How I Only Do Laundry Once a Week for Our Family of 7

Are you ready to save time in your mom life?

Okay friend, when I say I do laundry once a week, I mean that I do clothes laundry one day a week for seven people. I do sheets and towels another day, but that is so minor it doesn’t really count. If your house is like my house, it’s the clothes laundry that easily gets out of hand. This system I’m gonna share with you is super simple and is something any motivated mama can do. 

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. 

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. 

I’m just gonna tell you that I haven’t always had a system. I have done laundry haphazardly throughout the majority of my motherhood.

Doing the laundry once a week has been a huge game-changer for me as a mom I Needed a Plan

But I knew I needed a laundry plan when I started to pull clean clothes straight out of the dryer because so much of my other stuff was either dirty, or it was clean but too wrinkly to wear. And then there was that one time my daughter had to wear her hooded bath towel until lunch because she had no clean underwear. So. Yeah. System was needed. 

This was literally true at our house one day!

I was also so blasted tired of the laundry basket full of clean clothes mocking me every time I walked past it. I had a habit of taking it around the house with me throughout the day, but I’d get distracted or decide I’d rather do other things than fold. 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?” 

Or “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.” 

“The mess you see is just a reflection of the mess in your brain.” 

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

It was long after baby number 5 that I realized if I could just come up with a system, my laundry life would get so. much. better. After all, I met a mom of NINE KIDS who did 7 loads of laundry everyday. Yes, 7 loads. That’s not something any mom should attempt lightly.  I knew her daily laundry thing was her jam. I knew it would do me in.

Benefits of Time Blocking

And then I learned the idea of 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. Several women I know 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, chop veggies, etc. in one go. They make one huge mess in the kitchen a week instead of 5 or 6 separate little messes. (I’m currently testing this out for myself … I’ll let you know how it goes!)

You know I’m totally down with increasing my productivity and finding simple systems that work. To check out my other ideas for becoming more productive as a mom, read this post here. 

I decided to try this time blocking idea with laundry.  

And it has changed my life. Are you ready to know how I only do laundry once a week for 7 people? Let’s do this! 

How I Only Do Laundry Once a Week

Here’s what it looks like:

Step 1. Choose a day. 

For me this day is Thursday. I know this is one of the free-est days in my weekly schedule. I don’t schedule a lot of things outside of the house, especially in the morning. Yes, I am typically home for our homeschool hours anyway, but this is a special day dedicated to staying at home for a good chunk of time. No appointments, no playdates, no grocery shopping, no field trips. Not only is it great for laundry, it’s seriously good for my soul. 

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

Step 2. Sort.

I get started early, at least before breakfast. 

The first thing I do is sort all the laundry. 

I make these 5 piles:

          -darks for my husband and I

          -whites and lights for everyone

          -darks for my 2 girls

          -pants, underwear, and socks for my 3 boys

          -shirts and pajamas for the boys 

Moving as quickly as possible, I sort them 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 I switch the loads is a time waster, so I do it all in one 15-20 minute chunk first thing in the morning. Time blocking at it’s finest. 

I’ve started asked my 8 year old to help me with this sorting process to make it go faster. And I just had the bright idea to get my kids to go through their own pockets and take their hampers to the laundry room the night before. I’m already imaging how organized I will feel to walk into the laundry room on Thursday morning to all of my obedient laundry children just waiting to be washed and cleaned! Ha!

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), I just wash it all together. Don’t be upset, and please don’t tell the laundry gods who might get mad. But …  it really does work out just fine. And I’ve never had any article of clothing bleed dye onto anything else. I do wash all denim inside out before its ever worn, and it’s been no trouble. 

 

Step 3. Start the wash and set the chime. 

You better believe that I have the chime for the completion of each washing and drying cycle set as loud as it will go. As soon as I hear it, I get myself to the laundry room to switch it over. I’m even 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. Sort of. 

Will you try doing laundry once a week?

 

Step 4. Fold as you go. 

Every time a load completes in the dryer, I pull it out and drag it to wherever I am. And I just start folding. Typically, I bring my basket to our homeschool room. Let me just tell you, it is totally possible to read Peter Pan aloud and fold laundry. I can play Candy Land and fold. We can listen to a read aloud book or a podcast and I fold. I fold during bedtime story time. Basically, I fold like crazy throughout the day, knowing that I am earning myself 6 clothes-folding-free days.

As I fold, I put the clothes into baskets (one for the girls, one for the boys, and one for the adults) and then deliver the baskets to the room where they belong. Better yet, I have my kids “drive” the baskets to the proper room. 

Step 5. Put it away. 

At the end of the day, we put it all away. My husband and all kids who are over 8 years old put their own laundry away. Once it’s folded and in the basket, I don’t touch it again until I sort it the next Thursday morning. I still help my 6 year old and 4 year old put their clothes away to preserve my hard work. 

And voila! All the clothes laundry done once a week! 

A Few More Things

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

I involve my kids.

At least once time on laundry day, I ask my older kids to transfer the laundry and start the next loads. I reason that if they are capable of operating an iPad with expert precision, they sure as heck can start a washing machine. 

I set aside a day just for sheets and towels.

It’s Tuesday. So 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. When their sheets are done, they go straight back on their beds. No need to fold sheets EVER. The towels are one quick load that I fold during story time. Easy peasy.

My 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. And honestly, they own way more than that. My kids know that laundry happens every Thursday and they are to plan accordingly. No late night loads for the random Frozen sweater for the Saturday birthday party. Maybe this makes me a mean mom, but I had to draw my line in the sand and this is where it is. The ONLY time I’d do an extra load would be if someone wets the bed or gets sick during the night. Which does happen, but thankfully it’s almost never. 

I focus on gaining 6 clothes-laundry-FREE days per week.

Sure, doing it all in one day is a lot of work, but when my mental game is right, I feel like I’ve basically conquered the world every Thursday! I mean, for 6 days I don’t even look at the hampers, and I’m free from that mocking voice of the clean but unfolded laundry basket!

What do you think, mama? Please let me know if you want to try doing your clothes laundry once a week! 

Related Post: Reasons Why We Hold Onto Clothes

Related Post: How to Make Your Wardrobe Look More Expensive

Related Post: 15 Simple Ways to Be More Productive as a Mom

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25 thoughts on “How I Only Do Laundry Once a Week for Our Family of 7”

  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!

  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!

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