At what age can children learn to do laundry?
It’s a good question! I certainly don’t think that 5 year olds can run the washing machine independently, but I do believe that they can be very helpful in the day to day washing of clothes.
I’ve put together an informal timeline of ages and what laundry tasks are appropriate. Of course these ages are just ballpark – every child develops differently and is capable of handling tasks at different stages.
This is more to get your wheels spinning and is by no means a comprehensive list. For example, if my 6 year old was still leaving laundry lying all over his floor it would prompt me to think: Yes, he is old enough to put his dirty clothes in the basket every single day. Teaching him to always put his dirty clothes in the hamper (without my asking) is one way I can ease the laundry burden in the house!
So review the list, and see where your children’s ages fall. If they are old enough (around age 4 or so) brainstorm with them, asking them ways they can help with the family’s laundry routine. I did this with my daughter Clara, and was pleasantly surprised at her fabulous little answers!
Laundry Tasks by Age Group
18 months-2 years old:
With prompting, can put laundry in basket by themselves after removing clothes
Can pick up all random laundry in room with verbal prompt only (no need to tell them to pick up each one)
Can put away easy items like socks
Can ‘play’ fold – encourage play folding now while they’re eager and willing, so they’ll fold in the future
Dump laundry basket in designated area
Return laundry baskets to correct spot
Put their own laundry away with help. Give her only one type of item to put away at the time: just pants, then just shirts, then just socks
Begin to fold basic items: washcloths, small towels, burp cloths
Push baskets down the hall or run them up and down the stairs
Keep their own clothes picked up
Strip the sheets from their beds on Wash Day
Put away their own clothes in the correct drawers
Hang their towel up after a shower
Put out fresh hand towels
Put stacks of folded towels in the linen closet
Empty dryer without assistance and push baskets to folding area
Move clothes from washer to dryer and put dryer on correct setting
Learn to use the washing machine with assistance: how much detergent to add, settings for specific loads, which items should never be dried in the dryer
Learn to fold laundry properly
Can be responsible for a large portion of household laundry maintenance
In the coming weeks, I’m writing on how to teach children to wash clothes. There will be creative ideas and specific instructions in helping your children learn this necessary task!
Great ideas. My almost 3 year old loves to help put laundry away.
3 is that great age where they think folding and ‘helping mama with laundry’ is so much fun! Love it!
Amy @ Raising Arrows
Megan (age 10) just became our designated Laundry Manager. It has been fabulous!
Nice! Looking forward to handing that title over to someone 😉 Enjoy!
I can imagine Clara’s responses! Makes me think of her answers to the Brother/Sister game- she is so creative!
Well. My 2 year old can definitely put the laundry in the basket without being prompted. But let’s not forget the small detail of her also taking it out and scattering it helter-skelter throughout the house un-prompted either. I just have to keep the baskets high up so that she doesn’t scatter the clean laundry in an attempt to “help.”
2 is really young. I think 3 will be more promising. Not too young to start, like you say, but to the other moms of 18 month-2 year olds, I’d like to pat you on the back for even attempting this mission, and please don’t feel guilty when they mostly just make a mess when “helping”.
Anne @ Modern Mrs Darcy
Thanks for the validation! My 8 year old boy LOVES to run the washing machine. It’s a tall top loader, and he needs help getting the detergent in, but it’s great to have a helper. I need some help teaching him how to help, so I am looking forward to your coming posts on this topic!!
I think it’s great to encourage children to explore once they show an interest, however we can go too far. I ironed my dad’s handkerchiefs from the time I was 7, but even looking back on that, I think it was inappropriate. Kids should help around the house, but doing their own laundry at 9 or 10?
What is a Mom’s/Dad’s responsibility? Kids should get to be kids! Put them away, fold them, fine, but not wash and dry. My kids learned to do so when they went to camp as Jr. Counsellors @ 14…good time from my perspective.
Jamie @ The Roubinek Reality
I can’t wait to read your coming posts. I know it’s time to teach our 10 and 12 yo to do their laundry, I am nervous because I’m not confident in my own laundry knowledge. 😉
Thanks for stopping by, Jamie!
Hopefully the posts will be up in the next week or two!
My 5 year old knows how to work my washer. He know that when it comes to the soaps and stuff that go in the was mommy or daddy has to do that. He has watched me do laundry since he could walk. He knows which settings the wash goes on and he knows which loads get washed in hot and cold. He hates to fold but loves washing, drying, and putting away lol… he loves to help! I encourage everyone to allow their babies to help if they are willing to do so bow. Because when they get older it won’t be as easy!
Agreed, Jayme! It’s best to start young! 🙂