:

    I like the way you are thinking about the whole thing: not making laundry define you. Way too often we tend to put ourselves down and have bad thoughts about us. We just need to remember that God loves us (laundry done or not), and in our weakness He is our strength. He loves to ask Him for help and He CAN change us: our hearts, our desires, the way we look at things, etc. Everything. Personally, when something seems too hard or don’t have the desire to do it (many times 🙂 ), I just pray for God’s help. Though, also, sometimes I forget to pray for the small things (ex – vacuuming the bedrooms tomorrow). Thanks for all you do. I enjoy reading your blog.

  • Kate says:

    Thank you SO much for writing this. I haven’t been following your blog for very long but for the few months I have, I have admired the way you run your household.
    I have felt consistently down recently with paper piles and other everyday clutter I can’t seem to keep up with. I feel like I’m not a very good mother because my home isn’t the way I’d like it. After reading this I’ve realised what rubbish that is! I will just continue to tackle it when I can.

  • Rachael says:

    I listen to a podcast when I fold/iron/put clothes away. I have found that pairing what I like to do with something I need to do helps!

  • magdalena salameh says:

    I used to hate hate laundry, and put it off. But now i actually look forward to it! I don’t watch much tv at all (who has the time?) but my laundry folding time is my tv time:). I settle in front of the tv with my 6 🙂 baskets of laundry and I fold while catching up on a favorite show or a movie. The more laundry the better:) I get to watch more tv:) I separate laundry into separate baskets by the area where they go and then I send my kids on a delivery mission (my kids are almost 5 and almost 8) delivering baskets to each room. They have to put away their own laundry (I labeled their dressers with pictures where each type of clothing goes to make it easier) but I put away mine and my husband’s. So now I love laundry time because its my relaxing time.

  • Jaime says:

    There’s only 3 of us here, so it’s not TOO bad, but we do cloth diapers too and that adds an extra load. I’m usually pretty good at keeping up with laundry, but my second load usually stays in the dryer and I forget about it until the next time I do laundry!

  • Jessica says:

    I don’t understand how having fewer clothes makes less laundry. We still wear one shirt, one pants, one underwear, two socks +/- a bra depending on age & gender, right? So if you have 10 shirts vs 100, you’re still going to wear one shirt every day.

    As for me, I don’t mind laundry but I hate doing dishes. I’m also terrible at general cleaning 🙁 I am a great baker though!

    • Tamara says:

      True, you are still wearing something everyday; however, if you have an unending number of tee shirts, for instance, or underwear, (whatever), you may put off washing until the laundry pile is overwhelming and it will take days to try to catch up. Laundry is certainly not my favorite thing to do but I approach it the same way I do paper clutter, dishes and cleaning. My house keeping is NOT showcase level but it is a way to show care for my family (and me) and to make it a peaceful, restful and energizing place. And doing laundry is a part of home making.

    • Melody Benschoter says:

      This exactly my thought! I think it’s a balance- if we have so many clothes that we can’t fit them all in their drawers, it’s a problem. But otherwise, I prefer having more clothes- it means I can go about 2 weeks between loads for each kid and if they are pulling clean stuff out of their baskets for a few days it’s that much less to put away when I eventually get around to it!

  • Robyn says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Pure grace, Crystal.

    I started working full-time this year, and have struggled my way through this school year trying to get it all done, and am still struggling.

    My kids are older, and we recently had a family meeting and one of the items on the agenda was the clutter that accumulates every week in certain areas of our home. The kids created a fun system for keeping clutter at bay, and it’s working! (Mostly, the system involves everyone picking up after themselves…)

    Settling into what is realistic and accepting that I’m not capable of doing it all perfectly all the time? There is so much grace in this.

    Thank you for sharing from your heart. You have encouraged this mama today!

  • Amy says:

    You and your family always look well dressed with clean clothes! You’re doing great!

  • Jillbert says:

    Love this! Laundry isn’t a problem in my house as my husband does it all. The laundry room is right next to his home office and he actually likes to do it. He looks at hanging laundry outside as a break and time to stretch from his computer work. He also folds and we all put away. BUT, we all have the thing that we perceive as a homemaking failure. For me, it’s cleaning — like my floors always are a mess — between a dog and kids tramping in and out, my own gardening, etc., there is always dirt, dog hair, flour, or some kind of debris about. Maybe I need to view vacuuming and mopping as a daily job instead of a crisis task. Or just chill about it. 🙂

  • Jamie says:

    “I refuse to be defined by my laundry pile.” Love that.

  • Heather says:

    One thing that helped me was to stop matching socks with every load of wash I did. All socks coming out of the dryer go right into a sock box. If someone wants socks, they rummage through and find a pair. Some of the kids aren’t picky, and will just take a mismatched pair. If the box gets too overflowing, I have the kids match them all at once once and put away, or occasionally I will. It seems much more efficient to do it all at once. Now that 2 of mine are wearing bras, they go in the box too, as I can’t remember whose are whose.

  • Sara K. says:

    Laundry isn’t the chore I struggle with the most, but it can be complicated to keep up. Even though it’s only myself and my daughter in our house laundry can be complicated because our laundry area is in a utility closet just off our back patio.

    It causes several problems – I can’t hear it so I don’t know when it’s done, I have to squeeze out the back door with a large basket of clothes while kicking back my cats so they don’t escape, and the laundry room isn’t insulated so winter causes a lot of problems. This past winter there were several weeks where my washing machine was unhooked to prevent freezing and I just did laundry at my parents house!

    To reduce the volume of laundry I only wash things when needed (and am trying to teach my daughter that. She is of the opinion that if it touches her body it’s dirty…). I also am trying to thin out our closets so we don’t have quite so many things! Both works in progress 🙂

    Good luck Crystal! 🙂

  • Suzanne says:

    I love (what I think is) the messesge of this post: take immediate care of what is important to you and your family. Laundry piles would drive me nuts, but I have other “areas” of my home that I let slide because it doesn’t bother me. Thanks for reminding me that’s it’s okay.

  • kariane says:

    I love this! As women we often feel pressure to be perfect in every way. Most things don’t need to be perfect; they simply need to be good enough.

  • cheryl says:

    I keep a clean house and am stressed when my counters are cluttered and when the couch pillows aren’t exactly right but I have never conquered the laundry room efficiency that others have. I always have had mismatched socks, baskets of things that need extra attention and clothes piles up. I’ve been married 32 years raised 3 kids and still cannot keep an organized and clean laundry room. We built a house 16 years ago that had plans for the laundry room and half bath combo on the main floor and I had the builder create a wall to separate the two areas knowing guests and my own family would never have a clean room to use . I never regretted that decision. And I moved past the guilt of knowing others have no struggle in this area. Several friends and family have lovely laundry rooms and one friend built a beautiful home around the time we did with a laundry /bath combo and every time we go to her home it’s amazing how gorgeous her laundry room is. But still I have learned to accept that I simply cannot have a pristine laundry room.

  • Karen says:

    I just signed up and loved the first video on laundry. Hopefully I can begin to say goodbye to my laundry mountain.

  • Diana says:

    But what if you don’t even always get it clean on time…?? 😉

    It’s funny, because as I was reading this last night my hubby discovered that he didn’t have any clean pjs. Again.

    (And, actually, in talking about it, we discovered that, even if I do one load every day, he has JUST enough pjs to last until the next time I do darks. So that could be part of the problem. 🙂 ) Thanks for the encouragement to keep on trying till we find a system that works!

  • Kristie says:

    I often joke that part of the curse in the garden was that they had to wear clothes from then on. That was Eve’s forever punishment . . . the introduction of the laundry pile. 🙂 I don’t have a sure-proof solution either, and we still have baskets sitting around on days I work (like yesterday). One thing that has cut down a lot on my frustration was making my older kids (anyone ten and older) do all their own laundry. I think your kids might still be younger, but take heart, because it really does help if each child their own. So hang in there! 🙂

    • Jo says:

      Haha! I never thought about THAT part of the curse in the garden! I have a LOT of things to discuss with Eve when I get to heaven. 🙂

    • Laura says:

      I LOVE that! Never thought about the origin of laundry. I suppose the next question could be “Will there be laundry in heaven?” 🙂

      Laundry is something I generally enjoy, IF I can hang it out on the line. My symmetry-loving self just loves to see all those Flips diaper covers in rainbow order strung across the back yard, and I just fold it as I take it down – one basket for the kids, and one for us. I live in an apartment building so share laundry facilities and have 2 assigned days per week that I have to do laundry on. Nothing like a hard and firm deadline to make you get stuff done. Now, if only I shared a kitchen, I might actually work on keeping the floor and counter clean…

      Thanks, Crystal, for being so open and honest with us. We each struggle in different areas, but sometimes building relationships and loving our family means the house just isn’t the way we’d like it to be. Oh well. I’d rather my kiddos remember me as a mommy who loved them than a crazy cleaning lady who was always after them for their messes.

  • MARILYNN GARRETT says:

    Go out and enjoy life with your husband and children. When they are grown, there will be more time for laundry, and less of it. but you will still never catch up. Each day we, who are not nudists, wear clothes and they have to be dealt with some day. I too am thankful that I have more that only a T shirt to wash. Some people don’t. In some parts of the world, children only wear T shirts that have been donated. I am thankful every day for clothes to wash, clean water and food to eat.

  • shannon says:

    A trick I learned that can make sorting easier if you have kids close in age….
    Get a black Sharpie marker and put a dot on the tag of the oldest child’s stuff,
    then put 2 dots on the 2nd child’s stuff, 3 dots on the third child’s stuff. Then when the oldest child hands something down to the 2nd child, add a dot.
    Then if you are folding laundry and can’t remember who it belongs to, count the dots.

    • Lesley says:

      I have been doing this with my 3 daughters’ clothes for as long as I remember. They are very close in age and for several years they wore the same size. They also wear uniforms for school (that all look the same) and this made sorting SO much easier. Now my oldest is the smallest size so when her younger sister passes clothing on to her, the dot system doesn’t work so well. Oops!

      I use a similar system for my husbands t-shirts. He is a bit of a t-shirt hoarder, although he wouldn’t admit it. Starting in January, whenever I washed one of his t-shirts, before I put it away, I would “dot” the neck tag (or inside neck seam if there was no tag). Now I know that he has worn this shirt. Next January, I will go through his clothes and the shirts that don’t have a dot will be shirts he hasn’t worn in a year. I will know easily what clothes need to be purged.

  • Tammy says:

    I love how real and true you are. None of us are perfect, we all have something that we struggle with. For me, it’s my floors. When I mop, my floor changes colors. Disgusting, right? I’m working on it. Laundry became easy for me when my husband made me a custom hamper that has separate bins for each kind of load. I had to make it part of my morning routine to do a load. It starts with starting a load and ends with me putting it away.

  • Laurie @PassionatePennyPincher.com says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this Crystal! I know it’s ridiculous, but from the other side of this computer screen you do it *all* right. You have an amazing business, homeschool your kids, eat healthy food, and are just so down to earth and likeable despite how good you are at everything. 🙂

    I often find myself comparing to you (and others), and just wondering how I can ever measure up. (I think we all do that!) One thing I can seem to keep up on here is my laundry though (because it’s one area that just makes me crazy if it’s too far gone), so reading this reminds me that we really do all have different things that we can manage, and *none* of us can do it all.

    I’ve found using laundry time to pray for my kids helps so much (I pray for each one as I’m folding laundry for that child – especially while they’re off at school), and it really does just help me to not hate folding those clothes quite so much.

    Thanks for sharing the real stuff (it’s so encouraging for those of us who feel like a mess most days!) And, if you don’t have one, get a super size washer and dryer too. 🙂

  • SuzanneH says:

    2 tips you might want to try (or not): put a rod in your laundry room and keep a stock of hangers in there. Hang up 90% of your clothes – it’s so much easier than folding. The kiddos can help as things come out of the dryer and then they can haul their clothes to their closet and hang them (littlest one may need some help). Also, keep 3 hampers – darks, lights and whites. Everyone has to turn their clothes right side to (unroll socks, etc.) and put their clothes in the correct hamper. Then laundry day consists of dumping a hamper in the washer, moving it to the dryer and hanging as above. Looks like a lot of people suggest no sorting but that would kill me – I’m OCD like that! 🙂

  • Teresa says:

    Thank you for this post. I’m the same way, I’ve got to learn to let go of the nagging thoughts “My mother had five kids and you could always eat off her floor if you needed to”. Of course my mom never worked outside the home, but I still feel inferior because I can’t keep up with everything, especially laundry. I get it washed, dried and folded into baskets, but for some reason can’t take that last step of putting it away. I may have to try the suggestion of doing one load from start to finish.

  • Kelly Cox says:

    An idea to make your time even better spent! Pray Ephesians 6:10-20 over your children and husband. The full armor of God! This inspires me to fold laundry joyfully and even prayerfull!

  • Sarah @ little bus on the prairie says:

    I don’t fold my kids’ clothes at all. They get put in their room for them to deal with 🙂

  • Molly says:

    You might want to consider a clothesline inside. I love the smell of outdoor laundry, too, but getting out there may be overwhelming for some, and some neighborhoods have covenants against them.

    I have a retractable clothesline inside and outside, with 5 lines each. Our outdoor one can hold about 5 loads of laundry and my indoor can hold about 2. I also have a clothing rack on wheels that has 2 bars for hanging. On indoor loads, anything that came be hung on a hanger to dry (tops, dresses, nightgown) are hung on the clothing rack. It puts me a step ahead when the clothes are dry because they go straight in the closet. Between my indoor & outdoor system, we might use our dryer 6 times a year, usually for my king size comforter in the winter. It obviously saves money and an indoor line adds humidity back in the winter.

    The beauty of hanging clothes is that there is not a dryer timer mocking you to come empty it AND the clothes don’t wrinkle in the meantime. I often wash 2 loads a day, back to back, and then hang them both when the second load is done washing, usually in the morning. I try to get the dry clothes put away by nightfall, but oh well if I don’t, including on my outdoor line. I have had clothes get rained on, or morning dew. Give it a few hours to dry & you’re back in business.

    Some other tips I have is I limit how many items my child can wash a week. My hubs & I are already ninjas in this practice. She gets X many “good” clothes (we homeschool, so not very much in this category), and X many “at home” clothes. This encourages her to re-wear PJ’ s, play clothes (if the don’t stink – wink, wink), church outfits (3 hours in a dress does not make it dirty), etc. After I wear an item, I hang it up backwards in my closet, so I know which have been worn once. I also have picked up listening to podcasts, especially productivity ones, when hanging laundry. Laundry has become…dare I say?…relaxing for me.

  • Smita says:

    I read the second comment about disappearing pile and it made me smile. I also keep my clean laundry hamper in the extra bedroom near his desk and my husband folds them early in the morning just after checking his emails and before he starts getting ready for work. It has become his habit and I am in the habit of keeping the the hamper there too. I have no idea how it came into place after all. But it works for everyone.

  • Nancy says:

    In reading your post, it became clear that I judge myself every time I walk into our kitchen. I need to learn your lessons: I am not defined by the abysmal state of my kitchen. But, having a disorganized kitchen with dishes piled on the counters and crumbs on the floor makes everything more work, less pleasant, and less efficient, so your other point to keep working on it is super-important too. Thank you.

  • Sarah says:

    I don’t mind laundry, especially now that we got a washer and dryer in our apartment for the first time in our lives. So exciting! 🙂

    Whenever I don’t feel like doing laundry, I remind myself of all the years when we had to carry our bags to the laundromat. We had to get there at the right time, otherwise, everything would be full and we had to wait for a long time to get access into the washers & dryers. Washing at the laundromat requires a strategy, and it was a bi-weekly event that took all Saturday morning. Not very fun, especially in the middle of winter.

    However, this was also a vast improvement from my early years growing up in another country, where we had to wash our clothes by hand. Now, that’s truly hard work and I would not want to do that it again.

    I am very grateful for having lots of clothes to wash and fold, and some that I’m supposed to iron, but don’t… Ironing is not my favorite task.

  • HoosierMom says:

    Crystal, is the bottle-neck the sorting and folding of clean clothes? If so, could you wash each person’s clothes separately, dry them and put them, unfolded in each person’s room? Maybe it could all be dumped into drawers without sorting. If they don’t have lots of clothes anyway, it wouldn’t take much to paw through the pile and find what they want.

    I enjoy laundry because I can start a load in the washer, sit and do nothing, and still be accomplishing something. It has helped me to fill the washer with clothes and water at night, let it sit overnight, and start it first thing in the morning. I don’t sort–all the colors and towels and everything go together, generally in cold water, and it has caused no problems at all.

  • Sarah says:

    Laundry isn’t my problem, but I really needed this message this morning. Thank you.

  • Cheryl says:

    Sometimes, no “true system” is the best system. I usually wash on m/w/f and sat. I do special/nice clothes separate (my daughter wears skirts/dresses to school) Towels in a load when there is enough, we use them at least 2/3 times before washing between the 2 bathrooms. Sometimes I wash a load in the evening, put in dryer, then fold in the morning if it a load that really doesn’t matter. I really don’t stress about it and prefer smaller loads over big ones. Enjoy! We are a family of 4.

  • Jody says:

    I love your new “system”! Laundry has been a HUGE challenge for me as well. I tried the one load a day thing washed and put away but it just didn’t work. I’m fantastic at getting loads washed and dried but not put away and would feel guilty because of my self imposed commandment to get it all the way done daily.

    I finally found what works for me and makes me not even really think about laundry. I do one or two loads a day and just let them sit in the baskets till my designated laundry folding time (usually fri or sat mornings). During that time I fold and put away all the clothes AND set out clothes for the whole upcoming week (I have storage containers for this) for kids. So now I know everyone has clothes for the week and I just wash and dry and forget about it till my designated folding/picking out for the week time. It’s helped a lot, now with laundry I’m like whatever vs before in a complete panic about it!

  • MelissaJ says:

    I was just talking with my 4 yr old last night as he picked out a set of pajamas how some kids have to go to sleep with the same clothes on they wore all day, and they may just change clothes once a week, or when they have to wash them. We really do need to look at laundry as a blessing! My son gets most of his clothes used from a cousin, and we are thankful for that too!

    Thanks for the reminder of the blessing. I wonder if there is a poem about dirty laundry similar to the one about dirty dishes? (“Thank God for Dirty Dishes”) Would be cool to hang that up above the washing machine.

  • Jennifer says:

    Laundry is a lot like life- messy and unpredictable! It’s impossible to put on a “to-do” list and get checked off, because by the time you’ve washed and folded, your 5 year old has decided to wash the dirt off the acorns so the squirrels have clean food, leaving himself and your best towels filthy and now it’s time for another load of laundry! Anyone else or just me?

    But I agree with you- doing laundry is the perfect time to thank God for the blessings of clothing to wear to work/church/school, towels to keep us clean and dry, and bedding to keep us warm. I DREAD ironing my husbands’ work shirts, but I also find it is a wonderful opportunity to pray over him as I am readying his wardrobe for the week ahead.

  • Lisa says:

    I’m telling ya Crystal, I have found the secret to managing laundry.

    You ready for it?!

    Here it is:

    WASH EVERYBODY’S CLOTHES SEPARATELY!!!

    When I figured this out, it changed my life.

    Everybody has their own hamper (and one for towels in the bathroom.) When the hamper is full, I wash that person’s clothes. It ends up being a load or two per person, about once a week. Then the clean clothes go in a laundry basket, and that person takes their basket to their room and puts them away. (I’ve taught the kids how to put their clothes away, but I don’t nitpick if they aren’t perfectly folded.) So it divides the responsibility among everybody, eliminates the need for sorting by person, and even if the task doesn’t get completed, it just means one clean clothes basket in each bedroom.

    Try it and see!

    • Jen says:

      I totally do this!!! The two boys who share a room get theirs together, and they sort it into their drawers (a little embarrassed to admit I don’t fold their clothes….just hang up a few of their nicer shirts and pants….they just dig thru their drawers for their favorites and mess them up anyway so why bother I decided). They don’t really have “whites” but when they do, I’ll throw it in our hamper to do with our separate loads. It really makes laundry very manageable….never had an issue so far with staying on top of it.

    • Heather R says:

      I am right with Lisa on this. I don’t do everybody’s laundry separately but I do separate out the my two girl’s laundry and hubby’s and mine.

      I also use a laundry basket as the hamper for my little one. When it is half full I know I have a full load of laundry for the girls. Their load goes on the list of things to do the next day.

      Along with that separation I have two baskets in our bedroom: 1 for whites and 1 for colors. Again, when the baskets is getting full I know I need to put them on the list.

      I will be the first to admit my girls have way to many clothes. Almost all are handy downs from cousins. Hubby also has more under shirts and socks then he needs for a week. It means I am only do whites every week and half and I have full load.

      Is this system perfect NO. I have times when every basket gets full at the same time and I feel like I am doing laundry all the time. But over all it works. And that is what matters – FIND WHAT WORKS FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!

    • Randi says:

      You know, I have just naturally always kept clothes separate. When it was me and my husband, we each used our own baskets that came with us when we got married. He did his, I did mine. When we added our son, he got a basket in his room and all his clothes, burb clothes, sheets, etc went into that. I never gave it any thought until reading your comment, but yes from load to load its either DH’s clothes, mine, DS’s, linens/towels, or kitchen towels/cleaning rags – its already separated. And, I don’t really have difficulty keeping up with laundry. Maybe you’re on to something here 😉

    • Christine says:

      I separate by person as well. My kids are still little enough that I can wash all 3 of their clothes in one load, and my husband and I have a 3-section hamper so I can see at a glance which load needs to go in. Also, dish towels, bath towels and rags each have their own hamper. If color bleeding is an issue, those Shout Color Catchers really work.

      Laundry is actually my favorite household chore, so I don’t really have a hard time keeping up. But if you could share your system for keeping the kitchen clean and staying on top of the dishes, that would be great!

    • Megan says:

      I totally agree because I used to have everyone’s laundry more or less together and I would end up with a mountain of separate clothing. I didn’t think it took longer this way, but now I see that I was totally wrong! We now have our individual laundry baskets and there is so much less somehow timewise. I still even fold and hang my children’s clothing, but it is no big deal. Their responsibility is just to make sure they put their laundry baskets in our hallway when they have a full load. And my husband doing his own from his separate basket helps me sooooo much.

  • Missy Robinson says:

    I say hire it out, again! That system seemed to work well for you. Otherwise you’re doing the right thing – we all have our in-process spots and this is yours! I’m glad you are willing to share it with us.

  • Kelly A. says:

    Our laundry is hooked up in our garage, which is attached to our house. Our rooms are sort of small in the house, so he hampers are out in the garage, and everybody pretty much knows they better put out their dirties or mom’s gonna call for them 🙂 I put anything that is damp, like rags or towels hung over the laundry sink, to avoid any mildew. Just about every day or two I go out to separate all the laundry into piles: lights, darks, towels, reds/pinks (two girls). Whichever pile is the biggest and can make a full load “wins” and gets to be washed first. Pretty much, if each color/type is a full load, then it’s ready to be washed. I’m not fancy with laundry, just wash with detergent and dry with dryer sheets and try to fold right away. My laundry doesn’t smell like downy or unstoppables, but it’s clean! Yes, many times it doesn’t work out — my one goal is to not have a huge laundry pile on my bed when the husband gets home!

  • Kemi says:

    Hahaha! Nudist part had me laughing. I’ve tried most every system too. I think what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other. I wash about 2 loads a day and I “talk” myself into putting things away. I also have my daughter put away her own clothing and my husband washes his work clothes. I was our clothing, kitchen cloths, cleaning cloths, towels, and bedding.

  • Sara says:

    This is the problem that all working mothers have either stay at home our work outside of home. I have 5 teens and a very patient hubby. WE meaning my family collectively OWN the laundry. Mom is one and only able to get 4 loads a night done. However in the evening I set the last load on a timer to start in am. When I wake up I put it in the dryer then start the washer. Hubby transfers it to the dryer before work and starts another one. Kids when they get home fold and put away, then start anther load. Each person has a separate basket. Girls have white short shocks and boys have white with black stipe. No guess work.

  • Cindy says:

    Mom of nine here. Have been wanting to tell you that you are a great person. You try so hard. I appreciate you. Oh and thank you for the prayer when I was literally dying. I’m happy to report that after a year of being bedridden, sick and in horrible pain all over my body, I am almost completely healed. Good people like you took time to ask God to restore me. I am so grateful. Bless you and your family.

  • Randi says:

    Ohmygosh #1 – YES!! I read in a devotional bible years ago (when I was still in college and didn’t’ yet have a family of my own) that a mother completely changed her perspective on laundry when she recognized what a blessing she was giving to her family! Clean, folded clothes! From that point on I promised myself to be grateful that I even get to do laundry! And not in a pond, or in murky water, but in a laundry machine (granted in my apt complex) with fresh water AND soap! Now that I have a family – I still, to this day, enjoy laundry. Its relaxing, its comforting, and its something I can do for my family. Thank you for sharing, and I am glad you are giving yourself grace with laundry 😉

  • Kaitlin says:

    Crystal, I just want to say that you inspire me! You are my sister in Christ, and your beautiful attitude inspires me to keep pursuing life goals while giving myself grace at the same time! I need that reminder! Often when I’m having one of those days when everything doesn’t seem to be getting done the way I planned I get another post from you that is so real and heartfelt! I’m sure it has not been easy to be real sometimes, but I just want you to know today that it is appreciated more than you will ever know in this world where gals have insecurities and unrealistic expectations! 🙂 You go girl, and thanks again for not letting that laundry pile define you! There are some things in my life that I need to stop letting define me as well! lol
    God bless and keep up the good work!
    Your Sister in Christ,
    Kaitlin

  • Sarah says:

    How can I explain these things to my husband? My struggles are dishes and clutter. He gives me next to no grace with them! So frustrating… I always feel those same things of not being good enough, failing as a homemaker, being a bad example for my kids, letting other things control me, etc. I feel he’ll just never understand or give me grace. He just gets mad and refuses to talk about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m so sorry, Sarah. It is difficult to give yourself grace when someone so close to you can’t seem to. I don’t have an answer, but will pray for you, that you will have wisdom about how to handle this tough situation. I understand to some degree what you are going through. My husband tries to give me grace, but gets quite frustrated with my inability to prioritize in a way that seems ordered correctly to him, as far as what gets done first. I pray for grace, empathy and maturity for all of us.

    • Kelly A. says:

      Sara, I have a wonderful husband, but he is not very lenient when it comes to keeping up the home. However, he is also not the type to leave a mess sitting. He will do it if I don’t do it first, which to me, is worse and sort of embarrassing. So over the years, that has motivated me to keep up on chores a little more. With me, I feel like I have the basic, day-to-day, chores down very well, it’s that deep cleaning and organizing that I struggle with.

      Over the last year, I read the book “Fascinating Womanhood” by Helen Andelin, and it has really helped me understand why certain things I was doing, or not doing, really bothered my husband, and what I could do and not do to help our marriage. It has been a gift from God for me. It is really my favorite book next to the Holy Bible 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    Piled high in the hamper
    Hanging from drawers
    Hung on doors
    Strung out on the floors
    Thank God for dirty laundry

    Strained peas on baby’s bib
    Tiny blanket in his crib
    Precious feet in wee socks
    Little-boy-pockets, full of rocks
    Thank God for dirty laundry

    Pre-teen and ripped jeans
    Baseball tourneys and yellowed jerseys
    Track meets and see-through sheets
    Thank God for dirty laundry

    Cap and gown
    Wedding day
    Brand new job
    He’s gone away
    I miss his dirty laundry!

    ~ Sarah McCollum
    Copyright 2015

  • MamaBear says:

    Glad to know that I’m not the only one with laundry issues. I feel like I have tried every “system” and nothing ever keeps me from drowning in laundry. Just yesterday, my MIL told me that my laundry drives HER crazy and that it would be so much easier for me if I would just stay on top of it. Yep, she said that. It drives HER crazy? How does she think I feel? And this came on the heels of a week long laundry ambush, where I felt as though I really made headway and almost saw actually being caught up in the near future. Please tell me that I will have more compassion than that when I am someone’s MIL.

    • Jo says:

      Argh! I’m so, so sorry! Wish I could have you over for chocolate and to encourage you that you are not alone in this! {hugs!}

    • Amie says:

      I’m so sorry. My MIL used to rewash all my kids clothes when they would visit and bleach the heck out of their whites… to the point that their clothes would lose elasticity. At first, I was offended, but then I stumbled upon an Everybody Loves Raymond rerun and the character, Marie, reminded me just enough of my own MIL to help me see the humor in my situation. Intrusive? Definitely, but well meaning in her own way.

    • Just Trixie says:

      I had a similar experience with my MIL a few years ago. I am pretty good at daily chores, but I fail at things like dusting and deep cleaning. One day, my MIL walked into my home and ran her finger across a dusty picture frame and looked at me with unmasked disgust on her face, so I walked around the corner to the broom closet and retrieved a can of Pledge and dust rag. I handed them to her and walked away. Two things happened that day: she dusted my living room and she never EVER deemed it necessary to judge me again! Some people just can’t handle being miserable all by themselves.

  • Tracy says:

    I sat by sister in law’s mother at a rehearsal dinner (at a time when I was at a young kids super frazzled stage) and she said the most encouraging thing. She said “You don’t have to be great at all of it. Pick your things and be good at those!” When it comes to laundry (family of 5) I actually enjoy doing it and look forward to it….but I’m a TERRIBLE cook! I don’t burn things and we eat just fine but you’ll never hear anyone beg for my cooking 🙂 I’ve read the books and articles and I get better but it’s not my “thing”. You could always adopt the “we’re out of _______- let’s wash that load!” approach!

  • Lizzy R says:

    This might be my favorite post. I might sub different things in for “laundry” (though some days that fits!) but I LOVE the GRACE you are resting in: “I’ve realized that I do have many gifts and talents. I have great worth and value. And I want to own my gifts and talents. So, in embracing this, I’ve been challenging myself to also stop listening to the voices of guilt and shame that I hear in my head when I see the laundry pile.”

    I needed this example so much today–for other reasons, but thank you for pointing me back to the truth of His grace and reminding me we do not earn our own righteousness in our good-housekeeping or anything else! 🙂

  • Jessica says:

    The best thing that ever happened to my laundry routine was that the timer on my dryer stopped working. The dryer would run until I turned it off. That meant that I had to go out and turn off the dryer so I might as well bring in the dry clothes and start the next load. Now that it is fixed, I don’t get laundry done in a day anymore

  • Katherine Rosario says:

    Why not just use the Flylady routine, and just do 2 loads every morning, making it part of your morning routine? We have the same amount of children as you (even their ages and genders), and this is the only thing that worked for us- and we even are using an itty-bitty stackable washer and dryer combo.
    My motto- KISS (Keep it simple sweatheart), that’s why I love this system.

  • Jayleen @ How Do The Jones Do It says:

    The never ending laundry mountain! I long for the day that we have a laundry room where laundry can hide out. Our laundry room is the throughway from the garage and a small one at that. Clean laundry goes on the couch to be folded so if we want a place to sit, we gotta fold! I admit to having a laundry mountain sit on the couch a little too long;0)

  • Dana says:

    I don’t have a problem with laundry, but if you have a good solution for dishes, I’m all ears. That’s not even something you can hire out! I think I spend at least 30 minutes a day on dishes, which is way too much in my opinion, but what can you do?

  • Beth says:

    Have you ever considered hiring someone one day a week or so to take care of it? There is no shame in admitting you aren’t good at something. You have other areas you are gifted in and your time is best used on other things. A “laundry job” may be just the blessing someone else needs. It may be an answer to prayer for someone. I know this doesn’t sound like the most frugal tip, but if you have the money, go for it!

    • Jo says:

      We definitely have — especially because we used to hire it out and it was such a blessing! I’m actually actively looking to hire a Mother’s Helper right now and that’s one task that we’ll have her help with — well, if we find said Mother’s Helper! 🙂

  • Lindsey Swinborne says:

    Dishes are my nemesis. I can keep up with the laundry if I do 2 loads every single day and have the kids help me put them away, but DISHES! Ugh! I marvel at your pristine counters and your ability to have all the dishes done and put away in spite of the fact that you bake and cook every day. Do you do every single dish after using it and dry them and put them back in the cupboard? My dishwasher doesn’t hold all the dishes and we always have a drying rack full on the counter too. I work on them twice a day, but they are never completely done. That’s the area I’ve thrown in the towel on. We use a lot of paper plates and I’ve come to terms with the fact that my kitchen will never be as clean as some of my friends’ kitchens, but I’m okay with it.

    • Jo says:

      I usually try to have the kitchen completely clean twice a day — in the morning after breakfast and at night after dinner. I usually load the dishwasher after dinner and then hand wash whatever needs to be hand-washed/doesn’t fit and dry and put it away. And then I unload and re-load the dishwasher in the morning. I try to rinse and load lunch/snack dishes as we use them… however, sometimes, they sort of pile up until dinner time. It’s not a perfect system, but it does seem to allow us to rarely have a huge build-up of dishes.

      For some reason, I love doing dishes and kind of just naturally do them without thinking. Well, unless there is a MASSIVE pile — which I work hard to not have happen often or it feels overwhelming.

      Not sure if you’re on Instagram, but you’ll get a smile out of this photo I posted today: https://.com/p/1is0I9jz27/?taken-by=themoneysavingmom {Clearly, I don’t have my act altogether when it comes to dishes!}

      Good for you for using paper plates! I think they can be a mom’s best friend. If only I could find disposable laundry somewhere. 😉

  • Debbie says:

    As a homeschooling mom of 11, with 7 still at home, I have a great rule that keeps our laundry woes at bay: ONLY ONE PERSON’S CLOTHING AND BEDDING ARE ALLOWED IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM AT A TIME! If our clothes never touch, they never have to be sorted. As early as possible, I teach each child to do their own laundry. Surprising, I can’t remember any destroyed clothing. They have separate hampers, and when they are done they simply return to their rooms with their own laundry, and put it away. Not always perfect, but no more laundry piles to sort!

  • Sarah says:

    I have the same not so systematic system. I am grateful I have two couches, one to sit on and one for the clean laundry! Last week I had two weeks of laundry piled up. I loaded it into the van and folded it in the back of the van during one of my kids soccer practice!

  • Karen B says:

    Here is what our family of five does. Everyone has their own laundry bin and is responsible for taking their clothes out to the laundry room and sorting them by color. I try to do a load a day but sometimes it is not necessary and some days more than one is necessary. The BEST thing that I discovered that helped me with taming the laundry pile is bringing in the laundry from the dryer and dumping it all on our bed (can’t go to sleep until its put away!) then calling out “Laundry Party” where everyone comes and collects their things and puts them away. I don’t require that clothes be folded because even folded clothes get wrinkled in the drawer and I still have to iron them. That’s what works for us!

  • andrea says:

    This is my system:
    1.Tool 1: two hampers for dirty laundry next to washer/dryer=one for white, one for darks.
    Rule 1: if you want something washed you have to put in hampers
    2.Tool 2:long counter with basket for each person. i fold clothes right out of dryer, put into each basket.
    Rule 2: each person responsible for putting away their own clothes. (they just take out as needed though)
    3.wash linens all in one day with speed wash setting and clothes line
    4.it’s never really done, but at least it looks organized with baskets and hampers so it doesn’t bother me as much

  • Ashley P says:

    We don’t have laundry piles. There’s a very simple reason for this: As soon as clothes come off, they go straight in the washer. When the washer’s full, we turn it on.

    Now I know this will set a lot of laundry gurus on edge because that means we don’t separate or sort our clothes. We just wash everything together.

    But, frankly, we don’t really care. I haven’t noticed that big of a difference between washing whites only and washing them in with colors. Most of our clothes are second hand anyway, so any dye they might have leaked when they were new is LONG gone.

    The most annoying part for us, though, is putting them away. I can dry them. even fold them. But actually moving those stacks to their appropriate places in the house? Nah. Too much work! lol.

    • Jenny says:

      That would be ideal. I’ve considered this but I have clothes that do bleed. I occasionally buy Shout Color Catcher but it doesn’t work for everything. :-/

  • Karen says:

    For about 15 years I did laundry every Monday (or Tuesday if it was long weekend) and had no trouble getting it all washed (including all the sheets and towels) and then getting it all put away on Tuesday. But since several things have changed over the past three years – one more baby, husband working from home, moving to a house with a layout, smaller washer, etc. – I do not get near half of it done in one day. So now when most everyone’s hampers in their closets start getting full, we bring it all to the laundry area, sort it and get started. I (or my oldest daughter) fold or hang up all outer garments as they come out of the dryer or off the drying racks and put them in each person’s stack (wish I room for a basket per person). All the other small items (socks, underwear, wash clothes, dish towels, etc.) go in one basket for my youngest three to sort & fold and the larger items (towels and sheets) go in another for my oldest and I to fold later. It now takes 3 to 4 days for us to get it all done, but we are good then for normally 10 to 12 days before we need to do it again. It used to really bother me to not do laundry on Monday and that it took more than two days. But I now realize that in the past six months I have come to accept it. I am content with it because right now it is working for us.

  • Andrea says:

    These pictures actually started having me feel anxious! Ridiculous, because it’s inside your house, but true.

    Keep it simple:
    1. Don’t combine family laundry, ever. Washing it all together doesn’t save time and overwhelms the folder, adds further time wasted by sorting.

    2. Don’t have a set-schedule for laundry because of your hours, but INSIST one person washes their OWN one load, start to finish; back in their drawers and closet within the 2 hours. Period. No excuses, or delays.

    If Kathrynne starts a load after breakfast, have her switch it, and once dryer stops, have her put away ONLY HER clothing, right then and there.
    If she has more laundry, maybe she waits, and let another person start theirs–they must fold and put away immediately, or don’t start in the first place! Have Jesse do his own, start to finish, etc.

    This is so easy. Works ANY time of day; makes each individual responsible for their laundry accumulation.

    I honestly get discouraged when I see your daughter’s picture of her with an unbelievable overwhelming mound of clothes, even though she’s trying to help, but that mound would make any parent overwhelmed and feel the need to make a change, since this isn’t working. 🙁

    Please try this. If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t. But IT JUST MIGHT and you may be surprised that there is no more mountain of clean laundry that truthfully, no one wants to tackle anymore! 🙂

    • Jo says:

      Unfortunately, having everyone do their own laundry or splitting loads into only one person’s laundry would actually result in a lot MORE laundry chaos for us… While it might seem simple for others, for us, it doesn’t work at all and just over-complicates things and makes laundry a lot more stressful. Weird, but true.

      However, I have GREAT news! We actually got ALL of the laundry completely DONE today — which hasn’t happened in a long time! And I’m really hoping to actually keep it that way. We’ll see! 🙂

      Thanks to everyone for all the inspiration and encouragement!

  • Awmeme says:

    Love the part about giving yourself grace. I was just beating myself yesterday about this very issue Its just my husband and I however I have severe health issues. To the point I end up in the hospital for week or longer admit at least every 6-8 weeks. I was feeling awful yesterday and didn’t get anything done. As I had absolutely no strength. Even walking to the bathroom (about 20 ft. from my bed) left me me breathless and my heart racing. So I was feeling sorry for myself, like a lousy homemaker, wife, and friend. To get myself out of my pity party mood I had to remind myself that the day before, even though I was feeling exhausted, and I didn’t get the 3+ loads of laundry folded or the dishwasher unloaded. The day before (tue.) I had gotten 3+ loads of laundry washed and dried. Plus unloaded, reloaded the dishwasher and cooked a steak dinner. 2 weeks ago I didn’t have the strength to even stand up for more than 10 minutes at a time. So I gave myself some grace, even though I am still kicking myself for overdoing it because I had an even worse day today.

    • Awmeme says:

      I also wanted to add after reading other comments that none of my feelings are ever caused by my husband. He is probably the most patient and grace giving person I have ever known. However sometimes I think it would be easier if he wasn’t so I could be mad at him instead of myself :/ I know thats wierd but it is what it is.

  • Amy says:

    For me the magic secret is having a lot of laundry baskets (cheap stackable ones). I realized that piles on the floor or couch was messy looking and overwhelming for me. I never take out the baskets that belong in the closets. I do a big sort once a week and stack all the baskets neatly in the laundry room. I only wash what I have time to put away, the rest waits for the next day or day after. What’s getting added to the closet baskets is not considered, that’s next weeks laundry. I have to break things down into small tasks, if I get overwhelmed I do nothing. My problem chore is floors, vacuuming, sweeping, mopping. Hate it, just not enough satisfaction in completing the job. And my MIL thinks I put too many clothes in the washer at one time. What is it about judging the laundry skills? Sigh.

  • Charlene E says:

    Bravo!

  • lyss says:

    I do a load or two every week day, as needed. My kids and I fold together and put away daily. At ages 5 and 7, they can fold and put away all their own laundry. It may not be the neatest, but, hey, it gets done! I usually just do mine and my husband’s. (I wash them together because they don’t make enough laundry for full loads.) But then I make a pile for each person on my bed and we each fold our pile. That’s what currently works for me. I would encourage you (or whoever) to have your kids do their own folding. Obviously a baby can’t, but after a few years, have them learn to do their own!

    For those who have trouble finishing the load, the tip in the video would be a great thing to try. Me, I’d rather keep the laundry going if I need to do more than one load that day.

    I don’t like having to hunt for clothes, so I can’t stand having clean laundry pile up. Some people just leave the piles and never put away laundry. Do what works for you! : )

  • amber says:

    Doing laundry at our house is part of our afternoon cleaning. I will wash and dry the laundry while the girls are doing their homeschooling. It will sit in laundry baskets unfolded until all the school work is done. From 4pm until time for me to start supper is set aside for cleaning and folding a putting away laundry. A few other things that help us is we don’t have many clothes. I also think us living in a small house with no basement helps with staying on top of laundry.

    Crystal please don’t beat yourself up over not staying on top of the laundry there. You inspire me to be better and are so special.

  • Sheila says:

    Some of the motels we stay in on the road have laundry facilities. I often use them. Nice to come home and unpack right back into the closet. I save all my quarters for this. So it’s not an extra budget item. 3oz laundry soap and dryer sheets can fly with you.
    Unless you go naked you will never catch up. Fact that you need to offer grace for trying. Toss dinner in the crockpot. Hit the laundry matt with everything including bedding. Bring the family, snacks and books to read..youwillbe caught up for the day inless time with fewer distractions. we often toss in a load before bed and change out in AM. And toss in a load then . As long as it is clean and not getting nasty sitting in a hamper basket who cares? We all thank you for giving your time and talents to us. You are doing the best you can withyour busy life. Is there a teen or your child willing to do it for a few $$$ spending money? Maybe it would give you peace of mind to pay someone to do it.

  • Raquel Evans says:

    I love this post. 🙂

    The funny thing is laundry is one of the few things I CAN keep up with (usually). Yes, there are times when I don’t get it folded, but more often it all gets done and folded on the same day of the week, every week.

    However, nearly everything else you listed I’m really bad at keeping up with. Let’s not even talk about the dirty dishes… It sometimes seems like about ALL I can do is keep our clothes clean and folded and get three meals a day on the table. Anyway, it’s a relief to me that there’s ONE thing you’re not good at, considering how much you do get done. 😀

  • Rose says:

    The main thing that has helped me to not have unfolded laundry piles is this:
    I now ALWAYS [well, almost always] , fold the laundry right from the dryer.
    Now my only issue is sometimes leaving piles of folded laundry on top of the dresser!!

  • Amy says:

    I do enjoy laundry but the never ending aspect is so frustrating. I can get caught up but then it seems like the laundry all of a sudden multiplies. I have a closet next to my washer and dryer that has a laundry sorter and some baskets to sort laundry. I am a little too crazy about what I wash together but it works for me. When I have a full load in the sorter I throw it in. Of course I am not always on top of this and can have many loads that need to get done but I if I keep plugging away they will eventually get done. Even if it is a day or 2 later. I usually fold on my couch but we hang a lot of stuff and it really cuts down on the folding. The clean laundry then never goes into a basket. Hanging clothes I sort by throwing over the back of the couch. Then each child comes and gets their folded and their hanging and puts them away. The can’t stay on the couch so it gets done (usually pretty quickly). Everyone just needs to find a system that works for you. It really is an endless job that can make you a little crazy.

  • Leanne says:

    I can only say that the system in the video series sounds totally frustrating!

    When my kids were home (there were 4 of us) I did laundry only 2 days a week. Then I had 5 days when I didn’t even have to think about it. I sorted by color and did everyone’s laundry together. I would do three-four loads each time and my secret was listening for the alarm telling me the cycles were done. Then I would transfer a load from the washer to the dryer and fold the clothes from the dryer right away. This would take about 10 minutes.

    If I had to be gone for part of the day, I would make sure the washer and dryer were off (fire danger). Then as I returned, I went right back to listening for the alarm again as I was doing other things. By the end of the day, my laundry was done because I stuck to it all day.

    Now that my children are gone, I devote Saturday to laundry. But I still get a
    lot of other things done while the washer and dryer are running. If I am going to be gone all day on Saturday, I use a couple of evenings to finish it up. I can seriously say that laundry has always been an enjoyable task because I can sneak it in between other chores. Now, if I could only feel that way about cooking, meal planning, ……….

    That said, Crystal, given your schedule, your are so deserving of grace. Everyone’s situation is different and no one has to follow one way of doing something in order to feel valid. Thank you for being so totally honest and open.

  • Joy says:

    I haven’t had the time to read through comments to see if this was already suggested, but what about using a laundry service? I read about that idea in the book “168 Hours” and filed it away in case I ever needed it with my own family. There are companies that pick up laundry, wash it and fold it, and return it to your doorstep all for a price per pound. You still need to wash delicate clothes yourself, but it would help on the laundry load of husband and children’s clothes. 🙂

  • April says:

    I’ve found a system that mostly works. I keep baskets close to the laundry area for darks, lights, towels/work, and reds. I try to gather up all the clothes from the previous day, in the morning and toss into respective baskets. I takes about three minutes. Then, before I take my son to school, O grab which ever basket is the fullest and toss into wash. I will do this even if I don’t have one that is completely full (rare) because O work better with consistent rhythm.

    When I pull the laundry out, I fold what I can and lay the “to hang” stuff flat on my bed. I usually get most stuff put away before I get in bed, but sometimes the clean clothes accumulate, if I were to hire out anything, it would be someone to just put away the clean folded clothes that are sitting on the dressers waiting to go in the drawers. That’s it. I’ve got the rest down.

  • Sarah says:

    https://www..com/pin/46936021093888274/

    🙂

  • Leah Spencer says:

    I just tell myself to do it, and to be thankful that I can even do laundry at home. Didn’t get my washing machine until after 7 years of marriage. Dryer came 3 years later. So washing is easy now!

  • Jacqueline says:

    i have the same laundry issues. 🙂 thanks for your post.

  • Tab says:

    I come from a family that had no true system but to separate clothes by towels, lights, and darks and reds. It was endless! When I left for college, I discovered you can do laundry all in 1 load if you limit reds and whites. Easiest system ever! My hubby works in a factory and I’m still doing all our clothes together (we have 2 kids too). So I run a load through about every other day or so. I struggle with getting them all folded sometimes, but thankfully we switched to hangars, rather than dressers.

  • Cynthia says:

    This is my system, too, LOL.

  • Jen Venema says:

    I can totally relate! I think that we are in a stage of life right now (5 kids – ages 10 down to almost 2) where I just have to accept that the laundry will never be all done on any given day. In fact, I probably won’t be caught up on it any time soon. Trying to let go of the stress surrounding laundry and just do the best I can with the time I’ve got!

  • Jaimi says:

    This post is such an encouragement to me right now. Life is busy and it is okay if I don’t always have the laundry folded right away. It will get done eventually even without a real system. I need to give myself more grace since I am so busy with my 4yr, 2yr, and 5 month old children. Thank you for writing about this Crystal.

  • Jenny says:

    Crystal, you know what’s really funny? I think of you when I do laundry cuz I feel like you actually have it together lol I think what would help me is if I had a gigantic laundry room. I think I’d be motivated to fold right out of the dryer and it wouldn’t be Mount Clothesmore moved back and forth from couch to bed and back….

  • Anonymous says:

    My family and I live overseas. We have three littles- two boys who are 6 and almost 4, and a girl who just turned 2. They go through clothes like crazy- getting dirty outside, or spilling food on themselves. We also live in a country where being very clean and neatly ironed is important. It is hard to keep up with laundry because we don’t have a dryer- I just hang things out to dry. It works great and quickly in the summer, but in the winter, I can only do one load per day. My kids just got a stomach flu, so I need to be washing extra bed sheets and towels, but I have no place to hang them. I am so thankful for a washing machine though- many people in this country wash everything by hand.

  • Abril P. says:

    hello, I m loving all the advise it really encourage me, whit 8 years marry and 2 kids i can identify, thanks and salufod from zacatecas mexico 🙂

  • Abril P. says:

    thanks for the encourage, this has been a struggle over my 8 years of marriage, loving the blog.

    greetings from Zacatecas Mexico 🙂

  • Cindy says:

    Here is a suggestion. Take all the laundry to the laundry mat and get it all washed and dried at once. Go home and put it all away. This way you are starting fresh and caught up. Starting the next day, do one or two loads every day or two. If you do this, you will not get behind. If you go on vacation and a mountain builds up, take it all to the laundry mat again so it gets all done at once and start over.

  • Ann says:

    Just have to share this with you…
    http://www.aslobcomesclean.com/2016/04/switching-month-laundry-day/

    Enjoy ?
    Ann

    • Lori says:

      I wish you could have seen my face! ??

    • Tam says:

      Actually, I use hangers for practical everything. Hanging everything straight from the dryer makes sure everything is put away quickly. Socks and underwear are sorted by the kids and put on the proper beds. I also have two kinds of clothes, home and away, airing them out between wears is not a bad way to go. No one has noticed if I wear the same thing to the grocery store or have lunch out. If it’s not really dirty, back on the hanger it goes. The at home clothes are often worn 2-3 days in a row or every other day, I just run the lint roller over them to get off the cat hair (3, hence the away clothes) between wears. Hope this helps someone!

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