Why you can’t afford to do your own laundry (and how to outsource housekeeping & maintenance to save time)

Last summer my kids returned from a couple weeks in Los Angeles where they stayed with their aunt.

Me: Why does Lucas have all new underwear?

Helena: All his underwear had skid mark stains in them, so Aunt Tina bought him all new chonies at Target.

Why didn’t I, his own mother, know that my son’s underwear was all stained?

Because I refuse to do laundry. So I don’t ever intimately handle my kids chonies. Including the poopy ones.

That’s a bit of an overstatement, but I really, really hate to do the wash, and I really, really hate to fold.

The sorting and cycling and hauling of this never-ending chore so tedious, so mundane and omnipotent that it's a joke for moms everywhere.

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

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 undies 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 cry:

“Laundry is just a part of life, you spoiled asshole!”

Not so long ago dying in childbirth was just part of life. Economies and technology changed since that was a valid point, and you are now free to unload unsavory tasks to people who want to earn a living doing them.

“Laundry doesn’t take that long, I don’t see what the big deal is, jeeze! So lazy!”

One, two hours is a lot of time for me — as you will see below my long list of other things you might do with those minutes. Second, it is actually far more than just two hours of labor to do your laundry. Because you spend countless hours thinking about and remembering and stressing about when and how you will do the laundry. You might fight with your spouse or kids about the laundry. Get annoyed with yourself if you forget the wash overnight — or the drying and wind up with a crumply, wrinkly mess.

So it is two hours, plus countless brain cells and energy and emotion spent on laundry.

It’s a big-picture thing.

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

Do you feel guilty for using a dishwasher, instead of cleaning every grimy fork and sippy cup by hand? Do you feel guilty for not washing your clothes on rocks by the river — because you are already outsourcing their cleaning to a machine made in China, that sits in your garage / basement / laundry room and does 99% of the work involved in laundry. In other words: You already outsource, so why not take it just a fraction of a step further and offload that task completely?

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

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

“You are such a snotty, rich bitch. Not everyone can afford spending all their money on house cleaners and laundry service. I hate you.”

Muah back atcha!

Look, no one has ever gotten rich without outsourcing some tasks. No one. You can’t do it all — I don’t care if you are sculptor slaving away in your attic, you rely on an agency, a gallery, someone to publicize your shows and host boozy after parties where hedge fund guys will feel all important and buy your stuff. Or if you are a tech entrepreneur, you simply cannot work alone in a Starbucks and create a bazillion dollar enterprise. You are one person. Successful enterprises consist of people doing what they do best, and being wise enough and humble enough to pass along other tasks to others who are more competent and enthusiastic about those things.

If you spend your energy and time on sorting and washing and drying and ironing and sorting and matching and folding, your energy is on a low-skilled task that fosters resentment. I don’t know of one fabulously successful person who does his or her own laundry. Do you?

I often hear from blog readers or friends incredulous cries: “How do you get so much done all the time! Do you ever sleep?!”

Actually, many nights I’m in bed by 9 p.m. (not proud of that, it is what it is), and I spend plenty of time dawdling on Facebook. But it is true: I produce a lot of creative work I am very proud of, make a handsome living, pick my kids up from the bus most days, hit the gym, jogging path, or yoga studio five times per week and enjoy a hot date or evening out with my friends once or twice weekly. Not to mention day trips, vacations, weekly Movie Night and family dinners every weeknight with my kids and guests. No complaints.

My secret – the one all those incredulous friends do not want to hear? I outsource shit I don’t like to do. I even outsource stuff I DO like to do, because it makes more sense for someone else to do it! In my business, I hire people in my business to do things I can do but am not efficient at — like podcast production and editing, web design and marketing.

How to find a laundry service near you

On the homefront, my gorgeous house cleaner takes care of my apartment, I rely on the occasional sitter to give me freedom to balance work, home and a personal life, and since becoming a single mom.

I am adamant about not ever doing laundry. I send it out. I live in New York City, where every neighborhood has wash-and-fold services for around $1 per pound. Most places will pick-up your filthy sack of poopy, pee-y, spit-up-y, avocado-y, spaghetti-saucy, grass-stainy laundry in the morning, and deliver it after work, neatly folded, sorted and smelling fresh as your baby’s butt that you just washed.

That same bag full of laundry would cost me about $8 to do in the coin laundry, including detergent (I live in an apartment) each week.

I figure it would also cost about $10 per week if I had my own washer and dryer, factoring in detergent, water, electricity, and wear and tear on a Maytag.

For the past few years, however, I have been paying my weekly housekeeper, Sandra, an extra $20 to take on the task. I also pay for the coin laundry and detergent, but by having Sandra means that I am saved the extra task of rounding up all my filthy things, or even putting away the clean items.

Plus, I prefer that Sandra (of whom I am very fond) earns the money over the laundry service (nothing personal guys, you do great work! But I don't know you personally).

If you live in my area, give me a shout and I am happy to refer Sandra!

Not every zip code has these amazing wash-and-fold services (I live in NYC), but you can find someone to do your laundry in your home through sites like Care.com or TaskRabbit.com.

But all this outsourcing really isn’t about the saved $15 or the extra $15 or the wear and tear.

Wash and fold laundry service is about economizing time and energy.

Investing in laundry service makes me richer because it makes me happier.

What if you invested just half all those loaded hours in your career, a business or freelance gigs?

That $20 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 to air dry.

Now, I spend a fraction of that mental energy to coordinate a visit with Sandra.

Another example of outsourcing of unsavory tasks?

Recently my assistant, who manages my social media accounts because she is better at that than I am, said: “You know you get a bunch of dick pics in Instagram messenger, right?”

Actually, I had no idea!

That is because I outsource that unsavory task, and my assistant takes on all the burden of managing penis portraits, bless her heart.

Now about laundry, housework, and gender equality:

Couples fight over housework, so just outsource it

People keep getting divorced. A lot. Rates have been around 40-50 percent for more than four decades.

Younger people aren't getting married, as marriage rates hitting historic lows.

Married women are pretty freaking unhappy. Researchers found: “The average married woman is less happy than the average married man, less happy than single women, less convinced that married people are happier than single people, and more likely to file for divorce. Once returned to single life, women’s happiness recovers, whereas men’s declines, and divorced women are less eager to remarry than divorced men.”

Why? One big reason:

Women keep doing far more housework than men — even as earnings increase

No. 1 reason: Women do way more housekeeping than men — 72 percent more, in fact. Things get especially interesting when you learn that the more she earns than her husband, the more housekeeping a woman does, and the less her husband takes on.

Mothers keep dropping out of the workforce, which is bad for everyone, including kids and marriages, which suffer higher divorce rates than in marriages where both partners work. Reasons are often that life was just too bananas to have two parents working fulltime, as well as shuffle around the kids, and keep the house clean. We know that in marriages in which the wives earn more than their husbands suffer higher rates of divorce.

Anecdotally, I hear lots of stories about the resentment about housework that simmers between even the most enlightened, progressive feminist spouses or romantic partners. Usually, the complaint comes from the woman: I come home from busting my ass all day, and then have to manage the kids and house — and he doesn't do a freaking thing!

In single-mom families, women are killing themselves to keep the house clean — spending precious energy and guilt on a task far beneath their abilities, and which competes with their work, joyful parenting, hobbies, health and a social life. All in the name of fulfilling some preconceived idea about what it means to be a woman and mother.

Does he need to do more housework — or does she need to do less?

The studies around women doing so much more housework than men usually evoke cries for men to step it up, already. I suggest: Just because someone is cleaning and laundering and cooking all the time, doesn't mean that all that cleaning and laundering and cooking needs to be done. Maybe she needs to clean less? Or lower her standards? After all, in the study in which the amount of housework a wife does correlates with her professional success suggests that this is a far more complex issue that meets the eye — one mired in ancient, if not biological, gender norms, the need for romantic love and acceptance — nevermind sparkling countertops.

You and I are not going to sort this out in our lifetimes. The answer? Outsource housekeeping using Care.com or TaskRabbit.com. It is good for cohabiting relationships, and, as a recent Harvard study found, makes people happier:

People who spent money to buy themselves time, such as by outsourcing disliked tasks, reported greater overall life satisfaction,” said Ashley Whillans, an assistant professor at the Harvard Business School and lead author of the study, which was based on a series of surveys from several countries. Researchers did not see the same effect when people used money for material goods.

I call to take this a step further. You can lecture the public all day long that paying someone to clean, cook and launder for you is the answer, but our culture must first, change. As the Harvard researchers noted in the New York Times, in response to the low rate of Dutch millionaires who outsource unsavory tasks:

 In the United States: a Protestant work ethic that values being busy or guilt over paying someone for a task that people could easily do themselves.

Add to this working-mom guilt, and women's complicated relationship between our femininity and household chores. Turning this around will take far more than Ivy League research and New York Times articles laying out the facts I elaborate on the cost-benefit analysis of outsourcing laundry alone in this post, which is one of the most-frequented on all of this blog. People get really, really defensive about why they should clean their own toilets. This calls for a life and societal-altering culture change.

The answer?

Save relationships and close the pay gap by giving gifts of housecleaning

Give housekeeping as a gift for weddings, housewarmings, house guest stays, and when people decided to move in together. Give it to people when they have a baby, divorce or to celebrate a new job or business. This is one part giving the family a gift that science proves will make them happier, and likely improve the chances their relationship will be harmonious and lasting. The gift is also an act of resistance, one freeing women from the shackles of our own — and others'  — expectations of wifely, domesticity, and equal that playing field for once and all.

Find a housekeeper whose services you can give as a gift at Care.com (or TaskRabbit.com), or if you live close to your loved one, pay your own cleaner to attend to their home — and relationship.

Here are 50 things both single and married moms can do while all that damp and filthy laundry is being manhandled by a more qualified person than you:

  1. Play checkers with your kids.
  2. Host a dinner party.
  3. Have a glass of chardonnay while watching (single mom) Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Prime.
  4. Hit the gym.
  5. Go to yoga, zumba or pilates.
  6. Go for a jog, hike or power walk with a friend.
  7. Finish your degree.
  8. Get a new degree or designation that will give you a new direction and earning power in your career.
  9. Take steps to launch that new dream business.
  10. Grow your business. Or, find a great work-at-home career to start.
  11. Find cool, quick ways to make money from home.
  12. Attend a networking event.
  13. Browse the list of course topics at Udemy or the list of course topics at Coursera and take an online course.
  14. Network online via LinkedIn, professional associations, Facebook groups, following up on email communication or setting up meetings.
  15. Call your parents.
  16. Teach your kids how to jump rope.
  17. Just hang out alone together in the same room with your kids without engaging in electronics. Maybe some of you are reading, or doing a puzzle or Legos.
  18. Cook as a family.
  19. Fire up that online dating site or app, if you haven’t. (Here's my list of best dating sites for single moms.)
  20. Go on a date.
  21. Read. A book. An actual real, paper book. Fiction even! (Here's my list of the best books for single moms.)
  22. Have sex.
  23. Listen to podcasts.
  24. Get a massage.
  25. Give a massage.
  26. Work in the garden.
  27. Declutter and feng shui your home like a mad woman. Go nuts! Feels so good!
  28. Get sun on your body. Even in the winter, just some sun on your face and hands is amazing.
  29. Bath. Take a great, long bath.
  30. Nap.
  31. Catch up with that best friend or cousin who lives far away.
  32. Visit loved ones.
  33. Write birthday cards, and send them!
  34. Thank-you notes!
  35. Gratitude. Start and maintain a gratitude practice, whether sharing by email your thankful thoughts each day, or writing them down in a special notebook, or verbalizing them on a voice app on your phone.
  36. That skill that you always wanted to learn but did not? Do that. For me: I’m going to take tennis and acting classes. Maybe you want to learn to ride a motorcycle, use power tools (that kind, or that kind, too) or juggle.
  37. Volunteer. Animal shelter, teen center, nursing home.
  38. Mentor someone. Officially, through a program at work or in your community, or informally offer your guidance to someone you know.
  39. Listen to a friend who needs to be heard.
  40. Create something. A craft, a poem, song or essay.
  41. Make your home prettier. Paint a room (better yet: go to the paint store, select a color, and hire someone to paint), hang a few new pictures, rearrange the furniture, change up the bed linens. Make it pretty, make it yours.
  42. Library. When was the last time you hung out at the library?
  43. Help a friend reach her dreams.
  44. Go to a service where you worship. Or, if you’re in the market, find a new house of worship.
  45. Do a new activity with your kids — learn to rollerblade or pogo-stick together. Take a community college class on woodworking or CPR.
  46. Start a family give-back project. Raise money for a cause, give volunteer time, or reach out to people you know who need company, help around the house or meals.
  47. Attend live performances – music, theater, dance. Free outdoor summer concerts, college and high school productions, Broadway or community theater.
  48. Stroll the streets of a neighborhood or town you’ve never visited.
  49. Visit a travel site, and brainstorm and daydream and drool – then budget!
  50. Dream! Dream big and beautiful and outrageous! Write those dreams down! Create a dream board, tell your mastermind group, a trusted girlfriend, your cat! Spend those two hours each week teaching yourself to believe you can and will fill those hours will more wonderful incredible life than any top-loading, energy-saving appliance can afford you.

Don’t just take it from me, here is a guest post from single mom Danyel Clarke, who lives in Claremore, Oka., with her two-year-old and a puppy. Consider hiring out household tasks to nurture your relationship with yourself!


Listen to my Like a Mother podcast episode on this topic!


Outsourcing laundry as self-care

Danyel's story…

If you were to walk into my house, you’ll almost think I have my crap together. My son's room and bathroom are always perfect. Living room, kitchen and dining room are almost always perfect: things put away, clean, where they belong.

Then you open my bedroom door and realize that I have been putting all of my energy into the rest of the house and I actually haven’t done my laundry since September. You read that right. SEPTEMBER. I have enough clothes to make this is perfectly feasible. My son's laundry gets done, towels are always clean, sheets are washed, then I lose energy and say “screw it” by the time it’s my turn for my clothes.

I’ve been so exhausted with work, family, the “to-do” list, putting absolutely everyone and everything before myself. Nothing and everything gets done all at the same time.

I haven’t made it to church in two months, but it was my New Year's resolution to quit using exhaustion and chores as an excuse and just GO!

But ladies, today, the first Sunday of the year, I ran out of clean underwear. Completely out. Not a thong, faded or period-granny-panty one left in the drawer. Completely out.

So I freeballed it to church. Yep, I sure did!

On my way to church and during worship I was making a mental list of all the things I needed to get done today: top of the list was wash a load of underwear. Take boxes to recycling, go to the grocery store, remember that I'm supposed to bake a pecan cheesecake for that lady at work (add ingredients to that grocery list), take those glasses to my mom, I really need to steam clean that carpet, oh! Get a light bulb for the fridge, don’t forget to close the vents outside the house, trim the dog's nails as he’s really starting to leave marks on the kid, clean up the playroom…you get the picture.

Most people wouldn’t show up to church without underwear. But I’m sure glad I did, because today I was reminded of imperfection and grace.

After church I had planned to head home, make lunch for me and my little, and get started on my list.

After all, I should save the money. But instead I headed to one of my favorite places in town to eat. Just the two of us. Ordered (two) MANmosas, an appetizer, a tasty grilled chicken club, a meal for my little that I knew he wouldn’t eat, but hey! Now, he has dinner and I don’t have to cook at all today!

I had every intention of getting home right at the time he goes down for a nap so that I could nap, too.

And I don’t feel bad about it.

Like many single moms, I do it on my own. No breaks, no every-other-weekend, or any day at all that the kid goes to the other parent. I’m exhausted. And between a strong-headed 2-year-old and a puppy (hellooooo, just another toddler. What was I thinking?!?) I'm usually at my wit's end. That is definitely not to say I, or any other mom, or that I have it tougher than any other mom, I don’t mean that at all. It’s all hard. Momming is hard. Period.

For all of us, it’s important to remember that perfection isn’t required. It’s okay to splurge. Not cook. Don’t do the laundry (but yes, I did put a load in when we got home), to nap, and go to church commando!

That’s my long winded way of saying that I was “selfish” today. Blissfully, happily and wonderfully selfish. Little one finally fell asleep and now I’m going to nap as well.

Happy Sunday, mommas. Much love! 

Danyel

Services that can help you outsource

Ready to outsource? Not sure where to start? Thankfully, thanks to technology and a mindset shift towards efficiency and better quality of life for moms, women and families, there are some great options that are affordable, and easy to use. Here are a few of my favorites:

Care.com — what is it?

Care.com is a website that connects caregivers, with people who need care. So, if you need a babysitter, an elder care provider, housecleaner or pet sitter, head to Care.com now to find someone near you who has been vetted by Care.com, as well as via reviews of people who have used the service provider.

Care.com also has services to help you manage the payroll, taxes, benefits and HR logistics of hiring a nanny or other caregiver.

Care.com gets what moms need because it was founded by Sheila Lirio Marcelo, a mom herself, and winner of Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year. Care.com has a Better Business Bureau rating of A-

Looking to make extra work? Care.com is the place to list and promote your services.

Care.com can help you with the following professional cleaning and care services:

  • Babysitting / nanny / childcare / after-school care / tutoring / special needs
  • House cleaning / maid / housekeeper services
  • In-home elder care / senior care / adult day care
  • Pet sitting / dog walking

How does Care.com work?

To use the site, go to Care.com, and navigate to the services and timeframe you need the service. The site is very specific, and asks questions about exactly who you are looking for, including years of experience, age of child, languages spoken and other special skills, like CPR certified.

From there, Care.com provides a screen with all the care providers in your area that match your criteria. The individual’s profile specifies their availability, experience, reviews, fees, transportation options, whether they smoke, whether they are Facebook/email/phone verified, and any safety certifications or training. The is also a bio and photos.

For a fee starting at $12/month, you can run a background check through Care.com on any care provider.

Then, once you hire a professional from Care.com, you can pay them through the site safely, or, for a regular care provider like a nanny or housekeeper, run full payroll and tax services through Care.com.

How does Care.com get paid?

Care providers can pay premium rates to ensure their profiles are highlighted. Also, Care.com makes money from its payroll and background check services for those hiring caregivers. Care.com also has a service to help larger companies provider backup care and other caregiving benefits to their employees.

What is HomeAdvisor?

Just as Care.com is for all things caregiving, HomeAdvisor is the go-to site for any and all home remodel projects. Yes, you are a smart and capable woman, but unless you have endless time and a budget to repair rookie mistakes, it likely makes more sense to outsource tasks like:

  • Roofing and gutter cleaning and repair

How does HomeAdvisor work?

Go to HomeAdvisor.com, and click through the service categories to outline the job you need done. Questions will include whether the job includes a repair, replace or remodel, extent of job in mind, time-frame, whether you need financing or storage, and whether this is an emergency repair.

HomeAdvisor then generates 4 to 6 qualified services providers near you. It is up to you whether you prefer to have your bid sent out to contractors in your area, or if you want to hand-select from the list of contractors to send you a bid.

Not sure how much a home improvement or repair service will cost? HomeAdvisor’s TrueCost Guide is a highly accurate tool based on tens of thousands of actual services to help you know exactly what to expect to pay.

How does HomeAdvisor get paid?

Electricians, carpet and rug cleaning services, plumbers, handymen, repair people, lawn maintenance companies and other service providers pay HomeAdvisor a small referral fee for qualified leads.


What is TaskRabbit?

Just as HomeAdvisor helps you locate specialists for home repair, renovation, and construction projects, TaskRabbit is the go-to place for less skilled tasks like assembling Ikea and other furniture, as well as laundry, packing and moving.

Here is a list of common TaskRabbit services:

  • Handyman
  • Help Moving
  • Interior Painting
  • TV Mounting
  • Light Installation
  • Hanging Pictures & Shelves
  • Furniture Assembly
  • Yard Work
  • Furniture Delivery Services
  • Delivery Service
  • Grocery Shopping
  • IKEA Services

How to find laundry service near me?

There are any number of ways to find reliable, affordable laundry service near you. Popular options include:

  • Check with your local laundromat or drycleaner about ‘wash-and-fold service
  • Ask around about any individuals in your neighborhood who provide this service out of their home
  • If you have a regular housecleaner, ask if they will add laundry to their services
  • Find someone to take on your laundry through Care.com, a website that connects people who provide people who need services like housekeeping, nannies, elder care and dog sitters — with people who provide those services.

How does TaskRabbit work for furniture assembly, and other tasks?

  1. Go to TaskRabbit.com — or use the handy app — and select the task that you need completed. The form is easy to use, and you will be asked about the task, your location, and how soon you need the job done.
  2. You are then provided with a list of “taskers” — eligible people you can hire, complete with photos, bios, reviews, and the hourly price each charges.
  3. Select a tasker, and book their services. You can communicate directly within the app to specify location, task, and time.
  4. Once the task is complete, you can pay with credit or debit card directly through the site — no need to mess around with cash or check.

Using TaskRabbit to find moving companies

Whether to pack only, move your household or a single item, you can find thousands of moving companies on TaskRabbit — including those with a van, and multiple workers. The process works the same: Start at TaskRabbit.com, and find your mover!

Cool TaskRabbit perks:

  • Each tasker undergoes extensive background checks, and is on-boarded in person. These are not random, anonymous people coming to your home.
  • Cancel with at least 24 hours notice and reschedule for free
  • TaskRabbit insures each job for up to $1 million.
  • TaskRabbit has a 24/7 customer service team available should you have questions or problems.

Schedule your tasker today, and outsource!!

About Emma Johnson

Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, noted blogger, and bestselling author. A former Associated Press Financial Wire reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Glamour, Oprah.com, U.S. News, Parenting, USA Today and others. Her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was named to the New York Post's ‘Must Read” list.Emma regularly comments on issues of modern families, gender equality, divorce, sex and motherhood for outlets like CNN, Headline News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fox & Friends, CNBC, NPR, TIME, MONEY, O, The Oprah Magazine and The Doctors. She was named Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web,” “Top 15 Personal Finance Podcasts” by U.S. News, and a “Most Eligible New Yorker” by New York Observer.A popular speaker, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality. Read more about Emma here.  Find out Emma's top Single Mom Resources here.

165 Comments

  1. carrie on May 2, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    I just still don’t see it. It really doesn’t take that long at all. I do it in my FREE TIME and it only takes a minute to throw it in and I talk to my daughter or watch tv for the ten minutes it takes to fold. I don’t have to leave work early to do laundry or anything, so I don’t see how paying someone to do your laundry makes you money.

  2. Jennifer on April 12, 2014 at 3:51 am

    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.

    • Emma on April 22, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      But Jennifer, if you spent those hours on a business or building a career you would EARN so much more money that would build on itself over the rest of your life. It’s about focusing on BUILDING WEALTH opposed to saving a few dollars.

      • Matt Nelko on December 3, 2014 at 4:17 am

        This is a typical fallacy that rich people like toss out there: “My time as a X professional is worth much more than $10/hour, so I shall do household tasks nevermore!” Of course, let’s be honest; is that lawyer REALLY going to use that “laundry time” on Saturday morning to instead bill $245/hour to a client (that he’s not already presumably padding the invoices with already)?? All this other “billable” work that could be done, let’s face it, isn’t really. And let’s not forget the intangible benefits of doing housework. Any successful creative professional will tell you that you can’t have your brain going full steam every waking hour of the day; only during those breaks of monotonous physical labor can it recharge, refocus, and in fact rediscover and CREATE. There is also a deep sense of satisfaction and appreciation in getting on one’s own hands and knees and scrubbing his or her own bathroom and kitchen floors. It keeps us all grounded — and dare I even say HUMBLE? If there’s one thing this world could certainly use these days is a lot more humility.

        • Muffy on August 28, 2016 at 8:13 pm

          @Matt Nelko — “If there’s one thing this world could certainly use these days is a lot more humility.” Have at it, Matt.

  3. Aurora on February 27, 2014 at 6:09 pm

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

    • Emma on February 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      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.

      • ana on October 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

        my hubby used to spend $50 per week in washing clothes and dry cleaning services (lots of ironing shirts for business meetings) the clothes always smelled a funny mildewy smell – I hated it, and the ironing wasn’t top – we timed ourselves once for fun – 10 shirts – perfectly ironed in 30 minutes while watching a show – if one wants to be efficient and save money – there are ways to do it. We spend out time cooking together and do lots of activities with our son…

  4. Rick on January 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    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 on January 27, 2014 at 12:03 am

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

  5. Roger@lifelaidout on January 18, 2014 at 8:09 am

    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 on January 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      @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!

  6. Marilyn Donaldson on December 13, 2013 at 10:37 am

    Watch who your calling stupid you bitch.

    • Emma on December 13, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Watch the grammar, darling.

      • Leslie on April 24, 2015 at 4:38 pm

        You’re just a rich stupid cunt!

        • Emma on April 27, 2015 at 3:54 pm

          awww .. thanks!

  7. Krzysztof Grabka on December 5, 2013 at 10:40 am

    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.

    • Heather on December 18, 2014 at 1:13 pm

      The post’s title is blatantly obvious clickbait. I knew this as I was clicking on it, much to my own chagrin.

    • cacama on October 9, 2015 at 1:18 am

      THANK YOU! Sweet Jesus!

    • Ronen on February 21, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      Well written, it’s just laziness and stupidity. She just have to put clothes in the machine once in two weeks. It’s not like she needs do wash it by hand. And she is stupid to wash clothes after one wear if they are still clean and smells OK.

  8. Ronnie on June 19, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    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.

    • Debbie on October 13, 2017 at 5:37 pm

      AS A resident of a senior community and it is a struggle to take laundry to the car , bring it back, ALL THE WAY BACK DOWN THE LONG LONG HALL and then take a break before I can think about putting them away I am trying to make it on 958.00 a month and I will gladly give up something to get my laundry outsourced.

  9. Normanbosworth on May 26, 2013 at 11:52 am

    How much laundry do u send out too be washed
    Norman

  10. Grace on May 3, 2013 at 11:01 am

    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 on August 9, 2013 at 10:19 am

      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 on November 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm

        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 on November 4, 2013 at 10:27 pm

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

        • Elena on March 29, 2014 at 3:09 pm

          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.

          • Leigh on January 5, 2016 at 7:32 pm

            Totally agree! While I get that for the weathly it makes sense to outsource your laundry, her tone in this piece is very demeaning. Just because some people can’t afford outsourcing or just don’t mind doing their own laundry doesn’t mean they are stupid. If it wasn’t for the snobby tone of voice and self entitled attitude this would be a half decent article.

            • Dixie Burge on April 10, 2016 at 10:09 pm

              Thank you, Leigh. Totally agree with you. The very title of this article begs the exact criticism you have bestowed upon it!



      • Muffy on August 28, 2016 at 7:53 pm

        Nathan, I’m inclined to think that, if you are a husband, you feel entitled to assign all household and most child care tasks to your wife. “No pain, no gain” is probably your mantra — the pain, of course, being entirely reserved for the female sex. Once upon a time, you’d have been labeled a dime store Caesar. These days, dollar store Caesar would be just as accurate. I’d say you are also in need of some perspective and some serious sensitivity training.

  11. Ellie on April 21, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    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 on April 21, 2013 at 9:19 pm

      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.

  12. Rachel, backngroovemom on October 23, 2012 at 6:12 am

    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

  13. tracy on October 15, 2012 at 12:29 pm

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

  14. Kelly Damian on October 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    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.

    • Emma on October 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm

      Point taken.

  15. oilandgarlic on October 11, 2012 at 1:20 pm

    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/

    • Dana on September 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm

      My daughter’s dad is my roommate thanks to various aspects of my life situation plus the economy, and I’m like this with him too. Dude, I never see your underwear anymore… I sure as heck am not going to wash it! Of course then I have to make sure to do my and my daughter’s laundry during the week because if I forget and go to do it on the weekends I hear “I need to do a load after you”. Even if it’s Sunday evening and he’s had two full days to get his stuff done. Then he backlogs and it’s somehow my fault. He sleeps on the same floor/level as the laundry room, mind you. Doesn’t even have to go up or down stairs to get it done.

  16. Judy on October 10, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    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!

  17. Toni South on October 8, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    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 on October 9, 2012 at 5:59 am

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

  18. Carrie on October 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    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 on October 9, 2012 at 6:34 am

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

    • Mariela on September 26, 2014 at 1:16 pm

      You are a genius!

    • Richard on April 9, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Nice to give a 14 year old a job, but $10 a week?1 That exploitation. Let me guess, the 14 year old is the oldest, and is assigned the chore of assisting with care of the younger kids too. Well, that kid will hit the road as soon as he/she turns 18. It is a familiar story.

      • Suzanne on January 13, 2017 at 5:53 pm

        “That kid” will know how to hold a job and care about others by the time he/she is 18 and so will be able to afford to start an adult life right on time, while the peers play video games in their parents basements (which are not being used for laundry)

  19. Karen on October 6, 2012 at 11:31 am

    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 on October 9, 2012 at 6:36 am

      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 on October 9, 2012 at 9:41 am

        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.

    • Michelle on August 3, 2014 at 8:12 pm

      There is a reason to separate out towels – if you use fabric softener on them, they become less absorbent.

      • Dana on September 30, 2015 at 5:42 pm

        They’re also rough on your softer clothes. I try to be mindful of what I wash jeans with for the same reason.

    • June on September 27, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      Totally agree!
      People who do mixed washes do not realise how dingy white they become after multiple washes!

  20. Tammie Elliott on October 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

    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 on October 9, 2012 at 6:37 am

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

  21. Susan Johnston on October 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    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.

  22. Observacious on October 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    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 on October 5, 2012 at 1:25 pm

      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?

  23. Jennifer on October 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    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 on October 5, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      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 on September 26, 2013 at 1:12 am

        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!

      • Matt Nelko on December 3, 2014 at 4:02 am

        Most residential zoning ordinances prohibit such services being operated out of private homes.

        • Dana on September 30, 2015 at 5:40 pm

          Maybe they do, maybe they don’t. I doubt you have personally examined the laws in every single municipality in the United States, never mind anywhere else. A lot of the time when local laws prohibit businesses run out of homes due to the zoning, what they actually mean is they don’t want you making a storefront out of your home. If YOU go pick up the laundry and YOU take it back to the customer, that’s quite different. But don’t take my word for it. Look up your local zoning laws yourself–they will be at least somewhat different everywhere you go.

  24. Linda Formichelli on October 5, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    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!

  25. Laura Vanderkam on October 5, 2012 at 11:36 am

    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 on October 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      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.

    • Anne on October 11, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      I laughed so hard when I read this. My (now) ex traveled Mon-Fri, making me essentially a single mom even when we were together. On the weekends, his big thing was to do laundry. It was one of the few household chores he did (that and mowing the lawn). The downside was, he never put away a thing. There would be towers of clean, folded laundry in the laundry room each Sunday. After we separated, I took over. I discovered the joy of combining whites and darks (no bleeding… so much simpler) and I thought I was doing great, even though laundry is one of those chores I find soul-sucking (something about how it never, ever ends…) Then my kids informed me that I only do their wash about once a month. (In my defense, I do put their wash away!) Well, no one has died, and we haven’t had a visit from social services, because apparently we have enough clothing to last us a good month without washing. And the kids are welcome to do their laundry whenever they want. So I don’t feel too bad about it. An ongoing theme between my ex and I was about outsourcing (never thought about laundry… but I will be looking into that!) He was home so little; I felt it was ridiculous that he spent time mowing the lawn (which can be outsourced quite economically). I wanted him to spend time with me and the kids. That didn’t happen; now we are divorced, and I have even less time to spend with my kids. So I am happily outsourcing what I can economically (yes — I too have a Handyman on speed dial). I still feel stressed out — there is never enough time — but I am so much more in control of what I chose to take on and what I pay someone else to do. I’m so glad I stumbled on this blog. Emma — your insights are right on target for me.

    • Matthew Webb on September 12, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Wait, what infographic? :( and which schedule? So far I’ve only read about how it sucks (agree) and how it will make you poor (also agree).

      Sincerely, an overworked stay-at-home dad.

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