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Laundry Basics

You Can Tackle the Laundry

...and have time and energy to spare. Try these smart, helpful tips from real women and experts who tackled the ghastly scenarios you posed to us in a recent survey.

By Lesley Alderman
Pile of folded laundryChristopher Griffith


Finding the Time (and the Dirty Clothes)

Asking your child to help with the laundry is like talking to a wall.
The fix: Unfortunately, Yo Gabba Gabba! has yet to dedicate an episode to doing the wash, so it’s up to you to teach your kids the basics. Preschoolers can help you sort by color and can gather clothing items off the floor. But once children are old enough for grade school, they can take on more responsibility, with some assistance from you. For 6- to 11-year-olds, consider posting a list of laundry reminders above their hampers. For example:

  • Turn your clothes right-side out before throwing them in here.
  • Pull your socks off from the toes.
  • Have you checked your pockets???

If you don’t want to make your own checklist, download the Laundry Tips Worksheet.

For older kids, go with another gimmick: humor. Reader Dianne Phelps of Lockport, New York, recalls, “Once, after my teenage son had left for school, I looked into his room and saw a pile of dirty socks on the floor. I got a Sharpie and an index card and set up a display that read, EXHIBIT A: ARTIFACTS FROM POST-MILLENNIAL TEENAGE BOY WHO APPARENTLY SUFFERED FROM AMNESIA. When he got home, my son smiled and, a minute later, put the socks down the chute.”

Every time you’re about to toss clothes in the washer, you notice ketchup splotches on shirts and ink marks on jeans.
The fix:
Stash a pretreatment product, like Spray ’n Wash ($4, at supermarkets), in or near each hamper. Tell teen and adult family members to treat stains (on both sides of the garment) right away―this will save you a step when you wash. Plus, the sooner the stain fighter goes on, the more likely it is that the spot will come out.

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