How to do the laundry without lights

While listening to a book about cleaning and organizing the house this week it was weird to notice there were so many mentions about disabilities and mental illnesses, and so few tips on how to do any practical sorting or cleaning tips in it. The only things about laundry were the tips to not have stuff lying around, wash the dirty stuff, and put them back to their correct place when done. Well, that’s not really helpful for figuring how to do the laundry since there are so many variables and where things can be done easier or more difficult with a few little changes.

The easiest time doing my laundry was when living in house sharing and there was a washing machine there. Everyone did their own laundry, on their turn, then did all the sorting and deciding what is clean or dirty on their own.

When I moved with my other half, the laundry routine changed a bit, of course. It took quite a few years to figure one little detail that made the sorting really difficult: I washed our clothes together. Now why is that an issue you ask? Try sorting your laundry in a dark room, or in dark enough when you can’t tell whose shirt is that, or pair the socks correctly. Or when some men’s jeans take more space, things like socks and underwear disappear in them. And one sock here, one pair of undies there… it becomes a mess. The less you see, the faster it becomes unmanageable.

I know they teach how to do laundry in many blind skills trainings. I’ve had to learn my own ways. Or, I knew how to do laundry, but had to think over some details, and it has made a huge difference.

First, wash things like towels and bedsheet separately. So one full load will be towels (kitchen and bathroom can mix). A hot load, full drier cycle… and you know you’ll have just towels to sort in the end. Easy peasy. One load for bedsheet too – so take off all bedsheet and pillowcases, and it is one load. If you have multiple beds to take care of, I would recommend doing separate loads if it makes it easier. Especially if people have their own preferred sheet and pillowcases, or some are smaller or larger than others. Or if anyone is currently sick, so the bugs won’t spread that easily. So one load for each bed’s (or person’s) bedsheet. My mum used to wash and change both every two Fridays, but find what works for you. Some people sweat more so change them freely once a week, or even twice.

Then for clothes, each person should have their own laundry basket. Once my basket (or bag) is full, I wash it. It is often a lot easier to get the stuff clean when you don’t overstuff the machine. Half load is fine as the new machines can adjust it to take less time for both washing and drying that way. Don’t mix people’s clothes, as otherwise sorting will become more difficult. Ot do it if you want; Im just saying it’s a lot easier to take care of and sort when you don’t need to do additional guesswork for whose what is what.

If I had children, I would teach them to do their own laundry early on. First, dirty clothes go on his or her own basket. When it’s full, then we learn to do the laundry. And when it’s done, he or she can help sort their own clothes so they feel they have more control over it. And clothes piles on the floor should be less of an issue when they grow up. Don’t do everything for others, and leave them enough space. (And clothes all around their floor and nothing clean? Tough luck. The problem is all of their choices, let them learn to deal with it).

So that’s the basic of it. One laundry load for towels only, one load for bedsheet only, one load for him, one load for me.. do as many loads or as often or rarely as appropriate. Some structure for bedsheet and towels is good so that way it’s easier to remember when to change them the next time. Maybe pick Friday or Monday as those seem easy to add it to the routine.

After the first load of laundry is done, that goes to the drier, and if applicable, a second set of laundry gets done. I leave the basket near the washing machine so it’s easier to not forget that laundry isn’t done yet until the fresh laundry is carried to sorting.

We don’t have a table for clothes sorting. Bed works great. Do the bed first, so the laundry doesn’t get lost in it. If usable and practical, add a sheet or something of highly contrasting color so you find everything easier. Pour in clothes (this is where I do a little sidestep – my cats love lounging in warm, fresh laundry, so sometimes I let them lounge on it for a few hours before proceeding. It gets fluff everywhere, but can’t resist), then sort. Identify the items, fold, put on piles per kind, or hangers. When everything is done, you will have e.g. dresses, a pile of jeans, a pile of socks, a pile of underwear, a pile of sports shorts, a pile of sports bras…. then everything goes to their place in the closet or wherever appropriate.

Rotate the clothes when needed, and let others do it too. Summer to winter clothes, or swap the t-shirts you used recently to some other t-shirts.

One thing I’ve found more difficult is the buttons and dials in the modern washing machines. The older one we had was very simple; it had a few dials. I would select hot, warm, or cold, and then the length of washing, and maybe the load, each on separate physical dials. So a cold wash dial would be at 7 o’clock, and short laundry would be around 1 o’clock. Very easy. And drier was just press whatever.

The newer washing machines have often touchscreens, and just beeps. When you have a dial with the touchscreen, how do you know what is on? It’s all designed for those who can see a tiny little white or blue light where the program selector is. It’s a lot more complex to figure it out. How can I get a short wash, but make it with hot water? No clue. So a normal wash cycle it is. For sports clothes a short one would sound ideal, but just to play it safer for the nose, run the regular cycle. So press the button that is close to bottom left corner of the panel, wait for the beeps, then hit the button far on the right. Or rotate the dial first, remembering the program options and order it rotates them.

Drier is also similarly very touchscreeny. I’ve started to just pick the default – it will stop when it’s done. And after running the dryer, I always empty the lint collector, the lint filter, and the collected water (our model collects the water in a separate container, instead of blowing it up thru the pipes to the roof). Then get the laundry to be sorted, add the next load if needed…

Another thing that can be difficult is figuring out the stains or things that have holes or need fixing. For stains, the location of a stain remover stick and that of detergents are not a secret. So whoever gets a stain, apply the stain remover, rinse as needed, sature it with the stain remover, put it in the appropriate laundry basket. That way it will not stick to it unlike if nothing was done and the person doing the laundry had to guess there are things that have stains. Once something has been washed and dried and then only a stain is discovered, it’s too late. If something needs fixing, it has to be put aside (ideally clean), then fixed.

Pretty simple? I realize I don’t know the logic or logistic of how most others do it. But for me really the biggest realization was that it’s fifty times easier to do the sorting when you only have clothes of one person per load. And of course you don’t have to do all the housework silently, so freely use audiobooks, music, or podcasts while you do your chores. It can feel much more satisfying that way.

And now that I’ve shared the (hopefully not too boring) mundane details of how I do the laundry, what have you found works best for yours? Especially if you do any adaptations of the “normal” (typical sight, mobility etc) versions?

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