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Mom doing laundry with baby

Why is doing laundry such a third-rail issue, especially for busy moms? Some people hate doing laundry so much that dirty (or clean) clothes are scattered on floors. Yes, they get walked on.

This is just a symptom of a larger problem. As a professional organizer, my job is to figure out my clients’ issues and come up with customized solutions. I’ve found it’s usually because there’s no system or not having the right system, lack of time or it’s psychological (Mom hated doing laundry so I hate doing laundry).

I dig deeper.

Typical problems

  • Closets and drawers are stuffed
  • Excessive amount of clothes
  • Laundry space is uninviting (poor lighting, cluttered, in a dirty basement)
  • Not allocating time for the task

Reduce the amount of clothing, linens, other washables

80/20 Rule – We wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. Knowing this should make reducing easier.

  • Gather all clothes and sort by family member
  • Next, sort by category (pants, T-shirts, PJs)
  • Donate what doesn’t fit, won’t be worn for whatever reason or excess items (be ruthless)
  • Toss items beyond repair
  • Ditto for other washables (sheets, tablecloths)

Have adequate storage space

  • Dressers and closets should comfortably hold the amount of clothes.
  • Utilize under-bed containers and storage ottomans
  • Use vertical space (hanging sweater organizers)

Create a simple system

  • As a family, decide who’ll put clothes in the washer and dryer, fold and put away
  • Decide best days and times, and make a schedule


  • Promptly remove clothes from the dryer and hang or fold them to prevent wrinkles
  • Skip folding some clothes (kids’ PJs)
  • Put Laundry and Donate bins in each person’s closet
  • Fold clothes while watching TV or listening to music
  • Buy an extra-large washer to get A LOT more laundry done in less time
  • If you can’t (or won’t) do it yourself, use a wash-and-fold service (some even deliver)

If you hate folding laundry, see a prototype of a folding robot!

Pretty soon you won’t hate doing laundry, although it may never be your favorite task. That’s OK. Give your system at least a month. If it’s not working, see where it breaks down and tweak it until you have the right system for your situation.

I never mind doing laundry. After all, the washer and dryer do the hard work. It helps that my laundry room is near my bedroom and I can fold clothes on my bed. Living in apartments during my 20s and 30s meant schlepping dirty laundry to a central outdoor building or walking down four flights of stairs to the laundry room with one washer and one dryer for eight apartments in Philadelphia. I often had to wait for machines to be available. Sometimes I gave up and schlepped everything back to my apartment. That gives me the perspective I need. What’s yours?

Adriane Weinberg

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