Surprise! It alludes us. Still. After *almost* 21 years of marriage and 20 years of child-rearing, we have yet to get our act together about the laundry.
Over the years, we've tried many things. In the beginning, I would do the laundry (located in our scary basement) and fold and put away everybody's clothes. When I was pregnant, Phil would take over laundry duty because going up and down two to three sets of stairs, holding a big hamper of clothes while pregnant is not the best idea.
Now you know why I kept myself pregnant for all those years ;)
We finally moved the laundry upstairs to the second floor, where all the kids bedrooms are located. This was much better than the scary basement, and Phil and I continued doing the laundry in the same fashion - everything that was dirty from the day gets thrown in together.
Once we had teenagers that were capable of doing the laundry, that became one of their chores. I would typically start the wash after work and the teen would switch it to the dryer and fold whatever was in the dryer from the day before (after fluffing it, of course).
As the years went on, the laundry seemed to grow out of control. Even though we did a load every single day, and a couple on weekends, we could never seem to keep up. Which leads me to a fun fact about kids - Little kids, little clothes. Big kids, big clothes plus fashion matters plus multiple outfits a day for school and sports. I should crochet that onto a pillow.
Plus it seemed like everyone had their own way of doing laundry, choosing different settings on the machines and throwing in random amounts of detergent. And then when it came to folding - oof. Each person has a container where their folded laundry goes. Then they are supposed to take their container to their room and put it away neatly. We still do this part for the little kids. Well as you can imagine, some people fold more neatly than others, and some just throw the clean laundry into the containers. Clothes constantly went into the wrong containers, as having six boys gets confusing. Some people empty their containers on a regular basis and some just seem to dress themselves directly from the containers instead of their drawers.
Eamon, the current teenager with the Laundry Chore Card, who is as Type A as his mother, created this handy dandy recipe so that we would all do the laundry the same way:
Isn't that a great image of Our Lady? It helps me to remember to pray for my children as I fold and sort.
So now that we were all using the laundry recipe, we tried to think about how to streamline the process. I bought four cheap pop-up hampers and we decided that the four oldest kids could keep their dirty clothes separated individually, and then do their own laundry. That way, they wash and fold their own clothes and there's no more mixing up their clothes. We still do a daily load consisting of clothes from Phil, me, Xander, Declan and Brendan.
It seems to be working better that the old way. However, I'm still finding teen laundry mixed in with ours when they need something washed last minute or throw it in the downstairs hamper instead of the hamper in their room(s).
Now it's your turn! Feel free to evaluate our laundry sitch and give us some advice on what works for you! Does your recipe include Tide? Lysol? Downy Infusions? Cold water? Hot water? Do you sort?
So I know it sounds crazy...but I LOVE laundry. No one is allowed to do it at my house but me. I do NOT enjoy the throwing it in the machine part (other people's dirty socks and underwear-ewwwwww -even if they ARE family)...Anyway, taking it out of the dryer all warm and clean smelling- Worth it ! Awesome! Taking a basket of a chaotic, crumpled mess of clothes and folding each piece carefully and methodically until it looks neat and tidy- Awesome! The piles of clean folded clothes each sorted out for each member of the family to gather up and take to their rooms- Heavenly! Laundry is my therapy. I wish I could come to your house and help- I only have 6 kids (and only 4 left at home) some days there is not enough laundry to justify doing a load and I miss it.ReplyDelete
I wish you could come to my house too!!!!!!!!!!Delete
Full disclosure- my husband has done all of our laundry since we moved in together at age 20. He does at least two loads of laundry a day, and there are only five of us in the house. He only sorts out and folds our clothes, the kids' clothes get thrown into big 55 gallon bins, which eventually get sorted when someone runs out of clothes. He doesn't sort by color, but will wash gym clothes separate. Towels and sheets also get washed alone. My kids are old enough to do their own laundry (and the 20 year old does a lot of the time), but if it's in the dirty clothes basket, he deals with it.ReplyDelete
Does he work from home? We find there's not enough time to do 2 loads every evening. YOu have a good system!Delete
I could write so much about laundry. I really don't mind doing laundry and since my work is in my house, I often get it done without a problem. My college kids so their own laundry, which helps. Unmatched socks might be the death of me. I have no idea how my kids misplace SO MANY socks. I do most of the laundry and I end up sorting most of it too. I have a few labeled baskets/spots in the laundry room (baskets go missing from time to time). This was the smartest thing I ever did - label baskets and instruct the kids to put their dirty laundry in the appropriate basket:ReplyDelete
1. "Real clothes" - non workout clothes like nice clothes - or what our kids call church clothes/things that will wrinkle if not removed in a timely manner, non underwear.
2. "underwear/socks", and
3. "workout clothes".
I sort while on the phone or if I watch TV - I almost never watch TV anymore though and that has impacted our laundry folding. I can fold a load of laundry in minutes. What drives me nuts is kids who grab one thing from their pile, watch the pile topple, and don't bother to bring it to their room - leave it on the back of the couch.
When Lad does his laundry he does something nutty with the dials. He always selects extra rinse. I'm opposed to an extra rinse - hello, water bill. I taped a paper over the extra rinse button that says DO NOT PUT ON AN EXTRA RINSE. I don't think he understood that this was an additional rinse - thought it was the only rinse available.
Do you guys have a hard time matching socks? Where do they go? It's a mystery over here.
We have a basket where we just throw the socks and someone will pair them up about once a week. There's always leftovers in there. I don't know how it happens either!Delete
Family of 8: I do 3 loads of laundry 2x a week (Mon & Fri). Sat we do the sheets. The kids have laundry hampers which they bring downstairs the night before a laundry day. I sort into dark, light and bottom weights (jeans & sweats), then wash & dry in the early morning hours. When it's clean, I sort it back into their hampers for them to put away. It mostly works. Some are more motivated and neater than others. This system has allowed us to keep the number of garments low: 5-6 outfits per kid, plus dress outfits, ballet or swim stuff. It's a lot easier to manage for them, and the clothes get plenty of use before they grow out of things. I would rather they beat the heck out of the clothes and not have to worry about storing hand-me-downs.ReplyDelete
Are you at home on Mon and Fri? It sounds like a great system just not possible for us when we are all out of the house Mon-Fri :(Delete
When I only had one kid I was slightly shocked once when an older mom with several children mentioned that she just didn't fold laundry. She just shoved it in drawers.ReplyDelete
Now that I have four kids, I am no longer shocked.
This cracked me up. Yes sometimes, it's like what is even the point?!?!Delete
One thing that worked for me as my kids were learning to help with laundry is that I marked each of the settings with a thin strip of a post-it note. I think colored tape would work even better but ours are still sticking. The kids don't have to remember what setting to put it to . . . they just turn the knob until it's to the colored strip and start it. I have no problem keeping up with the washing and the drying, but the folding and putting away are where I struggle.ReplyDelete
Such a great idea about marking the settings!!Delete
I am loving all the laundry posts! So strangely riveting and fun to read! And yay for teens who do their own laundry!ReplyDelete
By the way, that painting in your laundry room is so beautiful. I love that it reminds you to pray for your children, but I also love that it depicts such a normal life. Like, you may be the mother of Christ, but you still have to do laundry! I also love that the baby Jesus isn't wearing any clothes. For some reason, I get a kick out of that. Like his mother just isn't going to bother because she knows it will just end up in the hamper for her to launder. She's looking at her son with such a beatific and tender half smile. I wonder if the fact that he is playing with a cross is making her pre-emptively grieve his loss... or if she is just thinking, Wow, he is being so quiet and doing so well at entertaining himself! or if she is keeping an eye on him so he doesn't poke himself in the face with that stick. Okay I am done overanalyzing your beautiful artwork -- I just really love it!
I am decent at sorting and running loads of laundry, semi-decent at remembering to put the washed clothing in the dryer, and terrible about folding. I have a load of clean, dry laundry on my bed right now waiting for me to get up off my rear and fold it!
I'm happy to hand off the laundry chore to a lucky teen, but i do think if it was on my bed it would get done more often, so that's a good plan. That painting is one of my faves and hanging it by the laundry makes sense but I kinda want it somewhere in the main living area so I can see it more often :)Delete
I revise laundry methods every few years, as it never seems to work. When you posted about individual baskets for each person, and sort straight from the dryer, I was inspired. I set up a table in the not so scary basement, put a basket for each kid and parent, and thought I had it tamed. Nope - I rarely managed to fold on the same day i put the load in the dryer, or there were too many loads, and people would just dig things out of the clean baskets instead of putting it away. (And if it's in the basement, it's easy to ignore.) So I'm back to doing laundry whenever during the week, ignoring the dry stuff until the weekend, and make my younger boys sort it out. Then people take theirs away and fold as needed. Not ideal , but I do not want it cluttering up my room for days, and most of what we wear is fine if mildly wrinkled. (Catholic school uniforms for the win!) My husband is very particular about how he puts clothes away, so I invited him to do it himself. My interest in folding is minimal - I used to love ironing though once I have room to leave up an ironing board again, I'll probably do better about wrinkles.ReplyDelete
I've had my teens do their own laundry with a variety of success. My current senior says she'll do it, but she has too many clothes so it builds up until she gives up and I do it. College will straighten her out. I tried having everyone keep their own dirty basket, but we ran out of floor space for that many kids ago.
Comment winner - "My husband is very particular about how he puts clothes away, so I invited him to do it himself."Delete
Sounds like you have a great system going now! And I love that Eamon put together a recipe. When the kids are home I do one load a day. But when they are at school I'm down to two loads a week. And it's always in cold water with a half a scoop of powdered Tide. No recipe required! :)ReplyDelete
I used to use powdered tide but our washer stopped dissolving it fully...we switched to liquid but I know that's wasting money. Maybe we were using too much?Delete
I hate laundry (just putting it away - the rest is fine, but putting it away is like 1000x more work than any other stage).ReplyDelete
We do not sort - I mix colours and lights and wash on cold. If I'm washing towels it goes on a warm cycle, but I will wash towels with clothes.
When I'm feeling especially demoralized by it all (and I only have TWO kids) I remember: There will be NO LAUNDRY in Heaven.
My daughter doesn't know this yet but part of her 12th birthday present is going to be a laundry basket. Yay! She gets to start doing her own laundry which is basically a birthday present for ME!
Haha no laundry in heaven for us! Some of these other commenters might prefer laundry in Heaven!Delete
I have that same painting near my laundry room. I love it! ❤️ReplyDelete
I am an empty-nester now, so laundry is no longer an issue. But I used to have lots of laundry daily, when our five boys were living at home. (And I think ka-lyn and I are kindred spirits! I even washed their high school football team’s uniforms after games every weekend, for seven years! True story!)
Wow. Just wow. That's amazing.Delete
I love to do laundry. So does my mom and I think my love for laundry comes from her. I even go down the laundry aisle in a store even if I don't need anything from said aisle because even being around laundry products makes my heart happy!ReplyDelete
The smells of laundry detergents are nice but the act is not. Ha!Delete
I have 8 children, only 7 at home now. 3 do their own laundry, while I do the laundry for the youngest 4 (ages 11 down to 4), my husband, and myself. A few years ago I bought two laundry sorters for a total of 8 sorting baskets and that has been such a blessing! On Monday morning, the kids go in and sort out their clothes by color/material. After I wash, I fold the clothes into three clean laundry baskets--one for my husband, myself, and my youngest girl; one for my son; and one for my two daughters. When I'm done with the laundry, they take their baskets and put the clothes away. Granted, the baskets may sit in my laundry room for a day or two but the clothes have to be put away before the next week's laundry comes as I need the empty baskets. I usually task myself with putting away the towels, bedding, and tablecloths. It takes about two or three days to get it all done if I am dedicated, depending on how much is going on that week and the rain (we are on septic, so we have to be careful). If it's a rainy week, it's either no laundry or a load a day until I get through it. :-) --MelanieReplyDelete
Love your organized system!Delete
Oddly enough I just had a conversation with a friend about how we do laundry. Is this the topic of the week in my life? No answer to that, but here's my 2¢ worth: we use liquid Tide original plus Tide free & gentle mixed together so that the clothes get clean but don't have a heavy scent to them. We sort our clothes into whites, mediums, and darks then wash them in hot, warm, and cold water respectively. We send most of the clothes through the dryer, but some 100% cotton items go on wooden drying racks. Towels and sheets are washed together and dried in a machine even though they're 100% cotton. We never use Downy because we have Electrolux stacking machines and were told never to use it or we'd ruin the washer. I've never noticed Lysol laundry sanitizer on the shelves, but might need some of that. This is a fun question. I've learned oodles reading the comments before me.ReplyDelete
I started using the lysol during the pandemic, for whatever that's worth. You're good to sort and seperate. I do more of the pray and let go of anything that wasn't meant to be :)Delete
We're a family of 12, though the oldest lives on his own now. The eight year old on up are in charge of their own laundry, though even the 7, 5, and 3 year old are in charge of bringing their clothes from their room and putting things away into their drawers. Then one kid is in charge of the towels once a week, one in charge of kitchen items, and one is in charge of cleaning rags. My husband sets a load up to run in the morning (I love the delay start setting) and then I move it over, then fold during our homeschool day. Saturday is catch up day. Everyone uses the same amount of detergent and the same setting for the most part - no one has time to mess with sorting, lol.ReplyDelete
No time to mess with sorting - agreed! I'm amazed your youngest ones can put away their laundry, mine are no way capable of that until maybe age 10? Is it because they are boys? I don't know but wow that's a goal for sure!Delete
Family of 5 here and I currently do all our laundry. I do need to start requiring my 9 and 6 year old to help (beyond just occasionally helping me fold). We don't sort any of it - we have one basket for my husband and I, one basket for the baby, one basket for the older girls, plus a catch-all basket on our basement steps for kitchen towels, socks, and whatever else accumulates downstairs. I do 4-5 loads per week (a load from each of those baskets plus towels and sheets), and I try to complete each load start to finish on one day (although sometimes I'll just keep pushing loads thru the washer and dryer and don't always fold it all the same day). I fold it all on top of our bed so it's easy to sort into piles and then put away directly from there, all while listening to a podcast or audiobook, so I find it actually kind of relaxing!ReplyDelete
I definitely want my kids to know how to do the laundry but they're physically not tall enough to reach down into the washing machine basket to retrieve wet clothes or to even reach some of the knobs, so for now I will keep being Mrs. Tiggywinkle! They do sometimes help put their laundry away. They each have a drawer for socks/undies/PJs, a drawer for shirts/shorts/pants, and share a catch-all drawer for sports clothes and socks.
Ultimately, I'd be thrilled if I could just get them to turn their socks inside out before putting them in the laundry. I'm not holding my breath though because my husband doesn't manage to do it either...