There’s a fine line between batching your household chores and being viewed as a dirty, lazy slob. You don’t want to repeat tasks too often, but at the same time, things get a little too dirty if you don’t do them often enough. The household chores I have in mind specifically include:
- General cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the bathroom, etc.)
- Washing dishes
I’m struggling to figure out exactly what the optimal increments of time are between each repetition of the above tasks. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
I’m not terribly concerned with laundry piling up as long as it’s confined to a basket of some sort, or hidden away in a closet. The limiting factor here is the quantity of clothes you have available, as I’m assuming you wouldn’t want to rewear dirty clothes. Historically, I’ve done my laundry once per week, usually on a Saturday or Sunday. I’m starting to find, however, that I can go two weeks, but probably not three, between each batch of laundry.
Because my apartment complex has a laundry room that contains several washers and dryers, I can do two loads of laundry at the same time, thereby cutting my time spent on laundry in half. If I had more clothes, I would absolutely try to stretch this to three weeks. If one load of laundry per week takes about 40 minutes of my time (20 minutes of moving things to and from the washer and dryer, 20 minutes of folding clothes and putting them away), I would guess that doing two loads at once probably takes me 50 minutes. The washer and dryer time is close to the same, and I think folding laundry and putting it away is something that takes me awhile to start, but picks up speed as I go (so a 2nd load only is only an additional 10 minutes).
By the way – when I used to do one load of laundry, I would never separate colors from whites. Now, I probably can.
When I clean my apartment is more a function of how much free time I have – it’s not based on any sort of schedule. During this time of year where I have little to no free time, the cleanliness of my apartment suffers. Therefore, I don’t think there is any sort of measurable time savings by batching here (for me). Granted, you can always wait longer to clean, and you will always save time. If you clean once per week, try cleaning every once every 10-14 days. You’ll probably find that you’re spending less time cleaning over the course of a year, and the cleanliness of your apartment or house probably won’t suffer as much as you think. If cleaning your house takes you an hour and you do it once per week, you can easily save 52 hours per year by stretching it to once every two weeks.
This is something I already batch, but it deserves mention. If you have a dish washing machine, don’t run it until the machine is full. If you do your dishes by hand, wait until the sink is relatively full. A full sink looks dirty, but as long as you don’t let it pile too high, I don’t think it’s all that bad. I’m sure my girlfriend is strongly disagreeing with me if she’s reading this. Washing dishes is an easy activity to batch. Again, this is something I’ve done for a long time, so I won’t accumulate any time savings here.
It looks like laundry is where I’ll find my only measurable time savings.
- Estimated time spent doing laundry once per week: 40 minutes/week (160 minutes per month)
- Estimated time spent doing laundry once per two weeks: 50 minutes per two weeks (100 minutes per month)
- Monthly time savings: About 1 hour
I think batching household chores in general will save you much more than one hour per month, but that time savings is very difficult to measure given the many variables involved.
If you have any more suggestions for batching or automating your household chores, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.