Oct 26, 2009

Get Out From Under the Laundry Pile

Before I had kids, keeping up with the laundry was no big deal. When our first child came along, I still managed pretty well. But when our youngest child entered the household? Somehow things went amuck.

My husband began giving me withering looks when he discovered, in the wee hours of the morning, he didn't have any shirts appropriate for work. I started digging through the hamper for the jeans I wore the day before (you know, the ones with baby food splattered on them) because I couldn't find any clean clothes. And I began making my oldest wear her chocolate milk stained jammies two nights in a row because I couldn't otherwise seem to keep up with demand.

I won't say I have the laundry thing mastered. However, I have learned a few tricks that make the laundry pile easier to get through. Maybe some of my ideas will work for you, too:

* My best laundry tip is this: Instead of reserving one (or two or three) days a week for doing laundry, do laundry every day except the Sabbath. This keeps the laundry pile under control and makes the chore of cleaning clothes a lot easier. Through trial and error, figure out how many loads you must do each day; in my house, I only need to do one load of laundry, six days a week. Make it a habit, and it will soon become no big deal. Try hard not to skip a day, but if you do, make up for it the very next day.

* If you have room to store them in the laundry or bedroom areas, keep one laundry basket for every bedroom. As you pull things from the dryer or clothes line, sort them room by room into the laundry baskets. If you have time, fold as you sort. Then place the basket in the appropriate bedroom. Put the clothes away later, if necessary, or have the kids put away their own clothes.

* Get the kids involved. Even toddlers can help with the laundry by bringing you dirty clothes and pulling out all the socks, or all of daddy's shirts, or all their own undies, for folding by you. Preschoolers can begin to help with folding and putting clothes away so that by the time they are in grade school they can do this chore easily. (No, they won't fold everything - or perhaps anything - perfectly, but a few wrinkles never hurt anyone.)

* Treat stains before they go into the hamper. If I put Spray N Wash Stain Stick on clothes as they go into the hamper, by the time I do laundry, they usually wash out and I don't have to spend time soaking or otherwise pre-treating. This means I keep a stick wherever clothes might come off, including the bathroom and the kids' rooms.

* Wear clothes more than once. Truly, many clothes can be worn more than once without washing in between. Unless it's smelly or shows dirt, hang it up to wear another day.

* Buy fewer clothes. I know some women who literally buy their kids several wardrobes of clothes because they are always behind on laundry. If you do laundry every day, you don't need as many clothes, which saves you time and money.

* Save time and effort by hanging any items that go on hangers as you take them out of the dryer or off the clothesline. This means you'll need a stash of hangers nearby.

* Mark children's socks with the appropriate child's initials, using puffy fabric paint on the soles. This makes sorting a lot easier.

* Don't separate darks from lights. This may seem revolutionary to some, but I stopped doing separating darks from lights several years ago, and my family's clothes look just fine. If I'm washing new, dark clothes I think might bleed, I wash them separately once, with a cup of vinegar or salt in the wash water.

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  1. Great tips! :) I find I'm always struggling to keep up with the laundry since our laundry area's in our basement. Out of sight, out of mind anyone? If I can get a couple loads done a day, it's a successful day!

    Question: on the new, bleeding clothes, does it matter what kind of vinegar or salt you use, or can you use anything you've got on hand? I've never separated my daughter's clothes and haven't noticed a difference, and have been tempted to do the same for our clothes, but we usually have enough TO do separate loads (and besides--the whites always look better when washed in hot water with a bit of bleach.)

  2. Liberty, ordinary table salt, white vinegar, or apple cider vinegar is what I use. Remember, too, that washing clothes even with a tiny bit of bleach shortens their life. Bleach is really hard on fabrics.

  3. Great tips! The laundry definitely multiplies after kid #2. It's crazy.

    My biggest problem now is my fashionista daughter. :) She has dress code clothes for school and play clothes, which means 2 outfits plus pajamas every weekday. This wouldn't be a problem if she would put them away where they belong. Not all school clothes need to be washed before their next wear. Not only that, but she changes clothes faster than I blink! And all her wardrobe changes end up in the pantry. By the end of the day, I don't know which are clean and which aren't.

  4. Tanya, I think my girl will soon be like yours :) If I were you, I'd hang up anything that didn't smell and wasn't obviously dirty. (And work on trying to get your daughter to do it, of course...or maybe put everything in drawers to make the job easier for her.) If this bothers her, I'll bet she'll soon change her habits!