Thursday, October 13, 2011

How I Conquered Our Laundry

Well...this is a super surprising post for me. As I stared at the empty laundry baskets today, I realized we've actually got the laundry tamed! That is SHOCKING but it really is laundry baskets are EMPTY and each family member has most of their clothes in their dresser drawers! I actually WANTED to do a load of laundry but I didn't have any dirty clothes to wash (OK, that is SICK!)!!!!! This has happened several times recently so I thought I'd tell you about it. With that information in hand, I wanted to document what has worked for us. I'm not sure any of this information will be helpful to anyone, but I find it interesting nonetheless! I can't believe I'm actually writing a post about our laundry!

We've been married 21 years...I have felt buried in laundry for over t.w.e.n.t.y. years, people. I've known for some time that we lacked a "system" or "method" for getting the laundry done. So last year I started paying attention to what worked and what didn't. It has been a process, but I can see we now have a laundry routine that actually works. It has something to do with whether or not I work. :)

My thoughts:
-no matter how many containers/baskets I buy, John and I prefer to toss our laundry on the floor...just the fact, Jack. I came to a point of accepting this behavior and learned to work around it.
-the children bring the dirty laundry downstairs twice a week (Monday and Friday). That way the heap is managable. Each child has a mesh/wire dirty clothes basket/hamper in their room and the parents have the heap. The kids collect/gather it all twice a week and deposit it into the baskets downstairs (picture one above). Often they'll take a big black plastic trash bag upstairs and gather all the laundry into the bag. Then they bring the bag downstairs and dump it...then I'll sort it into the laundry baskets. But since I'm really caught up right now, they just bring down one mesh/wire basket and empty it directly into the washing machine!
-I run a load of laundry every morning.
-While the load is running, I fluff what is in the dryer from yesterday. Then I fold it while blazing hot. I only fold hot laundry because I don't believe in ironing and no longer own an ironing board.
-Because I'm current with the laundry, I know when I'm really backlogged. In that case I try to do three loads a day (like sleeping bags, coats or when we return from a trip) to catch up.
-the kids help me fold the whites, which get run about once a week...Daniel hasn't caught on yet, but every few weeks I add something new for him to learn to fold...first the undies (yes, we fold our underwear), showed him how to organize the socks, helped him fold washcloths and now his undershirts, hee hee, ssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.
-my husband takes up the folded towels and puts them in the linen closet (thanks honey!)
-when we moved into this house, I noticed this large rack at the entrance to the garage. It is a big black wire shelf that looks like it belongs in a retail situation. It is perfect for fresh, clean, folded laundry! John's goes on the top (he can reach it because he's tall), then my rack, then Dan's and Sarah's...once a week the kids officially empty their racks into their dressers. So everyday when I fold my hot laundry, I put it on the shelves. I don't sort anything...I just stack according to whom it belongs...they end up sorting it when it gets to the drawers. The rack is about four feet from the dryer so I can fold, make stacks and then tuck the stacks into their shelf for someone else to deliver back to the dresser!

The one shows the garage/laundry room...I have four dirty laundry baskets. One for John's clothes, one for towels, "other" and whites (the whites go in the black basket). John takes his clothes off downstairs and deposits his dirty clothes in his bin each night before bed. This is a tremendous help to me because right now he only has four shirts (he's been losing weight) and I have to make sure he has clothes each day for work! I can monitor what he needs by how full his bin is.

Next photo is the black wire shelf. Then the pile in our master bathroom where our clothes always end up. Then the kids gathering dirty laundry...or are they playing instead? We have a rule..."no fun allowed while doing chores"...bad children. hee hee. (Can you see two children in the pile of dirty laundry? Sometimes if the pile is really big, they toss it onto the landing and jump into it! Who allows this kind of behavior!?!)

I like how Vicki Norris notes that there are several actions for doing the laundry:
-gather (kids)
-sort (me)
-wash (me)
-dry (me)
-fold (ironing is against my religion) (me, sometimes John, kids fold whites with me)
-put away (kids, John)
Don't you think it is helpful to view the task of doing laundry this way?

Here's a fun tidbit. My wonderful mother-in-law blessed me with the gift of her favorite ironing board when we got married. She thinks it is the best ironing board and wanted me to have one, too. I used it three times. Seriously, I'm an oof at ironing. So last year when her favorite ironing board gave up the ghost, she was devastated to learn that her favorite model was no longer being made. GUESS WHAT? I had a perfectly nearly new ironing board to give back to her! I'm sure that's what the Bible means in Ecclesiastes 11:1, "Cast your bread upon the waters..." Ha ahhahhahaahahaaaaaaaaa. Uh-hum, I think that's incredibly funny.

Right now I'm focusing on getting the dirty laundry into the proper basket...I noticed I was tossing dirty items in front of the garage door (instead of doing the "oh-so-difficult" task of opening the door and dropping the item in the basket on the other side of the door)! I had heaps of dirty laundry right in front of the garage door!!! Duh.

I also want to mention I spend exactly HALF of what you do on dryer sheets. Why? Because I cut them in half. They work about the same and I save money. Makes me happy. And-yes-that is a pink tutu around my hot water tank. I ordered it off Etsy because I had the idea that I wanted to make handtied tutus as window valances at one time...I didn't know what to do with it, so I decorated!

Oh my goodness, I've written a book! What else do you want to know about my laundry? Leave a comment below.


  1. I laughed out loud several times on this one. I also have struggled with Mt. Laundry, and we also heap our clothes on the bathroom floor in the corner. And we also fold our underwear (except Daddy). My system is not as streamlined as yours, but I do have a better system than I did years ago. I love your shelf idea and am going to borrow it, as I have a shelf in the laundry room where I could do the same thing. Wahooo!!! Putting away laundry is my least favorite of all the chores. Now, I can direct family members to their laundry shelves. In fact, I may just put the kids' clothes bins there permanently. We only have one dresser, and we will be using it for toys as soon as I move Orion's clothes. Haha!! Very inspiring post. Thanks for airing your dirty laundry! (Haha)

  2. LOVE Mt. Laundry! YES! I can hear your's been so long. Love that you have a system for laundry to is great for the kids to take responsibility for their clothes by removing the folded laundry from their shelf each week. I thought I was going to get rid of that shelf, but it has turned out to be a blessing! Thank you so much for your comments, I love to read them!


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