"After enlightenment, the laundry." —Zen proverb
While laundry has traditionally been a woman's job, times are a'changin'. Every boy should know how to do laundry and wash his own clothes well before he heads off to college. Any boy who can maneuver his way around an iPad should easily be able to take care of his weekly laundry.
The age of eight is a great time for a boy to start washing their own clothes. Before that, he can help with the sorting and putting away, but by eight he should be able to tackle the multi-step directions of washing his clothes. Assign your son a specific laundry day so there isn't a backlog at the washing machine.
Teach him how to sort lights from darks before washing. Show him the different temperature gauges and teach them how to pre-treat stains with a stain-stick. Remind him to empty his pockets and turn all clothes right-side out (except jeans, which should be washed inside out to avoid fading.) Show him where the fill line is on the washing machine so he doesn't overstuff the washer.
Be explicit. I'm always surprised when I find church ties, belts, and suits in the dirty clothes basket. Clearly I haven't identified the difference between washables and non-washables. I also find it's important to be specific when it comes to what constitutes dirty: stains and smells. Wearing a pair of pants for five minutes does not count.
Of course, the washing and drying of clothes is the easy part. It's the putting away that takes the most time, and is frankly the most tedious. Teach your son how to properly hang up a pair of pants, and fold a shirt so it doesn't get wrinkled. Label his chest of drawers if it makes it easier for him to put things away.
Recently, we've started clipping dirty socks together with clothes pins before throwing them in the laundry basket. This makes sorting so much easier, especially when you're dealing with multiple sock sizes.
It is easier for boys to manage laundry if they have fewer clothes in their closet. Most of us, frankly, have too many clothes, and for boys dealing with stuffed drawers and closets, this can be overwhelming. If your sons are like mine, they really only rotate through their favorite three or four shirts, leaving the others to languish on the hangers. Consider emptying your son's closets by half. If you don't want to get rid of all those lovely clothes, rotate them through as the favorites get worn out. If you live in a place with distinct seasons, switching out the warm or cold weather clothes can help with this problem too.
Like any skill, this one might take a while, and you may have a few mishaps along the way, but it will be well worth it. And just think: once your son masters the art of weekly laundering, you'll have one less load to worry about.