My New Year’s Resolution: Laundry

My husband and I often have “mature” conversations that sound something like this:

Me: I really need to do a load of laundry, but I don’t want to.
Him: I don’t want to do laundry, either.
Me: Okay, it’s settled, we won’t do laundry.
Him: I love being an adult.

Hands down, laundry is the chore we hate to do the most. We used to hate doing dishes, but we got a new dishwasher last year that actually works, so laundry has moved into the top position.

I’ve never been able to figure out if it’s the time commitment, the labor, or the recidivistic nature of the chore that makes me loathe it so much. Sorting, washing, drying, folding, and putting away don’t seem like such horrible tasks on their own … but put together, I find them to be awful. I know things are bad when I would rather clean toilets than do laundry.

I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m going to give them a whirl in 2008 and put “Get laundry under control” on my list. In fact, it will probably be the only resolution on my list of resolutions this year. It causes me more stress than everything else in my life, so it’s going to get the prominence it deserves.

I’m going to spend the next couple weeks getting things ready for my year of laundry control. I’ll start by reviewing the posts I’ve already written on laundry (Ending laundry chaos and More than 15 ways to handle recurrent clutter) and re-establish all of the systems I’ve tried to put in place in the past. I know, too, that there will be at least one trip to Goodwill with clothing donations before the new year begins.

What area of your life is the most cluttered? Have you thought about getting it under control as a New Year’s Resolution? If so, what steps are you going to take to make your resolution a reality? Feel welcome to share your plans with us in the comments section.

54 Comments for “My New Year’s Resolution: Laundry”

  1. posted by Carolyn on

    I definitely have a problem keeping up with the laundry. We ended up getting the LG Washer Dryer Combo and it has saved us as far as laundry goes. It washes and dries the load without having to move it from one machine to the next. And it takes up half the space in the laundry room. It takes a bit getting used to because you have to do smaller loads to keep your clothes from getting wrinkled but Nellie’s Dryerballs help fix that.

  2. posted by John of Indiana on

    I live in a small flat. So, for the last decade I have had to schlepp it all 15 miles to the nearest Sudz n’ Dudz. NOT a great way to spend an evening…
    I resolve, since my truck is now paid for, to get an “apartment size” washer and dryer and stop the insanity. I figure the combo will pay for themselves in about a year, less if gasoline keeps going up.

  3. posted by PJK on

    Assuming you have a w/d in your home, try to develop “a load a day” habit. If you don’t have a lot of laundry, get in the habit of doing small loads – less overwhelming. Put the load in first thing in the morning, then transfer to dryer when you get home from work (or when the washer is done, if you’re already home). As soon as the dryer goes off, hang or fold the items so they don’t need to be ironed (hopefully).

    You might even try to designate certain days for certain loads. Here’s my schedule:
    Monday – master bed sheets
    Tuesday – dark towels
    Wednesday – dark delicates
    Thursday – light towels
    Friday – light delicates
    Saturday – rags (if there’s enough; we use a lot with cleaning off the dog’s paws, lining his cage, etc. plus we use them for cleaning).

    Sunday – no laundry, but maybe a quick cleaning of the outside of the appliances, or a thorough washing of the lint screen to remove dryer sheet residue.

    Also, Saturday and Sunday can be used for the occasional “special” washes, like winter coats, guest bed linens when guests are coming, etc.

  4. posted by Mary on

    A week without water and power during a freak blizzard in our area made me realize that simple tasks such as dishes and laundry are really a pleasure – especially since we don’t have to hike to a river to wash clothes by hand!

    I’m a fan of one load per day but I tell myself “I only GET to do one load a day …” Somehow that phrase keeps those blizzard days fresh in my mind when I would have done anything to have been able to do some simple household chores!

  5. posted by helix on

    There are some solutions:

    1) Outsource it to a dry cleaner. When you calculate how much your time costs you, it might very well be worth it.

    2) Wear wool more often. It does not need to be washed each time you wear it because it does not accumulate smells like cotton and synthetics. Lately, wool base layers made of super fine merino are making a comeback. That’s what people did 100 years ago, if you think laundry is a chore now, imagine what it would be like without the benefit of a washer, dryer and hot water!

  6. posted by Angell on

    this is odd. I love doing laundry. I get all excited about planning out what I am going to wash and when. The whole process the machine goes through. And seeing how long different parts of different clothes take to dry…

    ok, that sounds really sad. Maybe I shouldn’t post this… ummmm…

  7. posted by Brian M on

    As unappealing as it sounds, I believe that taking your clothes to a laundromat is the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to get all your clothes done in the least amount of time. Having a washer and dryer at home is convenient, but you end up dragging the laundry out over days. In the laundromat you can do all your loads at once, dry them all at once and fold them all promptly as they are done.

    You can usually get this all done in about 2 hours and since you are folding/hanging everything right when they are done drying, you will reduce the amount of wrinkled clothes.

    Just find a good laundromat with free wi-fi and you can have all your laundry done in a couple hours.

  8. posted by Jayney on

    Just with regard to Helix’ comment above, I would suggest not dry-cleaning any clothes that don’t strictly require it. The chemicals and energy used in dry-cleaning are completely horrible for the environment. (If you were just talking about a professional laundry service, ingore the above :D).

    I reduce laundry by changing out of my work clothes as soon as I get home, so that I can wear them several times before washing (a desk job doesn’t get me very dirty). Then I do all the wash on a weekend afternoon, instead of dragging it out over the course of the week.

  9. posted by Erin Doland on

    Hey, everyone … I really appreciate the comments so far, but I want to know about YOUR resolutions!! What is top on your uncluttering resolutions list this year?

  10. posted by Samantha on

    My husband and I moved into a house this past summer, and apparently that meant that my parents could dump all of the stuff they had been saving into it. We have made some progress, but we still have a bedroom that is nothing but random things and collectibles that I doubt we have a place for. Our goal is to go through everything and divide it into useful items or ones that fit in our home and items to donate or otherwise get rid of. I’m looking forward to reclaiming a room in our house!

  11. posted by Jasi on

    I have a split with very weird pathing. I swear it’s a quarter mile from top to bottom. So moving laundry 4+ flights of steps, turns, halways… It really starts to suck. I’ve come to hate laundry, too.

    Someday I plan to get a two-in-one on the mid level (bedroom level, floor 3). Wash it, dry it, do it all, please.

    There’s always sending it out. I’ve thought of that, too.

  12. posted by Jasi on

    Oh, and I resolve to be softer, more flexible. But I think I have 11 more days until. Going to live it up.

  13. posted by EricaLucci on

    Yep, I hate laundry too. It got a bit better when I bought a hamper that has a couple different sections. That way I can sort clothes as soon as I take them off. It’s easier to grab one load of laundry at a time as I don’t have to sort through all the clothes.

    Now I just need to figure out how to make folding an easier chore. Our clothes stay in the baskets for days and days because we both hate folding.

  14. posted by EricaLucci on

    Oh, and I resolve to unclutter my online life. My blog mostly (working on a redesign which should help with organization of the data).

  15. posted by Carmen on

    I used to love doing laundry, but now it is a huge clutter and procrastination problem for me. I don’t have a problem washing or drying the clothes – for me it is the “putting away” that is the problem. My closet/dresser has no good organizational strategy and nothing fits. Maybe the root of this problem is that my husband and I have to do a *major* purge of clothing. Maybe that will be my New Year’s resolution – “To keep no more clothes than what fits neatly in my dresser and closet”.

  16. posted by Kris on

    Paper and the streams that enter our house are my troube spot. Magazines, papers from school for two small boys, mail, bills, catalogs, junk mail, etc. I’ve made some small steps:

    1. Have not renewed magazines that are just a waste of my money as I never read them .. have been doing this all year as the subscriptions ran out

    2. Purchased a scanner. Now when a bill arrives, I get online and schedule it to be paid, scan it, file it on my external hard drive and then shred the bill. Any paper with non-personal information gets recycled. We use much of the shredded paper as packing for packages we send out. I still have to go back and scan the OLD stuf … that’s got to be done.

    3. Used the links on this site provided a week or so ago to remove my name from various catalog lists.

    4. I used much of my boys’ artwork as giftwrap this holiday season. Again, I need to scan the good stuff or laminate it to keep it in their art box.

    I still feel overwhelmed at times with the sheer volume but at least I’ve made a start.

  17. posted by CM on

    We have a machine that does the laundry for us! Awesome.

    My resolution for right now is to stop procrastinating and finish the EXAM I’M WRITING.

  18. posted by patty on

    I would like to get a handle on my yarn. I have a great deal of yarn. I often cull the stash and give to my friends who knit and they are very happy to receive it. (I tend to buy the good stuff) I am trying to knit shawls for people as they often either admire mine or complain of the cold office they are in. I ‘ve got to get the yarn off the floor.

  19. posted by spark on

    Well, I hate new year’s resolutions in general because they always seem to be a promise that rarely anyone keeps. I make resolutions throughout the year and try to accomplish them as I make them instead of making one huge promise at the beginning of the year that I can’t or won’t keep.

    My resolution for this year, I suppose, is the continuation of the one I’ve already begun. I started decluttering my apartment, drastically. I have accumulated tons of stuff I don’t need and every closet is full. The problem is I can’t find the things I do need for all the stuff I don’t need. Plus I am constantly stressed out when I come home because all I see is clutter (even if it’s all nicely hidden in the closets-I can still “see” it).

    I accumulate most things because of my major in school, architecture. This produces a LOT of stuff, model building materials, drawing materials, papers, glues, markers, pens, etc. And old projects! You name it, I’ve got several of it. And a lot of this stuff is expensive, so I hold on to as much as possible so I don’t have to re-purchase anything.

    Getting the apartment uncluttered is not really the resolution though, keeping it that way will be the main goal for the year.

    As far as laundry, I hate it too. Not because I don’t like the chore, but because I don’t have a washer and dryer and no where to put one. I usually take my laundry to my parent’s house when I visit them about once a month and get it done. Takes a long time to do that much laundry, and they don’t live close where I can visit more frequently. My apartments do have a shared laundry facility, but it costs entirely too much and the machines don’t really work all that well. So it doesn’t save me any time or money to use them. I’d love to have a tiny w/d in my apartment.

  20. posted by verily on

    My resolution is to stop using plastic bags in stores in 2008. Less cluttering under my sink and in the dumps!

    My next goal is to unclutter my mailbox.

  21. posted by Joy on

    Be grateful that you don’t have to do laundry at the laundromat! I used to love doing laundry until I moved into an apartment with no taps for my washing machine (and no communal laundry either!). Lugging laundry to the laundromat is sooo painful, especially when I have more than one load to do (and it’s only worth going if I have more than one load…). It also wastes a huge amount of my time, if I had a washing machine and dryer at home I could be doing something else productive (or unproductive) while a load was on. I used to love doing laundry!

  22. posted by Andrew on

    I just have to make a comment about the fact that your New Year’s resolution is “Doing Laundry”.

    It really says a lot about a person when the most pressing issue of change is the fact that they can’t do laundry.

    I applaud and envy your grasp on life. I hope that one of these new years, I too can have a resolution that’s both simplistic and humbling at the same time. I wish you much success in accomplishing your goal!

  23. posted by Tracy on

    My resolutions are as follows:

    1.) Faithfully make a meal plan every week. I used to do this religiously and have gotten off track. It’s so much more pleasant to cook every day when you know precisely what you’re going to make AND you have everything you need. Aside from that, there’s no wasted food.

    2.) Work more on my research and less on my teaching tasks. Teaching tasks are more fun, but research will get me tenure.

    3.) Keep with my “touch the mail only once” program. When I bring in the mail each night, it’s immediately sorted and most of it is recycled. I’ve been doing this for a few months now and it’s so nice not having random pieces of mail on my kitchen desk anymore.

    4.) FOLD LAUNDRY IMMEDIATELY AFTER DRYING. I am notorious for leaving the dry laundry in my dryer for over a day, where it gets wrinkly. Folding warm laundry in the winter is very cozy, I think.

    5.) Remember to use my cloth grocery bags all the time. I’m fairly good about this now, but could use improvement.

  24. posted by Tiara on

    My new years resolution is to get my mail under control. Currently, my husband and I use our dining room table as a filing cabinet, but not even close to that organized. We walk in throw the mail and any papers from work and school onto the table. It stacks up. Then I open the bills in time to pay them, but leave everything else wehre it is.

    My resolution is to get this clutter under control so my family can eat around the dinner table without having to throw everything into a box or bag everytime we want to clear off the table (which is what we do now, which means stuff gets lost, and these boxes and bags stack up, waiting for us to go through them).

    I’ve started by putting a recycle bin next to my in-garage mailbox. I immediately put any junk mail that isn’t a credit card application into it. That way it doesn’t even get into the house! But I think my next step is to put a shredder next to it, so I can keep those credit card applications out of the house too.

    I’d welcome any suggestions on school paperwork, too. By school, I mean the daycare both my girls go to. We get daily reports on my 1 1/2 year old and homework, artwork, photos, permission slips, etc. for my 4-year-old.

    My thoughts on laundry: I don’t mind doing laundry, and I follow a lot of the tips in your article. Though I only have one laundry basket. It forces me to put the clean clothes away immediately, instead of letting it stack up. Also, I wash all my clothes right side out, unless the instructions tell me otherwise, to save time in folding.

  25. posted by Lori on

    My main tangible New Year’s resolution is to clear out old files and get the stacks of “to be filed” stuff put away. And to consider getting a ScanSnap.

    I’m baffled as to why people with washers and dryers at home view laundry as such a time suck. It takes less than a minute to turn the washer on, dump in the soap and the clothes, and shut the lid. Walk away and do something fun (or go to work, or the store, or whatever else you have to do), then come back later and spend 30 seconds transferring the load to the dryer. The only part that takes more than a minute is folding, but it’s not like that takes forever — and it’s even less if you hang as much as you can. And if you have room for two baskets so you can presort into lights and darks as you undress, that’s even more time saved. You don’t have to actually sit there and watch the machinery do its work.

  26. posted by Jacki Hollywood Brown on

    My laundry room is in a covered porch which today temperature reached a high of 11C (50F). Last winter it got down to a low of 4C (40F). This does not give me the incentive to do laundry.

  27. posted by ysabet on

    1. Unclutter my body: I have too much of it. And it doesn’t do what I want it to – I’m going to declutter my body this year.

    2. Unclutter my head: bad stuff happens, and I’ve chosen this year to deal with it.

    3. Unclutter my habitats: I want to live an organised, tidy life. Currently stuff is everywhere, and it’s irritating me no end.

  28. posted by Risa on

    I resolve to get my kitchen under control. I absolutely love to cook (during the busy season at work it’s the only thing that keeps me sane), but I hate to do dishes. So I just don’t do them. I’m going to get rid of a bunch of duplicates (I live alone, how many coffee cups do I need?) and do a deep cleaning to start the new year fresh. But I’d love to be able to see my countertops.

  29. posted by skywind on

    I like laundry too, and for another perspective, I am NOT a “load a day” person. Thursday night is laundry night–I come home from work and immediately throw the delicates–lingerie, stockings, sweaters–into the delicate cycle on my machine. I set up the drying rack and, while the delicates are washing, sort ALL the rest of the laundry in the house (not the sheets and towels, though). I usually have a white, medium and dark load. When the delicates are washed, I hang them on the drying rack and throw another load in (usually the mediums, since my son is probably wearing something dark and something white). When that load is done, it’s usually time for him to take a bath, so I do the dark load, and then the white load. Meanwhile, I’m folding stuff out of the dryer and hanging it up as I go. It helps that I have a small house and the washer and dryer are right next to the kitchen and my son’s bedroom. Before I go to bed, I throw the last load in the dryer, which is usually white underwear and socks. Mostly everything else is already folded or hung to dry by now. When I get up on Friday, I take the whites out of the dryer, put them away and voila! ALL the clothes in my house are clean at the same time, in time for the weekend. The “load a day” plan drives me nuts, because something is always not done when you want it–your jeans may be clean, but a light colored t-shirt is still waiting to be washed.

    I take sheets off the beds on Saturday or Sunday AM, wash and dry them and put them right back on the beds. Sometime over the weekend, I wash the week’s worth of towels and put them back in the bathrooms. We don’t change our towels every day, because I figure a towel used to dry off a freshly washed body isn’t getting that dirty.

  30. posted by Shaun Krisher on

    Wash & Fold is a gift from the gods. It’s cheap, everything is sorted, pressed and/or folded for you. Some places even pick up and deliver. If you hate laundry, outsource it.

    It’s the very best thing.

  31. posted by gbich on

    My mom used to have to drag me to the laundromat when I was growing up, and I HATED it. It gives me perspective when I get to do laundry in my own washer/dryer. Having said that, it’s not my favorite chore. I find if my laundry room is clean and tidy, it makes going in there much more bearable than if there’s crap strewn about.

  32. posted by twosandalz on

    My resolution: Keep my spare room picked up! It is now cleared out of things I don’t use, and everything that’s left has a home. The problem is, once something is used it often doesn’t make it back into its home. Its so easy to procrastinate putting things away in a room I don’t spend much time in.

    Its time to treat the spare room like the living room… put away items immediately after using them. Thank’s for the post… I am inspired!

  33. posted by jt in the army on

    The laundromats here charge $1 per pound to wash laundry for me, so that makes it well worth my time to go in on the Saturday before Christmas and wash my laundry.

  34. posted by Arlene on

    I love laundry but HATE HATE HATE carpeting…the pointless vacuuming, the stain “removal,” the dusty fuzziness of it.

    I’ve seriously considered buying a house — an ENTIRE house — just to be able to put down easy-clean hard floors. Wood, linoleum, stained concrete….I don’t care. Any NOT-carpet surface will do.

    I always told friends, “If you hear that there’s been a carpet bonfire in the parking lot of my condo, you’ll know I won the lottery.”

  35. posted by Ann on

    When we were first married, I had to use the laundrymat. As soon as we could afford it, we bought our own machines. That day I swore I would never again complain about doing laundry. It’s still not my favorite chore, but I remind myself to be grateful.

    Resolution- ditto the meal planning. Getting in the habit of planning it out and getting the pantry/fridge stocked should make meal prep less of a pain. Again, I remind myself to be grateful. There was a time when I wondered if we’d have grocery money for the week.

  36. posted by Monique on

    My uncluttering task for the new year will be to clean out the linen closet. When looking for a tablecloth to use at Thanksgiving I came across a child’s hooded bath towel. My children are now 12 and 15 years old. I am looking forward to seeing what other “treasures” I will find. Happy New Year!

  37. posted by STL Mom on

    We will be selling our house in the spring. With a slow housing market, I think that having a neat, uncluttered house will be very important. Also, we will be moving to a more expensive city, so probably will have a smaller house.
    Anything that I won’t be happy to pack up, move, and unpack has to go! Also, I will have to have good cleaning routines so the house will look great every day, since you never know when someone will come and look.

  38. posted by TC on

    I don’t have an issue with laundry; what I have an issue with is unmatched socks, of which I currently have a bag full that sits under a piece of furniture in my living room. How do you guys keep unmatched and thus useless socks from proliferating in your homes–thus necessitating the buying of MORE socks which then become unmatched and…you get the idea.

    Bonus thank yous to anyone who can suggest a solution to this that ALSO helps me to keep track of who the socks I CAN pair up belong to! (I have two kids, 10 and 6, and it’s a CONstant problem to find the one whose feet fit the socks in question.)

  39. posted by verily on

    TC, I resolved that simply by throwing out my old socks every few years and replacing them with 12 identical pairs of white socks. Then again, I don’t have to dress up for my job. If you do, then perhaps you should consider going half white/half dress black. I don’t bother with colored or fancy patterns since no one will see them anyway for the most part.

  40. posted by Stephanie on

    This year I want to live more simply.

    I aim for not driving to the mall and buying stuff when I am bored. Paying down my car payment and student loans will be a priority because I don’t want to work until I die in a vicious cycle of wanting new things all the time and using credit to get it.

    I want to eat out less often. There used to be a time in history when going out to eat at a restaurant was something special. Now you can be sitting in a fine “white tablecloth” restaurant on a special occasion while a family walks in wearing t-shirts & their kids rolling around on Heelies.

    Doing my part to conserve resources whether it be money, gas, time or energy will also be of growing importance in 2008.

    Feeling grateful and expressing gratitude is also something I will reflect on.

  41. posted by h... on

    i just finished my laundry last night. I can relate how you feel about that chore. I used to go to a laundormat to do my laundry. It took a couple hours. Now I have a house with w/d. Since it is only one washer and one dryer, it takes all day to do it. Oh well.

    Now my resoluation is to decutter some more. Simplify my life.


  42. posted by amy on

    Declutter! (well, why else would I be reading this!)

    Sort out my “to be filed” pile, it has to be dealt with.

    Empty the shredder and teach everyone else in the house also how to empty it – a shredder that falls over when full is not a fun thing to deal with.

    Be happy and at peace with myself and my life.

    Socks – try something like these –!6250 – (hmm, the ! in the url may screw it up, just search for Sockies on the site), maybe buy enough so you can assine one colour to each of your boys?

  43. posted by Jan - queenofkaos on

    I caught my husband doing the laundry naked the other morning. I guess that speaks volumes about our laundry habits!

    I’m letting him do it from now on. :0)

  44. posted by Megan @ Disorder2Order on

    Hilarious! I love your “adult” conversation! After seeing 43 comments posted… I am sure I don’t need to tell you that. Thanks for making me laugh!

  45. posted by Maisie on

    Two things that have made doing laundry easier for me:

    1) In the master bedroom I have TWO small laundry baskets: one for darks and one for lights. It really didn’t take long at all to train my husband, and I plan to train the kids when they’re old enough. When one of the baskets is full, off to the laundry room it goes. No sorting.

    2) Tivo. I tivo shows I don’t normally have time to watch or would feel guilty watching. Then, while I’m folding laundry (o, odious task!) I treat myself to a little brain candy a la Entertainment Tonight!

  46. posted by jenna on

    I wear socks similar to these – it makes matching them up into pairs easy.

  47. posted by Juli on

    I have five children (under 10) and a husband who works a “dirty job” – shoeing horses. Sometimes in the summer he will wear up to six different shirts and two pair of jeans a day.

    I tried the laundry hampers in the bedrooms, it didn’t work. Now I have our poor little hallway packed (there is enough from to walk through single-file) with large laundry hampers. Darks, jeans, reds, lights, blues & greens. I recently came across an idea to give each child a mesh bag for their socks & underwear, which are on hooks in their closets. This has cut out “just whose white sock is this” fiasco – I simply collect the bags, wash & dry them and return the bags.

    What I wish I could find are taller, skinnier laundry hampers that would fit better in the hallway. Any ideas??

    Could you come live at my house and unclutter it? PLEASE?!!?!?

  48. posted by Josephine on

    I get a kick out of your (anti-)laundry postings probably because laundry is one of those tasks that I particularly enjoy and I realize you don’t. 😉 Because I go out to do laundry, it serves as “downtime” and I typically read, knit, do crossword puzzles and munch on a bagel and drink coffee while doing laundry. It’s quite relaxing.

  49. posted by Harjot on

    I can’t stand folding and hanging clothes! It drives me crazy too…but I found the perfect solution: I fold and hang clothes while watching TV. If I’m distracted watching a show I love, it really doesn’t feel like a chore anymore.

  50. posted by Amanda on

    Erin, could you fill us in on how The Year of Laundry has gone so far?

  51. posted by Danielle on

    I was just looking into have someone do my laundry, I hate it so much. However, I’m giving it one more try. My goal is this: One Load A Day Until It’s Put Away. That means put into drawers, closets, whatever. I hope it works!!

  52. posted by LisaNewton on

    Wow, I never knew so many people blogged about laundry, but I’m slowly finding out…………..:)

  53. posted by TheBellSite » Keeping Resolutions on

    […] me, getting organized appeared in some fashion on this list. My specific resolution was to get my laundry mess under control. Generating the resolution and committing it to paper or a hard drive is a terrific way to start […]

  54. posted by Taylor at Household Management 101 on

    Laundry can be overwhelming because it never ends. I have found that the best way to deal with it is to create a weekly schedule. I have a large family, so I need to do some type of laundry every day. Having a schedule ensures that I keep all the laundry under control, but more importantly it gives me a point of completion everyday. Once I finish my required task of laundry for the day, I am done. No more feeling like the task is never complete.

    Come check out my example of my weekly laundry schedule at my website!


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