Ask Unclutterer: How many hours will a family of four spend on laundry each week?

Reader Amanda recently e-mailed and asked a few questions about laundry maintenance for a family of four. She wanted to know how many loads of laundry a typical family might do in one week, how long this would take, and what routines could be put into place to handle these loads. After doing some research, math, and making a few estimations, I think I finally have a few answers for her questions.

1. How many clothes can a washing machine hold in a single wash?

First off, know that there are not standard load sizes for washing machines. Phrases like “mid-size capacity” or “ultra capacity” mean different things from manufacturer to manufacturer. The number you need to determine how many clothes a washing machine can effectively handle at a time is its pounds of clothing per load.

For example, Whirlpool states that their top-loading washing machines can handle 12 to 18 pounds based on model. And, their front-loading machines vary from 12 to 20 pounds based on model. But, Whirlpool doesn’t provide in their product descriptions anything other than drum sizes of models in cubic feet. A machine’s drum size is irrelevant because it has no bearing on the motor’s ability to handle the weight of the clothing in the drum. To find out the weight your washing machine can handle, you may have to do what I did and call the store where the washing machine was purchased. I learned that my “large capacity” washer can hold just 12 pounds of clothing.

To learn how much 12 pounds of clothing is (or whatever your washer can handle), stand on a scale empty handed and weigh yourself. Then, have someone pile into your arms pairs of jeans. When the number on the scale increases 12 pounds over your empty-handed weight, you’ll have an idea of your washing machine’s capacity. For me, this came out to be between 9 and 10 pairs of jeans. Try the same thing with other clothing items to get a full picture of what your machine can handle.

2. How many clothes does an average person wear in a seven day period?

Obviously, this number varies based on the person. However, I was curious about how much clothing I dirty in a week. So, I abandoned my normal twice-weekly washing routine and weighed all of my dirty clothes at the end of the week. Turns out, I wore 16 pounds of clothing last week. My husband’s clothing came in at 17.5 pounds. Honestly, I was blown away that we dirty so much clothing in a single week. But, since we both started working out every day in 2009, we now dirty at least two sets of clothes a day. Between the two of us, we had three loads of clothing in a week (well, actually four because I had a delicates load).

3. How many towels and sheets does an average person go through in a seven day period?

Again, this number will vary based on personal preference. In our house, my husband and I combined go through 1 set of queen sheets, six washcloths, two kitchen towels, four bath towels, and two hand towels per week. This turns out to be less than 12 pounds, but unfortunately all of it won’t physically fit in a single load in our washing machine. So, the sheets get their own load and the towels get another. If you’re keeping track, this means that our family of two generates five or six loads of laundry most weeks.

4. What is your best guess for how many loads a family of four would generate in a week?

Kids seem to generate a lot of clothing — spills, sports practices, uniforms for after-school jobs, indecision about what to wear, etc. If I generate 16 pounds of clothing in a week, I imagine that a middle schooler or high schooler could easily create 14 to 15 pounds of clothing in a week. Multiply that by two and add in two adults, and a family of four probably generates between 60 and 65 pounds of clothing per week. In our washing machine, that would be five to six loads of clothing.

Then, figure in a load for all of the bedding for a week (three sets of sheets can probably fit in one load), and two loads for towels (12 washcloths, two kitchen towels, eight bath towels, and four hand towels), and a typical family of four probably generates between 8 and 10 loads of laundry per week.

5. How long does it take to do the laundry?

Again, this varies based on the machine you have and what you’re laundering. But … in our home, a full cycle in the washing machine is 35 minutes and most everything is dry in 55 minutes. A single load from start to finish in the machines takes 1.5 hours and then another 15-20 minutes to fold and put away. It can be a two-hour chore for a single load of laundry.

Eight loads of laundry would take roughly 10 hours to complete. (That is estimating 35 minutes to wash the first load without anything in the dryer, 440 minutes to dry 8 loads of laundry, and 120 minutes of folding and putting away time.) Ten loads of laundry would take just over 12 hours to complete.

6. What is a reasonable laundry routine for a family of four?

Reasonable is a pretty vague term in this instance, so feel welcome to offer up alternatives in the comments section.

Monday: Launder all the sheets from all three beds. (1 load)
Tuesday: Launder child #1 and child #2’s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Wednesday: Launder adult’s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Thursday: Launder towels. (2 loads)
Friday: Launder child #1 and child #2’s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Saturday: Launder adult’s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Sunday: Rest, or launder a load of delicates.

7. What are some additional tips and tricks?

Check out my previous posts on getting laundry under control for additional suggestions for tackling this beast.

82 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: How many hours will a family of four spend on laundry each week?”

  1. posted by Stimey on

    I have a tough time with laundry. I was so bad at it that my husband took over. I wrote down this schedule though, and I’m going to try it out. Thanks!

  2. posted by Rita - Creatively Domestic on

    I try to cram in all my laundry on Mondays and Fridays, that way I get a few days off. But, I end still doing a few catch up or incidental loads on the “off days.” I really enjoy the days I don’t even have to venture into that room!

  3. posted by Jennifer W. (Midwest Neurotica) on

    Wait a minute here… you mean you should do laundry more than once every two weeks? Huh.. interesting concept.

  4. posted by Josh T on

    That schedule seems like a lot. I guess if you did it all on one day you would consume the same amount of water as if you did when it was spread out. Are sheets supposed to be washed every week?

  5. posted by chessie99 on

    A load of laundry doesn’t take you over an hour — it takes your washer and dryer that hour and a half. It takes you maybe 6 minutes. Strip the bed and toss the sheets in the hamper. Dump the load in the washer, add soap and turn it on. Maybe five minutes. When the loads finishes, open the washer and the dryer and move the load from one to the other. Maybe 1 minute. Take the load out, fold and put away. Maybe 10 minutes. If you have different types of loads (regular & delicate), use 2 hampers. Your 6 loads takes an hour and a half. I assume you don’t stand and stare at the machines as they work. Do all the laundry at one go & its more efficient. Of course, a higher capacity washer would make things quicker.
    And remember, for kids clothes, they use more but they’re smaller (until they get old enough to do their own laundry, say at 8).

  6. posted by Donna on

    Teach the kids to do their own laundry. It’s not hard. My daughter has been doing hers since she was 10.

    10 loads may take 12 hours, but not 12 active hours. You can do other things while the laundry is in the washer and dryer.

  7. posted by Kayla on

    Great research! I’m amazed at how many towels you go through in a week! My husband and I combined go through two towels, two washcloths, one hand towel, and two kitchen towels per week. When I was a kid, I would get a new towel almost every day. I soon changed that once I was doing my own laundry. I can’t believe how much work I used to put my poor mom through! We also wear almost all of our clothes more than once (besides socks and underwear, of course!). I probably average two loads of laundry per week. I’m impressed that you keep up with such a heavy laundry regimen. Good work!

  8. posted by melissa on

    HOLY COW that’s a lot of laundry!! There’s only two of us, and we do two loads every weekend… I’m absolutely flabbergasted people do laundry every single day – I mean, do you people never rewear clothes ever?

  9. posted by biscuitx on

    In winter I wear a load every 2 days! Long Johns, tights, turtleneck, tunic, sweater, plus outside layer.
    And I am in Georgia!

    It is hard to keep up but having only 3 sets of long underwear keeps me on my toes. Other wise it would pile up!

    Keeping drying costs down my using my solar dryer (clothesline) as much as possible. Can really see the savings.

    keep warm,

  10. posted by Cat on

    For our family of 2 (both of us have business-casual to business-formal jobs), we do about 4 loads a week, but not always the same “type” of load. Our categories are:
    – Sheets (all white, every other week)
    – Towels (all white, every week)
    – Whites (undershirts, sweatsocks) (every week)
    – Warm water darks (sweats, tees, dark socks) (every week)
    – Cold water darks (jeans, knit tops, other delicates)
    – “Crisps” – our term for dress shirts, tablecloths, lightweight khakis – things that are all of that texture and weight and don’t bleed.

    We only do a category when it’s a full load – so although we rarely have a totally empty laundry basket, it keeps the loads to a minimum. And the “pending” categories have never lasted longer than 3 weeks, so nothing gets too stale.

  11. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    You forgot to mention what happens when your kids bring lice home from school/daycare and you end up doing 20 loads in one day!
    At least it is all cleaned at once.

  12. posted by kirsty on

    We’re two adults and one child and we do four regular loads of washing each week: darks, whites, brights & denim-ish. Then usually another load of bedding or towels each week depending on what most needs doing.

    In the winter I get all the washing done on one day as I use the tumble dryer; in the summer I try to put a load on first thing each morning to get it out to dry on the line.

    And what we find works is that I sort out the piles and then order my partner around to do it. He thinks he’s not doing anything except a few minutes menial work (no thinking or remembering involved) and I only have to do thinking (no menial work). Divide & conquer.

  13. posted by Lori Paximadis on

    I’m still lost on why laundry seems to be such a big deal for so many people. You don’t have to sit there and watch the machine do its thing (unless you live in a building with shared laundry where people tend to steal clothes, and in that case you’re better off sending it out and paying someone else to do it anyway).

    Three baskets: one for darks, one for lights, one for towels. When a basket gets full, do a load. Toss it in; go do something else. Come back later, move it to the dryer, go do something else. Fold it. You can start a load before you go to work or out for errands and toss it in the dryer when you get home. Do the sheets on a weekend morning after you get up.

    If you have to go to the laundromat, avoid peak times so you can get everything going all at once. Have enough clothes so you can go every other week and use the super-capacity machines. Take a good book or trashy magazine to while away the hour and a half or so it will take.

    I got responsibility for doing all the laundry for my family when I was about 9 or so. It does not have to be a big hairy deal.

  14. posted by Amanda on

    I think its interesting the range of laundry frequency. I think it was also great for Erin to indicate that how much depends on one’s applicances. I imagine that people could be too nice or too harsh on their applicances, and knowing load capacity would indicate if the owner is being harsh or if a repair is needed. I don’t wash my towels and bedding every week, only every other week. Chessie99 makes a great point that one isn’t actively doing work for the 55 minutes, the washer is.

  15. posted by Pat on

    Family of 5 here.

    I do a load a day.

    Walk in from work, put the wash in, and fold the dryer. THE KEY is to install a closet bar in the laundry room/area. So you can go from the dryer directly to the hanger.

    Put that away while changing out of work clothes.

    Later that night, put the wash in the dryer and forget about it.

    Becomes habitual and takes less than 5 min a day.

    Of course, I”ve only been doing this for a week, but it seems to solve my problem of letting it build up so much that it takes 3 days to put away.

  16. posted by Julie Bestry on

    I think the major problem is not the laundry, per se, but the ANTICIPATION of doing the laundry. After all, it’s not like we have to go down to the river and beat the laundry against the rocks. I live in an apartment with a closet with a stackable washer/dryer system and must do many VERY small loads, but it need not be onerous at all!

    In the old days of having to shlep to a laundry room and collect enough quarters, I procrastinated because I anticipated how annoying it would have to be to put on shoes, carry my basket and detergent and fabric softener to the building’s chilly basement or scary back building. But in the 11 years I’ve had my own washer/dryer, I no more procrastinate on laundry than I might on brushing my teeth.

    Chessie99 (above) is right–the cumulative amount of time you spend on a load of laundry is no more than 5-10 minutes. You don’t have to watch the machine, you just have to push a button and walk away until the timer (on the machine, or the one you set yourself) alerts you to return to the laundry. It’s much less sensitive than keeping an eye on a boiling pot of water!

    Take 90 seconds to sort out what goes in the first load, 30 seconds to toss it in and add detergent. Set the timer if your machine doesn’t buzz to alert you it’s done and walk away. (Watch TV, eat dinner, write your blog.) Take another half minute to move the load from washer to dryer. Set timer and put in second wash load if applicable. Walk away until the buzzer sounds. Fold and put away.

    Unless you have an entire full-sized laundry basket filled with nothing but infant socks, it really doesn’t take more than 5 minutes to fold a basketload of laundry. ANTICIPATING that it might be annoying uses up much more mental energy than doing the work. Don’t believe me? Test yourself the next time you do laundry and time yourself (or have a loved one time you). You’ll be amazed how reframing how you THINK about laundry, rather than changing how you DO laundry, will make a difference.

  17. posted by mstreemn on

    we are slowly changing over to all white sheets and towels. We already only have white or dark underthings and white socks. This saves a lot of sorting and matching.

    Consider changing your workout if you can. We swim 3-4 days a week so we don’t sweat up workout gear as often and the gym provides towels.

    Most of our street clothes can be worn a second time if we take them off and hang them up at night. I sometimes hang a sweater outside in the cold if it has picked up odors from cooking. I use an apron when cooking to keep my clothes clean.

  18. posted by maxie on

    OK, I’m going to be the laundry police–you should be changing kitchen towels, dishcloths, sponges *every* day. And, please don’t wash them with your bath towels.

    (I can’t find the citation now, but studies have been done that show bath towels and washcloths still have fecal bacteria on them, even after washing in hot water/drying in hot dryer.)

  19. posted by Heidi on

    This list assumes that people have their own washers & dryers. From living in apartments all my life up until now, I’ve learned that you wash what NEEDS to be washed once a week.

    Even now, in a house I still only do laundry for my husband, myself and my infant daughter (she’s almost 8 months old) once a week in two or three loads – TOPS. Everything goes in together in cold, and the clothes, towels and sheets are none the worse for wear.

  20. posted by Greg on

    Wow, I feel really uncluttered as far as laundry goes. Maybe I’m just dirty? I have no family, but I will use the same towel for a few weeks (I’m _clean_ when I’m using it!) and admittedly, I don’t change my sheets as much as I probably should. Still, I run every day (and sometimes swim or bike as well) and I don’t re-wear dirty workout clothes, yet I only have to do about one load of laundry every 1-2 weeks. I do wear pants a good 5 times before I wash them unless I get them dirty on my bicycle commute or I spill something on them.

    I also cut way down on the laundry stress by not sorting anything. I just put it all in and wash it all on cold. Only when whites get noticeably dirty do I do a warm wash on them.

  21. posted by Marie on

    I do laundry about 5 times a week for my family of four. It generally works out to 2-3 loads of clothes and 1-2 of sheets/towels. Most nights go like this: When the kids go to bed, I gather as many clothes as will fit in a basket and put them in the wash. Then I take the previous night’s clothes out of the dryer and fold them. I’d estimate about 20 minutes a day total. It’s really not bad. You can do other things not just when the washer and dryer are going but while you’re folding too. I fold while watching TV or talking on the phone. A whole basket can be folded pretty quickly.

    I don’t differentiate colors and temperatures too much. All clothes get washed together in cold water. Towels and sheets get washed together in hot water. It doesn’t hurt the clothes and it saves a lot of time sorting.

    My husband and I rewear most of our casual clothes. I wash most of my work clothes after only one wearing. I wash most of the kids clothes after only one wearing too because I don’t feel like examining the clothes each night to determine which are clean and which aren’t. With twin toddlers, most clothes are dirty at the end of the day.

    They do however rewear their pajamas. They get fresh ones once or twice a week, depending on when I remember to do it. They’ve been known to wear the same jammies 10 nights running. I also rewear my sleepwear, but change every one or two nights.

    Each person in our family has one bath towel for the week. We also go through 2-3 hand towels and one kitchen towel. Sheets are changed once a week if I feel like it. But it’s been a few weeks since they were last changed; must get back on that.

  22. posted by adora on

    The best laundry hack is to buy easy to recognize “signature” socks for each person.
    Have all bedsheets in same size, brand or ever colour if possible.

  23. posted by ns on

    Wow, I had no idea everyone was so obsessed with cleanliness! There is no reason to wash your clothes each time you wear them, unless they are gym clothes or you are very smelly. Re-wearing once cuts down your laundry significantly. I wash running clothes in the shower after the run, which saves both laundry space and expense on running clothes, and takes only an extra minute.

    I doubt the need to wash kitchen rags etc. every day is necessary. We all need to be a bit dirtier for both our own health (germs are GOOD!), wallets, and the environment. There’s no need to do so much laundry, unless you’re OCD or a clinical germaphobe.

  24. posted by Jess on

    I’m surprised how may people only go through 1 or 2 kitchen towels each week — I go through a stack of about 2 dozen that gets it’s own load of laundry each week (that also means that I don’t use a ton of paper towels…).

    For my husband and I it tends to be 2 to 3 mid-sized loads of clothes (socks and undies in one load, regular clothes in the others), a load each of bath towels and kitchen towels each week, and a load of linens every other week (it seems like a waste of water to wash a single set of sheets each week).

    If you have a newer washing machine see if there’s a delay/timer feature — I’ll often toss in a load before going to bed, set the timer so that it goes off early morning and then it’s ready to toss in the dryer after I’m up and waiting for coffee to brew. Or load the machine in the morning before heading out to work, and set the timer so that it’s done and ready to move to the dryer when you get home.

  25. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    Seriously, people, it’s not a competition for who does the least amount of laundry. If you do less laundry, that’s cool, lucky you. Just please provide some level of insight into how you do your laundry routine instead of being so judgmental. We’re here to provide help, not criticism.

  26. posted by Andrea on

    I have a laundry sorter/cart. We sort by wash type- cold, warm, hot- and as soon as one bag is full, I toss the contents into the washer. I probably do 6-8 loads a week for my family of 4.

    What I would LOVE to see is a front loader washing machine that also DRIES the clothes, without having to move them from one machine to another. It would save a LOT of time, hassle and lost socks.

  27. posted by DJ on

    For our family of four, I was doing one load of laundry on weekdays, and two per day on weekends, when I did the sheets & towels.

    Then I came to my senses.

    I retired from doing the laundry for a family of four and now do just two loads per week (my clothes, plus the sheets/towels from the master bed/bath.)

    Everyone else does their own clothes and splits the rest of the sheets/towels.

    It probably works out to the same number of loads, but my stress load has dramatically declined.

  28. posted by kirsty on

    @Andrea “What I would LOVE to see is a front loader washing machine that also DRIES the clothes”

    We have these in the UK (e.g. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Standi.....IDXL126_WH) but the major problem is that drying needs more space than washing so you can’t load the machine with as many clothes as usual; and also that you can’t use the washing machine again whilst drying. They are very useful in small spaces and for putting on overnight and waking up to clean dry clothes though.

  29. posted by Elaine on

    It’s just me and my husband. We do 1-2 loads a week, or sometimes more if he’s doing it. I’m more inclined to throw everything in together, whites darks and colours, and do them on cold unless we really do have a full load of each. He prefers to sort them. We do the sheets/towels/shower curtain/etc. every 2-3 weeks. Kitchen towels go in every load regardless of what else is in there.

  30. posted by Kika on

    We’re a family of five. My 12 year old does one load/wk of his own clothing. I do laundry three days/wk, two-three loads each time. My bedding is washed about once every 7-10 days but the kids’ bedding only gets done every few weeks. We put out new kitchen towels and hand towels each day to cut down on germs but reuse our bath towels several times (color-coded for each family member). We try and teach the kids to re-use clothing that isn’t actually dirty. This system isn’t very time-consuming through colder months (I live in Northern Alberta)but takes more time in warmer seasons when I line dry. My 9 and 12 year olds help fold and put away towels, strip their bedding, etc. We sort all dirty clothing directly into three baskets in the laundry room(one for lights, one for darks and a third for towels). We almost always run only full-loads which saves both time and energy.

  31. posted by Rue on

    My household of two typically does 5-6 loads each week. (1-2 dark loads, 1 load of jeans, 1 load of whites, 1 load of towels, and 1 of sheets whenever I get around to doing them). However, we do have one of those stackable W/D sets so I imagine I could probably do 4-5 if I had a larger machine.

    Personally, I wash all the clothes on one day (usually Saturday). Towels get washed about once a week (the day depends though – I just wash whenever they start smelling funny). Sheets are more like every two weeks.

    As far as cutting down on costs, clutter, etc…I wash EVERYTHING in cold water. The clothes get just as clean, and you save a little bit of money by not having to use hot water. All the laundry (with the exception of towels and sheets) gets thrown into a single laundry basket in our closet. Once the basket is full, I usually have two loads to do. My husband and I also wear our pants several times (jeans usually 2-3 times at least, and work pants twice).

  32. posted by Red on

    I had the privilege of designing my own laundry room just recently (just bought a “new” house) and designed it around my little family’s laundry routine. Washer, Dryer, folding table, hanging bar, ironing board, and cleaning supplies in one little area. My routine is fairly simple (in my eyes anyway): One evening during the week I will do 2-3 loads and every Sunday I do the sheets, towels, and a load or two of clothing. That includes two adults every day clothing, a shedding dog, hockey uniforms, and swimwear. I’m always doing something else while I do laundry – cooking, cleaning, playing video games, etc. The way I look at it, between throwing the sheets & towels into the washer and when they’re done in the dryer, I can scrub the bathrooms and bedrooms. So in 2 hours or so, I have the laundry done and 4 clean rooms in the house.

    I know we do more laundry than the average couple due to hockey and swimming (you do not want those items rotting on the floor!) as well as super small, older machines. I dream of getting a larger, efficient top loading washer… some day!

  33. posted by Rehan on

    2 or 3 loads a week for me and one toddler. I wash everything (except towels) on cold and split the loads based on person so that I don’t have to sort them out again when they come out.

    The only problem I have with it is that the washer + dryer aren’t nearly full when I run them, but to do it less frequently means buying more clothes. I think that not having them full might be making my energy bills higher – I’m not sure if this matters with the front-loading washer I have.

  34. posted by Beth on

    Living along I only do one to two loads a week typically, although I’m good and letting it pile up and doing 2-3 loads on any given weekend. I finally found a system that works for my visual nature and have eliminated the dresser from my life completely. So, there is very little folding happening in my world which seems to speed up the dryer -> closet time. I have one side of my closet for work clothes and one side for casual clothes and a hanging shelf thing where I keep underwear and socks, and a trunk on the floor for my PJs.

  35. posted by Gloria on

    My laundry takes me maybe 4 hours every 11-14 days that’s because I don’t do it at home anymore. I used to do laundry almost every day, forget about it and have either wet clothes in the washer or wrinkled clothes in the dryer. Now I take 4 huge ikea bags of laundry to the laundromat, take up about 10 dryers, fold and am home to hang up my air dry clothes. Door to door it takes me 2.5 hours but I factored in the time it takes me to sort, gather the baskets, load the car, fold the air dried clothes and put away the other clothes. When I fold the clothes at the laundromat, I have 5 clean ikea bags and either the kids will put their clothes away or if I am feeling charitable, I put the clothes away. It costs me approximately $28 each time I go. I don’t have any down time at the laundromat because as soon as I get there, I throw in a load so all my loads are staggered. I told my husband that I probably wouldn’t be doing it during the winter but it hasn’t been that bad going out in the winter. I love the fact that I have so much more time to do other things now. Just to give you more info: my laundry is for a family of 4 (a working husband, a stay at home mom, one daughter in middle school and one daughter in elementary and we all do sports). I also do the kitchen rugs, door mats, bath mats each time as well as the sheets – sometimes blankets too. The blankets don’t really add that much time into the wash/dry time, just the folding time.

  36. posted by Nancy on

    I have 3 teenagers and do laundry all day Sunday. It takes all day but I combine it with cooking, errands etc. I tried other methods (one day for sheets, one for towels) but it never worked well and I usually forgot about a load I put in and then discovered half wet and wrinkly a few days later.

    My kids are required to bring their laundry to the laundry room and sort it, fold and put it away. This lets me do full loads. Recently I started washing darks and colored loads using the time-saver feature on my machine. I also use the “delay start” feature that lets me put in a load the night before, runs very early in the morning so I get a jump on the day.

  37. posted by Jennifer on

    For my 6-year-old, if she’s worn it, it’s dirty. Her clothes get one load in cold about once a week. We have a 3-basket sorter in our bedroom, a habit left over from our apartment days. So a sorted load gets carried to the washer and dumped right in. We use cloth napkins, rags, and dishtowels. That’s another load about every week or so. Towels are another load. And I’m switching all my towels over to non-white. Between my husband and my daughter, they are all dingy and don’t get clean-looking even when I bleach the snot out of them. I’ve never had a washer so big it would fit 3 sets of sheets. I find 1 load per set about covers it. And I code my sheets by bed size. Makes dressing the bed much easier.

    For those with small laundry areas: Ikea bags are nice, cheap substitutes for plastic laundry baskets. They fold up fairly small and hold a lot. Collapseable ones would also work depending on how your space is configured.

  38. posted by Kate on

    I do all the wash for our family of four on Saturdays. It breaks down like this:
    Dark darks (blacks and navys)
    Blues (jeans and other blue things)
    Reds, pinks, lavenders
    Gray, yellow, greens
    Whites
    Sheets and towels.

    I wash all the pillowcases and washcloths every week, but each person’s sheets and towels are washed on the weekend closest to his or her birthday in the month. I’m first, with a birthday on the 9th, so my bedding and towels and hubby’s towels go in the weekend closest to the 9th. Then son on the 16th and daughter on the 23rd. Helps me remember.

    If my weekends get hijacked, and I can’t finish it all on Saturday, I save sheets and towels for Monday night. They are quickest to fold, and they don’t wake anyone up to put away.

  39. posted by Tracy on

    We swim a lot here in FL, and that means washing a lot of towels, but not a lot of swimwear. We just wear the bathing suits into the shower to rinse them off. Strip and hang them on an extra shower rod we put in the shower on the opposite side parallel to the shower curtain. ( I got this idea from the pullout strings that most hotels have in the showers. But a regular rod that you twist to tighten works great). Let them dry and wear the next day. We also hang most towels on the pool fence to dry and reuse. But when they get gross with sunscreen, its time to wash.

    But I use LOTS of kitchen towels. A load a week. I like to wipe my hands a lot while cooking and don’t want to use lots of paper towels.

    I don’t sort dd’s clothes. All in one load in cold water. But I do sort ours. Several smallish baskets in our closet. As you take off your clothes ( unless you are rewearing them) toss them into the appropriate basket. When the basket is full, wash. One for whites, 1 for darks, 1 for mediums.

    After years of using the laundry room at the apartments, I promised I’d never complain about doing laundry in my own home. Some days I have to remind myself about that :)

  40. posted by Keter on

    Laundry needn’t be a huge chore if you have your own machines. I’ve been both with and without a washer and dryer, so let me share my strategies for both.

    Buy a hamper (can be a cheap plastic laundry basket or storage box, needn’t be expensive) for each person and one for the bathroom (primarily for linens). Spend a few weeks watching how often each person’s hamper fills up, and how many clothes they have left to wear/sheets and towels are left when the hamper is full. This will help you figure out your schedule. Things are generally colorfast these days, so usually you’ll need only to sort heavy weight/jeans/towels, lightweight/delicates, whites (bleach), bed linens/large items. This, plus a few cycles of experience will give you an idea of the number of loads.

    If you have to use a laundromat or shared machines, pick a time to do laundry that is “off peak” (late on a weekday night or early in the morning) so you can use multiple machines simultaneously. Take all of your laundry, separate as needed Get them all going at once if possible. Set a timer to remind you before the first load is done if you will be leaving the laundry area. Use the waiting time to catch up on something “interruptible” like reading, paying bills, or doing smaller chores. Don’t get absorbed and forget your wash. Switch it to the dryers as soon as it finishes, and bring back anything that needs to air dry. Remember to set your timer so you can be back before the first dryer finishes, and again occupy yourself with interruptible tasks. If you can fold/hang in the laundry area, do so, and stack the clothes in your baskets for easy put away when you get back to your apartment. If you can’t, at least lightly fold each piece so it won’t wrinkle as you take the clothes out of the dryer. Don’t put off folding and putting away, just get it done so you can move on to other things.

    You have more flexibility in schedule if you have your own machines, so rather than one laundry marathon each week, you can break out laundry tasks across multiple days. Otherwise the steps above still largely apply. I would NOT recommend doing laundry more often than every other day unless you have a really big family or special needs that generate that much washing. Use the alternate days to schedule other chores or to take some time off from cleaning. (I usually alternate chore days with non-chore days – it’s easier to stick to a chore plan when not every day holds more drudgery.

  41. posted by Peter (a different one) on

    @Pat – I like the idea of a closet bar, except mine would be stocked with Vodka and perhaps some spiced rum.

  42. posted by Krys Slovacek on

    Erin – great topic! Obviously a big deal, with so very many comments. Here’s my two cents.

    For a family of 3.5 (2 adults, 1 infant, plus 2 dogs – that’s the .5), I do 4 loads of clothes each week – 3 adult loads and 1 infant load, plus a load of towels and sheets.

    I separate the adult clothing loads into whites, lights and darks (clothes are sorted as they’re soiled, in a triple sorter from Target), and I do one load each night on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. I wash a full infant load in cold water each Friday. The towels and sheets get washed each Saturday morning (all towels and sheets in my household are white, and get washed in hot water).

    I keep a basket under my sink in the kitchen for kitchen towels and dishcloths, and I have a supply of just over a month’s worth of those that get swapped out every couple days. I empty the basket once a month, and wash them in their own load – again, in hot water.

    Once a month, I also do a load of dog laundry – towels used to dry washed dogs, towels used to clean/dry muddy dog paws, fluffy dog pillows, etc. These get their own load, too.

    Each day’s worth of laundry takes about 15 minutes, total. A couple minutes to load the washer, a couple minutes to transfer from washer to dryer, and then about 10 minutes to fold.

    To eliminate the need to sort out each person’s socks, each adult has two lingerie bags – one for white socks, one for all other colors. Socks are then sorted and matched by the owner of the socks (me for mine, my husband for his).

  43. posted by Jan on

    When it was just me, then when it was me and my husband, I did laundry once a week in one fell swoop — gathered it, piled it, worked my way through it and when it was all done, folded it and (sometimes, heh) put it away.

    Now we’ve got two kids and I don’t know about the math part of it (because who has time to figure that stuff out when you’ve got two kids?) but I do know that I things go best if I do one or two loads every day. I alternate weeks with sheets and towels — one week I wash everyone’s towels and one week I wash the sheets, all in one load.

    My routine (and it doesn’t always get followed) is this:

    Morning: Gather laundry from individual hampers and take into laundry room and sort (I have storage bins); Fold laundry from dryer and into basket sorted by destination; Move load from washer to dryer; Put load in washer. (I do this while the kids eat breakfast, a time when I would normally be hanging out in the kitchen, where our W/D is, anyway.)

    Evening: If a second load is needed, fold dryer load, move washer into dryer, load washer; Take basket with folded laundry and deliver to rooms to be put away (kids “help” put their own laundry away during their nighttime routine). I leave the empty basket in the upstairs hall to use to gather from the hampers in the morning.

    That’s really it. On the weekends, I’ll do any extras that need attention, sometimes in place of, or sometimes in addition to, the routine.

    My biggest problem is that I sometimes get busy and don’t get around to actually putting the clean laundry AWAY. And then I have people digging through clean baskets in the laundry room and stuff has to be refolded and I don’t have a basket available for gathering and then the whole system breaks down.

  44. posted by infmom on

    Simple: If a child is old enough and smart enough to work a computer or a VCR, he or she is old enough and smart enough to do his/her own laundry. My kids found that out real early on. :)

    Now, granted, it has to be at the direction and under the supervision of the parents for a while, but there’s no reason a kid can’t put soap and clothes in and turn the dial.

  45. posted by momofthree on

    I do at least two loads a day…we are a family of 5–two parents, 2 girls in high school and 1 boy in middle school. The oldest can do laundry, and with her going off to university, another life skill mastered!!!

    I just see what accumulates and do a load accordingly..

  46. posted by Erika on

    Not re-wearing clothes or reusing towels seems like the epitome of a cluttered lifestyle to me. First, you have to own a lot of clothes and towels if you’re going to use them once and then wash them. Second, you have to have those items pile up in a hamper. Third, you create lifestyle clutter for yourself by adding unnecessary chores to your schedule.

    Of course, people with kids often have to wash clothes and towels frequently. Kids can be very messy. But childless adults should not be doing laundry more than once a week or once every two weeks.

  47. posted by mstreemn on

    finding a routine that works is the key. A load every other day works for us. One must on our list was a washer and dryer in our condo. I always hated going to the laundry mat. We also have fewer clothes and linens now that we have our own washer. We consciously try to remember to reduce our laundry by re-wearing clothes. I dislike sorting so when we replace basic towels, socks and linens we have been getting white. I keep a basket in the laundry room for cloth napkins and kitchen towels

  48. posted by martha in mobile on

    10 loads per week for 3 people and pets in my 15 year-old Maytag washer/dryer.
    Monday – delicates, followed by pet beds
    Tuesday – sheets and towels, tablecloths and napkins
    Wednesday – colors
    Thursday – pink (I have a girl)
    Friday – whites in hot water/bleach and dishcloths
    Saturday – no stinkin’ laundry
    Sunday – colors, child sheets

    Summer – beach towels 1 load per week

  49. posted by lvan on

    I’ve never really got the whole I hate laundry thing. I have a family of 5 I do a load or three everyday and it only takes about 5 actual minutes of my time for each load and the machine does all the work! I sort the clothes into baskets and everybody puts away their own stuff.

    It’s not like we have to hike down to the river and scrub them on the rocks!

    It’s dishwashing that really bites. I don’t have a dishwasher and probably waste about an hour a day doing dishes more if it’s been a more intense cooking kind of day.

  50. posted by Sandra on

    My first thought was that this is a trick question. My family of five doesn’t do the laundry. I do. Well, my 14 yo daughter does her own now too. Thank goodness.

    I don’t know what happened when I added a third child but since then I’ve never been able to keep the laundry done and put away like I used to. Good for those people for whom laundry is not a chore.

    I have three baskets in my laundry room; lights, darks, and towels. Each basket can hold two loads of laundry. I also have a basket upstairs and my two daughter’s each have their own. Oh, I also have a basket where I put all of my clothes that I do not want to dry. I hate it when I get something new and it gets shrunk right away.

    I can think I almost have all the laundry done and my daughter will empty her hamper and I all of a sudden have four more loads of laundry to do. Just when I think we have too many clothes one kid will run out of something and I will *have* to do laundry and I will be thankful we’ve got enough.

  51. posted by Ksenia on

    We are a family of four and we do a large load most days of the week. I have streamlined the process by washing all items together and using only one hamper — anything that’s dirty gets washed that day. We do avoid white clothing and linens, but the Nature Clean laundry powder that we use seems to do a good job. I’ve found that *I* dirty my clothing much more frequently than I used to — caring for my kids all day means I can rarely escape without smears of various sorts.

  52. posted by Sarah on

    I normally do about four loads of laundry a week for my family of four. They’re large loads (front-loading washer) but we make an effort to keep our water/ energy use low and minimize washing as much as possible. We re-use towels until they start to smell moldy and sheets until there’s an obvious reason to change them. My husband and I re-wear clothes as much as possible.

    I work three days a week, so I do a load every day I’m not working. I spread it out instead of doing it all at once because I air dry almost everything (except towels and the washcloths we use for most clean-up purposes) and only have room to hang one load at a time.

  53. posted by Angela on

    In order to keep the laundry monster at bay, I try to do a load of laundry every night after the kids are asleep. In addition to laundry for two small kids, we also have to do cloth diapers every 3 days or so. The laundry gets brought upstairs before my husband or I go to sleep, and we tackle the folding/putting away the next day at some point. I don’t really have a set day as to what laundry I do; just whatever needs to be done at the moment.

  54. posted by Alison on

    I lived in a foreign city and our washing machine was broken (no spin cycle) and there were no laundromats so we actually handwashed (or washed in machine but then handWRUNG) everything. Jeans were the worst. Large towels and bedding we’d take to a rather far away laundry where they charged by the piece, it was rather expensive. When I moved to my own place and got a working washing machine– wow. Heaven! I will never complain about doing laundry again. Prior to all this I spent 9 years schlepping everything on foot to the laundromat, so I am in paradise with my washing machine.

    It’s just me and my husband, and my ideal laundry schedule is 1 load every other day, that includes clothes, towels, bedding, and kitchen towels. Our washing machine is fairly small capacity so the towels/sheets/kitchen towels have to be split up into separate loads.

  55. posted by Lynn on

    We’re a family of five and that includes two teenage boys and one toddler. I do two loads of laundry a day, a load of whites and a load of darks. I throw in my first load every morning while I wait for the coffee to brew and since I’ve been doing this, no one is ever searching the house high and low trying to find a pair of clean socks or screaming from the bathroom that they’re out of towels! :)

  56. posted by Liz on

    I have an 8kg front loader and there is just me in the house.

    I was at night when the electricity is cheaper and wash on the nights I know it isn’t going to rain the next day. I line dry everything outside. If it is wet, they dry on racks inside.

    I probably do 4 loads a week…Remember though, I have a dog that sheds hair like no tomorrow, so most clothes get thrown in the hamper each day. I dress conservatively, so each days outfit includes, shirt, pinafore style dress and petticoat and socks. I can do 5 days worth of clothing alone in one load.

    I use a bath towel everyday (I have mild OCD and to reduce stress, I just use a new towel everyday and refuse to feel guilty about it) and kitchen towels (tea towels) get washed after one use – whether it be to wipe hands or dry dishes. Tea towels get their own load as do towels. Sheets are changed weekly in summer, fortnightly in winter.

    So all up I do about four loads on the nominated night (usually a Thurs or Fri depending on the weather the next day) takes about 20 mins all up. It takes about 30mins to hang the clothes out and 10 mins to put away.

    The logistics of washing when you don’t have a dryer take more time than the actual laundry itself.

  57. posted by Ongo 42 on

    Hi everybody
    as modern man I do all the washing and ironing as we call it in the UK in our house

    a family of 4 including 2 teenage boys who change clothes at least twice a day

    I do at least 1 load of washing most days

    But this is the easy bit none of you guys seems to mention about doing the ironing or is doing the ironing included in the process of “doing the laundry” as you folks call it

    This is the time consuming part
    I have a few tricks of my own
    I dont iron my underwear
    and I sometimes put trousers under the bed
    (when the wife is not watching)

    Does anybody have any time saving tips about doing the ironing its such a boring job even if you watch TV or listen to the radio at the same time I still find it mind numbingly boring and can only focus for 5-6 garments max at a time

    I force myself to get up 1 hour earlier every day to do this

    Totally I spend about 8 hours a week doing this its the equivalent of a complete day at the office !

    On principle I wont pay someone else to do it but would love to hear from you guys if you have any tips

    Thanks a lot and have a nice day

  58. posted by mstreemn on

    Hanging the clothes up or folding as soon as the dryer stops will reduce a lot of ironing. Dry the lighter weight pants and shirts together without heavy jeans and towels to reduce drying time and wrinkles in the dryer. I rarely iron.

    If the clothes get shoved in a basket without folding or sit in the dryer for days then I have to iron the pants and button down shirts. :( I have better things to do with my time…

  59. posted by Alison on

    I iron maybe one time a year. I only have one pair of pants that look terribly wrinkled if not ironed and I almost never wear them and in fact I might donate them soon. If I were you I’d look into getting more “wrinkle-free” fabrics into your family’s wardrobes.

    My husband only once in the bluest moon needs to have a white shirt ironed. I guess the key is that most of our clothes don’t wrinkle much. And I would never dream of ironing sheets.

  60. posted by Dream Mom DBAwww.dreamorganizers.com on

    Wow, I never thought laundry could be overwhelming! I confess that for many years laundry hung over my head because I used to do it once a week. While I have used color coded baskets for years (and I had a laundry chute), I was depressed at the thought of doing laundry every Saturday. A few years ago, I started doing a load a day and it became a breeze!

    I keep it very simple. I use a few rules:

    1) Use color coded baskets. I use one large white basket in the bathroom for bath towels. The rest of the baskets are small, square plastic baskets. I use one dark basket for darks, a white one for whites (includes all hand towels, kitchen hand towels, dish towels, wash clothes and anything else that’s white) and a pastel one for colors. Delicates get their own basket.

    2)Put clothes into the basket when you take them off.

    3)Wash one load a day doing the fullest basket first. If two baskets are full, towels get priority.

    4)Put away clothes every day.

    The only other thing I do is to have a regular schedule for coats and rugs. I toss rugs in once a week and I wash my son’s winter coat/hat/scarf once a week (he’s special need and drools).

  61. posted by Kathryn on

    We’re a family of 4 (2 adults, a teen and a preteen), and I’d estimate we do about 6 loads a week. Teenage son handles his own laundry entirely, and has for a few years. I think he usually does 1-2 loads a week–he essentially has one load’s worth of clothing that he likes wearing at any given time, and when it’s all dirty, he washes it. He’s a tad high-strung and doesn’t like to re-wear clothes.
    The rest of us will rewear things–my daughter produces about a load a week (she’s easing into doing it herself as well), as do I, and my husband a bit more because he does dirty up his work clothes. Towels get washed when they’re caught laying around (plus 5-10 kitchen towels/week–we don’t use paper). Our bedding gets washed 1x/month. Kids’ bedding gets washed on the semester system, I’m afraid.

    On the one hand, it’s not a huge chore–maybe 15 minutes a load, only 4 of which I do. On the other hand, it’s also not trivial.

    I spent 18 months living doing research in a poor neighborhood in a 3rd world country, and when municipal water was available, we hauled water from the communal tap at the end of the block and washed everything by hand in a 20-liter tub; and when it wasn’t we hauled the laundry to the stream a mile away. That, my friends, was a chore. I spent 4-5 hours of serious labor each week doing laundry for myself, a toddler, and an infant. (the upside was that I was rockin’ the arm muscles at the end of all that).

  62. posted by JJ on

    Laundry amounts, times, and systems depend greatly on lifestyle. We are a semi-rural family of 2 adults, 1 upper grade school boy and a teenage daughter. My husband works in the oil field industry and I work part time at a law office. Hence, we wear very different kinds of clothes that are soiled at different rates.

    I love my new LG washing machine, and my children are not allowed to touch it! (They have been instructed on its use and shown how the buttons work so I haven’t deprived them of that life skill.) They bring and sort their laundry into hanging sorter bags, and I start the washing. Everyone helps “flop” the laundry between machines, fold/hang and put away.

    In the summers we mostly line dry so washing is done every day (but Sunday) as it has to go out on the line in the early morning to be dry by evening. If you leave it over night, it’s covered in dew and has to hang out for the day, again. I personally find it very peaceful to be outside hanging the clothes and it helps unclutter my brain. I fold the laundry as I take it off the line so it can just be put away when brought in.

    We don’t line dry in the winter because I am not going outside when it is -25 F to hang laundry that would still have to hang inside to thaw/finish drying. Our masonry wood heater is usually covered with hats, mittens, sweaters, tights, etc. in winter anyway. I have found that drying times have decreased noticeably since we purchased our front loading washer that has a superbly effective spin cycle.

    I don’t like to run the machines when I am not home, so I start the laundry when I send my husband off to work at 5:30 a.m. The initial load is usually completed and put away by the time I have to leave the house. If there is time, I’ll run two loads; three on Saturdays.

    We sort into delicates, whites, darks, towels, special care/hand wash, and my husbands work clothes. In winter, everyone’s clothing (except the work clothes) is mixed together and sorted. In summer I wash my son’s play clothes separately because they are usually filthy from playing outside with his dog, in the woods, and the dirt. The loads that get washed are the ones that are full at the time, with special care clothing washed at least once a week so it doesn’t build up.

    We wear our outer clothes a couples times unless they get soiled, and wear aprons when cooking and cleaning. I’m a bit picky so we change out kitchen towels and rags every day and use cloth table linens. We use two towels / face cloths a week each and usually wash pillow cases weekly and bed sheets every other week.

    I would say that we do between 5-10 loads a week depending on the time of year. In summer we wash more because we are outside gardening, camping, playing and such and our clothes are soiled more. In winter there isn’t as much because the dirt is all covered with relatively clean snow, but we do wash more blankets.

    I don’t have to iron much in winter because I hang the clothes as they come out of the dyer. My husband wears perma-press shirts for Sunday that require little ironing. I make most of my clothes and purposely use fabrics that can at least be hand-washed and don’t wrinkle much.

  63. posted by Looby on

    I use our apartment buildings machines which are (sadly) toploaders and a little bigger than a regular front loader. (I’m from the UK originally and have no idea if all top loaders are this size).
    I usually get up early enough on a Sunday morning to beat the weekend laundry rush and run three loads for 2 people:
    1 boy load- my partners clothes, at a slightly higher temp as they are sweatier and smellier than mine, no fabric softener.
    1 girl load- my clothes and any non-tumble dry boy items, fabric softener is added and all clothes from this machine are hung to dry in our apartment.
    1 bedding and towel load.
    The boy and bedding and towel loads fit in one tumble dryer.
    I don’t sort according to colour, I have used dye magnets for years and have never had a colour run incident, although I imagine any white terry cloth would work, and I certainly don’t replace them as often as they suggest.

  64. posted by Pamela on

    Oongo 42
    You may want to try taking out the clothes that need to be ironed halfway through the final spin cyle. No wrinkles will have set in and the weight of the clothes as you hang them to dry will “iron” them out. This can get a little wet and messy but once you have a system down that works for you it saves time. The only drawback is this will only work if you have a top-loader and not a front-loader. Hope this helps. Good luck!

  65. posted by mur on

    I never dreamed I’d post my laundry habits online, but as I’m doing laundry at the moment, it seems like a reasonable thing to do.

    We are two adults who do laundry on Saturday:
    1 load whites (usually a small load is sufficient)
    1 load colors
    1 load darks

    On Sunday and Thursday, we wash towels.

    On Thursday we wash the sheets.

    I’ll fit in a load of delicates as needed.

    I’m the one who does it all, but hubbo has to fold and put away his clothes.

    A HUGE time and money saver for me was to buy no-iron shirts whenever we needed new clothes. Now there is no more time spent ironing and MUCH lower dry cleaning bills.

    All in all it is a boring chore, but I fit it in with everything else and it doesn’t seem so bad.

  66. posted by jen on

    Great post. Very interesting and very timely for me! I was just running the numbers yesterday. I try to do all the laundry for our family of four on Saturdays, but moved it up this week because we had some family fun planned. Yes, even the laundry gets factored into our fun now – ugh! I took me a full work day – 8 hours to do 7 loads (wash/dry/folded/carted upstairs/put away neatly, relatively) and I still have a couple of sweaters and my son’s embroidered Mexican shirt hanging on the drying rack. It never ends!

  67. posted by Courtney on

    You should totally pick up Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson. FYI, she spun off laundry into its own book:
    Laundry: The Home Comforts Book of Caring for Clothes and Linens
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obi.....tterer-20/

    I quote:
    “Laundry Day: How Often Should You Launder? In most households, doing laundry only once or twice a week is more effective and efficient than doing a load or two every day, and that is because the first step in preparing to do laundry is to accumulate an adequate stock of dirty clothes and linens to wash. It is inefficient and ineffective to run washers and dryers with very small loads; clothes come cleaner if washed in medium or larger loads and if articles of different sizes, large and small, are mixed loosely together in a load. (See chapter 4, “Laundering,” page 56.) This sort of mix will also help prevent the load from becoming unbalanced. (When the load becomes unbalanced, the washing machine may automatically shut down or dance wildly across the floor.) Clothes dry faster, too, if the dryer has at least a medium fill. Moreover, if you wait until a good stock is accumulated, you will have fewer temptations to give some items improper treatment by washing them with a load of dissimilar items.

    On the other hand, the accumulation of laundry should be small enough to be completed in a reasonable amount of time, and each laundry day should be fairly close in time to the last one — a week or less. The longer the dirt stays on fabrics, the harder it is to remove. In many instances, articles should receive interim treatment to prevent permanent staining or discoloration. Dirt, particularly perspiration and many food stains, also weakens fabrics, causing them to deteriorate, fade, or turn yellow. Mildew and odor are more likely to develop if laundr…”

  68. posted by Viv on

    A couple of points:

    -for the person who asks about combo washer/dryers… you don’t want one. We’ve used them in Europe, and they are very slow and don’t dry the clothes in the way that a separate dryer does. You need to quickly grab the stuff and hang it up when the cycle is over
    -I use two sizes of bar mop cloths for dishes – the smaller one for washing, and the larger one for drying. I change these every morning, and more often depending on what I’ve wiped up. They are inexpensive white terry cloths, not pretty, but real workhorses. You can buy them cheaply at restaurant supply stores. I also use white or slightly off-white terry faceloths, change them at least daily, and wash all the kitchen and bath cloths in a small load with bleach once a week with my DH’s white workout tshirts.
    -I then do a load of “flats” – towels and sheets – once a week. Buying them in similar colour families makes this easier.

  69. posted by Lessen Your Laundry Load « Bad Human! Don’t take chemicals from strangers! on

    [...] was reading this article about the average amount of laundry for a family of [...]

  70. posted by timgray on

    I see that the list leaves out problems like teenagers. My teenage daughter changes her clothes from 3 to 5 times a day. What was in fashion at breakfast is out of fashion after school, and it out of fashion for the evening. Plus she uses no less than 2 bath towels and 2 washcloths per day.

    My daughter generates more laundry than my wife and I combined.

  71. posted by Karen on

    Huh. In our house, everybody is responsible for their own laundry once they hit 8 years old and/or are mature enough to learn how to pour detergent and press buttons. My oldest does his own laundry, and so if he runs out of clean underwear, it’s his own fault.

    My husband also does his own laundry, so that again, he has nobody to blame but himself if he’s low on clothes. I do mine and the younger kids’ in one load twice a week, usually, and the sheets and towels as needed. No way do I do a load once a day. We’re a family of five.

  72. posted by EngineerMom on

    I started doing all of my own laundry when I was 12. For the family with the teen daughter who uses that insane amount of towels, washcloths, and clothes, start making her do her own laundry and pay for her own detergent. I can practically guarantee she’ll suddenly learn to hang towels up when she’s done and reuse them at least once.

    To the person so concerned about fecal bacteria remaining on bath towels and “mixing” with the dish towels when washed – our bodies were never intended to be entirely bacteria-free. Your body hosts more bacterial cells than its own cells. Deal with it. Washing your bath towels with your kitchen towels isn’t going to make you sick. All those cleaning products you’re probably sparying around your kitchen are far more likely to be harmful to your health than a few potential stray bacteria.

  73. posted by Gastro888 on

    Laundry is one of the easiest chores to do if you have the machines at home. You can do other chores while a load is running and you can run a load at any time. It’s not that bad; it’s better than cleaning the bathroom! :) Unfortunately, I am forced to use a laundromat. :( The only benefit is that I’m able to do a very large amount of laundry at once. I’d give anything to have my own washer/dryer. It’s easier and much more sanitary.

  74. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    We are a family of five, and we have a weekly laundry schedule to make sure that we get everything cleaned each week and the piles of dirty laundry do not get too big. I have posted my thoughts on why and how to create a weekly laundry schedule on my blog (click on my name for the link). I also have a place at the bottom of the page for others to share their weekly laundry schedules. I would love for you to check it out, and tell me your schedule, because I think we can all learn from one another.

  75. posted by Amanda @ www.kiddio.org on

    This is a great question. We have a family of five and a super-capacity front-loading washer and dryer. I think it’s pretty wasteful to divide up by family member (since you can’t really do dark-wash jeans and white t’s together).

    I just do a load each morning. I fold what’s in the dryer and put it away, move the wash into the dryer, and put in another load to wash. It takes about ten minutes a day, so around an hour a week. Since it doesn’t pile up it takes no time to put it all away, and it has really made an unpleasant, cumbersome task into a piece of cake.

    Best,
    Amanda @ http://www.kiddio.org & http://www.housemade.org

  76. posted by Andy on

    My household of two does our laundry once every 2 weeks. We go to a laundromat so it is all done in parallel and it tkaes less than 2 hours including travel and folding.

    So that’s about 1 hour/week. Seems a lot better than the example here.

  77. posted by Candace on

    I have a family of 4 and I used to do a load of laundry every day to keep it from piling up. That did not work for me because I would end up with piles of folded laundry sitting on the dining room table waiting for the next days piles to be added. I finally consolidated and made one day of the week “laundry day”. Now I can wash, sort clean clothes, and put them away all at the same time. In between I will cook meals or watch a movie. This was the perfect answer for me; only one day to think and worry with the laundry! Yeah!

  78. posted by Julie on

    If you have to ask, it means two things: you either are doing too much laundry or you have too much clothing. We are a family of five and I can add the loads up to 5 or 6 a week. There’s no need to separate children’s clothing from adult’s and (ew! some might say), I don’t wash the linens every week. Also, the washer is always full when in use. I do laundry when the baskets are full (even overflowing) or when the kids needs some piece of clothing in particular.

  79. posted by Raymond on

    Imagine the laundry of a 6 person household with two adults and 4 kids two teen agers and two ages 4 & 5 and the 5yo girl changes her clothing hourly and scatters her stuff all over every room in the house. we never seem to catch up.

  80. posted by Mimi R on

    Goodness gracious!

    Four our family of four, we have 2 loads of clothes per week in the summer and 3 loads per week in winter–and that includes towels. We do 1-3 loads of linens, based on whether we’re just washing sheets or comforters, too.

    We have a Cabrio, which holds a TON of clothes, we’re skinny, and pants are worn 2 days. Also, we use one set of towels per person per week (they’re used on a clean body–they’re probably the cleanest thing in the laundry). We’re also skinny!

  81. posted by Rosa on

    We do about 4 loads a week – one or two of clothes & bath towels, one of kitchen towels, washrags, & tablecloths (I go through about 2 a week, and they’re large), and usually something else – one week we’ll have a quilt someone spills on, one week it will be that my partner wiped out on his bike & his outer biking shell is dirty.

    I have a huge high-efficiency washer, though, from my time using cloth diapers. It makes a *big* difference.

    In the summer when line-drying is quick, and right now when we’re using the dryer, I do a load every other day with sometimes two loads in one day. In the fall & spring when I’m line-drying but it takes a long time, I usually end up doing every 2 or 3 days and then using the dryer on an emergency load on the weekend – I’m working on learning to do that, I didn’t extend my line-drying season til this year.

    I kind of miss the laundromat, just doing it one afternoon & having it be done…but I didn’t have as many dirty clothes then, either.

  82. posted by January’s Green Experiment: Line drying clothing | Green Your Apartment on

    [...] experiment starts tomorrow in sync with the new laundry routine I’m implementing as seen at Unclutterer (scroll down to #6 to see the schedule). Thank you Erin for your continuous inspiration! In the [...]

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