Can doing laundry be an exercise in mindfulness?

I confess I’m usually not mindful when I’m doing laundry. I’m not much of a sorter, so I get together mostly similar colors and take them downstairs to my washer and dryer. And I pour in some laundry detergent, put them in the washer, typically choose the “normal” cycle with tap cold water, and press the button to get things started.

When the washer cycle finishes, I take the load and put it in the dryer. I don’t put bras in the dryer, but everything else is fair game for the low temp dryer cycle.

When that cycle is complete, I take my things upstairs to sort and fold or hang.

That’s my process. But I discovered through a Facebook post that it’s not everyone’s process.

I shared this article from Southern Living magazine and asked these questions:

Do you sort your laundry? If so, how meticulous are you?

I got more responses than I’d have ever guessed.

Turns out lots of my friends are indeed meticulous about laundry!

My first reaction was to want to tease them about being so careful with an everyday chore. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized they were just being mindful. They were paying attention to their clothing and sheets and towels and other fabric items in a way that was much more grounded than my mindless approach to what I saw as a chore.

They were deeply valuing an important part of daily life.

It was when a friend posted a photo of a dress she’d sewn for her little granddaughter that I had the realization. I thought of the process of making clothing for a family member or friend, how that process is very, very mindful.

Thinking about the process of making clothes got me thinking about the process of washing clothes.

And it brought home to me how the process of washing clothes can be almost as mindful as making them.

If I were to be a whole lot less slapdash, I could make doing laundry a mindful process.

If I follow the lead of so many of my friends, doing laundry will get me to pay attention to colors and fabrics and how to sort them and wash them accordingly.

If I’m mindful about my laundry, I’ll appreciate what I have and treat those items well so that they last longer. And I’ll be more grateful for what I have.

I tend to focus on softness and color to the exclusion of longevity. But paying attention to all of the aspects of laundry helps me to think long term—to honor the process and all of the people involved in the making of these items. Mindful laundering of my clothing and other fabric items over a period of time helps me to buy less and throw away less.

Also, being mindful when I do laundry is very grounding.

It gets me out of my head and my thinking into my body and using my senses. I love thinking and can get too caught up in what’s going on in my head. Paying attention to what I’m doing involves my senses and makes me aware of being in a body.

Doing laundry is visual as I sort colors. It’s tactile as I touch them in the sorting and loading and unloading and folding. Being mindful of sight and touch helps bring me out of my head into my body.

Being aware and present in my body helps calm me.

I wonder now if that’s part of why so many of my friends are meticulous with their laundry. Maybe they find it grounding and calming to be present when doing laundry.

I’m giving it a try. I just now sorted laundry and put in a load. I paid attention to the items and made sure not only to see and feel them but also to be grateful for them.

And yes, I did indeed find that calming.

I’ll try to make this a laundry process. To be mindful as I gather and sort and load and unload and fold and put away.

That goes against type when you’re a slapdash, get-it-done-quickly-and-efficiently person like me.

But I know I can change.

And I choose to!

These are some of my favorite fabrics in the quilt my sister made for me. The flowers really make me happy! Knowing she made this quilt for me has definitely made me be mindful when I wash and dry it.

2 thoughts on “Can doing laundry be an exercise in mindfulness?

  1. What a great quilt of mindfulness you made of all the comments that were shared with you. I didn’t realize when I shared my sorting strategies that they evolved from the care I give our belongings – born of my mother and grandmothers. Things that I want to last, colors that I want to savor, textures that I want to treasure. I did not grow up in a household where things were easily discarded and replaced. And I now I own things I can’t want to replace. Thanks for reminding me that being meticulous has a meaning.

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