Laundry is a household chore that can be burdensome and time consuming, especially if you have young children producing heaps of dirty clothes. You may not have thought about the best time to start teaching your children how to do laundry, but it’s actually a good idea to start early.
Involving your kids in the laundry process from a young age teaches them responsibility and prepares them to be able to do their own laundry and ease the burden on you. Here are some strategies for teaching your kids how to do laundry in a way that’s both safe and fun.
Sorting Clothes by Color
Introduce your toddlers to the laundry process by teaching them to sort their dirty clothes. Most people sort their laundry into dark, medium, and light colors to avoid colors bleeding in the wash. When your kids are ages 2-3, you can start teaching them to sort their clothes by color.
Some strategies for this include setting up separate bins for toddlers to deposit their clothes in as soon as they wear them, or creating a fun game for them to sort their dirty clothes at once such as shooting clothes into appropriate laundry bins basketball-style.
Once your kids reach school age, you can start involving them in more of the laundry process. Kids ages 4-9 should not operate dryers and washing machines yet, but they can begin assisting with loading and unloading the machines, and they can learn to fold their own clean laundry.
You can make folding clothes fun for your kids with activities such as this printable game to teach kids how to match socks. You can also use resources such as this printable cheat sheet to help them learn and remember how to fold different clothing items.
Operating the Laundry Machines
By the time your children reach age 10, they’re old enough to do their laundry from start to finish with your supervision; and teenagers should be able to do laundry without supervision. Take the time to show your kids how to operate the washing machine and dryer, which can be a daunting task for a child who’s never done it before.
To make it easy to remember, consider making a cheat sheet with instructions to tape up in the laundry room.
For additional safety considerations, remember to teach your child to empty the lint trap in the dryer after each cycle, as failure to do so can cause a dryer fire. Teach kids not to climb on or inside the machines or hang on open doors, which could cause the machines to tip over.
You should also consider labeling potentially dangerous substances such as bleach and detergent bottles with printable stickers to deter your children from ingesting them.
This process may be slow and gradual, but by following it you can teach your children how to safely complete an essential chore and prepare them to grow into responsible, independent adults.