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Launder Like A Pro

YouTube [7 min] | MP3 [7 min]

by Floyd Maxwell

Launder Like A Pro

Wait a second. Why does this article exist?

Everyone knows how to do the laundry. Right?

Well, maybe not.


A story of good intentions

There once was a boy tasked with laundry.

Who forgot it 'til hours had passed by.

He started a load

Took a seat and reposed.

And spent all his time watching clothes dry.


The Problem

The problem is not doing the laundry.

The problem is doing the laundry efficiently.

Anyone can start the laundry.

Few can finish it in the least time.

Fewer still can finish it with the least energy.


Time For A Timer

Get yourself a timer...that is only used for the laundry. The timer you can't find can't help you.

Then find out how long your wash and dry cycles take.

When you start a load, start your timer. If you don't know your cycle time, set your timer for a round number -- like 100 minutes. After you hear your machine's beep, check the timer again and subtract the time remaining from 100.

Once you know your machine's cycle time, set your timer for about 5 minutes longer than the longest of the two cycles. For my machines, I set the timer for 75 minutes.

Heed The Timer

The reason doing the laundry well is so difficult is that it mostly involves doing nothing.

Then, once in a long while, you have to do something ASAP!

Miss your cue, and you set your laundry schedule back an hour, or four.

The chip-away-at-it mistake

I've had bad knees since I was a kid. Our laundry machines are downstairs. So my goal is to minimize trips.

Turns out if you do your laundry in batches, rather than "whenever you have a load", you will be more efficient.

Efficient equals less trips up and down stairs.
Efficient equals less energy expended.
Efficient equals less time expended.

Adding Up The Savings

To do ONE load of laundry, you need to:
1) take your laundry to your washer and start a load

2) go to your washer to transfer the load to the dryer

3) go to your dryer to pick up the load

Total trips: 3 trips
Trips per load: 3

To do FOUR loads of laundry, you need to:
1) start load 1

2a) transfer load 1 to the dryer
2b) start load 2

3a) pick up load 1
3b) load 2 to the dryer
3c) start load 3

4a) pick up load 2
4b) load 3 to the dryer
4c) start load 4

5a) pick up load 3
5b) load 4 to the dryer

6) pick up load 4

Total: 6 trips
Trips per load: 1.5
Saved trips: 6


The Trick That Keeps On Giving

For most of us, laundry is not something we want to do.

As laundry piles up, we feel an increased pressure to do it.

Eventually we reach our limit and run a load.

By choosing to save up your loads, you free up more of your time, while decreasing the pressure you feel.

Schedule Your Laundry

For 8 loads of laundry, I launder just 2 days per week.

One day I do 3 loads, the other I do 5 loads (due to sheets and towels).

For five days of the week I don't do laundry :-)

I don't think about it.

I don't feel stress or pressure about it.

I just let it pile up.


Other Benefits

Advantages of letting your laundry accumulate?
More segregated laundry
- your light load is all lights
- your dark load is all darks
Fuller loads
- when we avoid laundry, we reach a point where the thing we want to wear is dirty, so we start a load that is often a minimal load.


Your machine can't do it all

Yes, modern machines will adjust the amount of water used to the size of the load.

But, if you use a laundry gel pack, it will contain more detergent than you need for a half load.

The extra soap will be harder to rinse out, reducing the cleanliness of your clothes and harming your machine.

And the load still takes about the same time to run!


A Job Worth Tweaking

When we don't like doing something, we rarely do it well. We don't want to invest the time thinking about it.

Invest some time developing your laundry skills!

It will pay back, perhaps hundreds of times over, in time saved. While it also saves you wear-and-tear on your knees. Reduces the use of your machines, meaning they last longer, and so cost you less per load. While you save on soap, water, and electricity. And feel less pressure on non-laundry days.


One Caution

With this system, you will turn around laundry so quickly, you may find the thing you wore yesterday has ended up on the top of your clean clothes pile.

Don't wear the same thing two days in a row!

Others won't believe you are that good at doing your laundry.


Doing the paperwork

The laundry monster isn't tamed until you've put it all away.

It is easy to leave clean laundry in the basket. And it is easy to throw dirty clothes on top of clean ones. Or end up with wrinkles in your "permapress".

Once again, strategies can help.


80:20 rule

The greatest productivity boosts comes from the regular use of the 80:20 rule.

Few jobs can be done perfectly, but 80% perfect is quite doable.

I apply it as I take clothes out of the dryer.


Sorting is your friend

If laundry didn't have to be sorted, we would load it via a hopper, dump a gallon of detergent into the reservoir, and come back a few hours later to pick it all up.

The laundry monster thrives on our fear of sorting.

  • pre-sort as you take loads down on non wash days
  • sort the clothes as they come out of the dryer
    • socks and small stuff in first
    • bulk items like towels or sheets near the top
    • wrinkleables on top, sorted from lightest to heaviest


Behind the sorting method

When you pre-organize the dried clothes in your basket, you make it easier to put them away quickly, scoring a coveted "20% effort nets me 80% done" reward.

Socks and underwear tend to fall out of an overloaded basket, so put them on the bottom. Also, they take the longest to put away, so this way you are 80% done before you deal with them.

Most easily wrinkled items on top, with the lighter items above the heavier items helps them not become wrinkled while in the basket. Seeing them on top will also prompt you to put them away quicker, reducing the chance of them self-wrinkling.


So, why does this article exist?

In a YouTube world, talking about laundry seems pretty absurd. About six steps past boring.

It is certainly unlikely this video will be the next Gangnam Style.

The reason this article exists is that we are prisoners of things we don't master.


12 million what?

It is all very well to master pulling a wheelie on your motorcycle, but how many hours did it take you?

How much money was spent replacing the tires you damaged during burn-outs? How many spills, near misses and accidents did you needlessly put your body through? And what else could you have done with your time?

Balance is harder than extremes.

Good luck with your balance.

Take care,




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