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You are stupid if you do your own laundry

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Laundry

I refuse to do laundry.

That’s a bit of an overstatement, but I really, really hate to do the wash, and I really, really hate the fold. The sorting and cycling and hauling of this never-ending chore so tedious, so mundane and omnipotent that it a joke for moms everywhere.

Except that it will make you poor. Nothing funny about that!

Instead, every week I spend about $25 to have a very nice man come to my apartment, take way a giant black bag full of soiled garments and return them to me folded, sorted and often still dryer warm. The same day. That same bagfull of laundry would cost me about $10 to do in the coin laundry, including detergent (I live in a New York City apartment) each week. I figure it would also cost about $10 per week if I had my own washer and dryer, factoring in said detergent, water, electricity and wear and tear on a Maytag.

But it really isn’t about the saved $15 or the extra $15 or the wear and tear. Sending my laundry out is about economizing time and energy. Investing in laundry service makes me richer because it makes me happier.

Most people adamantly refuse to get this. I found this suggested laundry schedule on Unclutter.com. These “experts” suggest a routine dedicated to running your washer and dryer every day of the week – your big break being Sunday, when you are permitted to lazily launder your delicates:

Monday: Launder all the sheets from all three beds. (1 load)
Tuesday: Launder child #1 and child #2′s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Wednesday: Launder adult’s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Thursday: Launder towels. (2 loads)
Friday: Launder child #1 and child #2′s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Saturday: Launder adult’s clothing. (1-2 loads)
Sunday: Rest, or launder a load of delicates.

Now, if you could skip this whole mess for the wee sum of $25, would you? What if you invested just half all those loaded hours in your career, a business or freelance gigs? That $25 weekly could be worth thousands monthly. Take it from me.

We haven’t even mentioned the happy factor. Some people just love laundry. I have never met one of these people, and I suspect I would not like her. For me, wiping laundry off my weekly to-do list has been the most incredibly liberating exercise. Before, it was a constant gnat swarming around my mind – what was clean when, when would I schedule a load, when to haul the dripping sheets into the dryer and to remember to take out my lacey things for an air dry.

Now, I spend a fraction of that mental energy to coordinate a single pick-up and drop off, and to make sure I have enough singles in my wallet to tip out the delivery guy.

All this laundry business is but a metaphor for how I like to live my life. My friend Laura Vanderkam is a time management expert, and wrote 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think, and she convinced me (and thousands of her readers) of the importance of outsourcing the mundane tasks that can take over life. When you are a single mom, money and time are especially precious. Our professional lives, our kids and we ourselves simply cannot be weighed down by regrouting the tub (unless that is your thing, of course) or keeping your kids chonies sparkling white. You are better than that.

When I get on my soapbox about this topic, I often hear people – and by “people,” I mean “women” – who whine:

“Oh, but I feel like doing laundry is just a part of life. I’d feel guilty for sending it out.”

or “I feel it is my duty as a parent to teach my kids to mop the floor.”

To these lame arguments, I counter:

“Do you feel guilty for using a dishwasher, instead of cleaning every grimy ork and sippy cup by hand?”

and “Do you think Barack Obama does his own laundry? And why not? Because he has more important things to do! And so do you!”

and “Really? Do you really think that your child will grow up incapable of knowing how to mop a floor in an emergency? For real?”

Today I have a weekly house cleaner, a handyman on speed dial for various projects, and a power drill, bottle of 409 and common sense for times when I find myself in a pinch. Sure, I could do these things myself. Instead I use the time these services afford me to build my business, enjoy my kids, lavish in a constantly-more-or-less-clean home and just chill out.

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My friend Aleksandra Todorova worked on this infographic for Dashlane.com about just how to outsource your life. You can pay someone to do just about anything – and this lays out not just how to do so, but compelling stats on why it is simply silly not to:

How to outsource your life

by visually. Learn about infographic design.

 

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  1. Laura Vanderkam
    Laura Vanderkam10-05-2012

    I love it. The infographic is awesome. Yes, I’ve heard all sorts of reasons for why outsourcing laundry is terrible, but I think that copied schedule from unclutter just about sums it up. Do you want to be doing this every single day of your life? That also seems like a lot of laundry. We have three kids and it doesn’t involve that many loads.

    • Emma
      Emma10-05-2012

      I thought that seemed like a lot of laundry. But I also think people are too clean and over-launder. Nothing wrong with wearing most of your clothes multiple times between washes, for example. Economic, time and environmental factors make strong arguments for this.

  2. Linda Formichelli
    Linda Formichelli10-05-2012

    Love it! I’m a freelance writer and I have a virtual assistant (max $400 per month) and a transcriptionist (about 90 cents per audio minute). There are SO many thing I could be doing instead of transcribing my own interviews (I’m a terrible typist), formatting and finding photos for blog posts, setting up my e-course emails, and scheduling phone calls…like doing work that earns more money or homeschooling my preschooler. Partly thanks to outsourcing, I work just 20 hours per week but still earn full-time income.

    But guess what…I LIKE doing laundry! The part I hate is folding, and my husband is happy to do that. :)

    BTW…Laura Vanderkam, you know I love your books and blogs!

  3. Jennifer
    Jennifer10-05-2012

    Really interesting stuff. (I’ll admit I scanned the infographic for now; will come back and digest later).

    I agree completely that many women would be better off, financially and emotionally, by investing some of their mundane task time into their careers. I’m also a bit jealous about the guy who comes to pick up and do your laundry. Guys like that don’t exist in small-town WI. ;)

    That said, you reminded me that I need to throw a load of laundry in. Like Linda, I don’t mind laundry; in fact, it’s the household chore I least dislike. (But I very happily outsource my transcribing, and lawn care duties)

    • Emma
      Emma10-05-2012

      Jennifer- laundry services are becoming increasingly common all over the country. Ask your local dry cleaner, or ask around — maybe someone in your community might be inspired to start their own laundry service out of their home!

      • UncommonSensesc
        UncommonSensesc09-26-2013

        For the past couple of weeks, that’s what I’ve been thinking about tryingt – starting a laundry service out of my home! When I was little (pre-school) my mother took in washings and ironings to bring in the income but still be able to be home with me. I still remember people coming to the house to pick up their freshly folded and ironed clothes!

  4. Observacious
    Observacious10-05-2012

    It’s hard for me to schedule laundry since it tends to be prompted by “accidents” either those evidenced by plastic bags sent home from daycare or those that cause me to remake a toddler’s bed at 3 in the morning. I also don’t like strangers touching my underwear. I’d happily welcome a maid service though!

    • Emma
      Emma10-05-2012

      Oh boy, you need to get over that and outsource! Maybe you can send out *most* of your laundry, and do an occasional load of your delicates and poopy pants when needed?

  5. Susan Johnston
    Susan Johnston10-05-2012

    I have a washer and dryer in my apartment building and rarely have to wait to use it, so I don’t consider laundry to be much of a chore because I watch TV on Hulu while I fold clothes (I’ve also found that most of my clothes don’t bleed so separating whites and colors is pointless, which makes laundry even easier). But in a previous apartment, when the washer was temporarily broken and I would have had to drag my clothes to a laundromat, I gladly paid the extra money for a laundry service (it felt pleasantly indulgent). If I had kids and/or if I didn’t have easy access to laundry facilities, I would be more inclined to send it out.

  6. Tammie Elliott
    Tammie Elliott10-06-2012

    I have been “outsourcing” my heavy lawn work for awhile and it is well worth the $40 I spend to have someone else do the weed-eating and trim work. I don’t mind doing the laundry, but WINDOWS are another story.

    As an author-with-a-day-job, the advice to outsource more of the mundane tasks is an eye-opener. I am going to sit down and make a list of things I don’t need to be doing myself. And thank you for all the resources!

    • Emma
      Emma10-09-2012

      Tammie – Please check back in and let us know how this new life philosophy works for you. Curious to see!

  7. Karen
    Karen10-06-2012

    I don’t actually mind doing laundry within reason, but I agree that schedule from unclutter.com is truly stupid. It makes much more sense to sort items by color and/or washing temperature and do them all together that way. For a while I had my nanny washing the kids’ clothing 2X a week. She washed everything together in cold water and it didn’t get very clean. Now we no longer have a nanny and I do the laundry, but what I’m finding is that I can do a load of “whites” once a week, and include everyone’s socks, and the white towels and other linens. There are fewer loads and it all gets much cleaner. Is there any real purpose to keeping the adult and kid laundry separate and that in turn separate from the towels?

    • Emma
      Emma10-09-2012

      Karen – just reading your post made me feel overwhelmed. I find the organization associated with laundry as tiresome as the actual chore. Send that stuff out!!

      • Karen
        Karen10-09-2012

        Emma, that’s actually where I have trouble with outsourcing a lot of things: the organization. When I “outsourced” the laundry to my nanny it was organized in a stupid way and didn’t get the clothes very clean. I could have tried to organize first and then delegate–told her that she needed to do the laundry in a certain way, defined by me–but that would have left me with the organizing and micromanaging, a task I find even more unpleasant than laundry.

        And who puts away the clothes when you get them back from the service? For me, putting away the clothes is the job I hate most. When I wasn’t involved in the laundry, I’d stumble upon drawers and closets crammed with old, too-small, damaged, or out of season clothes that the kids never wore. The kids or the nanny would just stuff the clean clothes into the drawers on top of the old clothes and the drawers sometimes wouldn’t even close properly. Then we had to do this big clean-out chore at an inconvenient time.

        Now that I handle the laundry I’m actually aware of what needs to be mended or replaced or put away for the season, promptly, and it never gets to that point of a big, overwhelming mess, even when I outsource the putting away of the laundry to my kids.

  8. Carrie
    Carrie10-07-2012

    Ha! I outsource all my laundry, to my 14 year old for $10 a week. And it’s a lot of laundry too – we have 7 kids and the baby is in cloth diapers ;)

    • Emma
      Emma10-09-2012

      Carrie – I love it. You’re getting a bargain!

  9. Toni South
    Toni South10-08-2012

    That schedule from Unclutter.com stressed me out! As I sit here on the couch with two loads of unfolded clothes sitting next to me, I had to laugh. I despise laundry and this article is just genius. I definitely need to be outsourcing laundry. That infographic is great!

    • Emma
      Emma10-09-2012

      Right?! Unclutter really should be ashamed – their mission it to help readers make their lives EASIER! Gah!

  10. Judy
    Judy10-10-2012

    I outsource all my laundry. It goes out on Wed AM and comes back Wed evening. On Wed evening, I get 5 laundry baskets and sort the laundry into the 5 baskets for each of the 5 members of the household. On Thu, my cleaning lady puts the 3 kids laundry from those baskets into drawers and closets. I used to outsource the sorting, but for some reason no one but me can tell the difference between my clothes and my daughter’s clothes!

  11. oilandgarlic
    oilandgarlic10-11-2012

    That laundry schedule you mentioned is ridiculous. No one ever mentions the ultimate way to “outsource” if you’re married or partnered up, have the spouse do his own damn laundry. it works for my household and I recently shocked 2 friends when I mentioned it casually, so I had to write a post about this magical feat. haha…

    http://oilandgarlic.wordpress.com/2012/09/26/most-useful-chore-advice-ever/

  12. Kelly Damian
    Kelly Damian10-12-2012

    I think whether or not to outsource your laundry depends heavily on where you live. If you are in an apartment in an urban area where you don’t have your own washer/dryer then, yes, that makes sense. I live in the suburbs and have tried to outsource my laundry, but it was a bigger hassle than doing it myself. I had to drop it off, then remember to pick it up at a certain time, then everything had to be sorted out and put away. I work from home now and its no big deal to cycle through all the laundry during work breaks. I do what makes sense for my situation. Does that make me stupid? I would say no, quite the opposite.

  13. tracy
    tracy10-15-2012

    after living in nyc for 7 years – nothing is cheaper than ny laundromats! wish there was an equivalent in boston!

  14. Rachel, backngroovemom
    Rachel, backngroovemom10-23-2012

    Funny – I was just in NYC over the weekend and we were all so envious of this service! I agree – it is a win/win however, in Pittsburgh – we will be the last one to get this at a competitive price!

    The inforgraphic is fab.
    R

  15. Ellie
    Ellie04-21-2013

    I live in NYC and have no washer/dryer. I do have a clothes line and enjoy the smell of sun-dried clothes and how much longer my clothes last line-dried. In the winter I still air dry by hanging a line in the apt. The issue is lugging the laundry 3-4 blocks to the laundromat. And it piles up so quickly. However, I have been dissatisfied with services that lose or shrink my clothes. You also still have to manage the task of a service, it’s not just a 1 minute thing – you have to schedule, wait for someone to pick up/drop off, have cash for tips, etc. I have yet to find someone that will do it the way i do it. What about delicates and clothes that you don’t put in the dryer? I don’t want to keep buying clothes/sheets/towels more often b/c they ALWAYS overdry and ruin/lose my stuff. If i choose to splurge on a $175 pair of jeans, I’d rather them not come back too small or not come back at all!

    • Emma
      Emma04-21-2013

      Ellie – very true. My latest mantra has been: “The ticket to happy motherhood is not owning a single thing you give a shit about.” I like having nice things as much as the next person, but sometimes it is easier not to.

  16. Grace
    Grace05-03-2013

    Your condescending attitude makes anything you say, even if it were valuable, hard to digest. There are people out there who enjoy performing these tasks for their family. There are people who cannot afford to “outsource” these tasks to others. There are people who do not live in areas where these services are available. And, believe it or not, there are people who gain happiness not from dumping these responsibilities off on others but by completing them ourselves for our family and with our family. My three year old daughter “helps” me wash dishes, fold laundry, sweep, and cleans up after herself. As she grows up, she will be trusted with more complicated chores. And she will hopefully grow into a responsible, hard working adolescent and then adult who can take care of herself all the time (and not just in emergencies).

    • Nathan
      Nathan08-09-2013

      Grace- I am in complete agreement with you!! I stumbled across this post while researching attitudes towards domestic labour and the outsourcing of domestic labour by american women (incuding the trend of hiring other women to raise your children, essentially importing love from the third world hah). The attitude expressed by this ‘blog-writer’ reflects more than just snobbery and ignorance, but a dangerous and self-serving attitude. sadly this attitude is rewarded in consumer society; it allows individuals to feel entitled to a life of comfort and ease, usually achieved through spending patterns (purchasing either products or someone else’s labour). Her position on this subject is the product of decades of marketing and advertising initiatives – so in a way, it’s not her fault that she is part of this gross trend.. though at the same time, it’s always disappointing to witness such a lack of critical thinking

      Like many of us in the west, this ‘author’ probably likes to think of herself as a ‘clever’ person who understands the economy, labour relations, poverty, and a whole myriad of broad and complex topics that require serious study. ‘Most’ americans -and most people around the world, for that matter- must perform unplesant tasks as part of their daily lives, in order to simply survive. this may include doing your own laundry, or mining for diamonds, it’s all relative… This women needs some perspective and some serious sensitivity-training!

      • Ash
        Ash11-02-2013

        There’s a reason why this website is called ‘wealthysinglemommy.com’. By outsourcing cheaper, more mundane tasks, you can build a richer life both in wealth and emotional satisfaction. To both the commentors above, I would assume that you are not wealthy. The wealthiest people in life have no time to spend on mundane chores like laundry etc as their time is more valuable than what it would cost to outsource these tasks. Before criticizing the author, I would look at her rationale. I totally agree with her and plan to outsource my own laundry so I can spend that time building up a business – not only would I enjoy that more than doing laundry, but I expect that it would earn me more than the $20 or so per week that it would cost me to use a laundry service.

        • Emma
          Emma11-04-2013

          Why Ash, thanks so much! Let us know what you accomplish with all your newfound time!

        • Elena
          Elena03-29-2014

          While the economics make sense, her delivery in condoning those who do laundry as “stupid” is offensive. No one is entitled to that subjugation even if you are not “wealthy”. I can tell you just by reading this woman’s blog that although she might be rich and educated, her character leaves something to be desired. I am a teenager myself and I would never treat another person, especially an older person that way. Her demeaning attitude and condescension as the wealthy mother who deserves a better quality of life than the rest is insulting.

  17. Normanbosworth
    Normanbosworth05-26-2013

    How much laundry do u send out too be washed
    Norman

  18. Ronnie
    Ronnie06-19-2013

    Aloha,

    I’m from Hawaii and we don’t have to many of the mobile laundry services that will pick up and drop off. For that, my sister and I had started our Wash, Dry and Fold business and we are labeling it as your “Personal Laundry Concierge”. Of course, if you are able too, outsourcing your entire life is a great idea. I have 4 adults, 1 toddler and a 1 year old in my household. Laundry is a CHORE for most people that don’t have the time to allocate for this reason, we wash once a week and the laundry is super piled high.

    We then took a look at our community with a Laundromat that offers a Wash, Dry and Fold service but, no pick up or delivery. We have a senior living complex in our community with a common laundry area and waiting for the washer or dryer is like the college students that are dorm life. The elderly, most are not able to drive, or are not mobile to do their own laundry. So, we opened our business to help others in our community and others.

    Outsourcing is a good thing for the elderly, college students and everyone in general.

  19. Krzysztof Grabka
    Krzysztof Grabka12-05-2013

    All of these ideas make two massive assumptions: 1) You earn more than $40/hr, and 2) 100% of your time not spent doing chores is spent earning income. Both of these assumptions are incorrect for 98% of the world’s population. The opportunity cost for doing 4 hours of housework on a Saturday afternoon for someone working a M-F 8-6 is $0. Please don’t attempt to mask “I’m lazy” with “you’re stupid”, as it only applies in a privileged few situations, and is quite frankly insulting to everyone else.

  20. Marilyn Donaldson
    Marilyn Donaldson12-13-2013

    Watch who your calling stupid you bitch.

    • Emma
      Emma12-13-2013

      Watch the grammar, darling.

  21. Alex Ross
    Alex Ross01-16-2014

    Very Good and Useful Information Thnx a lot
    Astoria Laundry Service

  22. Roger@lifelaidout
    Roger@lifelaidout01-18-2014

    Hi Emma, thanks for the great article! It was extremely helpful in pushing my wife and I to 1) outsource our laundry and 2) outsource our cleaning. We decided to do so in order to get those 4-5 hours back each week and not have laundry/cleaning keep us from making Sunday afternoon plans.

    Though we may not be printing money during this new found free time, it has allowed us to cook our own meals instead of outsourcing that to Seamless. As a result, we’ve been able to eat healthier and better food, learn a new skill, and all while saving money over ordering takeout. We figure the savings we gain from cooking goes towards our cleaning/laundry fees. So worth it!

    • Emma
      Emma01-19-2014

      @Roger – LOVE THIS!!! Perfect example of how outsourcing the right tasks — and in-sourcing others — makes your overall quality of life and finances better. Keep us posted!

  23. Rick
    Rick01-25-2014

    Hi Emma – My entire business is predicated exactly on what you wrote…people need to be conscious on the value of their time… For those who choose to do it themselves…that’s fine too.. everyone I know in NYC has a kitchen in their home…doesn’t mean they cook in it every night…for me ordering delivery of any kind always helps reduce anxiety’s…it’s a great feeling to be able to spend your money the way you feel fit…I have all types of socioeconomic customers that range from Park Avenue families to single moms to family’s living in NYC Housing projects…they all say the same thing about laundry…They hate doing it and would rather spend more time doing something else…Whether they spend that time working in an office, digging ditches earning OT or reading a book to their 4 year old child… is their call and only that individual knows the true value of doing those things…Personally I’d much rather bike ride with my children then cook, clean and/or definitely do my laundry!

    • Emma
      Emma01-27-2014

      Really great insights Rick – thank you for liberating New Yorkers to have great, clean and sweet-smelling lives!

  24. Aurora
    Aurora02-27-2014

    how about the amount of money people spend on laundry services?

    • Emma
      Emma02-28-2014

      It’s a cost-benefit analysis: If it costs you 3 hours weekly to do the wash, but costs you $30 to send it out — that is $10 per hour. But if you bill more than that at your business — or stand to get a raise if you use those three hours to learn new skills, earn a degree, etc., it is worth the investment.

  25. Jennifer
    Jennifer04-12-2014

    I have literally never heard of anyone doing this (until now). I suppose if you don’t have a washer/dryer in your house, it might be worth it to not have to go to the laundrymat, but otherwise it seems extremely wasteful and kind of pointless. It literally takes about five minutes to fold laundry, and you can easily do other things while the load is washing/drying. How exactly is that worth $100 a month? I don’t even have that kind of cash just floating around waiting to be spent, but if I did I really don’t think I could justify spending it on something that I could do for a fraction of the cost at home.

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