The Chore That Americans Hate the Most

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The household task that many of us dread the most is also baffling to consumer appliance designers, who can't figure out how to automate it.

I love clean clothes, and I don’t mind doing most of the steps leading up to having clean laundry, like sorting the clothes, washing them and drying them. But I despise folding laundry.

I would rather do anything else — and I do mean anything, even cleaning toilets — if it meant I could get out of folding laundry. Typically, load after load of clean clothes at my house ends up thrown on the bed in the extra bedroom for me to go through later, or I lay clothes in a pile as I’m taking them out of the dryer, in an attempt to prevent wrinkling.

It turns out, I’m in pretty good company. According to The Wall Street Journal, not only do most Americans despise folding laundry, but so do makers of consumer products, like General Electric.

“We’re constantly thinking about it,” Jennifer Schoenegge, general manager of GE’s appliance brands, told the Journal. Schoenegge said GE engineers have joked with her that the solution is a butler. “We haven’t cracked that nut yet,” she said.

Although inventors and technology have been key to creating products that solve tedious chores, like the washer, dryer, dishwasher and Roomba (a robotic floor cleaner).

But folding clean clothes has changed very little over the years.

“Folding laundry stubbornly remains a job done by hand, item by item,” the Journal says.

Manual folding tools and boards have helped some people deal with laundry. Some appliance makers have also included wrinkle-releasing cycles and fluff cycles with their dryers to help consumers keep their clean clothes wrinkle-free.

Mikki Hernandez, known as the “super folder” at New York’s WashClub laundry service, recommends that you fold laundry on a flat tabletop surface because clothes are easily controlled there. Hernandez also recommends grouping similar garments together when pulling a load of clean clothes out of the dryer.

“Folding similar garments consecutively is faster, she says, and the resulting stack is easier for clients to put away,” the Journal explains.

If you think folding laundry seems to be a time-consuming task, you’re correct. The Journal says over a lifetime, people spend about 18,000 hours on laundry, about half of which is spent folding clothes.

There is a machine in development that promises to help you with those heaps of laundry. Gal Rozov’s FoldiMate is about the size of a washer or dryer, and it can fold some of your laundry — including pants, shirts and towels. The machine, which also allows users to soften or sanitize their clothing, will start being produced in late 2017, Rozov said. It will sell for $700 to $850.

Other help for laundry folding may also hit the market in the near future. A recent Kickstarter campaign raised more than $180,000 (far surpassing its original fundraising goal of $50,000) for Scott Kosmach’s ThreadStax system. ThreadStax is a mechanical contraption that uses slides and brackets, plus a “folder” type piece to get clothes perfectly folded the first time and magnets to hold the clothes in place in drawers and closets.

The key to me getting my loads of laundry folded and put away is to fold each load immediately upon taking it out of the dryer. It’s a good trick, but it’s rare that I use it.

Do you do a lot of laundry? What household chore do you dread the most? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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