If you search for tips on how to keep up with laundry when you’re a scatterbrained, struggling mom, you’ll see a daily laundry routine offered as the holy grail of dirty undie solutions.
I tried a daily laundry routine for a year but it didn’t work for me.
So if you’re washing clothes every day and still struggling, stop beating yourself up and try this…
Why I No Longer Do Daily Laundry
Lots of organizing gurus tout daily laundry as the answer to all of life’s laundry problems.
I mean, washing clothes every day does sound like it would make sense as a way to easily keep up with laundry.
After all, I’m a big believer in doing big things in smaller chunks to avoid overwhelm.
And daily routines have definitely made my life go so much smoother. So daily laundry felt like it should fit into my life very nicely, thank you.
But then I tried it for year.
And it just didn’t work.
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Why Daily Laundry Didn’t Work With My Scattered, ADHD Brain
Doing laundry every day requires a level of daily follow-through that’s hard for me (and other moms with ADHD or organizational deficiencies) to achieve.
Multi-step tasks cause a major system failure. And daily laundry is a multi-step task.
Daily laundry means:
- Being prepared with laundry detergent and other supplies every day
- Pre-sorting laundry every day
- Prioritizing (decision-making – not my strongest skill) loads every day
- Remembering to move clothes from the washer to the dryer at some point early enough for the dryer to run while we’re still awake. Every day.
- Managing to get the dryer load out of the dryer before it sits and wrinkles every day
- Sorting the dry, folded clothes every day
- Putting each tiny little pile in the proper area to be put away every day
- Managing the final step of putting the clothes away.
- Every Day.
Daily Laundry Means Way More Chances to Forget
When I tried to follow a daily laundry schedule, eventually I’d either forget or rebel.
When I forgot to execute one of the steps, it led to a domino effect that inevitably ended with either:
- A washer load of stinky, sour, moldy laundry. A pleasant morning surprise.
- A dryer load of clothes that now had to be ironed because we’d totally forgotten they existed
- Junior’s soccer uniform at the bottom of one of the hampers where it got tossed a week ago and never quite made it into the priority load for the week.
- Piles of folded laundry that had to be pawed through to find what we needed.
Why did I end up with piles of folded clean clothes when I only had a few to put away each day?
Because tiny, paltry piles of clean laundry from one daily load just didn’t seem worth the effort to put them away.
So clean clothes either:
- Made it to their rightful room but then never left the basket,
- Took up residence on the couch where they were folded, or
- Just plain old never left the laundry room where they still sat in the dryer.
And as the days wore on, the piles would meld together and need to be rewashed.
Daily Laundry Also Means More Chances to Buck the System
Sometimes the problem wasn’t forgetting.
I didn’t forget. I rebelled.
- I’d get sick of doing the same exact thing every day.
- I’d procrastinate for no reason.
- I’d choose to do something more fun that came up (not a character trait I’m always proud of, but it does make for some good memories – well, good memories when I conveniently forget the consequences, anyway).
- Or I’d decide that [insert any very slightly valid reason to skip daily task here] was more important.
And since everything hinged on prioritizing and timing loads by when we needed them, that one day might mean Lil’ Man didn’t have clean pajamas for Pajama Day at school.
Damn PJ Day – my kids are grown and I still have PJ Day nightmares.
Even if there wasn’t an immediate laundry crisis like a PJ-less-PJ-Day, I’d have this feeling of unease, just wondering what was coming.
Sometimes that anxiety would cause me to blank laundry out of my mind altogether, until skipping a day turned into skipping three days and then I’d end up feeling totally behind again.
Basically, daily laundry may work for some moms, but I think it has too many moving parts to easily fit into an ADHD brain.
At least into this ADHD brain.
But Mostly, Daily Laundry Is Just Freaking Boring
Plus moms like me – we like our days to be varied. We like spontaneity. We like leaving town with an hour’s notice.
So we can either fight that instinct or we can work around it.
Why Daily Laundry Isn’t Like Other Daily Chores
I believe a daily routine that automates the boring, regular parts of your life is huge for a scatterbrained mom. That’s why I thought daily laundry would fit right in.
What I didn’t think about was how daily laundry isn’t like most of the other daily maintenance chores:
- Daily laundry builds up if you skip it.
If I get rebellious, distracted, or sick and don’t make my bed on Monday, I don’t have to make it twice on Tuesday.
If I don’t unload the dishwasher, yes, my dishes build up. But it doesn’t mean I end up with two dishwashers to unload the next day (unloading the dishwasher is a daily struggle).
Daily dishes are more like daily laundry since they do build up – unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to institute a weekly dishwashing day.
Otherwise, I might…
- Daily laundry doesn’t have immediate consequences, so it’s easier to neglect.
If I don’t feed the cats first thing in the morning, I have feline laser eyes boring into my very soul. I can’t procrastinate on it, even if I want to.
- Daily laundry doesn’t fit neatly into a routine; especially if you’re like me and you like to do your daily routine willy-nilly.
There are at least 4 separate parts to daily laundry, and they have to be done in order. And, unfortunately, the worst part in my opinion (putting it away) fell at the worst, tiredest part of the day – right between dinner and bedtime.
I can’t dry at night and put away in the morning – I don’t run my dryer when we’re in bed ever since the Great Dryer Fire of 2011.
Even if you use triggers for each part, it’s hard to find triggers to fit the bill. So I’d delay a step, delaying the whole process.
Or worse yet, skip a step and then the previous step would have to be redone because clothes were molding in the washer or wrinkling in a basket.
Advantages to a Weekly Laundry Day
One of my favorite bloggers, Dana White of A Slob Comes Clean (maybe she doesn’t have ADHD but she definitely speaks to my ADHD brain) has the same stance on a weekly laundry day.
She summed it up by saying her brain is a “project brain.”
Mine, too. I can get my teeth into a project with a beginning and an end.
I prefer the meaty projects to boring daily maintenance tasks.
When I clean something, I love it when it’s really dirty first. I like the instant gratification of visible results.
I’ve managed to quell this need when it comes to cleaning my house, but I still prefer organizing a closet over the daily process of keeping it organized.
I prefer scrubbing something that’s disgusting over lightly swiffering a mostly-clean living room.
However, since I like to live in an organized house without disgustingness, I force myself to (mostly) follow my daily routine for those things.
But because of my project brain, even though washing clothes every day might make more sense to a person who hates tackling big projects, a weekly laundry schedule speaks to the “scrub the hell out of it” part of my mind.
Batching For the Win ~ Again
Another super important plus to weekly laundry is the batching aspect.
As I’ve said before, batching is my best friend. And while multi-tasking is another good friend of mine, task-switching is a no-no for me.
When you make laundry into a project and use batching to complete each part, there’s not as much task-switching.
With a weekly laundry routine, you get all the laundry caught up and only have to:
- Sort once
- Find hangers once
- Check for stains once
- Check pockets once
Meaning you’re less likely to skip checking Sally’s pocket and may catch that Charms blowpop-flavored chapstick before it coats a dryer load worth of hubby’s work pants.
Weekly laundry also means you have a week to replace a mostly empty laundry detergent jug. So you can mesh it into your errand schedule instead of trying to fit in an extra trip to the store.
Doing laundry once a week means I can turn it into a project with a blessedly definite end.
Weekly Laundry Only Works If It Has a Definite End
If you see one dirty sock as evidence that you’re behind on laundry, then I admit daily laundry might work better for you (assuming you keep up with it enough to keep your hampers totally clear).
While never-ending isn’t always bad (think never-ending Cici’s pizza buffet), it is when we’re talking about a chore.
Or toenail fungus. Never-ending toe nail fungus = bad.
However, while that’s been an issue in my own past (not the toenail fungus, the never-ending laundry mindset*), now I’m okay with it. I got over it by realizing:
- A dishwasher full of dirty dishes that only gets run nightly doesn’t mean I’m behind on dishes all day.
- I don’t mow the grass every time it starts to grow again.
- I don’t run to the grocery store the second the ketchup bottle gets a little low.
- And I (definitely) don’t wash my car every single time it rains.
*I’m lying about the toenail fungus. Ew.
In my house, there’s a last call for laundry on Sunday morning, and anything that hits the hamper after that is next week’s problem (with a few exceptions – uniforms that need twice-weekly washing, stain emergencies, etc).
Getting all the clothes washed, dried, and folded at one time also means no intermediate ironing step between the drying of and the wearing of the clothes.
Because they’re not wrinkling in the dryer, waiting to be folded.
Not to mention, they’re not sitting in baskets all week, getting rummaged through.
By starting fresh each week with full dresser drawers, my family has learned to trust in the magic of clean underwear.
Everyone knows they will have ALL their clothes back EVERY week.
How Do I Get All My Laundry Done In One Day?
If you’re wondering how I get all the laundry done in one day, check out my post on catching up laundry.
That one involves mountains of laundry that’s built up over time, but I use pretty much the same method to get all my laundry done each week (minus the “emergency priority load” part).
But mostly, I rely on timers for reminders, and multi-tasking to keep me in the house (I do my weekly planning and food prep at the same time so I don’t feel like I’m sitting and waiting for each dryer load).
I also make sure we have a place for all the clean laundry.
If you’ve never had all your laundry clean at one time before, it may be a shock to you to realize how much you actually have.
So make room for it all to be put away, if possible – otherwise, pare down what you have until it fits or pack away seasonal stuff to make room.
Try a Daily Laundry vs. Weekly Laundry Experiment and Decide For Yourself
You might be one of those moms who likes to knock things out a little at a time. If you’re someone who washes each dish as it gets dirty, cleans up every mess as you go, and fill up your gas tank when it hits ¾ tank, daily laundry might be your go to.
But if you’ve been trying it because it’s supposed to work, and it doesn’t, give a weekly laundry routine a try.
Or go crazy and make your own hybrid. If you have a big family or cute little bedwetters, you might have to adapt the process a little.
Maybe wash all the clothes once a week and spread out towels and sheets to the other days?
No matter what you choose to do, just know that not all moms are the same. Not even all scatterbrained moms.
Even those of us who struggle with organization need choices.
Like I said, daily laundry works for a lot of people. Just don’t beat yourself up if you think you’re failing when it doesn’t work for you.