7 Steps to Support Your Child To Do Their Own Laundry

22 Dec, 2023

How much we do for our children diminishes as they get older. As they fight for their independence, they push back on what we do for them and how we do it. And whilst we experience a feeling of being less useful, we also embrace the fact they are becoming the adult we want them to become.

But for some young people with additional needs, those steps towards independence are very different and we need to be the ones actively supporting them to build those skills they will need for greater independence. 

Giving Them A Feeling Of Control

We all want to do things for ourselves, and our children want that just as much as anyone else, even if they don’t necessarily want to do the mundane tasks, like laundry, related to it. However, it’s part of their growth, and once they feel a sense of control, they will want it more in other areas of their lives.

The 7 Steps

  1. Buy them their own laundry basket. Buy them one to keep in their room and make a big deal of it. Sell the idea – they’re growing up, so their laundry needs to be done separately. Their first task is to put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. This is also a chance to reinforce some general hygiene rules, like at the end of every day, underwear goes in the laundry basket, as do socks and T-shirts. In the beginning keep it simple, once an item is worn it gets washed. Over time you may be able to introduce extra rules around items that don’t need to be washed after each wear but in the beginning, it’s better to have everything done.
  2. Get them to bring their laundry basket to the washing machine. Do this on specific days of the week. My daughter does hers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Consistency is key so you may need reminder techniques. In the beginning, my daughter had a reminder on her phone, and it was on her weekly activity list. Nowadays it’s one of her habits and just gets done without any need to remind her.
  3. Get them to load their clothes in the washer. This step doesn’t have to be done when they first do Step 2, but equally, there’s no reason why it can’t. But you may decide to embed each step before you move to the next. You know your child best and what will work for them.
  4. Get them to do their own washing. This is one step, but it is made of a couple of sub-parts. We don’t separate whites from colors but instead use a low-temperature setting. However, this may not be something you want to do so this would add an extra part to this step of separating whites from colors. You will need to show them where to put the laundry detergent and how much to use. For ease we have always used pods. Finally, you will need to show them what setting to use for their load of laundry. For my daughter, it is always setting number 3. When she was first learning this stop, we had a note on the front of the washing machine telling her what number to use. 
  5. Get them to dry their laundry after it is washed. This step will depend on how you do this. You may have a dryer so you will need to show them the setting to use. My daughter uses an indoor dryer so the challenge in the beginning was to help her understand the need to space clothes, so they all dried evenly.
  6. Get them to check the clothes are completely dry. This step might sound obvious but from my own experience over-enthusiasm to finish a task can present its own problems.
  7. Get them to take their clothes to their room to put away. This final task will come back to how you do things in your house. My daughter likes organization, so she has a specific place for different items of clothing like T-shirts. However, she is not a fan of folding anything, so she uses a rolling method instead (most of the time). I’d be lying if I said everything is perfectly symmetrical, but it is put away and not left on her bedroom floor. 


The more our children can do for themselves the greater their sense of self-worth. And let’s be honest the less dependent they are on us. Being able to do their laundry might seem like a small thing to many people but it’s all about building up daily living skills and creating that feeling they can do more for themselves.

This is one of the many points around daily living skills discussed in my book, What’s Possible? Plan a better future for your young adult with additional needs.

Subscribe below to receive your monthly update