Laundry is a huge part of our daily lives, and it doesn’t seem to matter how often we do it – there’s always more. It’s okay to admit that it’s getting to be a bit much. After all, you’ve got other things you have to do, such as that epic backpack craft you’ve been meaning to start.
But the laundry still has to be done. Well, you could always get your kids to help out, but that could be a tall order, and you’ve got a ton a questions how to go about it. Clearly, for safety reasons you should do your child’s laundry when they are younger, but it doesn’t hurt to supervise and teach older kids when you feel they are ready. Laundry can be a way of teaching them responsibility.
We’ve put together a few easy steps that you can use to teach your kids how to do their own laundry. It’ll take a lot of effort, but it means you’ll have more disciplined and knowledgeable kids, as well as more time for you to do the things you love.
Make the laundry room kid-friendly. Basically, organize your laundry room so your kids can reach the items they need, depending on what stage of learning they are at. For example, the youngest should only have access to the dirty clothes, while your older kids should be able to reach the detergent. Remember, safety is an important aspect of the laundry routine. Adult supervision is always a good idea and education about product safety should be included in every laundry lesson.
- Use a checklist to teach safety
- Color-code everything
- Use multiple hampers
- Have a step-stool or two hanging around
Start them out young. Teaching your kids relatively early in life how to do laundry, along with laundry safety and best practices, can be a great shared experience. This is a huge win because you’re teaching values that have a lasting effect throughout their lives.
- Always explain every step, and give the reasons why
- Start teaching them at an age that you’re most comfortable with
- Introduce new duties as the years go by
- Teach them how to use all the different laundry products you use, including detergents, fragrance boosters, and dryer sheets
- Keep things on a schedule as much as possible
Sorting the dirty laundry. This is a fairly simple step that most kids love doing anyway, although your youngest kids will likely need to be taught this step many times before they “get it”. Just be patient, and you’ll be rewarded.
- Check the pockets
- Understanding garment care labels
- Turning specific items inside out
- Show that different piles have different methods to cleaning them, and explain why
Washing each of the different piles. Before you have them wash anything at all, be sure to teach them every part of the washing machine, from the dials to the buttons to the in-wash tray. You could even let them have a few practice runs just pushing buttons and turning dials so they get used to how the controls feel.
- How to pre-treat the different stains
- For the piles that go in the washing machine:
- How much detergent to use
- What temperature water should be set to
- How to load the machine itself
- For the piles that should be washed by hand:
- How much detergent to use
- How much water to use
- How to wring each laundry item
Cleaning up after themselves. Cleaning up never seems like a whole lot of fun, but this is a good time to teach them about cleanliness in general. These principles could even spill over to other aspects of their lives, such as their rooms and bathrooms. Fingers crossed!
- Wipe down the detergent bottle
- Clean around the in-wash tray (if your machine has one)
- Clear up any spilled detergent, softener, or additive
Drying the different piles. As with the washer, your kids could use a dial and button demonstration, so they can become familiar with the machine. Also, marking them is a good first step in teaching your kids how to differentiate between them, so you don’t accidentally get detergent in the dryer. Additionally, you should teach them to create two new piles: one for laundry items that can go in a dryer, and those that have to air-dry. Then it’s easy enough to teach them how to dry those piles.
- In a dryer:
- Cleaning out the lint-catcher
- What heat and time setting to use for which piles
- What to set each dial to in case the laundry is still damp after the first run
- On a drying rack or clothesline:
- How to lay out different fabrics to dry them quickly and maintain their shape
- How to pin each item so they don’t fall while drying
Folding the clean laundry. Make sure that when you fold your laundry, you show how and say why you’re folding them the way you are. Technique and knowledge go hand-in-hand. You could even make a game of folding, such as who can fold their clothes the neatest, or fastest, or both! Folding is definitely another kid favorite!
- Turning clothes right-side-out
- Re-checking pockets for anything missed previously
- Matching and folding socks
- Which articles of clothing should be either folded or hung in the closet
- Folding large sheets such as towels and bedding
We’re going to break out each step into their own in-depth article, so check in soon for the scoop on how to teach your kids to do their own laundry.
Do you have any other tips or steps you would add? If so, comment below!