9 Ways Minimalism Saves me From Spending Hours on Laundry Each Month
Minimizing our clothing has impacted the amount of time I spend doing laundry.
Simplifying my life and embracing minimalism has helped me spend less time on daily chores overall. Just like how having fewer dishes means less time spent doing dishes, having fewer clothes means less time spent doing laundry.
I know many people who say, “But if you have fewer items, don’t you spend MORE time doing laundry because you have to do it more often??”
Though I’m doing it more often, I actually spend less time on the task of laundry.
Instead of waiting for a massive pile of laundry, I do small loads frequently throughout the week, fold them immediately, and put them away.
When things are done consistently, it takes less time to do it.
What I count is the time I am handling the laundry. So when I load the washer, switch it to the dryer, take it out, and sort or fold. As soon as the laundry is put away, I stop the timer.
Don’t believe me? Time yourself. There are phone apps that help us see how we spend our time – like ATracker, or you can just write it on a piece of paper next to your washing machine.
Before minimalism, I had a pile of dirty laundry in front of the washer. I would step on it when I loaded the washer.
I also had a pile of clean laundry on the couch –
I called it my laundry couch.
I did not fold the clean laundry, I just left it there and used it from there.
Because I always had a mess of laundry – it felt like my life was consumed with it. Everywhere I looked, I saw laundry.
I had enough clothes to last each of us 2-3 weeks.
Now and then, I would wash several loads to “get caught up,” which meant that the pile in front of the washer got smaller and the pile on the couch got bigger.
When you wait to do laundry, stains set it, so it’s harder to get them out. I wasn’t good at remembering the wet clothes after running a load, so I often rewashed a load because it sat too long and started to smell bad.
Seeing the piles of laundry always made me feel like a failure.
I felt that laundry was a relatively “easy” task, and yet, I was unable even to manage it.
Getting rid of so many clothes meant that I had to do laundry at least weekly in order to have something to wear. Because there aren’t so many items, I don’t have as much to fold AND because there are fewer things in the dressers and closet – they can be put away.
One of the other problems with too many clothes is that the dresser and closet were always full as well, so there was never a place to put things if they got folded.
Ok, let’s get into the tips on how to minimize laundry time:
#1: Wash, dry, fold, and put away a load of laundry every day or every other day.
It only takes me less than five minutes daily to take care of it.
For years I did a load of laundry every day, but now that we only have three kids at home, it ends up being one load every other day.
The point of this tip is to do the entire process – get it washed, dried, folded & put away.
Think of it like groceries. When we shop, we bring home the groceries and immediately put things in the fridge and freezer so they don’t go bad.
Our laundry goes bad when we let it sit unfolded – the wrinkles get pressed in!!
#2: Don’t sort your laundry.
For years we used the washing machine as our laundry hamper for our three younger kids.
When they had dirty clothes, they just brought them right in and put them in the washing machine.
After it filled up, I would do a load of laundry, sort them out, fold the towels, and put them away. It only took a few minutes since most of us had less than ten clothing items.
These days I still don’t sort – I wash all colors together. But the kids have requested a hamper in their rooms, so they bring them out when they need clothes washed.
I was towels in their own load on Saturdays, and Brian keeps his dress shirts out and washes them in one load.
#3: Limit how many items of clothing each person has.
No only does it mean less laundry to deal with in the washing/folding area, it also means that the drawers aren’t stuffed full of clothes, and you can fit them in easily.
We have about a week’s worth of clothing for our kids and slightly more for us.
#4: Have clothes that can be mixed and matched easily.
We got rid of all outfits that have one specific shirt for one specific bottom.
Everything we have can be mixed and matched. These shirts can go with all of the jeans, and these jeans can go with all of the shirts, etc. It doesn’t matter what we put on; it looks good together.
#5: Wear clothing items more than once.
Jeans don’t need to be washed until they are dirty – so we wash them when they need it rather than every day.
Pajamas and shirts can often be worn more than once as well. I tend just to wear the same shirt two days in a row; that way, I don’t have a pile of “not clean but not dirty clothes” sitting in the bedroom.
#6: Only fold what you have to.
After watching one of my videos where I was folding kitchen washcloths, my friend Teresa texted me this picture of her kitchen drawer:
If you like opening the drawer and seeing folded towels (Which I do), then by all means, fold them! But if you don’t care – don’t stress it!
My boys don’t fold socks & underwear; they just go right into the drawer.
My daughter-in-law doesn’t fold her kid’s clothes. Instead, they just have a drawer for each category.
All she has to do is separate shirts, pants & pajamas and put them in the corresponding drawer.
This also means that her toddlers can help put away their own clothes.
#7 Sheets and towels.
We use the same towel all week – it’s color-coded, so we all know which towel is ours.
We do have four extra towels, so that’s nine towels total for a family of 5.
And one set of sheets per bed; this way, we never have to fold sheets. We just strip the bed, wash the sheets and then put them right back on the bed when they’re dry.
For us, Saturday is the day for towels and sheets. We normally clean the house on Saturdays anyway, so it fits right in.
But, I confess, I’m not faithful with washing the sheets weekly. I tend to do it when I remember (which is not a great method), but I figure I was almost 40 before I felt like I was able to manage the house, so if I don’t have sheets built into my weekly routine, it’s ok. I’m still way better off than 10-15 years ago.
#8 Buy identical socks.
The kids don’t care – at least in our home, our youngest at least will wear any color socks. For the rest of us, I like to get all the same socks. For example, Titus has black long socks, I have black ankle socks.
Instead of having to match and fold socks, I just have a stack that is all the same size and color, and they go into the drawer. No matching is necessary.
#9 No specialty care items.
We make it a point to avoid buying white clothes.
We wash everything together, and honestly, if it can’t make it through the washer and dryer, it’s just not going to make it in our home.
Yes, that means that I’ve lost a couple of things to shrinking, but I try to pay attention to the care tags before I purchase something.
I also don’t have clothing items that require ironing.
If I don’t enjoy doing laundry tasks, then I need to streamline it as much as possible.
For laundry soap, I have been using (affiliate link) Dropps for the last year, I like that they come via subscription, and it’s in cardboard boxes. I used Earth Breeze for many years as well, but I like Dropps a little better. I am not picky about detergent – Everything I use is unscented.
I will often put white vinegar in the fabric softener compartment with a drop or two of lemon essential oil, which seems to help keep the washer and clothes smelling fresh.
If you want to see what laundry was like for me before minimalism, our family recorded a funny skit to demonstrate, and you can check that out right here.
I used to use vinegar in my laundry, too. This is why I stopped. _Consumer Reports_ says it can:
“… damage the rubber seals and hoses in some washing machines to the point of causing leaks. It’s a problem that Steven Grayson, owner of Foothills Appliance Service in Wilkesboro, N.C., sees fairly frequently. ‘With continual use, vinegar can literally melt hoses, causing leaks and thereby possibly all kinds of additional damage to the house,’ says Grayson. In his experience, front-load washers are especially susceptible to vinegar-related damage.”
Thank you Ellen!