Washing hassle solved by top entrepreneurs and psycho-spiritual coaches


© Laura Eades 2013

Washing is endless. Unsightly drying in all rooms. Forever a bucket of wet stuff to hang up at 11pm. Then it’s clean, jumbled in tub for a whole week 

  1. Don’t get in a fluster: Cluster!

Tim Ferriss, bestselling world-changing entrepreneur and author of the Four-Hour Workweek, may not be most famous for his tips on housewifery. But it’s stuck in my mind how he talks about washing. His tip? Don’t leech your energy and allow yourself to be constantly distracted by doing it a bit at a time; wait and then have a focused session. (In fact, he’s recommending the same thing about email, so if you learn it on washing, you can apply it to streamlining your whole life. Wowsers.)

Ferriss gathers it all up and takes it to the launderette on a Sunday night and puts it in a giant machine. I’ve got to admit this is a tempting, if expensive solution. But I don’t think he has three kids to look after either.

Washing equipment

Get the kit for decent washing. Chores can be a drag, so do them less often! Laura Lloyd 2016

2. Use a bigger washing machine

At the launderette, in 40 minutes you’ve potentially done the chore that would have me stay home for a day feeding through five or six washes in my crumby second-hand machine with a tiny drum bought from a Turkish man who promised its spin was ‘practically silent’ (it sounds like a plane is taking off inside the house).

* I’m not complaining because we are so so grateful and completely rely on our machine and please, please machine don’t break down just because I called you crumby you’re our rock. Yes stoneage design you may be but we neeeed you. 

So yes, next time drum size will be top of my priority list. But nothing would live up to the duvet-sized machines in a launderette. But the way I always lose time in a launderette mission is in having the right change, the right powder, and carting it there (though now we have a cargo bike that’s much easier). Plus, I’d have to be out of the house for a time which with little ones isn’t always convenient.

3. Don’t do a mixed wash

I’m not talking about separating your whites from your wools. That fell off the bottom of my household standards list some time ago (around the birth of my second child) along with dusting the bathroom.

No. I’m talking about doing a separate wash for each person. Not mixing up the wash of all the different household members, only to have to sort it out again laboriously after each wash. Obviously not a problem if you’re single; but as a household of 5 it’s become a day’s task in itself. The solution is to file your dirties.

You need separated laundry bins like these IKEA SORTERA that can stack up into a tower, one for each family member. And then a stack of these flexible cement-mixing trugs so you can put each person’s clean washing into a separate tub.

Wash all the baby’s clothes in one. Dry it all in the same place. No sorting! Straight into the drawers.

I dream that, in the future, if my system is still going, the kids can put on and hang their own wash on a designated day each. Dream, I said. Don’t take away my dreams darlin they keep me goin.

4. Dry your washing with a ceiling-mounted airer

Like this one from Pulleymaid. It’s fun to hoist it like a sail. It just looks better up there in the house’s heavens.

And you’ll need a couple of peggy pants dryers for the little stuff if you’re not going to make the environmentally-compromised decision to tumble the fiddly stuff, which I admit I sometimes do to save hanging.

5. Pick up the socks off the floor with joy

Reality: children will always drop their socks on the floor, regardless how often you tell them not to.

In fact, my 2-year old is quite obsessed with moving different people’s socks and slippers around the place at the moment. She put her own socks on the other day in a moment of genius cuteness, then sat up looking proudly at her feet and her gorgeous bare knees. She’s better at putting her own socks on than our 4-year-old!

Psycho-spiritual coach Byron Katie describes how she inverted the thought that “Everyone should pick up their socks” to “I should pick up their socks”, because she understood it was her need, her nature, to need socks picked up, and her expression of herself and her love that she do that.

And hearing her say that honestly helped me out of my habitual resentment a little bit. Since I had my third child and have to weather the household chaos, I realise it’s my own need for order that makes me want to tidy. I need it tidy. It makes me happy to tidy.

Who would have thought it? My own mother certainly wouldn’t, who was frequently angered by my untidy teenage bedroom until I moved all my possessions into the attic, not because I personally wanted a zen bedroom but just so I wouldn’t have to endure her wrath. But then, she’s naturally really brilliantly tidy herself so her standards were probably harder to match. There’s a lesson here too: just as I need it tidy, my kids probably need the creative chaos of total mess. And I am far more like my mum than I realised.

So there really are psychological lessons to learn from the deep well of the washing basket. Really.

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If you have an unbeatable washing system, do humanity a favour and don’t hold back. We need your hacks. The comment thread is yours.