This is another “what works at our house” post–I don’t think there’s a right way to do it, but for us, this has been genius.
Our main laundry bin is two kitchen-sized trash cans that live on the floor of our linen closet. They’re pretty big–packed full, they fill up my front-loading washer. One is labeled “lights” and one is labeled “darks,” and each one has a large lingerie bag (i.e. a giant mesh bag) hanging from a hook. Socks go in the lingerie bag, with the rule that only matching pairs can go in. This helps greatly at preventing lonely socks, because it prevents pants or the washer from “eating” the tiny little baby ones. I lost so many socks before I hit on that idea.
Then there is a small laundry bin anywhere that is so many steps away from the linen closet that it encourages clothes to otherwise end up on the floor–right now, this is just in the downstairs shower, but I also have a little bin that I set up in the nursery from time to time.
So, when it’s time to do laundry, I empty the small bins into the larger one, then carry the entire trash can off to my laundry room and upend it into the washer. Easy-peasy and quick. I wash the socks in the lingerie bags; besides helping keep track of the socks, this actually makes it much easier and faster to fold the other clothes, because I’m not having to untangle socks (or rip static-filled socks away from towels) from the other clothes, or find a place to toss them until I pair them. I divide our towels (and sheets) up into lights and darks and wash them with our clothes. I try to do laundry before the bins are about three-quarters full, which works out to be about one day a week. The size of the bins really “forces” me to allow no more than two loads to stack up, because the washer will hold everything that fits in one bin, no matter how stuffed it is. So unless we’re stashing dirty clothes somewhere else, it’s impossible to have more than two loads to do at a time. I find folding the clothes, however, a much easier task if the bins are not all the way full–and the clothes come out of the dryer less wrinkled.
Laundry is, by far, my least favorite household chore, but the fact that the clothes come pre-sorted because we have two bins makes it much nicer and more efficient, not to mention less smelly since I don’t have to fuss through the dirty clothes–I just dump them in!