No matter how many kids you have in your house, it somehow always means lots of laundry, and over the years, we’ve figured tried lots of laundry tips to help make the process a whole lot easier. Of course, it doesn’t matter what size your family is, you still need clean clothes. And let’s be honest: no one wants to spend more time doing laundry. This means a lot of us, even with average sized families, are doing larger loads without even realizing it.

That also means our clothes might not be getting clean. (Did you know that larger loads can generate up to 4 times more dirt? Yikes!).

So, that’s why we’re so glad to be teaming up with our sponsor Tide, who wants to make sure the detergent and dosage families are using have the power to clean those large laundry loads.

(For the best clean, always follow dosing instructions on your detergent’s label, obv).

We’re so glad they’re letting us share these 5 helpful tips to ensure you’re not walking around in dirty clothes, and doing more laundry than you need to. Here’s hoping you end up having more time to do the things you love, which – no offense to laundry – we’re guessing isn’t laundry. -Kristen

1. Rotate your kids’ clothes (or try a capsule wardrobe) 

5 laundry tips that really work: Try a capsule wardrobe

If you want less laundry to do, then something we’ve done is simply cut down on the number of clothes that our kids have access to. There are a few ways you can do this:

1. Have your kids pick enough clothes to get them through one week, then put away the rest. If they get tired of their outfits, they can trade out items for different ones.

2. Consider doing a capsule wardrobe of sorts, like our editor Kate did, above. Look at that beautiful before and after. Not every kid can survive on this, but if you’ve got kids who continually put clean clothes that they’re not wearing (or just wore for 5 minutes) in the laundry, this might just be the way to go.

3. And, you can also do the purge. Just be sure to get them involved. It works well at the beginning of each season, before you bring new items in. The Konmari technique has worked well for lots of families like ours.

2. Buy each kid different style socks. For real. 

Okay, so this might seem a little extreme, so bear with me. In a house with lots of kids, you can imagine how many pairs of socks there are. With one son, it’s pretty easy: I buy him the same kind of crew socks, in the same exact color, so the matching is basically done for you.

If you’ve got one kid, that’s a great tip. Stop here. Move to tip 3.

But if you’ve got multiple kids with the same gender who are close-ish in age or size, I suggest getting them each slightly different socks. Why? Because you’ll spend half your time trying to figure out whose socks are whose. And while yes, kids can share, it’s just as easy to get your kids different style socks and save yourself the bickering. (I’d suggest doing this with underwear as well – if you’ve got kids very close in age or size – trust me on this one).

So, my youngest prefers ankle socks, while my tween likes the invisible sports socks. I get them each a bunch of same color socks, in their own style, and my laundry sorting time (and theirs) has cut down immensely. Also, my ears thank me.

3. Give each person a specific laundry day (and their own basket) 

When everyone in the house has their own dedicated laundry day, you won’t have the issue of having to wait for hours to get that one pair of pants you wanted. And, you won’t have to worry about doing larger loads, which as our sponsor Tide learned about 52% of us are doing, regardless of family size. These days, high efficiency washers are made to handle a lot, but we’re often not using the correct dosage of detergent for the size of our loads.

So, if everyone picks a separate day to do their laundry, you’ll be doing smaller loads, which generally take less time from start to finish. And, they’ll be cleaner, so you aren’t washing things twice, or ack! three times. And if you have to do a larger load, which hey, it happens, you know to check to make sure you’ve got the right amount of detergent.

5 laundry tips for families that really work: Family room laundry basket

In the same vein, we suggest everyone gets their own laundry baskets too, including one for the family room or den. Maybe it’s just my kids, but they seem to change out of clothes and socks right in the middle of our house, and those clothes tend to get forgotten. Or worse, they tend to become mom or dad’s problem. Choose something that you wouldn’t mind being displayed in your family room (like above). And who gets to do that special basket? We’ll let you draw straws or rock, paper, scissors for that extra job. We’ve been keeping one up near our steps and it’s been a huge success.

4. Fold clothes inside out 

I know you laundry purists might be rolling in your grave right now, but hear me out. So much of my time is turning clothes right side out. In some cases (very few, TBH) it’s because I remembered to turn those special items inside out before washing. Mostly it’s because my kids just pull their clothing off their body and dump it directly in their laundry basket, or really, right next to it for me to pick up and then yell at them about.

So, in order to save me time, I have started folding everything just as it comes out of the dryer. I leave socks turned outside in. I leave shirts and leggings turned outside in (or half in and half out). And guess what? I haven’t heard one complaint. Not only are my kids getting a little fine motor practice (hey, it’s true), they’re doing a little bit of extra work, which means I don’t have to. Sweet!

5. Lower your expectations 

As much as I love a beautifully folded pile of my son’s t-shirts, I’ve come to learn over the years, that my energy can be spent in much better ways than micromanaging the way he folds things and puts them away. If he wants to dump all of the clothes from his laundry basket into one drawer, than that’s on him. And well, it frees me up to do other things than fold clothes I know are going to be dumped into one drawer.

5 family laundry tips that really work: Let go of perfection

My son’s actual messy drawers. Just walk away! 

Do I think kids need to learn how to fold? Absolutely! They can learn from a very young age how to do their laundry (with supervision from a grown-up until they’re old enough to d it on their own). Towel folding is something my kids did when they were toddlers.

But do they need to fold their shirts like Anthropologie? Not unless they want to.

If you’re able to let go of your expectations of an Instagram-perfect closet or drawer space, then you will free up time and energy, and in some cases, have a better relationship with your kids. I’ve found that so many of our disagreements stem from me thinking things have to be a certain way, when really, they do not. Lest the Queen’s coming over for a visit, maybe? But even she wouldn’t be so rude as to go into my kid’s closet.

Tide Pods | sponsor

Thanks to our sponsor Tide, who’s helping remind families to check that they’ve got the power needed for the best clean. The larger the load, the more dirt, which might mean tougher stains. Don’t make more work for yourself, parents! If you’re going to do larger loads, be sure to check the dosing instructions on your detergent’s label for the correct amount. 

Featured photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash; Middle photo by Sarah Dorweiler on Unsplash