Laundry Never Dies

Author: Naomi Liddell

I’m not sure when I started calling it ‘laundry’ instead of ‘washing’. Perhaps it’s a bit of Australian vocabulary that’s followed me around for the three years we’ve been back home. I do still get some funny looks from folk when I use it. But let’s embrace the Americanism (and I’ll likely use both terms interchangeably in this post) because whether you call it laundry or you call it washing… It never dies. 

We are incredibly lucky to have a decent sized utility room in our wee 1970’s semi. But I cannot stand the fact that all of the surfaces are at some point covered with either:

  1. Dirty clothes that don’t fit in the hamper (always overflowing).
  2. Wet clothes that have been washed but need sorting to hang/dry.
  3. Dry clothes that need ironing.
  4. Dry clothes that need to (finally) be put away. 

Honestly, it’s a part of my life that I just never seem to stay on top of. And it drives me up the wall. I think part of the problem is my mindset surrounding it. And perhaps my system for ‘completing’ it. 
 
Mindset first. Basically, as soon as I get up in the morning, I load up the washing machine with a full load of dirty clothes in order to attempt to reduce basket overflow. The problem is that I honestly then think my work is done. I walk away from the machine feeling inexplicably smug, practically dusting my hands off as I go. It’s like my mind refuses to acknowledge that there’s a slew of steps required once our LG machine makes it’s robot jingle to tell me the wash is done. Sort, dry, iron, put away. Four more steps. FOUR more steps. Yet every. single. time. I feel victorious for just putting the wash on. 
 
Systems next. I have a dirty washing basket in the utility room, another tall basket for ironing and a couple of carry-around baskets that help me migrate clean washing from one room to the next. But I feel like the fact that washing is always on show in my house means that I am missing a trick in my physical system/basket game. Having washing spilling out of their baskets is never a good look. And it isn’t a case of wanting an Instagramable house. It’s a case of mental health. Sounds dramatic, doesn’t it? But when at first glance, my utility room looks clean and clear, it genuinely makes me feel more calm and happy. I suppose, having the baskets all built into some massive, closable cupboard would be the dream. 
 
And the final fault that is likely the cause for my washing chaos is a habitual system. I put on a wash first thing in the morning and Gavin and I attempt to clear the ironing on a Sunday evening, but all of the other steps just happen as and when needed. I wonder sometimes if I was more regimented with ‘when’ I do all of the steps in the washing cycle, would I find more peace in it? 

So as you can tell, I’m on a quest to tame the recurring beast that is my laundry pile. Does anyone else find it to be the bane of their life? Does anyone feel like they have a good handle on it or have tips to share? Anyone out there really enjoys it?! If so, teach me everything you know!

Apologies if I have bored you to tears with this post. You see, I turned 33 recently and apparently these are the things that are on my mind now. 

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Naomi loves daytime baths, learning things and rock music.
(Oh and her kids. She loves them too)
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46 thoughts on “Laundry Never Dies

  1. Here’s how my ‘laundry control’ works. It all starts off really well and organised.

    Each member of the family has their own washing basket in their bedrooms. We do one load a day for each member. Me Tuesday, Tayo Wednesday, Anthony Thursday (he’s in charge of his own), Leo Thursday. There’s the odd load on a Friday but I really try not to do any at all over the weekend. I;m also encouraging Leo to try and remember that Thursday is his day so he can bring his ow basket downstairs etc.

    So, I do my wash on a Tuesday evening and it either goes in the dryer or gets hung up with the intention of me folding and putting away on the Wednesday. Note I mention nothing about ironing here. Because I don’t iron. I can’t think of a worse waste of my time. The only thing I ever Iron are Leo’s school t-shirts and anything of Tayo’s if it looks too crumpled to pass as ok. It’s very rare I iron anything of my own and I have mainly crease free bedding (huzzah). Anthony irons work clothes but that’s his domain and again, he’s solely in charge of his own stuff. It’s not that I don’t enjoy washing is boxer but you know… One less thing to have to do.

    The only problem is, I hate the putting away and like you, feel like I’ve accomplished everything I need to by simply putting the wash on 😂So come Thursday one of the sofas is hidden under a pile of clean washing.

    I do have a system to avoid the sofa. I just largely fail to use it. I’m supposed to fold the clean washing and take it upstairs and put it into the cupboard with a view of then distributing it out to the correct bedrooms later that week. But I just don’t do it. Doesn’t really make any sense does it? Why is the putting away the worst bit?!

    You’ve spurned me on to get my arse in gear and start seeing this ridiculous process through to the end and get my sofa back! x

    1. Becky I LOVE the idea of divvying up washes per person. Sounds like it would make so much more sense and make things easier to put away at the end. No more dividing up four people’s socks and pants. It also might solve my overflowing washing basket problem. You’ve given me so much food for thought!

      It would also be great to get Ethan taking more control of his washing (6 is old enough, right?) and stop him leaving pjs and pants all over the floor of my house.

  2. Hi Naomi,

    I definitely don’t have all the answers, but it struck me that if you put a wash on every day & only iron once a week, you’ll have an awful lot to do on Sundays which also can’t be great to look forward to. Is there a way to do a small amount during the week? It may help to get everything else into a bit more of a system if you have a 20/30min slot earlier in the week for ironing?

    I actually have a similar attitude to washing up; I hate hate hate it with a passion & because my partner is a fabulous cook (& I’m only so-so) I end up doing the vast majority. We don’t have kids so I find myself often leaving the washing up for the next day (I can’t admit to leaving it any longer than that on a public forum!) and when I do I hate myself. Honestly. But, little & often really does help so maybe it’ll be the same for you, if you can? 😉

    1. You’re spot on Ciara! I just can’t bring myself to put that ironing board up only once per week. We don’t iron everything (God no) just school uniforms and anything that needs a going over. I’m not the kind of woman to iron pants (although I know some that do). So we generally take an hour on a Sunday to get through it while watching the TV.

      I feel your pain on the washing up, many moons ago my husband and I agreed it was a cardinal sin to leave the washing up overnight and that neither of us would do it. It’s stuck and we haven’t since then. It’s so much easier done on the night than the next day. I can only seem to stick to this if I wash up as soon as the food is done. If I tell myself I’ll sit down first and wash up later, I can’t get my arse off the seat.

  3. I have only just moved in with my other half so am very keen to find out if others have a system that works. At the moment, I don’t iron (mainly because i haven’t bought an ironing board yet! We only moved in a month ago, and it’s my first place after my parents, and i sort of forgot you needed one!). I am sort of sneakily tricking my other half into wearing the same colours as me otherwise it seems to take forever to get a load together to wash and we just seem to have 8 different colours all with about four socks and one tee shirt in! So at the moment, we sometimes go to work looking a bit britney spears/justin timberlake 90’s denim outfit! I find the best method is to put it on late at night then get it out and hang it up the next morning, and it sort of forces me into a routine with it. However, i like to do it on a sunday evening as well, as it feels like i start the week with a clean slate.

    Our biggest issue is drying it! We have a lovely samsung washer dryer which i use to dry bedding and towels etc, but it doesn’t work for everything. I then find myself attempting to find somewhere to dry it all. We were super lucky enough to buy an old chapel as our first house. It is beautiful, but the heating is just storage heaters on timers. It seems to be creating awful condensation. Does anybody have tips for drying that look beautiful but are super inexpensive and not either a. ruining your house with condensation, or b. looking like you’re setting up your own laundry company?

    1. Have you considered a Laundry Maid? One of those airers that hangs on the ceiling? Great for getting it off the floor/radiators etc.

      1. Dehumidifiers work a treat if you are air drying and moisture is building up.

        Our routine is sports kit and whites if there are enough on Saturday after my hockey match so my kit is clean for the next week. Other darks follow when hanging or switching to the dryer.

        Unload airer/dryer onto sofa while TV is on. Goes between us, fold and pair, carried upstairs. Shirts wait until supplier are low or the hooks on the over door hanger is full.

        We have a utility room so most items are hidden most of the time

    2. Amelia love you NEED colour catchers in your life. My washing is sorted as follows: Whites, Towels & Cloths, everything else. We just bung all colours of clothes in together except for the whites and add a colour catcher. I have never ever had an issue.

      As for drying, a sheila maid like Annie suggested or one of those heated clothes horses from John Lewis that everyone raves about. As for the condensation, try keeping your window open just a fraction while your clothes are drying to help the air circulate. Hope that’s helpful!

      1. Omg i didn’t even know heated airers exist! I just have one of those basic airers. Thank you. Ordering from john lewis tonight!

        I would have a sheila maid but we just don’t have suitable heating to make it work. Why do they not give you lessons in how to adult at school and uni? I am reaching the stage where myself and my friends are moving out, and regardless of whether we went to uni or not, we just seem to be unable to adult in our own houses!

        1. Totally recommend a heated airer. However, use it in a well ventilated room or keep a window open else you’ll get damp patches on the walls – I’ve learnt my lesson.

  4. Well, my secret to laundry bliss is to have a husband that does it 🙂 Honestly, without him we would be in chaos! I barely remember to do the handwashing once a week, which is about my only washing responsibility, and ironing said handwashing once it is dry, and I struggle with that! We have a great laundry basket upstairs though that have two compartments, so we can separate out the whites and the colours as we go which makes life a million times easier (or so I’m told 😉 )

    1. Annie you have won the lotto there. Gavin does washing whenever he’s home, but with me being at home more often, it does fall in my camp. I like the sound of this washing basket though.

      1. It’s a Brabantia one, although I’m sure there are lots of options out there, but it looks good and holds a pretty decent amount.

        1. I love a bit of Brabantia. My whirly and my iron hanger are from there. The quality is so good.

  5. The main thing that works for me is having a set routine of what gets washed then, and then being really strict about on Sundays being my future friend and sorting everything out for me and my little girl (my husband is on his own!! I do the laundry, but he leaves it in a huge pile which drives me up the wall!). On a Sunday, we have a chilled out routine from about 3pm – I put clothes away while my little girl is in the bath, it doesn’t take long and I have just got into the habit. My clothes for work pretty much live here (https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/knapper-standing-mirror-white-00396242/) so they are ready for the week ahead. I only iron my daughter’s five polo shirts/five summer dresses a week, unless anything else is absolutely necessary!! I think it was just a case of forcing myself to do it until it became a habit!!

    1. I love the idea of being my future friend, I’m just not terribly good at it and get distracted in the now. Your routine sounds great Amy! Also… That IKEA mirror. OMG, absolute genius.

  6. I have a bit of a love hate relationship with laundry. When I’m all over it I feel like superwoman but when it starts to pile up it all goes a bit haywire. I reframed how I saw it when on maternity leave – it was my way of having a bit of a control over the carnage that is newborn life and also for carving out some time alone.
    Laundry is my responsibility (apart from ironing husband’s work shirts – he does that) because I am a control freak. I try to do a wash every other day and then let it all pile up and conquer the folding / ironing / putting away on Friday / Saturday / Sunday. I iron quite a lot because almost two years on I still find it a total privilege to iron and sort my son’s clothes. I also frame it as ‘me time’ which I know sounds silly – but it’s my time – my husband does bath and bed time on Saturday and Sunday evenings so 6-7pm is when I put my iPad on the ironing board, enjoy the peace and quiet, iron and sort it. I then put my stuff in our son’s room whilst husband is doing story time and when he goes to bed, that’s ironing done for the evening and the rest waits. My husband has a pile of clothes put on the bed for him to sort…and then mine usually sit on top of the drawers instead of getting put away so that is my current flaw that I need to fix!
    A great post. I do love me some laundry chat….

    1. Sian this is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard about ironing: “I iron quite a lot because almost two years on I still find it a total privilege to iron and sort my son’s clothes.”
      I think I need to adopt this mindset

  7. Naomi, maybe it’s because I’m also 33 with two little ones at home but I too have been thinking about laundry a lot lately! I’m the same as Sian – either completely one top of it or drowning in piles of clothes.
    I also don’t iron (only my young son’s smart clothes and husband does his own work shirts). When I’m strict about drying a load and putting it away before hanging out the next one, things work well. I tend to do a load one day and hang out, then it’s dry enough to go away by the next day, ready for another load to go in the next morning. Much easier and quicker in the summer months though.
    Can anyone recommend a good indoor heated dryer thing? Are they safe to use with small children around? Also – can anyone suggest some good non-iron bedding?! I’ve yet to find some that actually lives up to the claim of not needing to be ironed…
    Thanks!

    1. Danni, I got the air:dryer from Lakeland and it’s uhhhmazing. I honestly love it. I find it really quick and easy to use. My three year old has touched it and it does get hot but it won’t burn them or anything. He just said “it’s hot” and walked away and hasn’t touched it again. 😂

    2. I really need to get one of these heated dryers now too! Lakeland and John Lewis are the two that get recommended to me the most often.

  8. My laundry is constantly out of control – and there is only me!!!! I do go through a lot of workout gear though which does add to the volume (and i will use as my excuse because i don’t outfit change multiple times a day) – but i am constantly battling with a carry basket over-flowing with clean washing that i just cannot muster myself to actually put away!! And a washing basket that is never empty – and there are ALWAYS those delicate items that just hang around in there for ages waiting to be washed – or is that just me!?!
    The few times I do manage to clear down the washing basket – have it all put away same day – the sense of achievement is HUGE – but that happens far less often than it should!!

    1. Janey, I always put off washing delicates too. I think the disappointing thing for me has always been getting to the bottom of that basket, but how quickly it piles up thereafter!

  9. We’ve just had our third (third!) baby, and keeping on top of the laundry is an epic task. Our bed looks like a laundry sorting zone at least three times a week. I cheat slightly; both big kids have a ‘clean’ basket in their bedroom, reducing the last stage to a ‘sort & dump’. I’ll put it all away when I have time…

    1. the clean basket in their room might just be the game changer I need in my life! thanks for the inspo. Otherwise the clean clothes get lost in the ironing basket and I forget they even have those clothes 🙁

  10. EVERYBODY NEEDS A LAKELAND HEATED DRYER!!! Honestly, they are life changing when it comes to laundry. Put on a load and 24 hrs later (or less) it’s all dry and ready to put away. I do really well until the putting away part. But now have a habit of doing it during my sons bathtime – I can keep an eye on him but at the same time trundle around putting washing away in the various rooms. Also, I never mix my sons washing with our washing, which means when it’s dry and folded all that stuff is just going back into one room. I also don’t iron. But yes, it is never. ending.

    1. I’m buying one of these dryers his weekend. I think keeping kids clothes separate (a la yourself and Becky) is going to be a total game-changer for me.

  11. Does your washing machine have a delayed start feature? I like to put a load in in the evening while my husband does bath time and it to be finished for morning so instead of putting it on at that stage I’m hanging up the clean load in the morning, feeling v smug that that’s one job already done! And one load a day (by time you include towels and bedsheets i find I can easily do a load a day!) stops me getting overwhelmed. Like others have said, I iron a lot less now I have children and always have an annoying small pile of things I hate to iron sitting in our utility room! So not perfect but definitely not my worst area! X

    1. Yes this. Delayed timer.

      Also I have a clothing rack 8ft long that suspends drying laundry out my eyeline and God knows how but it dries quicker up there. I barely use the tumble drier (economically and on the basis of energy usage generally / green credentials) and the dryer has been a massive part of that.

      Do what L does, delayed start so everything is hung up at 7am rather than put on, dries during the day and then take it off at night.

      We have a large machine so I maybe do 2 coloured washes and 1 whites a week. Barely iron but thankfully the kids have polos for school not shirts

    2. The delayed timer is my saviour too!

      I put a load on in the morning and delay for 7hrs so its ready to pop into the dryer when I come in from work. I don’t have a utility room so have no option but to put it away that evening – I don’t iron very much either now!

      I also try to put on a load on a Friday night so its finished dryer when I get up on Saturday morning and I can get another load in the washing machine straight away. That usually makes me feel quite organised!

      1. My other half laughed at me when I insisted we got a delayed timer, but that way I can time it to be ready when I make my morning tea, and as the kettle boils I put it on the airer. Does anybody else have a samsung washing/dryer machine though, as at the end of every cycle it plays a thirty second tune! Drives my other half mental, I find myself singing along to all 30 seconds of it. Kind of makes laundry more cheerful! Mad I know!

        1. Amelia – you can turn it off! On my model you hold down the ‘spin’ and ‘option’ buttons simultaneously. There’s a bracket and a mute symbol underneath to show you which ones 🙂

    3. It turns out I do have a delayed timer but never even knew!! I now need to implement a system. The putting it on at bedtime to hang out in the morning sounds like the best way to do it!

  12. Okay I have to come clean: I love laundry! My husband thinks I am SO WEIRD because, when we go to holiday houses, I love doing laundry there. But I get such a kick out of having dirty clothes made clean plus it’s the only chore I enjoy (just to be clear – I do not include ironing in this because ironing is hell).

    My main tip would be one mentioned above – split your laundry loads by “rooms” – so I do each of my sons separately and then my husband and I together so the baskets of clean clothes can all be put away in one room without having to sort too much.

    Buy a heated rail dryer – mine has been the best investment. I do have a separate dryer but honestly I use the rail dryer just as much and I feel like it’s just as fast.

    Then finally I know it’s probably trite but I love Anna Mathur’s posts about changing “I’ve got to” into “I get to” so turning chores into appreciation time – instead of “I’ve got to do laundry” to “I get to do laundry for my wonderful family even though none of them really seem to appreciate it because they’re 4 months and 3 years old but STILL” (this isn’t quite how Anna says to do it but hey ho 😂)

    1. Kate I wish I had been able to read this last week. I had to bail on work because Finn got a tummy bug and you know what? You are so right. I was going grateful to have a washing machine. Going to change my vocabulary to ‘get to’ from now on… When I remember, clearly.

  13. I despise laundry. The worst part of being an adult! I don’t iron anything – the husband irons his own shirts as and when necessary (technically they are iron free shirts). I totally agree with doing a delayed start, overnight wash as this reduces the daytime filled with washing.

    I have a Lakeland heated drier (no room for a tumble dryer) which just speeds things up. At some point I think we will build a utility room to hide all the laundry but until then it fills the house.

    1. You definitely need to build a utility room. Being able to close that door is the only reason I am still sane. Until then, designated cupboards may be your friend.

  14. I don’t mind laundry but I don’t do ironing, at all! We have a 4 year old and a 2 year old and do a wash almost every day to keep on top of it, which means I can sometimes have a day off at the weekend. We have a split lights and darks washing basket in our room where everyone’s washing goes so I can keep track of how much is building up, I don’t think I’d like to have to check multiple places, but can see how that may work when they’re older. I tend to do it in the evening once they’re in bed (so I don’t have to let them “help”), tumble the small stuff, hand the big stuff and then it’s mostly dry in the morning.

    1. The key to skipping the ironing is getting it out of the tumble dryer quick enough, right? I somehow still end up with a pile of things that need to be ironed.

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