The Three Basket Laundry System:
You need a laundry cart divided into 3 segments or 3 laundry baskets. We put our cart in our hall (it worked in our house, but you could put it in the bathroom or laundry area). Each person is responsible to sort their laundry into colds, whites, and warms (even very young children can do this with a little teaching) and put them into the cart.
As soon as a basket or section gets full wash that load. I would start a load from a different section each morning, colds then whites, etc. Depending on how much laundry your household produces, you will adjust the number of loads that you work through each day, . You may only need to wash a load every couple of days or perhaps you need to do 3 loads a day.
Also assign a “laundry day” to wash all of the towels, bed linens, etc.
Here are some pros and cons as I see them:
- Very simple.
- Works well with young children.
- The kids love sorting and rolling the cart to the washer.
- Requires a lot of laundry movement from room to room unless you have a family closet or your bedrooms are all very close together and close to the washer.
- If you don’t get to the bottom of a section on a given day you could end up with the gross rag at the bottom of the pile for months (in theory).
- A particular family member could run out of clothes because their items are the ones at the bottom of a section and you didn’t make it all the way to the bottom.
- If there is a particular outfit that someone wants to wear on a particular day, it is hard for them to be certain that it will be clean.
- If one person has all cold laundry, for example, they could run out of clothes before the section filled up. (Especially if you limit the number of outfits each person owns, more on that in another post.)
- It’s easy to ignore the laundry until it gets out of control.
I know this is obvious, but wanted to include it. You just select one day a week and then wash all the laundry in the house. Pick a good read aloud book and only read it while the children are folding clothes. If your children are too young to fold themselves then you can listen to stories on Cd.
- One day of laundry chaos and then you don’t have to think about it for a whole week.
- Everything gets washed each week.
- Family members will know when their clothes will be clean and will be able to plan to wear a certain outfit on a certain day.
- Fun reading and folding all together as a family.
- One day of laundry chaos.
- If your washer or dryer goes out, no one has anything to wear.
- It may be impossible to get through all the laundry in one day.
Personal Responsibility Laundry System:
Each family member who is old enough is responsible for their own laundry (and perhaps the laundry of a younger sibling). Assign a day for Johnny to wash his clothes and a day for Jenny to wash hers and a day for you to wash yours, hubby’s, baby’s, and the household things.
- The children learn to do their own laundry.
- They will know when their clothes will be clean.
- They will be less inclined to throw clean clothes into the laundry.
- You will have less laundry responsibilities.
- Will take some training.
- May have quality control issues.
- They may be less inclined to throw dirty clothes into the laundry.
- If you are a control freak, it may be stressful to let go.
Room by Room Laundry System
This has been our system for nearly 3 years and it is a perfect fit for our family.
You assign a day for each room to do their laundry. This system would work well combined with the personal responsibility system. Each bedroom has their own laundry basket and assigned day for getting their laundry washed. Bring the laundry from the appropriate room making sure to check under beds and dressers and in drawers in case someone put something dirty back into a drawer. (We give this responsibility to the children.) The laundry then gets washed, dried, folded and put away. (We have the children fold and put away.)
I have a day for the girls room, for the boys room, a day for the master bedroom, then two days for towels, bed linens, diapers, etc. Since we are massive laundry producers I also have a hamper beside the washer and dryer for cloth napkins , cleaning rags, wet clothes, dish cloths, etc. that I wash nearly everyday.
- Not as much laundry movement.
- Less sorting.
- Children know when their clothes will be cleaned, so can plan on certain outfit for certain event.
- I know when clothes will be cleaned so if our schedule is disrupted I know exactly what to wash to get caught up or to get ahead.
- I know if a child is not putting their laundry in the basket, or if they are putting too much laundry in the basket.
- If you only have one child in a bedroom there may not be enough laundry to sort into different loads. (Don’t let this completely turn you off of this system. I used to be able to do everything from a bedroom in one load. I washed everything on cold and had no problems.)
- It would be difficult if you didn’t want to do laundry everyday.
So what laundry system works for you?
Read the rest of my series on laundry management. Also be sure to check the comments for ways that others have combined these laundry systems and more laundry ideas.