How Smart Moms Cut Down on Laundry Time

Experts come clean on how they get it done quickly and painlessly.

Article originally released on on August 1, 2019.  Used with permission

Laundry: It’s a clean job, but somebody’s gotta do it. When that somebody is moms, you’d rather not be cooped up in the basement all weekend fluffing and folding other people’s underwear. More often than not, though, another Sunday rolls around, and you find yourself cramming in endless loads.

That’s why we went to the professionals (a.k.a real-life mamas) for their favorite tips and tricks to keep laundry under control.

Meet the smart moms:

  • Carolyn Forte, director of the home appliance and cleaning products lab at Good Housekeeping's Institute
  • Courtenay Hartford, founder of The Creek Line House blog
  • Becky Rapinchuk, cleaning expert and founder of Clean Mama blog
  • Olga Saratova of Olga’s Laundry blog

They run small loads, often.

The experts agree: Dealing with all the week’s dirties in a single session is not the way to go. Instead, fit laundry into random spare minutes that are hiding in your daily routine.

After Hartford's kids have taken their baths, she throws in a load at night, then moves it to the dryer first thing the next morning while she’s making coffee. “You only need to find two to five minutes here and there to keep it moving, versus hours each weekend to get through everything that built up,” she says.

Bonus tip: Put away clean clothes while doing something else you find enjoyable: listening to a podcast, catching up on a show, having a cup of tea. “That always makes it seem effortless to me,” Rapinchuk says.

They use settings to their advantage.

“I work all week, so the last thing I want to do over the weekend is laundry, but I’m not a fan of running the machines when I’m out of the house or asleep,” says Forte. That’s why she swears by the delay start function found on most washers these days: “Set it up in the morning to start as soon as you get home. It streamlines the whole process.”

The Good Housekeeping Institute's lab pick: Miele TwinDos Washing Machines. The front-load washing machine (a GH seal holder!) is WiFi-connected, so you can set it and monitor progress regardless of where you are. Meanwhile, the QuickIntenseWash program takes under an hour and “works really well for particularly soiled loads or when you’re in a rush,” Forte found during lab testing.

Saratova is a fan of Miele washers and dryers, too: "I always run a cool prewash first to avoid setting stains and wash using fairly hot water,” she says. “An extra spin cycle can really help shorten drying times.”

They reconsider sorting.

Forte keeps it simple by separating only two ways: darks from lights, and lighter-weight clothes from heavier ones. She collects everything in one hamper, then divides into piles in the laundry room.

They save money by using the *exact* right amount of detergent.

Ideally, with each and every load, you’re taking into account the kinds of fabrics, amount of laundry, and degree of dirtiness you’re dealing with. So while you can try to figure out the optimal products and doses yourself each time, you could also just let the machine figure it out for you...

Miele's TwinDos washing machine calculates how much and what type of detergent to dispense based on the cycle you’re running. You read that right: You don’t have to measure or even decide what detergents to use. Once you tell it how hard your water is, the machine determines which cleanser cartridges to use, including gentle formulas for fabrics like wool and laundry boosters including whitening agents, fabric softeners, fragrance or activewear finishing treatments.

“It takes the guesswork and the extra step of measuring out of your routine,” says Forte—not to mention cutting down on excessive detergent use by 30 percent.

They save sheets and towels for Saturdays.

Who has time to change the linens midweek? (Spoiler: Nobody!) Make a point of reserving weekend laundry sessions for sheets and towels, Forte suggests. That opens up Monday to Friday for items that are easier to deal with.

Rapinchuk also prefers to launder bedding on Saturdays so that her kids are free to pitch in: “They know how to put fresh sheets on their beds and, come Saturday night, we all have crisp, clean sheets.”

They get the most out of their dryer.

Hartford prefers to use the cool temperature automatic dry functions. ““It’ll keep your clothes looking newer longer,” she says. Plus, newer dyer models have sensors for uniform drying to save you from having to put back certain items that are still wet when others are ready to be folded and put away.

Several dryer models may come with a drying rack that stays put inside the machine as the drum revolves around it, acting like an external rack...only faster.

During lab testing, Forte found that Miele's Tumble dryer, which tumbles in two directions, didn’t get any balled-up pillowcase stuck inside the sheet.

Bonus tip: Make sure to clean out the lint trap every time to help boost your dryer's performance and ensure safety, says Forte.

Using HeatPump technology, the machine keeps recycling the heat it puts off. “Ventless dryers usually take forever, but the Miele is really speedy and energy-efficient,” says Forte. Since Miele dryers aren’t vented and run on a standard 120V outlet, they can be installed anywhere, cutting down on trips up and down the steps—looks like you’ll have to squeeze in your cardio some other way.

They only fold what they have to.

Rapinchuk hangs up most shirts in the closet and preps them like an assembly line: “I lay them all out stacked on a bed or flat surface, place a hanger in the first, fold it down, place a hanger in the next, fold it down, and repeat.”

“We stopped folding things like the kids’ socks,” she adds. “They all go in a bin in the top drawer, next to another bin with their undies. If you buy the same types of things, all you need to do is grab and go.”

By Brooke Kosofsky Glassberg   

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