Sorting laundry

A few week-ends ago, I “invited” my daughter into the laundry room for a little lesson on sorting laundry and, after a couple more weeks of me guiding her through the process, she was confident enough to take it on herself.  I should clarify…when I talk about ‘sorting laundry’, this includes everything that has to be done with the laundry up to the point where it is ready to be placed into the washing machine (i.e. perhaps ‘laundry preparation’ would be a better term).

Truth is, not everyone sorts their laundry the same way (I learned this when I was doing research for this post and watched a number of different YouTube videos on the subject).  Having said that, there are a number of ‘generally-accepted principles’ that seem to apply to this process.  Next time you’re doing laundry, walk your children through the following steps and let them try their hand at sorting.

I generally sort laundry into the following piles:

  • colors (these are generally fairly bright colors – my daughter and I have quite a few of these)
  • whites/lights
  • darks (black, navy, grey, etc.)
  • towels
  • sheets (do not wash sheets with towels as sheets can pill as a result of the towels rubbing against them)
  • items that need to be washed separately (e.g. brand new items, especially those that are red, that are likely to ‘bleed’ dye initially)

As I pick up an item for sorting, there are a number of things I do to prepare it for washing, if applicable (after all, why handle it twice?):
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  • check pockets to make sure they are empty  to prevent damage to the item itself, as well as to the washer, and to avoid a BIG MESS (just ‘wash’ a Kleenex and you’ll know why you DON’T want to forget this step)
  • do up zippers (jeans, jackets), strings (e.g. track pants with a draw string), buttons and snaps and remove non-washable trim (e.g. fake fur around a hood) so that they don’t snag other items and damage them or get tangled up
  • make sure socks aren’t bunched up or they won’t wash properly
  • turn items inside out if you want to minimize color loss (e.g. jeans) or to protect them from pilling (e.g. sweaters)
  • put any delicates (e.g. bras, camisoles, things that are lacy, stuffed animals) in a zippered mesh laundry bag or pillowcase to protect them from getting tangled and/or damaged
  • check for stains (a stain removal product may need to be applied, but this can generally not be done until a few minutes prior to washing, or the fabric could be damaged) – place these items on top of the respective pile or someplace where you will remember to treat them before washing

[/green_tick_1_list]Sorting laundry is relatively easy and can be fun (well, that might be overstating it, but it’s definitely better than cleaning bathrooms)!  Last week-end, my daughter and I made a little ‘game’ of it.  She prepared the clothing, if required, then called out what pile it should go in (e.g. “darks”) and then threw it to me and I tried to ‘bat’ it with my hand into the correct pile (what can I say…sometimes you have to liven things up a bit!).

If you’re interested in teaching your children to help around the house (and who isn’t?!), you may also wish to read my posts on Teaching kids to declutter and Implementing an after-school routine.