I have yelled. I have begged and pleaded. I have demonstrated and reminded and prayed. And yet, the people I live with continue to live in sin in the realm of all things laundry. And so I have gone to the mountain (okay, my closet hideout) and am coming down with these in hand: The 10 Commandments of Laundry. Read and obey, my children.
1. I am the doer of the laundry. Thou shalt obey all commandments and do so with a smile.
Thank-yous are also greatly appreciated. Break the rules and find yourself doing your own laundry for eternity. You are lucky that your clothing just appears in your drawers, my friends. Okay, appears in a basket next to your drawers. Act like the grateful child you are.
2. Thou shalt check to see if items are actually dirty before putting them in the laundry.
If you wore it for 10 minutes? Not dirty. If you wore it for a day and it looks fine and smells fine? Not dirty. If it is a dry clean only sweater and you can’t find a hanger to hang it back up? Not dirty.
3. Thou shalt not put brand new clothing in the wash.
Okay, I know technically some would say you should wash clothing before you wear it. But let’s not kid ourselves here. It’s not in the laundry because you care about rinsing off chemicals or germs or whatever we are supposed to be cleaning off of new clothes. It’s in the laundry because you were too lazy to put it away. Please shove that shirt in your overflowing drawer or at least make the effort to take off the darn tags.
4. Thou shalt not put socks still paired in the laundry.
First of all, that lump of socks will not get clean and will never dry. It’s like 10 layers of sock all balled up. And second of all, again, you are fooling no one.
5. Thou shalt turn all clothing right side in.
No one has time to turn reach into your dirty leggings to pull the socks out of the legs and turn them inside out. Which brings us to commandment 6…
6. Thou shalt ALWAYS remove any undergarments from inside of clothing so they enter the laundry as separate items.
No one wants to peel your dirty underwear out of anything ever. Important life lesson my friends. This rule should be followed when wearing two shirts as well. Peel those babies apart. I know you can do it — you’ve mastered the iPad and the Xbox, and this is for sure easier than both of those.
7. Thou shalt always empty out your pockets.
Stuff in pockets either gets ruined (goodbye, Pokémon cards) or ruins something else (hello, black Sharpie all over your favorite T-shirt). And then there was the time that the washing machine broke and the repair guy found it was filled with change that had destroyed the motor. Not enough change to pay for the repairs sadly. Let’s not repeat that, okay? I’d like to be able to send one of you to college.
8. Thou shalt tell all dolls and stuffed animals to do their own darn laundry.
Unless you have spilled something on these items, they are not dirty. I have enough to do, people. Feel free to wash these yourself if you would like to get a taste of my world. And be prepared for Barbie to forget to put all her carefully folded clothes away.
9. Thou shalt at least give minimal effort by emptying folded laundry from basket before adding dirty laundry.
The sight of carefully washed and folded laundry buried in a basket beneath a week’s worth of dirty laundry will fill a mom with actual rage. It might also cause me to doubt your ability to make any life decisions. Show your gratitude by putting your clothes where they belong — stuffed into your drawers that barely shut.
10. Thou shalt not hoard sportswear, wet towels, or anything with a stench.
These items need our attention pronto. Right after these come off they must meet with water and soap. No exceptions or you may earn the name Stinky next time you are wearing that unwashed uniform to the game.
I suspect someday it will occur to me that you can do all of this yourselves, and I will attempt to make that the rule. But deep down I know that these days are fleeting and someday I will miss doing your laundry as much as I miss the days when the laundry baskets were filled with tiny clothes (when they weren’t already filled with tiny people).
So I’ll take a deep breath and dig the Legos out of your pockets and fold your favorite shirt for you and attempt to cherish the moments of motherhood that I am living today. Yes, even the ones that drive me a little insane (for real, that shirt still has the tags on it) because having you all here and being driven crazy by your laundry means you are still living under our roof and we can hold onto you just a little bit longer. And that is all I need.
That, and for you to put your laundry away.
This article was originally published on