We Asked 7 Moms of Four or More Kids How They Stay on Top of Laundry, and Here’s What They Said

published May 3, 2023
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Close-up of a woman's hands sitting on the laundry room floor, sorting clothes that are in a wicker basket, throwing things into the washing machine drum, household chores
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I still haven’t figured out how to stay on top of the laundry. I’ve tried all kinds of methods, from doing a load a day to tackling folding even when I have guests over! Although I embrace the value of such a mundane, never-ending chore, if I don’t devote daily time to laundry, we get so behind that catching up becomes a gargantuan task. 

All my well-intentioned plans weren’t working and I knew something had to change. So I asked the real experts — other moms! — especially those with four or more kids. I knew they’d have insightful things to say about their own laundry challenges.

I put the question out on Facebook and the hivemind delivered. What I didn’t expect is that almost all of the moms’ advice was a variation on the same theme! Here is what they have to say, in their own words.

1. Have the children do it.

Carrie Fraser, mother of four and busy real estate agent, puts it succinctly when asked about how she stays on top of laundry: “Outsource it.” Then she goes on to describe a babysitter that she had who would put her children to bed and then fold laundry. Talk about resourceful!

Another mother of four, Amy Davis, is just as straightforward. “Have the children do their own laundry,” she says. Having children pitch in, it turns out, is the most popular suggestion among moms of four or more children, with children as young as kindergarten age doing their own laundry. 

2. Make laundry a family affair, even if everyone is responsible for their own.

Amanda Landry, mother of four boys, says that her youngest, who is 9, has been doing his own laundry for a few years now. Her family takes part in what they call “Suck it up Sundays,” which includes finishing up all the laundry in addition to other weekly chores that the family completes together. Her boys even wash their own sheets every other week!

Katie Kruidhof raised five children and also had them participate in laundry duty. In her system, each child had a laundry bag and when it was full, they’d bring it down to sort in the laundry room hampers. They’d wash a load when the hamper was full and clothes got piled on a folding table until the entire family sorted and folded together. Katie shares, “This method worked well for many years and it was a great learning tool for them to do their own laundry when they moved out of the house, not to mention a profitable time to spend together taking care of one another.” 

3. Let go of perfection.

Jennifer Lee echoes having the children pitch in. She also adds some valuable and freeing input. “Don’t try to be perfect,” she says, “You don’t need to fold your clothes if you don’t have time. You could even have a rough system of organization by using a laundry basket for each child. Finally, having only a week’s worth of clothing helps to minimize the chaos.” 

Credit: Marilyn Nieves/Getty Images

4. Get rid of sorting.

Betsy Booten of Tallahassee, who runs her own daycare, gets into detail about her family’s system. “Every family member has their own hamper — 6 total,” she says. “That way there is no sorting before washing or after (also eliminates mixing up and fighting over whose stuff is whose).” Her two older children do their own laundry, as does dad. She does hers and that of the two younger children. Betsy also shares, “The key is never letting anyone’s load build up to the point that it becomes an overwhelming task, which is typically conquered by washing about once a week and not longer.”

5. Be open to new ideas.

Fellow mother of five, Laura Chang, shares the system that was “revolutionary” for her family. Similar to Betsy’s system, this system involves each child having their own hamper. (This eliminates sorting.) Next, each child is responsible for putting away their own laundry, but they don’t have to fold it. Instead, they put it in bins that separate the laundry by type. This system is definitely different, but it cuts down laundry time by hours — and you know what they say about desperate times.

My own family’s laundry system is kind of a mix of all of these and I think what makes our current situation ineffective is that it’s not clearly defined. I can’t wait to implement some of these specific strategies in my own family and see if we can tame the laundry monster once and for all. 

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