Tips: Organize Your Laundry Center



When did laundry get so complicated? The simplicity of pure cotton and clotheslines has morphed into complex science with a myriad of synthetic fabrics and care labels. And where you do the wash—in a tiny closet, a small corner of the garage or a full-blown dedicated laundry room—makes a difference. Streamline your laundry systems and train your family—and this constant chore will be less of one.


    Set your family up for success
    Place laundry baskets or hampers in each bathroom and bedroom. Dedicate one for clothes needing repairs, stain treatment or hand-washing, and another one for dry cleaning.

    Teach older kids how to do their own laundry. Even youngsters can match up socks and sort their dirty clothes into piles of colors and whites. Show your kids how to hang up clothes, and explain the difference between “dirty” and “worn, but still wearable” to cut down on the weekly load. Remind older kids to empty their pockets—any money found in the washer goes to the finder.

    Clip clothespins to the side of each laundry hamper in the house. Teach family members to use them to mark stains on dirty clothes.

    Make each family member responsible for returning folded clothes to his or her drawers.

    Set up the ideal space
    Create as much counter space for folding as your room allows.

    Supplement natural light with bright, full-spectrum light to make spot-checking easier.

    Store cleaning products and supplies in cabinets or on overhead shelves away from small hands. Big cubbies at floor level will keep laundry baskets out of the way.

    Install a retractable clothesline (like those in hotel showers) or a freestanding drying rack that you can pull out when needed. Keep the ironing board nearby—if space is tight, put it on an over-the-door rack along with the iron.

    The dirty lowdown
    Sort clothes by color and also by how dirty they are and what temperature they need. Wash lint distributors (towels and sweatshirts) separately from lint magnets (fleece garments and tights).

    Zip zippers, hook hooks and button buttons on all garments before washing to minimize wear and tear.

    Add appropriate products (detergent, bleach, fabric softener and so on) to each load according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

    Fill the washing machine, but don’t cram clothes in. Corral small or delicate items into a mesh bag.

    Dry loads of similar weights so you don’t roast a favorite shirt while the towels are still tumbling.

    Follow the instructions on care labels to prolong the life of your clothes.

    Clean the dryer’s lint trap after every load; it helps prevent fire hazards, and clothes will dry more quickly.

    Treat spills on the spot: Blot stains and rinse with water immediately to keep them from becoming permanent.

    Use multicolored plastic laundry hampers to your advantage. Choose a different color for each family member, or use distinct colors to sort wash (whites in a white hamper, darks in a dark hamper).

    Who Knew?
    If you really like sticking to a schedule, earmark specific loads for specific days: Mondays are for whites, Tuesdays for darks, Wednesdays for towels, and so on.

    Some communities frown on or actually prohibit clotheslines. So much for the sweet smell of sundried sheets!

    Sanitize your washer after a nasty load of greasy clothes, baby diapers or the dog bed. Fill the machine with hot water to the maximum level, add one cup of bleach, and run it for a full cycle (without any laundry). A rinse cycle will wash out the bleach.

    After dry cleaning, remove the plastic coverings and let your clothes air out before you put them in your closet.

    Never mix bleach and ammonia. Together, they form toxic gases.

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