If you’re asking yourself when you should start having your kids do their own laundry, I’m here to give you some suggestions based on what’s worked well for our family.
First, let’s answer the question of IF your kids should do their own laundry. (Spoiler: YES.)
Why kids should do their own laundry
- Because your kid wears clothes and use towels
- Because all household work should not all fall on just one or two household members
- Because after your kid grows up and moves away, he/she will need to know how to do laundry
- Because it’s an easy and natural way to teach your kid how to be responsible
When kids can start doing their own laundry
At our house, even the littlest ones get involved with helping me with laundry. Toddlers on up can put their dirty clothes in the hamper and help me fill the washer. Pre-schoolers on up can help fold and put away washrags and kitchen towels. They can also put away their clothes after they’ve been folded. (Try not to cringe when the clothes you just folded get dropped and unfolded on their way to the drawers. This is life. This teaches our kids skills. Crumpled clothing is fine. It’s fine. We don’t even care…)
But then, as your kid gets a little older, he/she can start to do all of their own laundry from start to finish:
- When they are able to reach the buttons and work them properly
- When they are old enough to understand how to properly measure and put in detergent
- When they are old enough and able to ask, “Hey, where is my favorite shirt?? Is my uniform clean?”
- When they are old enough to learn to be responsible for keeping up with their own clothes
At our house, this usually happens around fourth grade.
As soon as my kids have become capable, I turn their laundry pile over to them. They wash a load or two for themselves each week, from start to finish – washing, drying, folding (maybe?!) and putting away (sometimes in a pile on their floor in front of their dresser. I JUST CLOSE THE DOOR AND WALK AWAY).
Every family is different. Every kid is different. Some kids have very busy schedules, which makes it difficult for them to find time for laundry. So…
We also work together
I’m currently doing laundry for Matt and me, plus six littles. Often I’ll throw a load in and an hour later, I’ll holler at Malachi (our high schooler) to please transfer it to the dryer for me. In turn, sometimes Malachi may have a load of his clothes in the washer. As he’s running out the door for a college class, he may ask me, “Mom, if you have a chance, can you put my clothes in the dryer when it’s done?” This is all part of teamwork in a family.
The main thing, though, is that I let my big kids be in charge of taking care of their own laundry. I have plenty of chores and diapers to take care of all day long. Laundry is an easy thing to offload to the Bigs. Though, even before our second set of Littles came along, I still found it necessary and worthwhile to have my Bigs do their own laundry.
If the child is capable, the job becomes theirs.
This goes for laundry, cooking help, dishes, cleaning bathrooms, sweeping, vacuuming, trash, dusting – any and all household chores and needs.
Never should parents take on the full load of household work while their kids sit around on their phones, not learning valuable skills or learning to take responsibility for family needs.
I have this lovely laundry sorter and it has come in super handy. Littles put their dirty clothes in the two hampers on the left. Bigs have their designated hampers on the right.
This keeps our dirty laundry separate but all in one place, which is much nicer than having dirty laundry piles all over the house. (But who am I kidding? I still have dirty laundry piles all over the house, because…babies.) :)