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    Lighten the load: Open up valuable free time by organizing the laundry room

    Laundry is always on the to-do list, and in busy households across the country, it seems that the hamper is always full. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average household does 392 loads of laundry each year. That translates to 7.5 loads per week, which can make the process of washing your clothes, towels and bedding feel like a permanent chore.

    Running a household doesn’t have to be a chore, especially when it comes to laundry, says Laura Deluttri of

    “The laundry room is an area that is so easy and simple to get organized and keep clean, and once it’s together, you’re able to maximize your time doing other things,” she says. “By making the laundry room as efficient as possible you can let the machines do the work, focus on other things outside the mudroom and come back later to fresh, clean clothes.”

    To get your laundry room in tip-top shape, consider the following tips:

    * Create a stain removal station – There might be grass stains on your child’s sports jersey or dinner stains from the last party you hosted. Even if you don’t treat the stains immediately, keep those items separated at your station so you don’t have to sort the laundry when it comes time to run it. What should you have at your station? Follow this list:

    – A bucket for presoaking clothing and linens

    – A supply of your favorite stain-treating detergents handy for easy access

    – Bleach (if things get really messy!)

    – Drying rack for delicate items

    – Recycling bin for too stained clothes and/or used bottles

    Keeping this area separate also prevents any chemicals like bleach from mixing with your regular laundry.

    * Keep everything at your fingertips – Clutter is your worst enemy. When all of your laundry supplies are haphazardly stored, you can spend too much time trying to find something (and even causing more of a mess along the way). That’s why it’s important to organize your space so you can easily grab the detergent, liquid softener or dryer sheets while your arms are full. Easy access and convenience are found in some of the newest top load washers like a model from LG with an innovative design that places the control panel on the front of the machine. Just set the washer to the desired cycle and turn it on with the push of a finger – no leaning over the machine to get to the back panel. It comes in handy if you have anything in your other arm – like a baby or laundry basket full of clean clothes ready for folding. Installing a hanging rack near the washer is also a great idea, so that as you remove clothing, you can immediately hang items specified for air drying without slowing down the process.

    * Do fewer loads of laundry – This sounds pretty basic but it can really save you lots of time, energy and water. If you’re in the market for a new washer-dryer pair, consider mega-capacity models that allow you to do fewer loads. Some Energy Star washers even have a new “turbo wash” feature that saves 20 minutes of wash time per load, even on larger loads giving you back more “me time.”

    * Use two hampers – Encourage your family to help with the laundry process by presorting their clothes. Anything with stains goes to the stain removal station, while everything else gets placed into the dark or white hampers as appropriate. It’s a great way to teach children at an early age how to do their own laundry and it ensures the ever-missing sock stays put.

    * Reduce time spent ironing – Check the care labels in your clothing items before starting the laundry process. For example, synthetic materials like nylon, polyester and acrylic will have fewer wrinkles when washed in a permanent press cycle. Using cold water to wash bright colors will also help keep wrinkles at bay. When transferring clothes to the dryer, shake them out to prevent anything from balling up during the drying cycle and becoming more wrinkled. Also, take advantage of technologies that can help reduce wrinkles. Some dryers from LG, for instance, offer steam cycles to help freshen clothing and remove wrinkles, while also helping to cut down on your dry cleaning bill. Lastly, don’t overfill the dryer as this can keep clothing from drying quickly, leading to wrinkles.

    “If you have a large family, or just feel like you end up doing a lot of laundry each week, know that with some easy organizational tips, washing the clothes can turn into the easiest job on your home’s to-do list,” Deluttri says. “Keeping everything organized and within easy reach can open up time for doing more activities you enjoy like spending time with family and friends.”

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