Most Useful Chore Advice Ever

Recently, in separate conversations with two different friends, the subject of laundry came up.  I mentioned that my husband and I both do our own laundry.  One woman was amazed that I had somehow convinced my husband to do this.  The other looked at me as if I had told her the meaning of life. She had tears in her eyes as she went on and on about how much laundry dominates her life. Granted she is very traditional and Martha Stewart-like so I suspect much of the load is self-imposed.

However, after revealing more details, and yes, they seemed interested in how I achieved this magical feat, I thought I had to share this bit of advice.  Maybe most of my readers have already seen the light. However, given their amazed responses, I thought I better spill in the hopes that more women gain hours of their lives back just by letting the guy do his own damn laundry.

First, I admit that we did not have a big, serious discussion about this split.  It sort of happened. He had his own laundry bag and I had a hamper. We kept it separate when we had to haul our laundry to the laundromat.  Years later, when we bought a washer and dryer, we kept it separate.  That’s not to say that this separation is etched in stone. If I have a light load, I’ll grab lights or darks from his hamper.  However, this division of labor works very well on so many levels.

In the “chore wars“, whoever blinks first loses. In laundry-speak, this means whoever notices the overflowing hampers or needs a favorite item first ends up doing the majority of the laundry. The other lucky person gets used to receiving clean and folded laundry as if by magic.  It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which gender typically wants clean stuff first.  Since we keep our loads separate, I can get by with one load per week or even every two weeks if I’m not exercising regularly.  I do tend to launder the towels and linens.  In addition to time saved, there’s a practical aspect to this. When I do my own laundry, it’s very easy for me to “keep track” of my clothing needs and I don’t have to launder a giant pile of darks and lights just to find my favorite items.  If you do your spouse’s laundry, you’ll likely to do several loads if your favorites happen to be at the bottom of the hamper.  I also don’t have to worry about my helpful husband doing my laundry and ruining delicates. Note: He’s pretty good with laundry but I’m particular about certain favorites.

Some women might object and say it doesn’t really take that much time to throw in his stuff (and I assume you probably fold his stuff, too?) but over time, this takes up valuable time.  At the very least, throw his stuff in a basket and let him fold it (or grab stuff out without ever folding any of it).  Once children are in the picture, you will rue the day that you took on his laundry. Baby/kid laundry are endless.  You’ll thank me once kids are in the picture if you take my advice NOW. As a bonus, if your spouse is used to doing laundry, he’ll pitch in with the kid laundry, too.

My advice is less applicable if you’re the stay-at-home spouse and female.  I don’t think stay-at-home husbands are as likely to do all the laundry, but let me know if I’m wrong.  However, I would advise SAH-wives to delegate laundry and other chores once the working spouse retires.  So many women I know continue doing it all just because they used to be the one with more time at home.

Do you do your spouse’s laundry?

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20 responses to “Most Useful Chore Advice Ever

  1. One of my best friends is a very happy SAHM and she will not do her husband’s laundry. She never did and she never will because she says “that’s his mess and he’s not a child.” So true! Still, she totally blows most people’s minds.

    We outsource most of our laundry… to my 4.5 year old son who absolutely loves doing it. It also helps that we’re not picky about laundry rules, and we don’t generally use bleach. We also use paid help which pick up then delivers us folded laundry, then everyone puts their own laundry away, even our 2.5 year old.

    “I don’t think stay-at-home husbands are as likely to do all the laundry, but let me know if I’m wrong.” Well, maybe that’s because they’re too busy cheating on their breadwinner wives. (No, I don’t really believe that at all. That was my attempt to deliver an eff you to Sandra Tsing Loh’s bizarre “Weaker Sex” article that tries to scare the shit out of working mothers who are married to SAHDs.)

    • Sandra Tsing Loh is so messed up that I believe we mention her in our “about” statement on what we’re trying to avoid.

      Besides, I thought she cheated on him first, though it’s been a while since I read that sharing waaaay too much article she wrote. Or listened to her sharing too much about how terrible she is with finances (but it is everyone else’s fault) on The Loh Down on the radio.

    • Sandra loh seems crazy to me and I have no clue why she gets to write and rant..someone enlighten me.

  2. We each fold and put away our own stuff, but we mostly combine our loads for washing. We also typically do it together, doing several loads in one day and taking turns switching it out to the dryer and putting a fresh load in the washer. I sometimes help him fold his shirts, because he usually has a large stack… but I just do it if I want to do something nice for him – it is not expected. And usually I’m not that nice 🙂

    The idea of me just doing all of the laundry never occurred to either of us. I probably would if I were a SAHM, but… even then, I might solicit help in the folding/putting away part.

  3. We do our laundry together (and have a lovely front-loader that the 5 year old can use). I like doing laundry as a family. DC1 and DH have a game in which DC1 tries to get his laundry folded and put away before DH gets it and puts it all in DH’s drawers instead of DC1’s. Back when DC1 was younger, he’d pretend to be spiderman to the rescue putting away laundry.

  4. We do our own laundry in these parts too, although at times I do break down and fold and put his away when the piles become overwhelming.

  5. This is interesting – you’re the second couple I’ve heard of who splits up laundry like this. I have married friends (no kids) who handle their own – the wife sends hers out but the hubby does his own because he doesn’t want to spend money on it.

    I do laundry in our house, but I don’t mind it. Hubby does all the dishes now that he’s not working (we used to split it). If I haven’t gotten to laundry in a while, he does some (though he tends to cherrypick his own stuff) but he never nags me about clean laundry. If he runs out of something he works it out himself.

    I am working on getting the 3yo to put hers away – that is one of my least favorite tasks. She already puts her dirty stuff into the appropriate hamper by color, so I can’t complain 😀

  6. Mr. Sandwich does the laundry. Well, probably 90 percent of it. I used to do more of it, but then we had Baguette, and he did the laundry because I needed every minute (I am not joking) to nurse her. Nursing didn’t go that well, and now she needs different attention from me, but the overall division of labor still stands.

  7. My husband does 90% of the laundry too. Someone asked me how I got him to do that…I own more underwear. But really, he did his own laundry before we met, right? And I do own more underwear, so he runs out first. We both fold. It tends to sit on a pile on the bed and we fold as we have a chance.

  8. I totally agree! My husband and I have never combined, and I don’t think we ever will. I have a hard enough time keeping up with my own laundry – I don’t need any extra in my life. Also, I don’t see it as a joint chore, because we don’t both benefit from it the way we do from cooking dinner together. They are my clothes – I paid for them, I wear them, and I’ll wash them. I expect the same from him.

    PS – I’m new here, but came over from a link on Wandering Scientist’s post.

  9. Interesting. I do as much our laundry (despite being the WOHM with a SAHH) as I can manage, but only because if left to his own devices my DH will — horror of horrors — put the clothes in the dryer, something I try quite earnestly to avoid our doing unless it is truly unavoidable (or 88% desirable). OTOH, I put everything together, always (no separating lights/darks, etc.), have only one additional step (add laundry detergent), and then hang the stuff out to dry in the same room where the washer is. I totally ignore folding and putting away except on an ad-hoc basis because I don’t care about that: once it’s washed and hung up, it’s available (after having had time to dry). I will sometimes fold and put it away if I need the drying space again (i.e. to wash another load), but I’m equally or more likely to toss all his stuff (or all everyone’s stuff) on top of the dryer (see, it does serve a purpose) and just leave it there.

    Actually it kind of drives me nuts that when DH does do laundry, he will fold it and leave it (my and our son’s portions) on our bed for me to put away. Not on principle (my annoyance) but if I come home from work and need to get the kid fed and to bed, we use our bed for reading bedtime stories and it’s a nuisance to have to put the laundry away first.

    Overall, the chore balance in our house isn’t an issue, which isn’t to say there are never moments when it is.

  10. PiC probably does more loads of laundry but I haven’t got a clue who actually does more of what. Whoever has the time, energy, inclination or whatever to start a load just does whenever they want to and whoever notices it’s ready to move to the dryer, does it. I can WFH so I have more opportunity to do a few more things during the day if I feel like it.

    The caveat is that I’m often feeling unwell and if it’s not a high priority then I won’t do it unless I am super grumpy in which case it’ll make me feel better to do it. (yes, I know that’s counter-intuitive but I like doing laundry.)

    We wash loads together normally and he’s more particular than I am so it’s even safer with him than with me, which you could say about almost any chore so no issues there.

    I would bet if you tracked, he does the majority of the house chores though. It’s not that it’s perfect here, it’s just that as long as things eventually get done and we’re each doing what we can, then it’s really a non-issue.

  11. We each do our own laundry. Snork Maiden will make my white clothes blue or worse pink if I let her do it. I end up doing any ironing for both of us…

  12. what? do you watch it spin? do you live in a castle where it takes hours to get to the laundry room? why does it take up valuable time to do laundry? We do all our laundry together, and whoever needs something washed sooner does it. it takes a grand total of maybe 3 minutes to take it to the laundry room, dump it, put the detergent in and press the button. It takes about as long to bring it back up. Sure, i’ll give you folding might take a little more time, but not that much

    • Yes I live in a castle. It’s hard for us to do it together because we both loathe it so avoid it. I don’t care how you spin it but if one person does it daily/weekly time adds up. When you have little time due to young kids, commute and work, being the only person responsible, as my 2 friends are, is extremely time-consuming on top of other household chores. I didn’t mention doing it together as that isn’t my experience.

  13. Oh, I guess many people focused on the chore division aspect, which I’m guilty of highlighting due to mention of “chore wars”, but really the practical aspect wins out. A says “whoever needs something washed sooner does it” and in my household, it’s me 99% of the time, so that method doesn’t work. I just really like knowing that if I do a mid-size load of lights or darks, I get a week or 2 worth of clothes and do laundry less frequently.

  14. I blink last. That’s my strategy.

  15. My husband also does his own laundry, always has (married 15 years). He will do mine along with his, but he won’t put mine away, which I think is by far the worst part of laundry. I don’t even care that much about outsourcing laundry because you can’t outsource putting it away. I’ve finally gotten my 13-yo to put hers away, but the 9-yo is still balking.

  16. Pingback: Living The Rich Life | Oilandgarlic's Blog

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