Autism and learning how to do laundry

Stephen McHugh
This post was last updated on
July 18, 2023

One thing I’d like to talk about here is regarding some ways about how I’ve learned to do laundry, which is to do with washing clothes and bedding sheets too. It is one of those things that is very important for us to do.  Below, I’ll do my best to give you an outline about how I typically do my washes. 

The first time I did it, which was many years ago, one important mistake I made that I’d like to point out to you, was washing red and white clothes together. The result was that the white clothes came out pink tinted.  If I was to go through that again, I’d wash the red and white clothes separately, so yes, for me, looking back it was a lesson learned.

The wash itself


A washing machine usually has 3 compartments in a drawer that you pull out.  There’s a slot in the one I use in the middle of the drawer shown here which, to me, is the main one where I put the powder in. I’ve never used fabric softener as of yet. 

I usually load the machine just below what would be considered half full. And I like to try and spread them out as evenly as I can.

The machine can be turned on by simply pushing an on/off button, followed by selecting an appropriate setting. The machine I use includes options where one can choose spinning speeds and temperature. There are other options for certain types of settings regarding types of clothing and materials to wash. It also allows you to reduce washing times if you wish. 

Once I press start, the machine automatically locks itself and can’t be opened during washing. You can, however, pause a wash momentarily, if you have reason to think you’ve made a mistake, like selecting a speed that may be too fast or too high a temperature initially.  I’ve even paused it in the middle of washes on occasions when I wanted to add an extra item of clothing I accidentally missed. This provides me with some degree of reassurance here.

The machine I use has a setting for doing quick washes that only take 14 minutes. I use this setting for the most washes. This, I can find useful in warmer weather, particularly in the spring and summer months, as several lighter washing loads per day can be done. 

For washing bed sheets and pillows or doing greater loads I use an option called Eco 40-60. This can be used if you’re environmentally conscious, as it uses less water and electricity.

At the end

Take the washing out of the machine as soon as possible after it’s finished. This may be indicated by there being no time left for a particular wash. The machine at home has a function which allows itself to automatically unlock once on finishing a wash.

If the weather is warm with a gentle breeze and low humidity, you should hang it outside on a clothesline, or on a clothes horse which you can place outside. This way,  you may find that it dries quite quickly in conditions like these. It is more environmentally friendly too, as you’re not using any electricity to use a tumble drier.

You can also hang washing on a clothes horse inside, even though the washing may take sometime longer to dry if you choose this option.

When hanging large items like bedding sheets and duvets, I tend to hang them on the washing line folded in half, as it saves space and reduces the risk of them touching the ground. Folding bedding sheets and duvets can be difficult, so try and get someone to help you if you can.

And once your washing is dry, fold them up and tidying it away neatly as soon as you can to reduce the risk of creasing taking place. 

And finally

Before I even used a washing machine, it all seemed very complicated to me. But now, having done many loads nowadays, it all feels like second nature to me. This helps me to feel good, as it is another important basic living task I now feel more confident about doing to my satisfaction.  

Having clear settings on washing machines like materials and clothing types helps make things clearer. And the fact that temperature and spin speeds settings are intuitive to use helps too.

Do you have any laundry tips for those with autistic spectrum disorder, other than those I’ve mentioned here?  What are your experiences of learning how to do the laundry? Please feel free to share these, your opinions, and any other tips in the comments section below.

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