The way to avoided laundry gridlock when you have several people sharing a washer and dryer is to have separate, organized days for washing clothes. However, on the rare occasions that there is a crisis in the family or all family members arrive home from vacation on the same day, you’ll need to follow a few rules.
The best, most sure way to guarantee that you will be able to wash your laundry on the intended day is to rise early in the morning. Before 5AM is the recommended time. But try to avoid going back to bed for any extended period of time, or you might return to find a pile of your washed, wet clothes in a clothes basket, waiting in line for the dryer.
If you can manage to get your clothes in the washing machine, you’re pretty much guaranteed to finish a complete load of laundry. Once they make it to the machine, the person wanting to wash clothes after you is obligated to transfer your clothes to the dryer before they start their own load.
However, if you have clothes that must be line-dried, you’re at an impasse. The person wanting to wash clothes after you will take the time to remove your clothes from the washing machine but will not always be interested in hanging them up for you. You’re on your own if you need this done.
The line of clothes baskets filled with clothes waiting to be washed is not, as a rule, the order in which the clothes are washed. If you happen to be in the laundry room when the washer is free, you are not obligated to wash clothes in order. Simply insert your own clothes—regardless of where they stand in the line—into the machine. Ignore the irritated remarks you receive later. They are worth it to have your laundry completed by the end of the day.
In summary, if you need your laundry done by a specific time, you must stay alert. No falling asleep at the dial. Cell phone alarms come in handy during crisis laundry days such as these. Making a deal with opposing laundry-washers is also a good idea. Sometimes, all you need is a smile and sweet speech. But sometimes you actually have to sacrifice time, do extra work, or—on rare occasions—dish out money.
Whatever the situation, having a washing machine and dryer is much more comfortable than washing clothes by hand. But if you really get into a time crunch, it’s always good to have a metal pail and washboard handy.
Just in case.