The Eternal Washing Cycle
Washing seems to occupy quite a lot of my free time. From collecting the random dirty socks from under the couch to folding the clean stuff and putting it back where it belongs, it takes hours. I used to find doing the washing incredibly relaxing… but then I had a family and the sheer quantity and relentlessness of it all crushed my enjoyment (cloth nappying didn’t help either!). As much as I don’t enjoy it as much now, it’s still important to me because when I buy nice clothes for myself or my children, I look after them. It means I can enjoy them for longer, or keep them in good enough condition to sell secondhand. Plus, having clean clothes ready to go is one less thing to worry about in the morning!
Here are my top laundry tips:
- Do a full revolution of the washing cycle every day. In our house, one load of washing gets hung up in the morning, the empty washing machine gets filled up and switched on and one load comes in from the line, ready to fold in front of The Bachelor (or another trashy tv show) in the evening. This routine has some downfalls- unless you have a ‘delay’ option on your washing machine each load of clothes sits in the machine for 24 hours before getting hung out (not long enough to get that damp laundry funk, but not ideal). You never really see the bottom of the washing pile, and yeah, it requires a daily effort. It also has a lot of advantages: if everything is getting washed within a few days you actually need fewer clothes to start with, and what you do have gets worn more frequently. Stains have less time to set, so they’re more likely to come out (even better, you can treat them and leave them overnight for tomorrow’s load). The main one is that if you do a little bit every day you can avoid devoting an entire day to doing it on your day off.
- If you don’t have to wash it, just don’t. If you can get away with just airing a jacket out, or spot cleaning a mark on your jeans, do that instead! Cut down the washing pile, and put less ‘wear’ on your clothes
- Simplify your sorting. In our family, there are only two piles, based more on the washing machine cycles and detergent than the colour.
Regular Wash with normal detergent: for towels, sheets, undies, socks, normal tops and jeans- basically stuff that just gets worn and we aren’t precious about, and anything touched by the toddler because she is filthy.
Delicates Wash with gentle detergent or wool wash: for ‘nice’ clothes, knits, anything woollen, anything that’s not really that dirty, activewear, swimwear and even hand-washing (I almost never bother to hand-wash, but I do pop special things in a lingerie bag- so that counts, right?) Light detergents don’t have the same fancy enzymes that get out stains, but they are much kinder to fabrics so your clothes look and feel better for longer.
- Always wash on cold and avoid the dryer where possible, because anything with stretch contains fibres that are synthetic, and any kind of heat (like in the dryer) will damage those fibres. Your clothes will end up losing their elastic recovery and look misshapen and stretched out before their time. Prints can also end up ruined or faded. Drying clothes in the sun has the added bonus of fading stains. Cold water in the wash saves money, is better for the environment and most modern washing detergents work just as well in cold water.
Keeping the laundry chaos at bay helps me to feel less like housework is taking over my life, and prolonging the life of my clothes is economical and eco-friendly. I’d love to hear your laundry tips!