1. Missing socks
Give each kid a mesh laundry bag, and have them put dirty socks inside, suggests Clare Kumar, a professional organizer. Zip closed to wash and dry, so pairs stay perfectly together.
2. A wrinkle in time
Sure, your family’s busy schedule may contribute to the fact that all of your work clothes look like you slept in them. But part of the reason could be that ironing feels like solitary drudgery. “If your laundry room is small, you don’t have to be stuck in there like Cinderella,” laughs Kumar. “Take it to where you feel great.” In spring, summer and fall, she likes to iron outside on her back deck. During the winter, you can set your ironing board in front of the TV or listen to music.
3. Dirty duds on the floor
Place an inexpensive hamper in each bedroom; Kumar finds kids are more likely to stow their dirty clothes if they don’t have to take them to another part of the house. Make it a game—ask little kids to see if they can throw items into the hamper, like it’s a basketball net.
4. “Argh! I forgot to switch over the laundry!”
We’ve all done it: left a load to languish in the washer, only to discover the next day (or days later) that it’s still wet and smells like mould to boot.
Try one of these fixes:
- If clothes can take some rough handling, rewash in hot water with a few cups of white vinegar. Then wash again on a regular cycle with your usual detergent.
- Soak the wash in warm water with borax powder, following the directions on the package, then wash again.
- Rewash as usual, adding half a cup of baking soda along with the detergent.
5. “Mom, where’s my…?”
Even if kids are too young to run the washer themselves, Kumar says you can get them to take ownership of their stuff. Make laundry folding a family affair: Kids three and up can fold towels and put socks together; four-year-olds can fold pants and shirts (gadgets, like folding boards, can make it easier). “I have Sunday-night folding parties,” says Kumar, mom of an eight-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy. “You aren’t after perfection; you’re starting a habit they can refine over time.” Kumar likes to label a basket for each member of the family, and have each child place their folded clothes in their basket. That way, even if things aren’t put into drawers or on hangers, they’re easy to find.