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Laundry and Kids: Your Complete Guide

Manage your family’s laundry easier by teaching your children how to share the responsibility. Learn everything you need to know about laundry and kids in this easy guide.

Your Complete Guide to Teaching Kids to Do Laundry. Everything You Need to Know. Get Organized. Stay Organized. Mother and daughter smiling and folding towels by a washing machine in a laundry room.

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Laundry and Kids – Managing It all

Laundry is the one chore – besides the dishes – that never seems to end. Does anyone ever actually get caught up on laundry? I mean all the way?

And just like every other chore, it can be so much easier to just do it yourself instead of constantly reminding and helping your kids to do theirs.

But teaching your kids how to do their own laundry and motivating them to stay on top of it will ease your stress in the long run.

Table of contents

How to Teach Kids to Do the Laundry. Father and son holding laundry baskets.

This guide will take you through everything you need to know about kids and laundry. You’ll discover motivation tricks as well as some easy hacks for teaching kids how to fold the laundry – even a fitted sheet.

How to Teach Kids How to Do the Laundry

The first thing we need to look at is how to teach kids the basics of doing the laundry. If you take it one step at a time, you won’t miss anything. You’ll soon have kids that are able to do their own laundry!

The only thing this requires of you is time. It might take some time to remind them and motivate them to want to help out. But soon, they will be doing their own clothes.

4 Simple Steps to Teach Kids to Do Laundry, a teddy bear on top of folded towels in a basket next to a washing machine in a laundry room.

Step 1: Sorting the Clothes

Is sorting clothes really that important? It can be, especially if you have a new shirt that could possibly bleed onto other clothes.

Even if later on you teach them that they could possibly throw all their clothes in one pile, it’s important to teach them the basics of sorting so they know how to do it.

Here’s a quick list of how to sort clothes:

  1. Take the entire basket to the washing machine. It’s easier than having to make multiple trips.
  2. Put the darkest clothes in the washing machine.
  3. In the next wash, put the lighter clothes.

Sometimes it can be confusing to tell what is light and what is dark. Some people even sort things down to how bright and dark they are and even wash jeans separately.

To keep it simple, however, just tell your child to wash anything that is mostly white together and everything else can be washed in another load.

Step 2: Wash the clothes

This step all depends on your washing machine’s settings. As you know, basically everything can be washed on normal/permanent press. All they have to know is to check and make sure it is set to it before they hit start.

The next thing to teach them is how to add detergent and fabric softener. That’s it!

Step 3: Dry the clothes

This is another step that is super easy for kids, especially if you keep it at normal. Just put them in and hit start.

If your kids have something that might shrink or some clothes that need to be dried on low heat, show them which clothes they are.

Most kids clothes can be dried on regular heat.

Step 4: Fold the clothes

Finally, teach your kids how to fold their clothes. This will help the clothes last longer and will even increase the life of your dresser and closet. Clothes that are just shoved into drawers will make them too full and more difficult to shut, leading to busted wood.

Let’s look closer at how to fold clothes with some really helpful tips for kids.

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Kids and Laundry – How To Fold Clothes

Of course, you can teach your kiddos the super simple way to fold clothes. But there are some tools and tricks you can teach that will make the entire process easier and a lot more fun.

How to Teach Kids to Fold Clothes, mother showing child how to fold laundry.

Make Your Own clothes folding machine

You can always buy the plastic folding machine already made. Or you can make your own with some cardboard and packing tape.

This tutorial shows you how to make your own. It’s pretty easy and kids can make perfectly folded t-shirts every time.

How to Fold a Fitted Sheet

Honestly, this is a task best suited for stronger, older children. There are even adults that struggle with this! If you teach them young, they will be ahead of the curve.

This video demonstrates it probably the best out of all we have seen. It’s all about finding the correct corners, tucking them into each other, and creating a smooth rectangle that you can fold.

How to fold towels

Folding towels and washcloths is one of the easiest chores for kids. In fact, you can probably teach kids as young as 4 years old how to fold towels.

There are actually 3 main ways to fold towels. Pick one that you think fits best in your bathroom:

  • Rolled – Fold the towel in half longways. Then roll it like a sleeping bag.
  • Square – Fold in half one way and then in half the other way. This is the most basic towel-method.
  • Rectangle – First, fold it in half longways. Then, fold it 1/3 of the way down and fold it on top of itself the rest of the way.

Here is a video that shows you the different ways to fold a towel. Keep in mind that the rolled technique she shows is a bit more advanced than some kids might be ready for.

How to fold socks

Finally, folding socks could be a struggle for some kids. The important thing is to keep pairs together.

Thankfully, there are some pretty neat things you can buy to keep socks together and make folding them a breeze. The only downside to these products is that you have to sort through the laundry and put the socks into pairs before you wash them.

So you’ll have to remind your kids to put their socks together before putting them into the basket to save them time.

  • Sock Locks – You put the socks through the holes and they stay together through the washer and the dryer. You can even store the socks this way in their drawers
  • Sock Lasso – This might be easier to use for younger kids. You just put it on the pair of socks, twist, and it’s tight.
  • SockSync Sock Organizer – This requires no extra steps before you wash. Use it to find pairs and fold socks super quickly. You just put one sock on top of the other and then push it through the hole. It literally folds itself.
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What to Teach At Each Age

Did you know you can teach your kids how to do laundry as young as 8 years old? Here are some laundry concepts and when to teach them.

Laundry: What You Can Teach Kids from Toddlers to Teens, boy with curly hair carrying a plastic laundry basket near a washing machine.

The best thing about this list is that you will have a lot more success if you teach things at their level that they are ready for.

2-4 Years old

Maybe 2 years old is a bit young for laundry. Some kids at this age are still at the “it’s fun to dump out all the clothes” stage. But if your child is able to follow a one-step direction, you can help them put socks in their drawer or put clothes in the dryer with you.

This is also the perfect age for teaching them where dirty clothes belong – in the basket.

At this age, the important thing is teaching children to feel responsible for their clothes. You want to establish routines and a basic understanding of where clothes belong and how to pick them up.

5-7 years old

By early elementary, most kids are able to handle basic responsibilities. You can expect them to do the following laundry tasks:

  • Fold their clothes
  • Put away their clothes
  • Hang up clothes in the closet
  • Have a basic understanding of how the washing machine and dryer work

At this age, the laundry basket might still be too heavy to move by themselves and the washing machine might be too big for them to reach into. So keep the laundry chores at things they can physically handle.

8-12 years old

This next stage all depends on the size and maturity of your child as well as how difficult your washer and dryer are to get to and to use.

For example, if you have a small child and the washing machine is down a flight of stairs, they might not be able to carry their laundry basket up and down the stairs by themselves.

For the most part, kids at this age should at least have a basic understanding of how it all works.

  • Understand how a washing machine and dryer work
  • Be able to wash and dry their own clothes
  • Fold clothes
  • Put away clothes

According to Dr. Gilboa, most 8-year-olds should be able to do their laundry without help. But definitely modify your expectations according to the development level of your child.

13 years and up

By middle school, most kids are ready to be completely responsible for their own clothes. They should know when to wash them and be able to do it without being reminded.

Keep in mind this is a general rule. Some kids are not mentally ready to take on this responsibility until high school.

At this age, you can also move forward with more complex laundry tasks such as how to treat stains and how to sort and wash clothes based on their care instructions.

  • Wash and dry their own clothes
  • Fold and put away clothes
  • Sort clothes
  • Wash clothes based on care instructions

Always remember that these lists are just a general guideline. Kids mature at different rates. It also depends on your schedule and how much time you have to invest in teaching and reminding them.

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Easy Laundry Hacks for Kids

Everyone can always use hacks and time-saving tips. You might find some of these hacks will save you time too.

Easy Laundry Hacks for Kids, 3 bottles of laundry detergent on a shelf in a laundry room.

But all of these are especially good for kids who are too small to do the same kind of chores and tasks that grown-ups can.

This list also has some ideas for parents, and how to keep your kids motivated so they want to help out with the laundry!

Laundry Reward Charts for Kids

One of the best ways to motivate a child is through the tried and true rewards system. As your child gets older, the laundry will become something they do just because it needs to be done. But first, you have to teach and instill these habits.

If your child already has a reward chart, you can add the laundry tasks to it. If they don’t have a reward chart yet, there are a ton of free options online. This one from What Mommy Does is blank, so you can write in whichever laundry tasks you are trying to encourage them to do.

How to Remember What is in the Washing Machine

One thing that even adults struggle with is remembering what is in the washing machine and how to dry it.

Remember what's in the washing machine with these free magnetic laundry reminders.

If you have a child that is old enough to understand the difference between types of clothes and their care instructions, then use these Free Magnetic Laundry Reminders.

This is a simple way to remember if something needs to be hung up to dry or if a piece of clothing needs to be checked for stains.

Easy Laundry Sorting for Kids

Laundry sorting is such a basic task that even really young children can do it. But there is a hack to make it easier and faster.

The best hack of all is to invest in a sortable laundry bag system. This laundry sorter with hanging bar is the best one of all. It has labels for the bags so you know where to put the lights and darks. The hanging bar lets you easily hang up clothes right out of the dryer.

If you don’t need something with a hanging bar, you can spend a little less and just get pre-labeled laundry bags.

Sorting clothes before you get to the washing machine makes the entire process so much faster and easier.

The Heavy Laundry Basket Hack

If your kids are smaller and complain about lugging around the heavy laundry basket, then this next hack is for you.

Buy laundry baskets with removable bags. The bags can be dragged up or down the stairs.

Plus with removable bags, you can label the handles with their names so they know who is doing their laundry.

Remembering To Move Clothes to The Dryer

Some washing machines have alarms that notify you when they are done, but not everyone can hear them. And leaving clothes in the washing machine too long is something even adults struggle with.

A simple way to remember to move the clothes is to set a reminder alarm on your phone. Most clothes cycles take around an hour from start to finish. Tell your child to set their phone alarm for an hour later.

When their phone chimes, it is time to move their clothes.

If your child doesn’t have a phone, you can give them a kitchen egg timer. Just wind it to 60 minutes and carry it with them wherever they are playing.

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How to Know When It's Safe for Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry, child putting folded towels in a wicker laundry basket near a washing machine.

Is it safe for kids to wash their own clothes?

This answer depends entirely on the maturity and mental development of the child, as well as the type of laundry supplies they will have to use.

A child can do their own laundry safely if they can:

  • Be trusted not to play with Tide Pods/Gain Flings/etc
  • Correctly measure laundry detergent without help
  • Leave laundry chemicals like bleach alone

Basic laundry – adding detergent and softener and drying clothes afterward – is safe for most older children.

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Laundry and Kids – It Can Work

At the end of the day, laundry is something that is very possible to teach children how to handle on their own. As they get older, they will realize that if they don’t do their laundry, they won’t have clean clothes to wear.

If you start young, you will be more likely to instill positive habits and attitudes about laundry care.

Everything you need to teach your kids about doing their own laundry, mother and daughter folding towels.

No matter what you are facing, always reach out to other parents for support and encouragement. We are all in this journey together, even if it might look different for us along the way.

Struggling to get motivated? Sign up to get our FREE guide, The 30-Minute Organizing Secret and discover easy ways to overcome the chaos of clutter – even with kids at home!

More Laundry Tips and Ideas

Here are some more laundry room organization ideas and tips to help you stay on top of this never-ending chore.

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