6 Ways to Show the Laundry Who’s Boss

Life gets busy, and sometimes it’s hard to keep it clean. The laundry, that is. About this time of year, many of us find ourselves drowning under a mountain of school clothes, athletic uniforms, leotards, swim team towels and stinky socks. Here are six tips to help you take charge of the laundry—so it doesn’t take charge of you.

1. Have a designated collection spot for dirty clothes.

No, the floor doesn’t count. Make sure each household member has easy access to a laundry basket in the bedroom or bathroom. Better yet, two laundry baskets – one for darks and one for lights. That will help streamline the sorting process when it’s time to wash.

2. Read garment washing instructions on clothes.

How many times have you washed a new garment, only to have to toss it in the donation bin because it shrunk? It may sound obvious, but it’s important to check the washing instructions on every new piece of clothing you bring home. Some fabrics look wash-and-go, but many need to be washed in a specific water temperature or hung to dry. Learning the hard way is bad news for your wallet—and your wardrobe.

3. Treat stains before drying clothes in the dryer.

The heat of the dryer sets stains, so if your t-shirt with the big ketchup blob on it slips through the cracks, it may be impossible to get clean. If you know you spilled something on your clothes, treat the item with stain remover before you throw it in the laundry basket. Before starting a load of wash, take a quick look at each item as you toss it in, too. That will reduce the chances of a stain sneaking by you.

4. Empty the lint filter in the dryer after each use.

Don’t think of emptying the lint filter in your dryer as a chore. Instead, think of it as an easy way to keep your machine working properly and your home safe. Keeping it clean helps air circulate properly, which in turn helps your clothes dry faster and your machine break down less often. Most important? Lint build-up is highly flammable, so staying on top of the lint filter helps reduce your chances of having your dryer catch on fire.

5. Hang or fold clean, dry clothes immediately.

How many times have you opened the dryer and found a wad of wrinkled clothes from the load you washed a few days prior? You can either iron it, wear it wrinkled or start over and rewash it. Save yourself the trouble—and electricity, detergent and time—by removing your items from the dryer as soon as they are ready. Give them a quick shake, fold or hang them and put it all away.

6. Get the family involved, and teach them how to do laundry, too.

If you’re old enough to make laundry, you’re old enough to help with it. OK, maybe babies get a free pass, but everyone else can chip in and lighten the load. Young kids can help match socks and toss things in the washing machine or dryer. Older kids can put their laundry away. They’re helping you, but they’re also learning a critical life skill that they’ll take with them into their own households someday.