Ten tested ways to conquer "mount laundry"

by Julie Snyder

Mount LaundryLike leaves piling up in the fall, laundry can become an insurmountable mountain.

Before you know it, your baskets overflow and no one can find their favorite socks!

You start tackling and strategizing. You might even try to convince the laundry to do itself. We tried but it doesn't work.

Rushing to get the chore done, your colors mix with whites. Surprise! Your favorite pair of white pants turned pink. Ugh. Laundry will always be there, but you can keep it to a manageable heap.

Ten tested ways to manage laundry

1. Purge

Clean out drawers and closets regularly. Clothes that are too small, too big, or out of season can be paid forward, donated or just boxed up for a later time. The less you have to handle, the less intimidating the laundry will be.

2. Put them away -- right away

Laundry piles up because you can't seem to get the clean clothes into their respective places. Piling up clean laundry can be as dangerous as putting it back into the dirty basket! All it takes is one topple, one trample, and all your hard laundering has gone to waste. We suggest putting each load away as soon as it is folded. Taking that extra five minutes will save you hours in the long run!

3. Enlist help

Get your family on board with keeping things organized. Have everyone lend a hand on laundry day, delegating jobs appropriate to ages. Little ones can separate colors, while bigger kids can haul baskets to and from. Believe it or not, if done with a smile this "chore" can become a fun game!

4. Let the sun does some work

You can move laundry a little faster by letting the sunshine help you dry! Typically your dryer will take twice as long as the wash cycles. You can get through more piles if you hang some of your color safe items (such as towels and sheets) out to dry. After you take them inside, a quick fluff will make them soft and ready to fold! Bonus: you'll save on energy!

5. Do laundry daily

Ugh, yeah not the most fun suggestion by far, but to keep that pile to a scaleable level you can do one or two loads a day. Even just keeping up on towels will take your mountains down to mere hills. This is a suggestion primarily for larger families.

6. Wash what you need most

If you're short on time and long on work, choosing what needs the most attention can at least take the stress off! Set aside a "special" basket in the laundry room for the most frequently worn or washed items. Have your family chuck what they'll need right away in it, and it is a no brainer for you what needs the get washed first!

7. Baskets

Most of us have a small laundry area or need to launder outside of the home. The standard rectangle laundry basket is convenient, but doesn't offer much for space! When it's time for laundry, gather the other baskets and then sort. You'll have room to move freely and not feel overwhelmed by the piles.

8. Motivation

If laundry is your least favorite task, finding the motivation to do it can be the hardest part of the process. Bribery might help! Treat this and your other hard chores with positive reinforcement. At the end of the week, if you've kept up on your work reward yourself. How about a fancy coffee or a new pair of shoes?

9. Kids and Clothes

Children can make laundry a nightmare. They drag clothes out, never put them back. Tuck them in every possible nook and cranny. If you have kids that are full on laundry disrespectoids, it may be time to pull out the stops! Maybe "charge" your children a small fee for each piece of clothing found "hidden" or rumpled on the bottom of the closet. If they're old enough, it might be time to have them do their own laundry!

10. Schedule

Set aside days that are for laundry. Let your family know what those days are so they can have their items ready for you. When you fall into a pattern, the clothes stay clean and the piles stay small.

For as long as we wear clothes, we'll need to wash them. What do you do to make the laundry monster easier to handle?

Photo courtesy iStockphoto.