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!