Age Appropriate Guide to Laundry Chores

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--31 May 2011-- You’ve heard about them. The 7-year-old that does all the laundry, from the sorting to the folding, while some moms struggle to get their 17-year-old to pour the correct amount of detergent in the washer.

Age Appropriate Guide to Laundry Chores

LOUISVILLE, Ky.--31 May 2011-- Youve heard about them. The 7-year-old that does all the laundry, from the sorting to the folding, while some moms struggle to get their 17-year-old to pour the correct amount of detergent in the washer.

The GE Profile(TM) frontload laundry pair with Overnight Ready and SmartDispense(TM) technology (sho ...

The GE Profile(TM) frontload laundry pair with Overnight Ready and SmartDispense(TM) technology (shown here with matching dryer) cleans clothes and gets them ready to wear by morning - right out of the washer. (Photo: General Electric)

Expecting your child to jump in and take over laundry when hes a teenager will be much more difficult if hes never been expected to help in the past, said Emily Brown, child development consultant.

Here are some general laundry chores with Browns opinion on when most children can handle various aspects. We cant promise your baby will be able to wash their own burp cloths (bummer) but your 6- year-old may be capable of more than you think.

Having your child alongside as you do laundry is much more about attitude than actual skill development. If the parent or care-giving adult has a positive attitude regarding the chore, the child is much more likely to find the ability to participate, said Brown.

Best of all, new cycles and other features on the GE Profile" frontload washers and dryers make getting the kids to join your ranks much easier. Lets start at the beginning.


According to Brown, tykes as young as 18 months begin to recognize and potentially vocalize colors. Sorting the laundry and pointing out the different colors reinforces their knowledge of colors.

Between the ages of 3 and 4, grouping items together becomes a known concept and children can start matching identical pairs of socks together, sorting out all the washcloths from the larger towels, or even sorting out mommys clothes from their own. A 4-year-old can also help in categorizing dark colors, lights and whites.

Loading the Washer and Dryer

Then around their second birthday, childrens motor skills kick start. As a child nears 24 months, he or she can help pour or squirt the detergent into the washer, says Brown, Most kids find this to be very fun! Or if you have a GE Profile frontload washer with SmartDispense" pedestal, you can pour in up to 6 months of detergent1 and the right amount will be dispensed at the right time so and the risk of your kiddo going detergent-crazy decreases.

Around ages 3 and 4, many kids can take clothes and put them in a frontloading washer, like the GE Profile frontload, or the dryer.

Brown says this is a good time for parents to cultivate an environment of teamwork since kids this age have a strong desire to cooperate with adults. Parents can even program a special cycle on the GE Profile washer, called My Cycle. This is ideal if your kids wash the same items most of the time.

Parents can program the My Cycle button to match the right water temperature and soil level with the clothes being washed, said Jim Skaggs, marketing manager clothes care. You can tell little Johnny to select My Cycle for color garments or a white load and its already preset for him.

Moving the clean, wet clothes from the washer to dryer also got easier with the GE Profile CleanSpeak" feature, making it even easier for youngsters to help with laundry chores. With CleanSpeak, you pick your washer cycle, and when the clothes are clean, the washer communicates electronically with the dryer to preset dry cycles.

The washer will say to the dryer, 'Okay, we just washed a load of whites,' and will automatically preset the dryers cycle based on the information it just received from the washer, said Skaggs. Kids can simply transfer the clean clothes from the washer to the dryer without having to touch any knobs, buttons or controls.

GE simplifies laundry making it easier to trust your kids with your duds by taking out the guesswork that confuse even adults, said Skaggs.

Folding Clothes and Putting Clothes Away

Between the ages of 3 and 7, children can begin to help put their clean laundry away. A neat and orderly closet can help a child determine what goes where. Also at this age, kids can follow simple directions, such as go upstairs and get the empty hangers for me, said Brown who adds the hangers should be within the childs reach.

Around age 7, sports and extracurricular activities become a big part of many kids lives. In fact, there are an estimated 41 million American kids playing competitive youth sports2 - which adds up to a lot of uniforms to keep clean.

GEs Overnight Ready feature on the Profile frontload washer will help your future Olympian get leotards clean and dry enough to wear in eight hours or less without staying up late to transfer the tutu from the washer to the dryer.3

Sometimes, your child will need to wear a uniform up to three times in one weekend for a tournament or competition. If you get home late on Friday night with another game bright and early on Saturday morning, little Janie can put her uniform in the washer, hit the overnight ready button and within four to eight hours, the uniform will be dry enough to face another game day, said Skaggs.

After your son or daughter reaches the ripe old age of 7, independence in tasks can be expected, especially if the child has helped all along through the above mentioned skills.

If the child has never really helped out, expecting them to do things such as sort or put away clothes is not a realistic goal. They will need to be shown what the expectations are when given the instructions put these away, said Brown. This is when having the child help alongside you from a young age starts paying off.

By the time your little one reaches the tween and teen years, he or she should see the value of teamwork and giving them a little incentive to help with the laundry could boost their motivation. Brown cautions parents against ordering a child to do something because I said so. As an individual, the child should understand the familys dynamics.

About Emily Brown

Emily Brown is a behavioral and developmental consultant, working mostly with families that have children affected by autism or other significant delays. She has aided childrens development for the past 13 years.

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1 Based on an 8-lb. AHAM load, 10 loads per week.

2 Youth Sports Drawing More than Ever. Hilgers, Laura. CNN U.S. July 3, 2006.

3 Overnight Ready works best with small loads estimated to be about 2.5 lbs. The AHAM specification examples include the drying of one pair of jeans, three cotton dress shirts, two soccer uniforms, three sets of crib sheets, one dress shirt, one pair of khakis, or two sets of scrubs.

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