Hate Folding Laundry? Stop Doing It. (And Don’t Feel Bad About It)

This post is part of our Summer Shortcuts series. Meagan and I are taking turns all summer long sharing little “cheats” and ways we give ourselves a break during the summer months. Enjoy! -Sarah

Folded Clothes

It seems to be almost universal among busy moms: we don’t mind doing the laundry, but most of us hate folding it and putting it away. We move the piles of clean clothes from bed to table, or couch to basket, or whatever surfaces our folding situation provides, and chip away at them halfheartedly, all the while pulling kids’ daily outfits from the jumble, knowing we’ll never actually pair those last two socks and put them in the drawer – at least not before the next load lands on top.

No? Just me?

Didn’t think so.

Laundry Pile

So here’s a revolutionary thought to make life easier this summer (or anytime laundry gets the best of you, really): stop folding it. Stop folding it, and – here’s the hard part – stop feeling bad about it.

Okay, it’s probably not practical to stop folding ALL the clothes. Depending on your wardrobe and what the rest of your family wears on a daily basis, the wrinkled look may not be what you’re going for. I’m going to challenge you, however, to come up with as many categories of clothing and linens as you can that do not actually need to be folded in order to be wearable, and stop folding them. And stop feeling bad about it (remember that part?).

Sock Bin

Here are some things I just plain don’t fold when the going gets tough:

  • Underwear. Just kidding, I never fold underwear. But just in case you do, that’s the first place I’d start. Er, stop.
  • Socks. Don’t pair ’em. Don’t turn ’em right-side-out. Just sort by owner and toss in a drawer or bin. 
  • Pajamas. Stop it. Stop folding them now. 
  • Workout wear. The stretchy stuff doesn’t show wrinkles when worn anyway, and wrinkly gym shorts never hurt anybody (or their workout)
  • Towels. Okay, Meagan loves a perfectly folded towel. Who doesn’t? But if we’re talking everyday bath or beach towels used by your immediate family, be honest. Is anyone worse off for a wrinkly towel? Why not hang one on a hook for each person and let the rest live in a clean laundry bin until you need them?
  • Kitchen linens. We use cloth napkins instead of paper, and go through rags and dishtowels like crazy due to spills, etc. And while I do love a basket in the pantry filled with pretty folded cloth napkins and stacked kitchen towels, it’s one of the things I let go when life gets busy. When they come out of the dryer I separate all the kitchen linens into their own basket and just keep it in the pantry or a corner of the kitchen.
  • Infant wear. Onesies, bibs, receiving blankets, cotton leggings/pants, pajamas (see above), and anything of that soft stretchy cotton that will get worn for half a day and then pooped on – if the wrinkles aren’t going to show, just toss it in a drawer.

summer short cuts
So that was the easy part – to stop folding a good portion of the clean laundry that comes out of the dryer. The second part – to stop feeling bad about it – isn’t so easy. If you’re someone who finds satisfaction in a job well done – and thoroughly well done – as many of us are, this part is tough. But in the name of a laid-back summer or surviving a busy season in life, it’s worth trying.

Here are some strategies for ditching the guilt:

  • Tell yourself it’s a strategic decision, not a cop-out. If you declare to yourself that you no longer fold pajamas or towels, you’ll feel a lot less guilting about not doing it. 
  • Put it away, right away. One of my biggest roadblocks to putting away laundry is the belief that I’m going to get around to folding it all. Instead, start putting unfolded (or poorly folded) clothes away sooner. Stuff the jammies in a drawer, carry a bunch of clean towels to the bathroom and toss them in a cabinet. The pile shrinks, and so does your guilt.
  • Remind yourself that this season doesn’t last forever. You have the rest of your life to fold cloth napkins. If doing less lets you get back to enjoying summer with your family, it’s not worth feeling guilty over. (On the other hand, if wrinkly dishtowels really do make you nuts, or if folding and putting away clothes is something you love, then by all means fold them! This is about making a happier home, not being lazy to make a point.)

And now I’m super curious. Do you fold everything before you put it away? Do you have massive guilt about living out of the clean laundry basket? Let’s air all the (clean) laundry shortcuts in the comments!

Don’t miss any of the Summer Shortcuts posts! Here they are:

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