How to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry Schedule

Does your laundry schedule have you doing the laundry every day?

If your answer is yes (or even almost), it’s time to STOP wasting your valuable time and try a once-a-week laundry schedule instead!

It really is possible! 

I’ve done clothes laundry ONCE a WEEK for SEVEN PEOPLE for over three years now.

Sometimes people think I’m crazy when I say that switching up the laundry routine changed my life – but as a mom, you know what I’m talking about, right?!

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Laundry Facts

First, let’s talk about the bane of every mother’s existence everywhere.

We find it lurking in pile after stinky pile, overtaking our laundry rooms, and spilling out into the living room, taking up residence in the bedrooms and spreading faster than frosting on a still-cooling birthday cake.

According to The Spruce, the average American family does 8-10 loads of laundry a week, and each load takes an average of one hour and 27 minutes to complete.

Without overlapping the loads, that’s 12 hours of laundry every week!  

(But just in case you’re wondering, that’s NOTHING compared to how much laundry is done at Disney World every day, where they wash an astounding 285,000 pounds of clothes every single day.).

But I digress.

Free Printable Laundry Schedule

To help you remember these tips, join the Jen Bradley|MOMs free Printable Library to download and print your own copy! 

You’ll also get a free list of homemade cleaners and weekly and daily cleaning schedules! Click right here or on the image below to get your free laundry tips!

free laundry and cleaning tips printable

Why I Needed a Laundry Schedule

I knew I needed a laundry plan on the day that my daughter chose to wear her hooded  towel until lunch because she had no clean underwear. 

Also, I was so blasted tired of the laundry basket full of clean clothes mocking me every time I walked past it.

What did it say, you ask? Here’s a sampling that might sound familiar:

  • “Jen, you’re a total mess. Why can’t you even find 10 minutes to fold these clothes?”
  • “Dang, lady. If you had your life together you would have folded me two days ago.”
  • “Are you just waiting for these clothes to fold themselves? Not gonna happen.”

Those days of desperately wishing for the Laundry Fairy to show up were oh so real.

It wasn’t long after baby number 5 that I realized if I could come up with and stick to a laundry schedule, my life would get so. much. better.

Another thing that is making my life better lately is this adorable and cozy tee from Simply Sage Market! The slogan couldn’t be more perfect: “I move mountains … of laundry that is!”

mountains of laundry tee

Benefits of Time Blocking

Have you ever heard about time blocking?

It’s the idea that we do specific things that correlate with each other at the same time to save mental energy and streamline our lives.

Take meal prepping for example.

Many mamas swear by a once-a-week meal prepping session where they make all of their meals for the week in one several-hour jam session in the kitchen.

They cook all their meat, prep noodles, soups, casseroles, and chop veggies in one go. They make one huge mess in the kitchen instead of 5 or 6 separate little messes.

I decided to try this time-blocking idea with laundry and only do clothes laundry once a week. 

Long story short: It’s been amazing. And I’m never going back.

Here’s how you can make the switch to a once-a-week laundry schedule too:

How to switch to a once-a-week laundry schedule:

Here’s what it looks like:

Step 1. Choose a laundry day

You want to dedicate the same day to do the laundry every week, if at all possible.

It’s best to choose the day that you are home the most.

For me this day is Friday.

I don’t schedule a lot of things outside of the house, especially in the morning. No appointments, no playdates, no grocery shopping, no field trips.

Whatever day you choose, make your schedule as free as possible.

Step 2: Gather all the clothes laundry in one place

You may consider having your family deliver all of their laundry to the washing machine and dryer area the night before laundry day.

(You could also have your kids go through their pockets and turn everything right side out so all the clothes will be waiting for you like obedient laundry children the next morning! How cool would that be?!)

If you are looking for lightweight laundry hampers that kids can carry or push, check out these super inexpensive laundry hampers that I love! They are collapsible, fit a ton of clothes, and come in a pack of 2.

There’s no doubt that having a beautiful and functional laundry room can really streamline your laundry process. 

Easy Closets has 3 amazing tips for creating the best laundry room possible, all based on sorting, storage, and streamlining!

 

Step 3: Sort

Now you may have a tried and true method for sorting laundry that you swear by. If you do, stick with it!

Here are the 5 different piles that I sort our clothes into every week:

  1. darks for my husband and I
  2. whites and lights for everyone
  3. colors for my 2 girls
  4. pants, underwear, and socks for my 3 boys
  5. shirts and pajamas for the boys 

However you choose to sort, be sure to move as quickly as possible!

sort the laundry all at once

I sort mine straight onto the laundry room floor and go through all the pockets and pull everything right side out (except for jeans, which I wash inside out).

Stopping the laundry flow to sort clothes every time you switch the loads is a BIG time waster.

Try sorting everything in one 15-20 minute chunk first thing in the morning. 

Now, you may be wondering about the color sorting or lack thereof.

Other than setting aside the whites and the super lights (like blush, cream, and powder blue), it hasn’t ever been a problem for me to wash everything together.

Step 4: Start the wash (and set the chime!)

Over the past few months, I’ve been using Tru Earth eco-friendly laundry strips. I can’t even tell you how much I loooveeee them! 

They are free of added dyes, parabens, phosphates, and chlorine bleach, which makes them safe for your whole family AND the environment. 

And because they come in strip form – they are super compact and take up virtually no space at all in your laundry room!

(What mom couldn’t use a little extra space in her cupboards, am I right?)

Once you get the washing machine going, be sure to set the chime or a timer for when it is done! 

Step 5: Switch loads ASAP

As soon as you hear the timer or chime on your washing machine, try to get yourself to the laundry room to switch it over to the dryer ASAP.

I’ve been using these amazing re-usable wool dryer balls for five years and I highly recommend them!

They are chemical free, reduce wrinkles, and are a huge money saver over disposable dryer sheets.

Once you have clean clothes fresh from the dryer, put them in fun laundry baskets like these until you can fold them.

Bonus: these laundry baskets are collapsible and come in nearly every color of the rainbow! Check them out!

Keep repeating this process until you’ve got all of your clothes washed and dried. 

(I’m such a nerd that I try to race myself every week to see if I can get through all 5 loads faster than I did the week before.)

And just to prove my nerdiness a bit further, I try to maintain super positive vibes flowing from me toward my washing machine.

I mean, I could have to use a washboard and the whole plunge and scrub method that Tom Cruise taught Nicole Kidman in Far and Away.

Hmmm … actually if Tom Cruise would come and teach me how to properly plunge and scrub, maybe I don’t need that washing machine so much anyway.

Just kidding.

Step 6: Fold as you go

This is a big one!

Every time a load completes in the dryer, pull it out, put in a colorful laundry basket like this and drag it to wherever you are.

And just start folding. Don’t wait!

fold the laundry as you go

Here are some possible activities you can do while you fold:

  • read aloud to your kids
  • tell them a story
  • play a board game
  • listen to an audiobook
  • watch a show or a movie
  • FaceTime with family
  • carry out the kids’ bedtime routine

And be sure to remind yourself as you’re folding that you are giving yourself 6 clothes-folding-free days.

As you fold, put the clothes back into the basket and deliver them to the room where they belong.

Better yet, you could have your kids “drive” the baskets to the proper room.

Step 7: Put it away

At the end of the day, put it all away. Don’t let yourself only do 80% of the work, okay?!

Kids over the age of  7 or 8 are capable of putting away their own laundry (yes, this includes your husband too! haha!).

Younger kids may need a little help, but you can have them start putting away their socks when they’re very young.

Once the laundry is folded and put away, don’t touch it again until you sort it the next Friday morning.

Voila! You can totally cut down to a once-a-week family laundry schedule!

family laundry schedule

Final thoughts on a simplified laundry schedule

A few more things have made this once-a-week laundry routine work like a dream for me.

-Involve your kids

At least one time on laundry day, I ask my older kids to transfer the laundry and start the next load.

involve your kids in your laundry routine

If they’re capable of operating an iPad with expert precision, they sure as heck can start a washing machine.

-Set aside a day just for sheets and towels

Choose one other day to do sheets and towels laundry.

For me, it’s Tuesday.

On Tuesday morning, I have my kids strip down their beds and bring me their sheets and pillowcases.

And lest you be impressed, I only do one kids’ room a week and they switch off weeks. So yes, they go a full two weeks without having their sheets cleaned.

(But that’s WAY shorter than it was before I started my bomb dot com laundry system!)

this laundry detergent is the best!I am a huge fan of Tru Earth laundry strips for our sheets and towels too! The linen-scented ones are absolutely divine for towels and sheets.

When sheets are done, they go straight back on their beds. No need to fold sheets EVER.

The towels are one or two quick loads after sheets are done.  (And remember, folding towels goes so much more quickly than folding clothes!)

-Make sure your kids own clothes for at least 8 days

This means at least 8 pairs of underwear and socks and enough pants and shirts to make it that long.

Honestly, most kids own WAYYY more than that.

Let your family know what day will be your laundry day and that they’ll need to plan accordingly.

The ONLY time you may need to do an extra load would be if someone wets the bed or gets sick during the night. (Which hopefully is never, but let’s be real!)

-Focus on gaining 6 clothes-laundry-FREE days per week

Sure, doing all of the clothes laundry in one day is a lot of work, but when you get it done, it’s done for 6 whole days!

You won’t even need to look at the hampers, and you’ll be free from that mocking voice of the full laundry basket!

once a week laundry routine

 

Related articles about clothes and productivity:

How to Create the Best Stay at Home Mom Schedule

The Ultimate Decluttering Checklist – 101 Things You Can Get Rid of ASAP

How to Start Time Blocking for Moms – Mom Life Hacks 101

How to Be More Productive as a Mom Today

7 Incredible Tips to Help You Set (and Actually Crush!) Your Mom Goals

Let me know if you want to try a once-a-week laundry system!

 

once a week laundry schedule pin

How to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry ScheduleHow to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry ScheduleHow to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry ScheduleHow to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry ScheduleHow to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry ScheduleHow to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry Schedule

Jen Bradley is the creator of The Confident Closet

Hi there! I’m so glad you’re here. I am a mom of five kids who believes you can find joy in mom life – mostly by learning how to simplify motherhood! Read More …

 

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30 thoughts on “How to Make the Switch to a Once-a-Week Family Laundry Schedule”

  1. Hi Jen! I love this system! Now that it is just my husband and I, I don’t have to worry a lot about it as much but I love to do my laundry in one day too!

    Years ago when our girls were young, my best friend shared a funny story with me about her laundry dilemna and I thought you would enjoy it. Ellen would fold her youngest daughter’s laundry, put it neatly away in drawers, and yet when she checked again, the drawers were in complete disarray. She would get so frustrated with her daughter who was about 8 at the time and would make her refold the laundry and put it back. This went on for several weeks. Callie was always so sweet and apologetic and kept saying, “Mommy, I don’t know how I mess it up!” Finally, in the middle of the night Ellen heard quite a ruckus coming from Callie’s room. She got up, walked upstairs and observed Callie ransacking her drawers. She spoke to her but Callie ignored her, kept going through it, shut the drawer and laid back down sound asleep. Turns out, she was sleepwalking! Or, in her case, sleep rummaging!

    Happy Valentine’s day Jen!

    1. Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for your comment! What a funny story – I’ve never heard of a sleep rummager before! 😉 Honestly though, I totally know how Ellen feels about the drawers in disarray, and I’m glad she found the reason!! Too cute. I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s weekend too!

  2. Hi Jen!

    I love your system. Also being a mom of 5, I had to develop a system as well. I have 4 boys and 1 girl. I started early on limiting the amount of clothing each kid had (and needed). Like you, I went with enough clothes to go from one laundry day to the next — which was once a week. Since they were children and growing, I figured 5-7 pairs of pants/shorts each and 7-10 tops were enough. And I wasn’t one to have them change in the middle of the day if they spilled something on their clothes. (Please don’t judge. Laundry is not my favorite task, and I needed to keep my sanity.)

    When they were old enough, I introduced a “Buddy System.” Every month we would rotate who the laundry buddy was, so each child got to be my buddy doing the laundry. The older ones got to take over the job; the younger ones assisted me with various parts of the process — pouring detergent into the washer, throwing wet clothes into the dryer, etc. I also got a timer to keep with them, so when it went off, it was time to move laundry. At first, I did all the folding. Then one day a brilliant idea came to me… A Laundry-Folding Party!

    Yes, when the laundry was done, I invited everyone to the room with the most space and had a Laundry-Folding Party! As I pulled each item out of the laundry basket, the child it belonged to called out “Mine!” And I tossed the item to them to fold and stack. When all the items were distributed and folded (this took about 10 minutes total), each child took their clothes to their room and put them away. They were not neat and tidy, but I figured they would improve their folding as time went on depending on how smooth or wrinkly they wanted their clothes to be. I would finish up folding mine, my husband’s, towels, etc. It worked for us.

    Have a great day!

    1. Nancy, thank you so much for your comment! Rest assured, no judgment here AT ALL! I absolutely love the idea of the buddy system for laundry – not only did it teach an important life skill at an age-appropriate level, it also created one-on-one time with a child, even if just for a few minutes. That is something I’m always trying to find with 5 kiddos. And your Laundry-Folding Party idea is total genius!! That is one idea I’m going to need to borrow for sure! It’s one thing for kids to know how to do the laundry, but folding it is a whole other ballgame! 🙂

  3. I love that you involve your kids in the process – I think that’s so important. Like with removing tissues from the pockets, etc., and even starting the machine. When children can take part in activities they know are crucial for the functioning of the house, it builds up a lot of self-esteem and competence in them. Bravo on boiling it down to 1 day for 7 people!

    1. Thanks, Catherine! I appreciate your comment. I agree that self-confidence grows in our kids as they are given the opportunity to learn and master new skills.

  4. Great post. You guys have a very large family. We have 4 people in our family and we do laundry maybe once a week at best. I’ve always been baffled by people who do it every day. First, I don’t sort colors, ever. Never had an issue. I sort by people and the type of clothing instead. So the kids laundry is done weekly and is separated in hampers in their rooms. And then it’s just one kid, then the other. Husband is responsible for his own stuff. So it’s often a month worth of laundry when he gets around to it but he’s an adult and it’s not my responsibility to do. The folding is what’s tricky usually. I do end up having clothes standing around for a while until I’m ready to address it. But it doesn’t bother me.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Maria! I like the idea of sorting by person and type of clothings. With today’s garment manufacturing processes, there are very seldom colors that run in the washing machine. Thank goodness!

    1. I have found it easier to just have a basket by the dryer and fold them straight out of the dryer I just sit on the floor and fold them that way I don’t waste more of my already lacking energy to take it all out and put it in a basket walk somewhere else and dump it just to fold it put it back in the basket and take it to whoever room it goes to.

  5. `Family of 5 here and we do our laundry once a week too. We used to do it every day and it was so overwhelming. I can be a lot of work in one day but it is so worth it in the long run!

  6. This article is potentially life changing! I love this advice! I typically try to get all the laundry done in one day also, but I don’t hold myself as accountable as you. Needless to say, I end up staring at that pesky bin of clean laundry that still needs folded… sometimes for days! (In fact, there’s one sitting next to my bed now). The paragraph about how you set your machine alarms on the loudest setting and try to race to heat your own times… that’s SUCH a good idea. I’m absolutely going to implement that in my routine, because I think it’s what I’m lacking. We are just a family of 4 but with our dog, this rainy winter, and a newborn – there’s just so much laundry! And don’t even get me started on matching socks. For now, I’m gunna focus on actually getting those loads done by taking your advice and making it a little challenge for myself! Great post! I’ll be following 🙂

    1. Thank you Lauren!!! I’m so glad you found this useful, mama! Dogs and newborns definitely make for boatloads of laundry! Let me know how it goes for you, please!

  7. We are family of 4 and I do laundry almost every day 😅 and still, I never seem to get to the bottom of the laundry basket! Thanks for these very useful tips, planning is everything!

  8. So glad I came across this. I have to start trying your system, I have laundry coming out my ears and we only have one child! They go into the washer just fine, into the dryer just fine, but folding and putting them away? That takes at least a week. Thank you for sharing your system!

    1. You bet, Brittinie! The folding part is so easy to put off because we tell ourselves it’ll take forever. But in reality, when we get right down to it and focus, we can usually fold in load in less than 10 minutes.

  9. This sounds like a great system! I’m staying at home more now with my two kids and our house is so disorganized with a lot of it because of to much laundry. I really want to try dedicating a day to laundry to knock it all out!

    1. I hope your transition to being at home more is going well, Lauren! Let me know how it goes with dedicating one day to laundry!

  10. We are a family of 3 and I feel like I’m doing laundry all the time. I have started to get the family involved and I pride myself on laundry free days. I am going to look into your system to free myself from this enslavement to laundry.Thanks for sharing.

  11. Great system! I have a laundry cart that I separate each person’s clothes into. It makes it so nice to wheel the clean clothes to everybody’s room. I need to start time blocking for sure though!

  12. These are great tips for a larger family, like yours! Now as an empty nester, I only have my own laundry to do! My husband does his own. So, it’s easy peasy. I do recall those days with 3 kids at home and working nearly FT outside the home. It was definitely more of a challenge then! You obviously are very organized! This post will be very helpful to other families for sure!

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