How to spend less time on laundry

By Lori Bongiorno(Photo: Tetra Images / Getty Images )(Photo: Tetra Images / Getty Images )
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Laundry is one of those chores that you can never truly cross off your to-do list. No matter how many loads you wash, there's always more coming. This is particularly true for those who handle laundry for an entire household.

"A lot of people feel overwhelmed by the amount of laundry they have to do," says Jodie Watson, president of Supreme Organization. "But you can reverse the situation so that you're on top of it, instead of it being on top of you."

Here are some simple tips to get you started:


Schedule laundry day
Pick the days you are going to do laundry and stick to it. Rather than randomly doing laundry as it piles up or trying to do a dozen loads on a Saturday, split it up into two or three days.

Watson does laundry twice a week -- two loads every Wednesday or Thursday and another couple on either Saturday or Sunday -- and she doesn't stress in between. Some people find it helpful to have a more detailed plan, such as washing towels on Tuesdays, sheets on Thursdays, and delicates on Saturdays.

It's just a matter of figuring out what works for you and sticking to it. Scheduling laundry days has the added benefit of meaning you may do fewer loads overall, which saves water and energy.


Finish laundry the day you start it
Some people will sort one day, then wash another day, or let piles of clothing sit around for a couple of days before putting them away so it feels like they're always doing laundry.

See it as one continuous task and get it accomplished on the same day you start it, suggests Watson.


Use divided hampers
Laundry hampers divided into three sections or separate baskets save time. Use one each for darks, lights, and delicates so your laundry is pre-sorted for you.


Prepare clothing as you throw it in the hamper
Real Simple
has a laundry tips checklist that you can download and attach to your kids' hampers to remind them to check their pockets, turn their clothes right-side out, and more. If you have teenagers, keep stain remover near the hamper and ask them to give stains a quick spray before depositing in the hamper.


Think before you wash
Do you really need to wash your jeans every time you wear them if they're not soiled? Wear a thin cotton shirt under button-downs and sweaters to keep them cleaner or air out sweaters in between uses. Fewer washes saves resources and will make your clothes last longer.


Avoid ironing
Pull clothes out of the dryer and fold them immediately so you don't need to iron.


Make air-drying easy
Air-drying is the greenest way to go, but it can be time consuming so NYC-based green blogger and book author Alexandra Zissu suggests taking this shortcut: "If you air-dry clothing on hangers, then all you need to do once they're dry is put them in your closet."


Sort for each family member
As you are folding clothes, divide each person's clothing into a separate pile so you don't have to sort after you've folded everything. Better yet, place each person's clean laundry directly into separate bags so it's easy for them to carry it back to their rooms to put away.


Keep your closets and drawers organized
Make it simple put stuff away. It's also easier for your children to put away their clothing when there is a clear and well-established place for everything.

Give away clothing you don't wear and think twice about buying new clothes. The more your have, the harder it is to keep organized, and the more laundry you have to do. Knowing what clothes you already have also makes it more likely you'll use what you have, and not buy repeats.


Think ahead when shopping
Buy clothing that doesn't require an excessive amount of care. And try other tricks such as wearing the same brand of black or white socks so there's no need to match and fold.


Plan for the laundromat
If you use coin-operated machines, you should schedule in a time to get quarters from the bank each week so that you're not scrambling for change at the last minute, says Watson.


Are you too bogged down by laundry to know where to start? Watson advises clients in that situation to send it all out to the laundromat and start from scratch.


Environmental journalist Lori Bongiorno shares green-living tips and product reviews with Yahoo! Green's users. Send Lori a question or suggestion for potential use in a future column. Her book, Green Greener Greenest: A Practical Guide to Making Eco-smart Choices a Part of Your Life is available on Yahoo! Shopping and Amazon.com.


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