If busy moms were to make a list of life’s necessary evils, laundry would likely be right on top. No one likes spending hours every week washing clothes — we don’t even want to think about how many hours per year quite literally go down that drain — but there’s no way around it. Even with just one child in the household, the amount of laundry increases by an inexplicable amount. So, what’s a busy mom to do other than just deal with it?
Happily, there are hacks that make doing (mountains of) laundry a bit more bearable. And these aren’t just any hacks. These are mom-approved hacks — tips and tricks that have been perfected over time because, let’s be honest, none of us have a minute to waste.
Don’t get overwhelmed when you’re staring down a few monstrous piles of laundry. Get ready with these clever ideas that will help you get a handle on the situation and change your life.
Buy yourself a sock bag
Forget about those cutesy walls signs that say things like, “Looking for my sole mate” — you won’t have to track down missing socks anymore if you can manage to keep them all together in the wash. You can use a lingerie bag or any other washable receptacle, but make sure everyone in your house knows it is where socks go. When it’s time to wash, you simply toss the whole bag in — and, naturally, put your kids to work sorting socks later.
Keep colors perky with pepper
While laundry detergents that promise to keep your dark clothes dark longer may do the trick, they can be expensive. Sometimes, they don’t work as they promised. Enter pepper. That’s right — swipe the pepper shaker from the kitchen table, because a teaspoon of black pepper in the wash cycle gets rid of the soap residue that causes clothes to fade in the first place. Bonus? You won’t smell like a spice rack since the pepper simply rinses away.
Leave clothes inside out
We don’t know about you, but we spend a ton of unnecessary time turning each and every article of clothing our kids take off back outside in. You know the drill — they rush in from wherever they came, peel off whatever they’re wearing and toss it on the floor in a haphazard inside-out heap. However, we’ve learned through trial and error that the clothes still get clean if you leave them inside out, and it saves lots of precious time.
Use white vinegar to knock out smells
We’ve all been there — you grab a load of towels from the bathroom, and they have a distinctive musty smell. You toss them in the wash, thinking that should nix the stink. But it doesn’t. And then you wind up rewashing the same load multiple times in an attempt to make your linens smell fresh again. You don’t have to waste time or water anymore, though. Add a a half a cup of distilled white vinegar in with your wash, and marvel at how well vinegar erases all trace of mustiness and even chemical smells (without leaving your laundry smelling like vinegar).
Toss a towel in the dryer
You should always keep a towel handy when you’re doing laundry. Why? Well, it’s sort of an unsung hero. If you’re drying a load of clothes, toss a dry towel in to help absorb moisture and speed up the drying process for the rest of the load. Or, if you’ve already dried your clothes and can’t deal with the wrinkles, toss a damp towel in with the wrinkled duds to help steam those wrinkles right out.
Break out the aluminum foil
Doh! It isn’t until you start pulling laundry out of the washing machine to put it into the dryer that you realize you’re out of dryer sheets. Knowing you don’t want to wind up with super-static-cling, you enlist your significant other to run out and pick up more — or you take your chances and go without. However, you don’t need to do either of those things if you have aluminum foil in the house. Ball up the silvery stuff and toss a few in the dryer to kill static cling naturally.
Keep your kicks quiet
Listening to tennis shoes go thunk-thunk-thunk as they bounce around in the washer and dryer is enough to make anyone go a little nutty. Here’s a super-simple yet brilliant trick to eliminate that telltale noise: tie the laces of your tennis shoes together at the end and shut the laces in the machine door. The knot keeps the strings from slipping and holds your shoes in place so they won’t bang all over the drum.
Use a dry-erase marker to jot down notes
Pick a spot in your laundry room to store a dry erase marker, and you’ll soon wonder how you ever lived without one. You see, you can use a dry erase marker on the surface of many washers and dryers (it will just wipe off after, but you can always get a little board if you prefer). When you wash and dry a load of clothes, you can make notes of anything important you need to remember for the next load, i.e. “New sweater pills in the dryer — hang instead” or “Mickey Mouse PJs bleed.” After a while, you’ll no longer need the notes to remember, but in the beginning, they can keep you from making annoying and potentially clothes-destroying mistakes.
Toss your pillows in the washing machine
Now, this doesn't work for all pillows, so check the labels on yours, but most can be machine-washed, and it's really easy to do. Place two pillows (never just one because you want to make sure the machine is balanced) in your washing machine, run them through a gentle wash cycle and then two rinse cycles to make sure all the detergent is rinsed out. Then put them in the dryer with a couple of tennis balls and voilà! Your pillows will be as good as new.
Adhere to the one-touch rule
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of pulling laundry out of the dryer, tossing it in a basket, taking it to a separate room, folding it and then taking it into individual rooms and unfolding it to hang it up or put it away. (*Raises hands*) When you write it down like that, it seems a little silly, right? That’s a lot of extra work. Instead, adopt the one-touch rule — when you pull something out of the dryer, fold it and sort it right then. Or, if it is a hanging item, go ahead and put it on a hanging rod. Don’t give yourself more work.