life on the funny farm

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Tip For Tuesday - Laundry, Simplified

Multiple Choice Test:

Q) What is the hardest part of the laundry for you?

a) Putting it in the washer.
b) Putting it in the dryer.
c) Sorting and folding.
d) Putting it away.

If you're like me when I was young and foolish (and had young and foolish children), your answer is probably c, followed closely by d, but a and b you can likely do in your sleep.

So stop fighting it, and get rid of those two hellish choices. I learned laundry from a sage of a large-family Mom years ago, and it has changed. My. Life. Neither my sofa nor my bed has seen piles and mountains and heaps of laundry in years.

I graciously pass that wisdom on to you now.

I'm beneficent that way.

It's really quite simple. Instead of throwing in mixed loads and then sorting afterwards, wash each person's laundry seperately. Each family member should have at least one hamper of their own. In our family, there's a hamper in each person's room, as well as hampers downstairs in the mud room. When one of them needs to do laundry, they just gather their laundry from their room and downstairs, and throw it in the wash. I usually switch it for them, and sometimes I fold it when it's done, and they take it to their room and put it away. Even the folding is pretty simple, as I have a pole above the washer, so all shirts (even t-shirts) get hung in their closets. Sticking a shirt on a hanger is way easier than folding.

When they're putting their clothes in the washer, they keep out any whites. They each have a zippered mesh laundry bag in the laundry room for their white socks. On the weekend, I do a load or two of whites, and throw all the mesh bags in. When they're done, I just give each person his or her bag to take to their room and put away.

I do my mine and Fred's laundry on the weekend, as well as any towels, sheets, blankets, curtains (cough - almost never) or any other assorted and sundry items.

My kids have been doing their laundry like this (or at least being significant helpers) ever since I first learned about it, back when my youngest was maybe four. Even little kids can gather. They can throw stuff in the washer. With a little help, they can add detergent. They can sort socks, put underwear and PJs in their drawer, fold towels.

This is NOT my laundry room.

Nor is this.

I would post a picture of mine, but you don't need to see that. Trust me.

I have a family of eight, and I am here to tell you I am NOT overwhelmed by laundry. I do not have a beautiful, dedicated laundry room with high-end, state-of-the-art appliances. I have an old top-loading washer and a boring old dryer squeezed into a cubby in the upstairs hall bathroom. I almost never have piles of laundry sitting about, and I almost never feel behind with it all.

Remember, it's so simple: each person's laundry seperately. That's really all it takes.

And just think, with all the time you free up, you can catch up on all those bon-bons you're behind on. You can finally take up knitting or learning the guitar.

And with all the laundry off your sofa, think of the things you'll find:

The remote.
$785 in assorted change.
The missing hamster.
Four phones.
That neighbor kid from across the street.

Try it today, don't delay!

Images from Pinterest, courtesy: and
Also:, and

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  1. Ok, I 'll let you know how it goes, because this family of 8 has piles EVRYwhere!!!

  2. Oh, I love the laundry room with the green cabinets. I might move in there is it were mine. I go through periods of having a good handle on laundry and periods of total chaos. Thankfully right now we are in a good place.

  3. Great tip Anne! I will be buying zipper mesh bags today! I really don't like folding and whites. There are only 3 of us, but I work 3/12hr days and the whole house gets behind when Im gone most weeks. This will definetly help.

  4. This is helpful! The pole above the dryer is genius!'

  5. We do our laundry very similarly, except that I don't have anything to do with the four oldest kids laundry. They each have a day and do their load on their day. We don't separate the whites out. They just do all their things together. One child has two days, and she does her laundry and her younger siblings laundry who isn't quite old enough to be responsible for her own. It's one of her chores to do the extra laundry and she has fewer household chores because of it. I do mine, Dan's, and the little guy's laundry, or randomly assign help for it when I want to. One daughter recently did ours for a few months to earn money for summer camp.

    All that to say I too do not feel overwhelmed by laundry despite having five kids. It is wonderful, as I do remember feeling that way in the past and I just hated it.

  6. I am in the range of C and D haha.

  7. @Jessica: Yes, you must try it. Start today! Assign each person a different day.
    @MamaHen: I'm with you, those rooms are so pretty, I could live in them no matter what they're designed for.
    @Rachelle: that's got to make ALL hte "housekeeping" chores difficult, with that schedule. But with the laundry, remember it's the sorting that makes it so cumbersome. Eliminate that and you've solved half the battle!
    @Amanda: the pole helps a lot. Why fold when you can hang?
    @Sarah: Sounds like you've got things well under control. Good for you! I can still remember even with only 1/2 the kids, before I had "the system", feeling so overwhelmed.
    @NeighGirl: Do you mean you actually enjoy that part of it? Oh my. Listen, I have room for a live-in guest, so come on down whenever you want!

  8. @NeighGirl: Oops! I see you were saying those were the hardest parts for you. OK, that makes more sense, you're just like me! Sorting is the worst!

  9. This is brilliant!

    There are only two or three of us at home (depending on the college schedule), so I'm not overwhelmed by laundry, but I love the idea that each child can do their own laundry. Should I have more children just to see if I can work this system?!? . . . Naw.

  10. I wouldn't suggest that testing method, Gail! Haha!

  11. That is a pretty smart idea, however, I wrestle with always wanting to put my clothes on the line instead of wasting the drier, so it wouldn't work for me. I save my laundry for the weekends so I can get it out on the line and back before the day is over. I love to hang my clothes out and I've done a post or two about it!

  12. We only have the three of us at home and I would have to say the putting away is the hardest part! I also have a Front loader and hang dry 90% of our clothing so this would not work cause I can not do laundry for 3 weeks and still only have 3 loads and that includes the rags and towels, but if I had more kids this would be the way to go!

  13. @Sparkling and Krystal, you're right, I don't think this method would be much help to someone who does all the laundry once a week or so. I wish I could hang my wash on the line, I love that! Just not really practical around here.
    Thanks for stopping by!

  14. I already do this because I don't dry most of my clothes to make them hold shape and last longer and my husband daughter each have their own detergent that they are not allergic to. I need tips to avoid ironing though. That's my nemesis. :)


  15. What awesome tips - thanks! I would love for you to share this or any of your great ideas at the link party going on now (and every Saturday through Tuesday) at 'Or so she says ...' Hope to see you there!



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