Even from a very early age, kids can learn how to do laundry and take care of their own clothes. Sure, you’ll have to deal with some mistakes and you might have to relax your standards of neat folding until they get the hang of it, but it is well worth the time to teach your kids how to do laundry and establish good habits for years to come.
At what age can kids learn to do laundry?
If you head over to the nearest college dorm, you might become convinced that even 18 year olds aren’t old enough for some of the more complicated aspects of laundry. But the truth is, children as young as 2 and 3 can begin to learn to do laundry, even if they can’t reach the buttons and run the cycle.
Laundry jobs for preschoolers:
Preschoolers can learn to sort clothes by color (whites in one hamper, colors in another, and darks in a third). They can help you put clothes in the washer and pour the detergent in for you. Preschoolers can quickly become experts at lint trap duty too. This is a good age to get your children comfortable with laundry and teach basic concepts of sorting, washing, and drying.
Laundry jobs for elementary school children:
Once your kiddos know how to read, have them read the washing labels to sort the clothes – not just by color, but also by how they should be washed and dried. If you start early enough, by the 3rd grade your children should be able to load the machine with your assistance. Now it’s time to give them some independence:
Start by having your 3rd graders wash their own laundry with adult supervision. Allow them to sort the clothing and load the washer (paying close attention that they’re not overloading the washer). Observe them adding the soap, and consistently reinforce the importance of using the correct amount of laundry soap. Teach them that oversudsing is one of the leading causes of repair problems in front load machines.
Once the load is clean, have them switch the clothes to the dryer and turn on the dryer. At this age, don’t forget that they will still need supervision and assistance.
Laundry jobs for middle school children:
By middle school, your kiddos are ready to take full laundry responsibility (but be sure to supervise the transition until you’re confident that they’re laundry experts). Starting at around age 12, children can be responsible for each stage of the process (sort, wash, dry, fold, and put laundry away).
Also, middle school kids are the right age to start paying attention to details in laundry. Have your middle schooler go through the laundry and pre-treat for stains before putting the clothes in the washer. Teach them the importance of checking the clothes between washer and dryer for any stains that didn’t come out, because if a stain is exposed to heat it will often set. This is also a good age to teach trouble-shooting techniques, such as how to fix an unbalanced load.
It takes some patience to teach kids to do laundry. You should be prepared for mistakes such as shrinkage and dye transfer. But it all pays off in the end, when you can send your child off to college knowing that they have this important life skill down pat.