Kids deftly navigate technology, from touch screens to video game controllers with more buttons than you can count. They download apps and upload videos, swiping, clicking, and figuring out any device you place in their hands. All of that smart technology might leave you wondering about screen time limits, but look at the bright side of their expertise. If they can manage an iPad, they can learn to work a washing machine. We have a few tips to make sure their favorite clothes don't end up as laundry room casualties.
1. Start small
You don't need to explain the washing machine immediately. Even toddlers can — and should! — learn small laundry tasks. Hand your child a pile of washcloths to fold while you're tackling the towels. Ask them to sort socks into pairs, talking about colors while you do it. As kids get older, have them fold and put away their own clothes. Their methods might lead to a few extra wrinkles, but it's another step toward having them do their own laundry.
2. Move onto sorting
Some people deserve Olympic medals for their laundry sorting techniques. Moving beyond simple darks and whites into darks, whites, delicates, athleisure, actual fitness clothes, kitchen towels, and bathroom towels means each item gets washed exactly how you want it, but those systems might be too complicated for kids to remember. We suggest getting your children their own hamper, so you can narrow your sorting categories. We suggest starting with whites and brights to keep things simple but effective.
3. Talk about temperature
A general rule of thumb is to wash whites in warm or hot water and bright colors in cold, because brighter colors can bleed in warmer water. We know we should suggest you teach your kids those rules, but we're going to be completely honest here. We suggest kids start their laundry journey by washing everything in cold water, at least until they have the sorting process down pat. Washing in cold water lessens the possibility of them ruining a favorite item when sorting goes wrong — and it probably will go wrong at least once or twice.
4. Choose a laundry soap
STRETCH Athleisure Wash will keep your kids' clothes looking and feeling fabulous. So many pieces in kids' closets and drawers mirror athleisure, even when they're not technically in that category. Stretchy leggings, basketball shorts, and jeggings can all benefit from being washed in STRETCH. Parents might consider starting kids with the granular formula, so it's easier to clean up when it gets spilled.
5. Give them a (quick) tutorial
Show them the different buttons and controls on the washer and dryer and ask if they have any questions. You'll be surprised at how quickly they figure out how it all works. Don't forget you'll need to remind them to switch their load to the dryer when it's finished washing. Setting a timer for the first few loads will help them get a sense of how long it truly takes.
6. Let them make laundry mistakes
They're kids, which means they're going to make mistakes as they're learning. Try not to bail them out by moving clothes to the dryer or taking a load out to fold just because your child gets distracted doing something else. If a favorite item gets ruined, talk about it to see what went wrong (a bright color buried in a load of whites? pressing the button for hot water by mistake?) and how to avoid the same mistake in the future. Laundry, whether we like it or not, will be a lifelong task, and the sooner they master the process, the better!