Laundry is one of those things that I've always thought would be too basic even to talk about. I mean, no one I know talks about laundry unless it's to say there's too much of it. However, over the years I did notice friends always seemed to have laundry piled on the dining room table or in baskets on the couch in a state of perpetual unfoldedness (um, not a word? What do you say for things that never get folded? Maybe unfoldedness should be a word).
And then I discovered numerous articles on the web about "systems" and even a blog devoted to all things laundry, Mamas Laundry Talk (very cool, by the way), so I realized there must be people struggling with mounds of laundry. And since it is something we all have to take care of which is very basic (you know, food, clothing, & shelter...) I thought I'd tell you about my laundry "system" - fully acknowledging that I've never thought of it as a system at all, just the way I do laundry.
Which, like most things in my life, stems from my desire to make all things simple (that, or I'm just plain lazy). That and the fact that I wanted to use my dining table for other things...like dining.
From my experience, I can tell you that if you follow these steps, there will not be piles of laundry looking at you for days and it will be relatively painless. OK, unless you are The Pioneer Woman and deal with amounts of mud and manure I've never imagined on clothes. Then you're on your own.
This is where the "system" (sorry, I keep putting it in quotes, 'cause it kinda cracks me up that I'm calling how I do laundry that...) starts: in each family member's bedroom. This is key- do not, and I repeat, do not have a single hamper for the whole family, and not even for just the kids. Mixing everyone's clothes, socks and underwear will result in lengthy separating and folding sessions.
I know this goes against how we imagine laundry, especially the cute-hamper-in-the-bathroom idea. But just imagine how easy a load of laundry would be if you knew it all belonged to one person. OK, just imagine the socks, then.
Ahh, now you're with me.
By the way, did you notice how full the baskets were in my kid's rooms? Keeping it real here, folks, I didn't even clean these out before I took the pictures. They are in charge of their own laundry now, and it looks like they've been putting it off. In full disclosure, though, I have to admit to removing the piles of clothes in front of the baskets, though. What can I say, they're teenagers.
Brian and I have a bigger basket because it's for two people (you didn't think I was going to have separate his-and-hers baskets, did you?). Since our clothes (and socks) are so different, it's not too much trouble to separate them.
So, how often do I wash these loads? Basically when the basket gets full, which comes out to once a week. And since that hardly ever happens on the same day, it means I'm never inundated with an entire household of laundry on one day, which works for me as I've found I prefer doing a couple loads every few days. However, it would be easy to do all the loads on one day if you prefer to have a designated laundry day.
In order to last a week (until the basket fills) plus laundering time, each family member needs more than 7 pairs of underwear and socks. I like everyone to have 10 to 12. There is usually not a problem with pants and shirts, especially because I'm a believer in not washing jeans every time they are worn (unless there's dirt and manure to deal with...).
What about towels, rags, and napkins (remember...we try not to waste our money on paper products we throw away)? They have a separate basket as well, located on top of the dryer. But bath towels and such get put directly in the washing machine each week during our family cleaning nights, and so are dried, folded and put away within a few days so a hamper isn't needed for these items.
In order to eliminate the piles of clothes waiting to be folded (or not...), I fold the clothes right as I'm taking them out of the dryer and put them in a basket. Yes, it takes more time than just tossing them in the basket, but the benefits are twofold:
- they are folded and only need to be taken to the one room (because we're doing only one or two family members clothes at once) and put away
- there aren't as many wrinkles because the clothes are folded right away.
One note to this whole system: I don't fold underwear. I think it's silly. I just make sure everyone has a box or some type of holder that fits in their drawer that they can throw their underwear into. And voila! One less thing to fold.
Okay, another note: I don't match the socks when I'm folding into the basket, either. I save that for when I'm putting them away. But again...we're talking about a lot less socks since it's only one person's laundry. And once the kids where old enough, they could match their own socks.
Whew. This is getting lengthy. Who know there was so much to my "system?" Let's wrap this up, then.
Here are the steps to simplify your laundry:
- Each bedroom has it's own laundry basket.
- When it's full, a load (or two) is washed. Wait. Did I mention that I don't always separate colors and whites? If there is not enough for two full loads, I will just mix them. *gasp* As long as there is not new red things or jeans, I haven't had a problem.
- Make sure each family member has enough clothes to last a week and a half (week + washing time).
- Fold the clothes into a basket right out of the dryer. Take the basket to the room the clothes belong in and either put them away (for young kids), OR put the separate piles of tops, pants, etc. on the bed for older kids to put away. My favorite part, though, comes when they're teens and they're responsible for their own laundry!
- Rags, kitchen towels, napkins, etc. have their own basket that gets washed when it's full.
- The bathroom towels are put directly in the washing machine on Family Cleaning Night (Don't have one yet? Get one soon, you won't be sorry!). When they are done, fold into a basket and put away in a linen closet.
There you have it, my Laundry Basics. Am I off my rocker? Out of touch with reality? Is laundry a problem for anyone? What systems do you use?
How many questions can one person ask?