Keeping on top of Laundry- How I Do It

Some of you may be wondering what’s “Laundry” or doing the washing has got to do with Autism?
Well, quite a lot actually. We would be amongst the busiest parents around so efficiency is super important if you want to have time for all your kid activities.Those of us in the spectrum ourselves recognise a need for order and control. Personally, I feel very anxious when the washing pile gets too big.And, as a proud Mammy, I want my family to have clean and nice smelling clothes.Well, I was on Twitter today when a media friend who works from home while raising her very small children tweeted a picture of her clean washing pile with the caption “Thinking of joining a nudist colony” -:

I was at home with Liam and looking for a diversion so I offered to tweet her my system of staying organised and she replied: “YES PLEASE!”

So for working Mums, new Mums and anyone who has to manage a home and family while still trying to have a life, here is my system for staying on top of the washing monster. No nudism required:


Being autistic, both my kids have a kind of a “uniform” of similar sets of clothes that follow a theme. This is because there’s comfort in the familiar and it helps to have garments that they can put on as independently as possible to support their confidence in daily living skills.

At the moment Grace is wearing boxer type undies, dark cotton fleece track pants, a pull-on sports bra, white vest, a long sleeved stripey tee and a hooded zip up fleece every day.

Grace’s labeled drawers

The clothes are stored in one drawer each, with a pecs picture on velcro to say what is in each drawer. This facilitates a dressing schedule where they can independently remove each picture and match it to a visual list. These days I use an iPad to do this when needed.

Liam’s Autumn/Winter look is a vest, polo shirt, long khaki cotton drawstring trousers and a zipped hoodie.

Liam can’t wear soft track pants outside the house as they make it too easy to access his “trouser snake” and too obvious when the snake is feeling happy. (And we have to sit in the car doing math problems until it subsides)

Jeans with zips or buttons make it too difficult to access when he needs to do a wee. (and dangerous, have you seen “Something about Mary” ? Frank and beans indeed.)

I deliberately choose garments that make it easy to tell what is the front and back. Boxer type underwear is easier to navigate and doesn’t ride up whichever way you put them on. Zip up hoodies are impossible to put on back to front.

It’s just common sense and saves the intensive step by step teaching of “clothes skills” that are really not that important in the big scheme of things. Gracie’s IEP goal for dressing was pared right back to putting her stripey top and track pants on the right way.  Everything else was too baffling.

(Since my Dad passed away I have been wearing the same 2 pairs of jeans, vests, and cashmere turtleneck combo with runners. Some days it’s the brown turtleneck with skinnies, some days the black one with flares. I find it really comforting in a world that has been very out of control. So I understand how my kids feel.)

Wash by Weight

As well as sorting clothes into lights and darks, I sort them by fabric weight. This means that everything dries at roughly the same time, and you are not bringing in half a wash while leaving out the heavy things that are still too damp. Today was windy but with big dark clouds promising rain, so I did a light wash of tee-shirts and boxer shorts:

Not a very promising day, but I still got some line drying done

I don’t like wet washing draped on radiators all over the house. Don’t like the way it looks or smells. And in case you were wondering, I also avoid using the electric tumble dryer. Gracie does not like the sound of it and gets very distressed, almost as distressed as me when I see our electricity bill.

Indoor drying leaves your clothes wrinkly and twisted and in need of Ironing, which I don’t do.

And here is why:

That is my “hot press” folks. The cupboard in every Irish house where the hot water tank is situated below several badly made wooden shelves. It is warm, from the radiated heat from the tank and ideal for drying the damp off almost dry washing. Usually, it is piled high with a twisted pile of crushed, creased but clean laundry. Mine has a hanging rail from IKEA.

My other trick which I picked up from my systemising sister in Australia is to use Octopus Sock hangers, also from IKEA. Or Soctopuses as I call them.

My sister’s drying system in Australia

They go out on the clothes line too, attached with that wire meant for training climbing plants, so they stay on in our wild seaside winds.

And then I play chicken with the rain….

Because I am a Stay-at-Home Mumpreneur I can keep an eye on the weather while getting on with work.

It’s a challenge, because you want to leave the washing out long enough to get blown dry at least, but not so long that it gets saturated in a downpour. Too early and you have to get it dry enough for the hot press. Too late and it has to go back in to be spun.

(Remember, Autism sensitivity means no tumble dryers)

So I wait and get ready to grab. I even prepare the hangers if it looks like it is getting close:

Sometimes, If the weather is being particularly fickle I bring it in and wait to bring it back out. I have curtain rail hooks just inside the back door for this:

From there, at around 80 – 90% dry they go up to the hot press. For the sake of my husband, I must stress that they be at least 80%. (wet washing goes MOULDY in there)

I don’t wash on potentially very rainy days and if someone else does (!!) and wet washing has to come in, it goes up in the attic on a clothes rack until most of the moisture evaporates. I can live with disorder up there. (okay, it bothers me a little bit but I try and block it out)
The beauty of washing by “theme” is that it makes sorting, folding and putting away very easy. I save my sock sorting for the evening when it is accompanied by TV and a glass of wine.
I deliberately threw out all the odd mismatched sock pairs and bought 12 pairs of identical socks for each of my family members.
My local St Vincent charity shop got a bag full of fabric to recycle (they sell it for industrial rags) and I got at least 30 minutes of my life back each week.
Liam’s favourite socks.

Seriously, sock folding now takes seconds rather than minutes. And if I end up with an odd one left over, I put it in the orphan sock bag to wait for a mate. One of my favourite things is to check it and match the pairs.

Ten seconds later. Only rule is that the coloured tops must not match.

From the hot press, the clothes can directly back into their drawers which are less than 10 feet away. If I don’t have time to sort and store, they stay here, neatly waiting behind the closed door of the hot press for the boy who wants his pink polo or the man who wants his white lycra v-neck tee.
Ordered, clean and efficient.

Sometimes clothes get to live here for a while. That’s okay too.

Having a system like this means that I get to spend more time doing cool active stuff with my kids. Like feeding the Ducks in the park, walking in the Wicklow mountains or going for Sushi in Town.

I just don’t “get” people who make a meal out of doing laundry.

Because ain’t nobody got time for that!
Lisa Maree Domican
Acceptance, Understanding and Pride in the Autistic Spectrum - from a family that knows.
Lisa Maree Domican

Lisa Maree Domican

Acceptance, Understanding and Pride in the Autistic Spectrum - from a family that knows.

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