Save time while folding laundry: fold it inside-out

There's a phrase in my family: "Let the Wookiee win."

It's an abbreviated line from Star Wars, in which C-3PO suggests a strategy to R2-D2, who's playing a game of chess with Chewbacca.

In our house, "letting the Wookiee win" means giving in to a problem in which the solution seems to be causing a bigger problem.

Example: For years, I have asked my kids to turn thier clothing right-side-out before throwing it in the hamper. Doing it myself was adding a lot of time to the already dreaded chore of laundry. But my pleas fell on deaf ears. For one reason or another, this was one step that kept tripping everyone up.

After plenty of frustration and argument, I decided to let the Wookiee win. I now throw clothes into the washer in whatever state they arrive. If there are stains to be treated which I miss…oh well. I also fold the clothing inside-out, and that's how the kids put it away into their drawers.

Now my kids turn their clothing right-side out…the next time they put it on.

Letting the Wookiee win is another way of saying "choose your battles." I'm glad I'm no longer fighting this one.

Do you have an example in your family of "letting the Wookiee win?"

More: Laundry hacks


  1. Denise says

    My husband spends all his time telling the kids to turn their things inside out to wash so they don’t fade when hanging on the line or snag on something else etc.

    Ha, ha. It is a losing battle for him too. I don’t know if either of you will ever “win the war”


  2. Laina says

    Haha, I have always known I wasn’t a perfectionist when it came to doing the laundry but now I know for sure. It never dawned on me NOT to wash, fold and put away things inside out if that’s how they were when they came to me!

  3. bryssy says

    After baby #3 arrived I gave so much to the Wookie! Laundry, bedroom cleaning, most everything. We keep to the fantastic 5: Monday – laundry, Tuesday – Floors, Wednesday – Garbage, Thursday – groceries, and Friday – general cleaning up for the weekend.

  4. Rachel says

    I had that problem with DH for years. Several year ago (pre-kids) I finally let the Wookie win. After a few days, I saw him eating breakfast with his shirt on inside-out. After a bit of taunting on my part, I reminded him that I’d asked him to turn them right side out, and I finally decided to just let them be! He said a warning would have been nice and grumbled a bit, but there was a dramatic decrease in the amount of inside-out clothing in his dirty clothes hamper. Now, though, my boys seem to have taken after him, and they still need my help to turn them right-side-out, but soon it will be their turn! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

  5. says

    There’s a Korean proverb, “The belly button is larger than the belly” that captures a similar spirit. It’s where a secondary concern overtakes the original venture.

    The example I was given was when a friend bought a stroller to ship back to a friend in Korea and the international shipping cost more than the stroller.

    We use “Let the Wookee win” here as a reminder that not all fights are worth winning (so the inside-out laundry is definitely within that scope).

  6. Alex says

    Huh. Yeah, I intentionally turn most clothes inside out before washing to reduce wear. And make my husband treat stains on his clothes the moment he takes them off. Hmmm. Will have to ponder this more.

  7. says

    I do the laundry, but my six and nine year-olds fold and put away their own clothes, so if it’s inside out, they have to fix it (though on occasion I’ve seen them wear them that way or backwards – LOL!). My almost five-year old is in training now…

  8. bryssy says

    I don’t, I just do the majority of it on Monday’s. Sheets and towels and everything from the weekend. Then I do about a load a day. I spend about 20 minutes in the morning and 20 in the afternoon on laundry. :-) No worried. And I only fold the adults clothes.

  9. bryssy says

    Just throw them in again? IDK. We live in Florida and hardly every wear socks (or shoes).

  10. Rachel says

    We don’t fold our son’s clothes. They go into bins. That way, when he reaches in to get his own stuff, he doesn’t mess up a carefully-stacked pile, and we don’t waste time folding a teeny-tiny t-shirt that’s just going to get juice spilled on it in five seconds, anyway. (This rule makes even more sense with babies–I can’t for the life of me imagine why any new parent would spend precious time folding onesies!)

  11. Jen says

    Just out of curiosity, when do you ask your kids to do their own laundry? Mine have been doing their laundry since they were 5 or 6, which greatly reduces stress for me, so I don’t notice if their clothes are inside out or not when they’re folded. I have boys, though, so that might make it easier; each kid has one full load, washed in hot water and dried (no delicate Little Mermaid dresses or anything, just stinky PE clothes and mountains of superhero-branded briefs)

  12. famousamy says

    I wash them crumpled (or in my case balled). Then I leave those to be uncrumpled and sorted by the owner of said socks – wet and all.

  13. DanaA says

    Totally different example of Letting the Wookie Win in our house — started because we always seem to have a kid sleeping between us and they would kick the covers off, causing either me or DH to be coverless (and we like our covers at night!). So I finally just bought two twin size comforters, each having the same duvet cover — kid can be coverless while me and DH both have our covers — problem solved! Bed doesn’t look quite as nice when it’s made, but it’s ok, and even on those nights sans kids, it’s nice not having to fight over covers :-).

  14. says

    I’ve been doing this for years with my husband’s clothes. If his socks are balled up, they’re washed and put away the same way.

    I’m just grateful it gets IN the laundry.

  15. rhonda Gutman says

    I took this even further and dont fold any of my kids’ clothes. They each have a a basket i put their stuff in and they put it away however they choose. I got so tirred of seeing drawers stuffed after i took the time to fold everything. Now i just let it go.

  16. says

    AWESOME CO-SLEEPING HACK! I shall “promote” it to the front page! Aside: my mom has always done this, as both she and my dad are “blanket-grabbers.” They’ve always had their own twin-sized comforters on a queen bed.

  17. bryssy says

    Oh, I don’t fold the kid’s clothes either! I dump them right into the drawers – one good rifle and all my folding work is down the drain. So I stopped. I don’t fold kitchen towels either – they get thrown in a basket. DH and my clothes get folded – but not underwear. And, no one can wear hanging clothes but to special occasions or church! I’m all about the streamlining. Also, towels have to be used 3 times and hung dry and spend 2 days on the floor of the bathroom to earn a trip to the washer! I know, I’m hateful.

  18. bryssy says

    YES! We just broke down and strapped queen and king beds together. I have 2 king comforters (forget covers) and only use fitted sheets. We sleep 5 very comfortably!

  19. Jayme says

    We do the same things with sheets at our house. My DH said I kept hogging the covers so now we have two twin sheets on a queen bed. The top cover is long enough to fit us both but now he can wrap up like a burrito in his sheet. =)

  20. says

    I solved the laundry problem years ago when my kids were still little. As soon as they were old enough to dress themselves and get dirty enough to make a difference I handed their laundry responsibility over to each one of them. I only worry about my clothes, the sheets, towels, and kitchen laundry. My kids each do their own laundry. If they don’t have clean clothes it’s their problem. Oh, and I don’t allow them to leave the house in dirty or wrinkled clothes so their laundry does get done.

  21. ezpzlemonsqueezy says

    Ours is a family of five- my DH & I, 2 boys & 1 girl. Our 2 boys cannot figure out how to pee in the toilet without nasty-ing up the exterior of the toilet, surrounding floors, walls, cabinets etc. Finally, I let the wookie win by keeping the downstairs bathroom locked. This bathroom is reserved for DH, my daughter & myself- and guests. My DH & I have our own bathroom upstairs that only he & I are allowed to use. The third bathroom in the house (upstairs) is for our 2 boys who cannot figure out how to pee without making a mess. Only those two boys ever go in there- and they don’t mind it at all! Every 2 or 3 months, I will insist that they clean it. They do a terrible job, but then, it’s THEIR bathroom, so whatever. Their future wives will probably hate me for all of this, but I have tried everything else & I refuse to keep fighting. I’m done & everybody is happy! :D

  22. Gail says

    When my son and daughter were 12 and 8, respectively, I taught them how to do their own laundry. I never got asked again why their favorite this or that was not clean yet, or needed to worry about turning their clothes right side out. Sometimes if my loads are small I would throw something of theirs in to complete the load, but they were mostly responsible for their own laundry and it took a load off my back. It is a skill all children need to learn, and not so hard that an 8 year old can’t do it.

  23. Jill says

    I don’t understand the problem with laundry and kids, honestly. In our house, It’s a whole-family need, and therefore a whole-family project. DH hauls all the loads (sorted already by three-bag hampers) down to the machines (boring but heavy), where they’re done together (all the darks, all the brights, etc.). Mostly, he moves the loads around, though I do some when walking by the machines, and our 3yo *loves* moving loads into or out of the machines, so she actually *helps*. Then DH hauls the loads back up as they are dry, and then Everything. We. Own. Gets folded up (this is my domain, lest you think I’m not lifting a finger here) and put back into the baskets and sent to rooms.

    I bought two FlipFolds (1 adult,1 kid) because I wanted my son (now 9) to fold nicely, and it was too hard for him, honestly. Now that he’s older, he does it (almost) without grumbling — it is sooooo easy for him to “flip-flop-floop,” as we say, and every shirt turns out in a lovely rectangle. This isn’t me being fussy, just realistic/practical — he wears uniform clothes and then sports clothes every day, which is 10 outfits per school week, 5 of which have to be neat and clean for school. His sister’s clothes (3yo) are still too small for the FlipNFold, but she loves to help me use it for Daddy’s tees, anyway, so there’s more help! it’s a group activity, all of us on Mommy & Daddy’s big bed together with our huge piles of clothes, so it’s not torture.

    I just saw too many boys in college ruin their clothes because they were never taught how to properly care for clothes, resulting in a lot of waste and slovenliness, and I think it was a shame. I think that by not teaching them, I’d honestly be handicapping them for Real Life. As a modern feminist raising two feminists myself, I think it’s important for my kids to see us ALL do this chore, not only so they learn life skills, but also so they know I’m not their personal servant. There’s no magic to it, no fairies or paid staff here — we ALL do it together!!!

  24. Jill says

    Having just re-read my comments, I hope I don’t sound preachy or judgmental. But I think laundry is where some parents honestly just give up, and I have found that communicating high expectations and working together has really made this issue a NON-issue in our house. (It may help that we charge our son 25 cents for everything we have to turn right-side-out. That cost him about 75 cents and he was DONE learning that lesson.)

    We DO have drama about other household chores, though. Trust me. Like yard work, which NONE of us wants to do. {shudder}

  25. Becky A. says

    I’ve done that for years. It’s their responsibility (after about age 6) to put any stained clothing in a separate “stained” pile. If they don’t, oh well. I also fold the clothing the way it goes into the washer. I haven’t had nearly as many inside-out clothes in the laundry. :-)

  26. Mary Beth says

    Our boys aren’t “allowed” to stand up at the toilet in our house. (They get to, and are highly encouraged to do so, in public restrooms, though!)
    Problem solved for us. No more yuck in our bathroom!

  27. Becky Cooke says

    Thank you. Seriously, I needed this perspective. Let the Wookie win, indeed! :)(My husband thanks you.)

  28. says

    I love everything about this post. I think we’ll be co-opting the phrase “Let the Wookie win” for use at our house.
    And your laundry idea is genius. Thanks for sharing.

  29. GS says

    On the peeing front for boys – either float a pinging ball in the loo and suggest that they aim for that each time (apparently it won’t get flushed away) – or lower the water level for a bit, put a bullseye or target mark on the back of the toilet porcelain – again as target practice.
    Alternatively do as another poster said and make them sit down!!

    Oh – friends of mine bought a house in which each bathroom had a urinal built in – the original owner-builder was a man on his own and of course it made sense to cater for his specific needs!!


  30. says

    I’ve tried the fold it inside out trick and found that those clothes just do not get worn because my family is too lazy to flip it right side. Instead they get smashed to the bottom of the drawer or back of the closet.