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 a veteran money journalist, noted blogger, bestselling author and an host of the award-winning podcast, Like a Mother with Emma Johnson. 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.

163 Comments

  1. Carla on March 2, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    I’m coming into this discussion late, but find this discussion really interesting, particularly how a principle of business success – the ability to delegate work to the lowest level capable of doing the work effectively – meets resistance when we get home.

    Find any successful small business owner and you will find they outsource. They hire someone to do their books, someone to do their taxes, their contracts, HR functions, etc. They do this because (a) those people are better trained and more efficient at those tasks and (b) it frees them up to build the business. From early on in my corporate career, I was taught that to be successful, I needed to be able to effectively delegate and outsource work, whether to lower level Associates or out of the country. This is what allowed me to progressively grow my own responsibilities and experience as well as grow those in my organization. Companies outsource all day long – whether it be production of parts of the product chain or services.

    To me, forget the hard dollar ROI and whether I can make more money. To me, I outsource tasks simply for the mental ROI. As a single mom with her kid 100% of the time, time is my most valuable commodity. I can’t really put a price on it. Most household tasks like cleaning, laundry, ironing, are tasks I would normally do after my daughter is in bed and that is the one time each day I have to myself – to work out, read a book, relax with a nice bath, etc. For tasks I’d do on a weekend like more lawn work, laundry, groceries, etc., that’s time I could be spending with my daughter. Somehow, 20 years from now when my daughter recalls her childhood, I can’t see her saying “I sure wish my mom cleaned the toilet herself”. Beyond that, I’m typically supporting a local business owner or mom who relies on that business to support their family or supplement their income. It’s a win/win. it’s a mutually respectful relationship.

    I am off to make a list of things I honestly never thought of outsourcing – laundry being one – to add to the list of what I already outsource.

  2. Wendy on February 7, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    I stumbled across this site looking for some laundry tips while web surfing. I’m definitely not the intended audience seeing as I grew up in a poor household, but I feel like it’s important to teach your children how to do these “menial tasks”. I’ve met some wealthy, young people who just don’t know how to take care of themselves or handle simple household tasks. One couldn’t even figure out how to boil water. Even if you’re able to afford letting someone else do you chores, I feel it’s still beneficial to show your children how to do these things at least a few times in their life. Of course nowadays they can look things up online but I think they are good skills to have to be a well rounded person.

    • Emma on February 8, 2015 at 10:22 am

      I totally agree with this – but it really only takes a few times to teach someone how to do laundry. Thanks for chiming in Wendy!

  3. Vic on January 14, 2015 at 5:32 am

    I have a washing machine that is in my storage still in the box straight from the store and never been used. When I found that I could have my laundry washed and folded nearby for just 1/100 of the price of the washing machine, I figured that my machine could rest there until it finds a better home. I’ve also saved on laundry detergent, water and electricity bills, but mostly I’ve saved on time! You should try it for a couple of weeks, who knows, you might be a bit addicted to not washing and folding your laundry ever again :)

  4. Sunfun on January 7, 2015 at 1:01 am

    Hmm. I found this article web-surfing and am definitely not the intended audience so I will be nice.
    I think outsourcing household chores sets a worse example for children than the author admits. Those, both adult and child, who aren’t expected to clean up after themselves generally make bigger and more frequent messes. Mopping in an emergency isn’t much of a life skill, but taking thoughtful care of one’s belongings is.

    • Emma on January 7, 2015 at 10:09 am

      These are not mutually exclusive. My housecleaner comes weekly, but my kids have chores including daily bed making, setting and clearing the table, caring for the cat and picking up their stuff. If any thing, it makes them accustomed to a nice home, which we wouldn’t have if it weren’t for outsourcing.

      The bottom line is you can’t get ahead professionally if you spend all your time on tasks for which you are overqualified. Rich people — no matter how they came to their money — aren’t arguing on this board for the value of doing menial tasks.

      • Heather on April 8, 2015 at 3:38 pm

        I totally saw your point in the beginning – making life easier for yourself and freeing up some valuable time. While this post is aimed at single mothers, I’ve noticed several comments coming from married people and people with no kids at all, so this blog may not necessarily apply to them.

        I am a single mother, so totally understand the main idea of this. However, after reading all of these comments, especially this one by you Emma, I must interject my disagreement with some of your reasoning.

        First of all, there are successful, even famous, people who do their own laundry. Here is a link that I have not researched to verify, but I’m willing to bet it’s at least fairly accurate:
        http://laundry.about.com/od/laundrybasics/ss/Celebritycleanlaundry_8.htm#step-heading

        Secondly, telling people to outsource tasks they are overqualified for…..I don’t even know where to start with that one. Just about everyone can be considered “overqualified” for doing laundry. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it! You said your kids are still expected to make their own beds and clean up after themselves, but it can be argued that they are “overqualified” for those tasks, don’t you think? I don’t want to be rude, and am still very interested in reading more of your suggestions, etc., but insinuating that you are too skilled at more complicated tasks that make doing laundry somehow beneath you is something I take issue with.

        Hiring others to do the menial labor that you don’t care to spend time on does seem a little entitled. Teaching your kids that it is ok to not have to do things for themselves seems to be encouraging them to expect this from others; to expect others to hand things to them and do things for them just so they don’t have to, which breeds selfishness. Everyone should know how, and be used, to doing their own laundry, cooking their own food, and cleaning their own bathrooms. Not only is the cost out of reach for a lot of people (and yes, I understand your economic argument, but it’s a weak one at best, unless you already have enough money to begin with), but entering adulthood with little to no life skills is not something I would recommend.

        Your continuous argument that it’s not possible to be successful if you have to spend your own time and your own money doing your own housework? Sounds a bit snobby; just sayin’.

        I don’t necessarily think you are lazy, as others have stated, and there is some validity; I do, however, think some of your points are a bit far-reaching.

  5. Jeff on December 31, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    Paying someone to do your laundry, that doesn’t need dry cleaned or have special needs, just seems lazy to me.

    • Emma on January 2, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Name me one very successful person who does their own laundry. See a coorrelation?

  6. Matt Nelko on December 3, 2014 at 3:53 am

    It depends on WHERE in New York City you live. If you live in the less-than-affluent areas, you’re stuck with whatever crappy laundromats are within your delivery area. And trust me, they can be CRAPPY. The last three places I where I sent out my laundry, my clothes came back actually smelling stinky — worse than when I sent them out in the first place (the clothes, of course, that didn’t mysteriously disappear; at 28 bucks a pop, that occasional lost t-shirt or pair of underwear adds up real fast, too). I discovered the problem when I popped over to one of the places and watched the women “wash” the clothes; one of them actually braced herself against a table for leverage to jam the clothes into the front- loading washers — barely leaving enough room for water, much less soapy water. So is it “stupid” to want clothes cleaned properly? Even — dare I suggest it — pre-treated propertly — using the correct water temperatures — and dress shirts air-dried to prevent shrinkage — using natural (or even organic) detergents that aren’t as caustic as the pink crap they seem to buy by the 50-gallon drum?

  7. Tony on November 27, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    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.

    I have enough cloths, towels and bedding to last one to two weeks at a time. to wash laundry every single day is ridiculous. Oh, I don’t make a thousand dollars a day, so I do my laundry myself, in my very own Maytag washer & dryer. I also do my own dishes, I cook, and keep everything neat & tidy.

    Your advise is geared more toward wealthy folks.

  8. mary stensens on November 12, 2014 at 9:57 am

    This seems like a post for being lazy. I myself work 50+ hours a week and my husband works 40+ but we still get home after getting the 2 kids from school, he goes and makes dinner, I help with homework, by the time dinner is ready homework is done. We then eat and the kids do the dishes, one is 8 the other is 11. If it is a laundry night which is only 3 nights of 7 then I do the 1 to 3 loads we might have depending on activities and by this time it is only about 8. If there is no laundry it is probably a night the kids have sports so we do that or relax as a family if nothing is going on. None of this requires any “outsourcing” of my personal responsibilities. That is what having and building a family is about, not paying someone else to do it for you. If you pay someone $25 dollars every week just to come out once or twice to get your laundry that is $1300 more I save a year then you because I take care of my family and myself. This was all done while I was going to school for nursing. Now outsourcing your life before you have a family and you live by yourself is more understandable, but you are by yourself and if you can’t take care of just yourself without help then…well then the title should be “You’re stupid if you can’t take care of yourself”. One last thing I forgot to touch on, idk where she got that just for herself it cost $10 a week for laundry bc I myself live in New York and it cost about $8 for a bottle o detergent that lasts a month for 4 people. So that comes out to a total of $2 a week in detergent and pennies on the dollar for the electric and water cost for just 1 load so about $3 a week for that so $5 a week to do your own laundry or $25 for someone else to do it and another $20 for a different person to pick it up? Just my thoughts as a successful mother of 2 who does it herself. :)

  9. Johnson on November 3, 2014 at 6:47 am

    Yeah care.com is much better idea to get fixed any kind of services with in a some time and you can also inquiry for the services which you want in your area, which is more amazing,

  10. Emma on October 27, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Thanks Esi! Women take issue because it is not just about fresh panties and clean tank tops — laundry represents their sense of what it means to be a good mom, wife and mother. Tell her that it is a waste of time it cuts to the core of who she believes herself to be.

    • Martine on August 16, 2018 at 2:17 pm

      Exactly! This is the conundrum of first world middle class motherhood: do everything yourself and perfectly, and run yourself into the ground while doing it! Years ago when I was a university student, a family friend suggested that when I started working in my profession that I consider getting help at home. I was shocked. Years later, after marriage, a child, and divorce, I can honestly say she was right: that I have needed help from time to time even as a young single professional. She knew that high income earners tend to have lots of opportunities and responsibilities that require a lot of time, so it makes sense to hire help. I can honestly say that most of all of my friends and colleagues, married or otherwise, contract out at least some of the routine daily household chores so they can invest more in meaningful time with their children, rising careers, and charitable work. One of the things i have also noticed amongst a lot of professional people is that they insist that their children take on tasks, e.g. helping out at the office, volunteering, running errands at home, etc, so that they don’t take anything for granted. Great post.

  11. Esi on October 27, 2014 at 10:29 am

    “Here is my story. Share your own thoughts in the comments!”

    :) Thank you. I will.

    Read through all comments after reading, IMHO, your enlightened post, Emma. (“Stupid” seems to have been the best/worst choice!) lol

    I actually enjoy doing laundry. It’s peaceful work, akin, IMO, to tending a garden. (Which I also enjoy but to do either well takes more than the machines one might utilize.)

    I appreciated your wanting to give your housekeeper the option of taking on your household laundry – acknowledging her financial need. Something NO ONE noticeably commented on.

    What I don’t get is, why, if you can afford to pay for such services, wish to prioritze time as you’ve outlined… anyone would take issue?

  12. Kenneth on October 23, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    These charts are great for those who life efficiently and have a lot to manage in a busy world. I’m sure this article has given readers hours they didn’t know they could save. Thanks.

  13. DeDe on October 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I did send my laundry out for awhile but where I live it is almost impossible nowadays to find an affordable and reliable service that won’t destroy our clothes! I live in NYC in Harlem. At one time there was a place that would do your laundry on every other street corner for a fair price and our laundry always came back pristine. All of these places are now GONE because the cost of doing business in NYC makes it impossible for small businesses offering practical and pragmatic services to stay in business. Now we do it ourselves. It’s more affordable I guess and there is something very zen about washing clothing. And it’s also something children should learn to do ( my kids help out now with the laundry. They fold and put their own clothing away– neatly!. They are 9 years old.) I don’t like the idea of them thinking that basic maintenance stuff is below them. It also teaches them to take care of their things. That’s an important lesson.

    • Emma on October 21, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      Yes, Manhattan/NYC prices are insane and it is causing serious problems all over the place. Can you have a housekeeper do it for you?

      As for “I don’t like the idea of them thinking that basic maintenance stuff is below them. It also teaches them to take care of their things. That’s an important lesson.” I agree with this — but at the same time my kids, for example, don’t know how to shovel a walk because we live in a co-op where the super or his assistant do that. That is just the type of lifestyle we live, and I am ok with that.

  14. HarryBosch on October 15, 2014 at 6:17 pm

    If I lived in the city, I’d consider outsourcing laundry. It doesn’t make sense to do it here in the ‘burbs when there’s a washer & dryer in my house.

    The overall point you’re trying to make is sound, though. I should outsource the yard work when there’s a bunch of lawn services in my area. But I can’t bring myself to do it. I do outsource the stuff that has to be done only occasionally – plumbing work, painting, etc. By the time I go to a big box home improvement store, hunt for what I need, wait in line to pay, and drive back home, I’ve easily lost an hour right there. Might as well outsource it to someone who can do the work better and faster than me.

    • Emma on October 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm

      that’s right

  15. ana on October 15, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    This is such an utterly first world middle class problem. Another reason why the middle class is shrinking in their earning power, bcs they outsource everything. I have a problem having someone else do my laundry – never cleaned the way I like and spending a fortune for someone to do a mediocre job on ironing. I do not spend money on laundry or dry cleaning (only large coats go to cleaners). I do understand the value of freeing up time, but I NEVER do laundry or iron in the middle of the day. Laundry goes in washer at night on Fri, air dries on Sat outside (goes in drier on wet days) and Sun late when I am watching one of my series, I can do the basics in 40 minutes flat. Sure sometimes I wish I had someone do it, but no one could do the kind of quality work I prefer – it helps to have a hubby who does his equal share of the housework or child rearing. So I get it, if you are a single parent and can afford, and can live with how others do your laundry – by all means do it. More power to you. I will continue to enjoy my perfectly white sheets ironed and towels folded just so, and that gives me great pleasure.

    • Emma on October 15, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      This post has been circulating for two years now, and what I’ve come to understand is that women — usually unconsciously — simply repeat their childhood models of what it means to be a mother, wife and woman — “My mother and grandmother scrubbed the refrigerator every week, that is simply what women do.” All of us — myself included — battle notions ingrained in us since birth about how to do things — raise children, care for a home, be a romantic partner. But as adults it is up to us to take a step back, assess what is really important to us and use our time accordingly. No one on their deathbeds ever says, “You know, I am so glad that I spent all that time scrubbing the house,” or “The one thing I’m really proud of if conquering the folding of fitted sheets.” A friend’s mother — who just turned 80 — recently said to her, “I wish I’d been a more fun mom — I was always so worried about keeping the house clean!”

      As for: “This is such an utterly first world middle class problem. Another reason why the middle class is shrinking in their earning power, bcs they outsource everything.” Could not disagree more.

      Effective delegation of tasks you are overqualified for or can outsource is critical to getting out of poverty, moving from middle to upper-middle class, or growing a small business or giant corporation. To start: If you want to get out off welfare you need to gain professional skills through formal education, training, or start a small business — all of which requires hiring child care for those with young children. You only stand to gain income and and earning potential if you outsource tasks for which you over-qualified for (housekeeping, if you are a professional person) and replace those hours with a higher-paying contract work, or investing in your career so there is an actual ROI on that investment. There is zero inherently wrong with outsourcing if done consciously.

      As I wrote in the post- – if you love laundry — knock yourself out. But I’ll be there are lots of other things you also love doing even more and wish you had more time for. Just sayin.’

      I wrote it in the post, but when I have this debate in person, people always stop short when I point out that no one who is considered a traditional professional success (in that they have a big and lucrative career) does their laundry or scrubs their own toilets. They figured it out. And for not so very much money every week, each of us can figure it out, too.

      As for your admonishment that as a single mother it is somehow permissible for me to live with sub-standard laundering because I don’t have a spouse, well, I will give you the benefit of the doubt that your comments were not intended to be condescending.

  16. Matthew S on September 10, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    I feel your comments run true as I do the laundry for the wife n 2 boys and my life after work is cleaning, laundry and kids.

    What is a diplomatic way to ask the stay at home wife to do more at home besides cooking n kid duties for school?

    House is neglected during the day when she is free.

    • Emma on September 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm

      You need to have a real conversation with her as an adult: “I understood our arrangement was that I would earn the money and you would take care of kid and household duties. That isn’t happening and I feel resentful. If this isn’t working for you anymore, how can we change things? Maybe it is time for you to go back to work.”

  17. Michael V. on August 21, 2014 at 11:46 am

    re: “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?’ ”

    This would be a good argument if you were talking about washing clothes by hand. After all, do you have someone come to your apartment and take your dirty dishes away?

    • Emma on August 21, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      I’m sorry you are having such a hard time, Michael.

      My ex decided to end the marriage – not me. Thank you for your interest in my story.

    • Mica on August 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      I agree with this. The whole “Do you feel guilty for using a dishwasher, instead of cleaning every grimy ork and sippy cup by hand?” is kinda lame Emma.
      My arguement is “I waited so long to live somewhere that I have my own washer and dryer, so I would feel guilty outsourcing it.”
      I also argue about outsourcing my laundry because of this: I make $13 an hour (before taxes), thus a $25 charge is 2 hours worth of wages for me. I have no children, so I probably wouldn’t have to get the laundry done out more than once every 2 weeks, but still, that’s a bit of an expense for me. And sadly, doing the laundry itself isn’t the issue at all. I still would have to do the part(s) I hate: 1) separating clothes into mine and my fiance’s (one of the banes of same-sex couples who are the same size, whose clothing is who’s?) 2) hanging things up in the closet, and 3) sorting and matching the socks (I refuse to let a service do this because they don’t do it RIGHT. I abhor it when one of my socks is baggy and the other is tight around my ankle! Just because they are both white doesn’t make them a pair!!

      However, there ARE tasks I would *LOVE* to outsource, I just can’t find anyone who can/would do them! I wish I could hire someone to come and clean the catbox on a bi-weekly basis. I would pay $50 for that! Or someone to THOROUGHLY clean my bathroom on a monthly basis. The only places I’ve found who will do that want to charge $200 per visit, and when I’ve had them do it (I tried 2 different places) they did a very lackluster job that I ended up having to redo anyway.

      • ana on October 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm

        That is my problem too – if I am going to have to redo someone’s job so you the payer are satisfied – then outsourcing is pointless. Being a perfectionist has its high price. I hate cleaning my bathrooms, but I do know, no one would scrub them the way I do, or leave me satisfied.

        • Emma on October 15, 2014 at 7:59 pm

          I used to get annoyed when I went out to eat (I’m told I am an excellent cook). The quality was never good enough. The prices were outrageous. The service or atmosphere never stood up. But when I chilled out life became so much better. I was an enjoyable dinner companion. I was able to enjoy the evening for what it was — time spent with interesting people, getting a break from my routine and cooking (as much as I love it, everyone needs a break), trying new things and exploring life. I became a more open, joyful and happy person. I was trying to control the entirety of New York City’s restaurant industry, but all I really needed to control was my own bad attitude.

      • ratamacue0 on April 26, 2015 at 4:12 pm

        Plastic liners from the pet store make this an easier task. Also flushable litter (e.g. pine pellets), with the litter box by the toilet, so you can scoop the poop right out daily. (Do keep the amount of litter you actually flush to a minimum, though.)

        • ratamacue0 on April 26, 2015 at 4:15 pm

          ^ That was a reply to Mica about the cat litter, in case it wasn’t obvious..

  18. lolol on August 14, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Have you guys ever actually been behind the scenes at a full service laundry? Ew.

  19. Ryan on August 9, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    If u make $25/hr that’s a weeks worth of take home pay vs doing it yourself $25 vs $10 a weeks… And tbh it costs me $6 to do it every other week bc ill hand wash what I wore to work real quick when I get home before I get in the shower. I will easily save $1,000 dollars as opposed to having someone else do it for me, sounds like a vacation… Although I don’t have kids yet, I think paying them an allowance to do it is a GREAT idea

  20. Bobby on July 27, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    According to the infographic, men spend 7.5 hours and women 8.75 hours on household activities. Who has time for that?

    • Matt Nelko on December 3, 2014 at 4:22 am

      People who’ve learned how to set and maintain boundaries with their careers to achieve a healthy work/life balance. Not everyone is a 60-hour-a-week wage slave.

  21. Deb on July 19, 2014 at 11:00 pm

    Quit over washing your clothes and you can do your own laundry. I love the thought of not having my clothes washed in the same washer and dryer as so many others, Ick.

  22. Becky Blades on July 14, 2014 at 10:35 am

    With one side of my mouth, I’m saying “Amen, sister!” and with the other side “My brat kid still needs to do her laundry.” (I wrote a book for launching young women called ‘Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening.’)

    Big aha: I don’t care how she gets it done. But clearly, your way is better. What we want for our daughters is exactly what you advocate. They should be able to put their energy in better places. So I’ll be passing this around. It will confuse people. But they can get over it.

    • Emma on July 14, 2014 at 10:39 am

      ” So I’ll be passing this around. It will confuse people. But they can get over it.”

      Yes, so true. Read the comments – people worry their children will be adults unable to do laundry. Please. Kids are doing higher math in second grade. They can figure out how to work an effing Whirlpool washing machine in a pinch.

      • Matt Nelko on December 3, 2014 at 4:20 am

        And yet, these wiz kids who can “figure out how to work an effing Whirlpool washing machine in a pinch” — never seen to be able to. I work with young professionals and I’m appalled at their lack of simple life skills.

      • Nicole on January 8, 2015 at 11:41 am

        I had to teach a couple of my hall mates how to do laundry in college. One even asked if the water would stain the clothes. And i went to an elite university! So, someone will be teaching them if mom and dad don’t :)

  23. gg on June 12, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Btw, the author is not telling you what to do – she is sharing her experience and reasons why she is doing it.
    If you take it personally – well then …

    Plus, people from different countries – of course your lives are very different than ours.
    But it has nothing to do with being/feeling elitist/entitled.
    It is your perception on what you found on the internet/this particular blog.

    You don’t like it – you’re free not to read it. You don’t have to share your opinion. But you did and it is a testament of respect the author gave YOU for not deleting your posts (cause she could).

    • Emma on June 15, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      All good, all part of the discussion. I find that when people are really irate it is because something they heard resonated with them. All part of the process!

  24. gg on June 12, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    We don’t make our own clothes!? We don’t bake our own bread, make yogurt, milk the cow, raise chickens (and kill them), raise our own potatoes! etc

    (for the most part – although I have been known to make my own laundry soap)

    Some people just don’t know what it is like to live in the city.
    And for some people their time is worth doing these things themselves.

    The best part – you get to decide!

    Outsource – not outsource.
    Everyone has a choice.
    I am sure there are some rich people who do their own laundry.
    I think this blog post goes hand in hand with the nail salon usage services.
    There are people who would choose to get a weekly mani/pedi and do their own laundry, and there are people who would choose to do otherwise.

    Great thing about having a choice.
    And if you don’t like the usage of the word – stupid on this blog post – you too have a choice not to read it.

  25. Tim on June 6, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Reading through all the posts we see two categories, those that enjoy laundry and those that despise it! Here is an idea. Those that despise can outsource and spend that valuable time making money elsewhere. Those that enjoy it can turn it into an income stream by plugging into an existing company that hires individuals to pickup, wash and fold, then deliver.

    Everybody is happy!

    • Emma on June 8, 2014 at 12:29 pm

      What Tim said!! If you really love sorting, washing and folding, God bless. I think you are an alien, but whatever. The rest of us? Call Tim!

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