Over at Vintage Homemaking they have a great article about washing laundry the old fashioned way. YIKES! Good tips if your washer breaks down, but I think I would still opt for the laundry mat.
Anyway, I want to share with you my tips for doing laundry. This system is very customized to fit our family’s needs, our space, and my laziness. Take what you can use, leave what you can’t.
I am going to start with storage because it is by far the biggest obstacle I was facing. I went from each of us having our own closet to one family closet. I also switched from storing our out of season and saved clothes from out in the garage to one closet. This was a reclaimed closet that was no longer being used after we switched to a family closet. The family closet specifically has saved me tons of time and kept my anger level under control. I can’t tell you how many times I did the laundry fully, put it in a basket, gave it to a child to put away, and then later found it tossed all over the floor. I was told that my problem was that I didn’t train the children properly and should have supervised them better until they perfected the job. HA! What a joke. Hello! Lazy girl here! But not only that, I am a parent who expects that her children will do what she says the first time, not ignore it. It wasn’t a job training issue, it was an obedience problem. I certainly am working on the obedience problem, but that can’t be changed overnight. I needed a solution that would lessen the stress of laundry NOW! With 5 people’s laundry at stake I needed a solution immediately.
The family closet solved all of the issues I had regarding storage. First, it lessened the number of flights of stairs we had to travel. The laundry room is in the basement and the kids rooms are on the second floor. The family closet is on the main floor. A closet next to or in the laundry room would be better, but, we’ve got what we’ve got. Second, the two smallest children’s bars are at their height so they can reach it. Before, they were too high for them to reach. This allows them to be able to he with putting away and getting out their clothes. Third, there are less folded clothes. They all were assigned one drawer in my room for only socks, underwear, and nighties. Fourth, because there is limited space in this closet we had to store our seasonal clothes in another location. This prevented the kids from messing with those clothes. They would often use them for dress up, or just wrongly believe that a sweater could be worn in 100 degree weather or shorts in 45 degree weather.
Because of the reclaimed closets, I was able to use my storage in a way that made more since for us. Like I mentioned, I was able to dedicate one closet to unused clothing storage. Another closet was dedicated to craft and school supplies, and another to toys. Two of their rooms don’t have closets in the room, but instead in the hallway. This made since for storing community items like toys and supplies.
One other change that came about was I now keep a box in the laundry room for clothes that don’t fit. When the box is full, or overflowing as it is now, I sort through it, bag up what is going to Goodwill, label the box with clothing size, put it in the storage closet, and replace it with an empty box. I have no need to save boys clothes because my youngest is the only boy, and there is no reason to save the youngest girls clothes. Now there is no reason to save my older girl’s clothes because her body type is so different from my younger daughter. Most everything will now just go to Goodwill or another charity.
The form that our family closet takes right now won’t always fit our needs. I can see that my oldest daughter will very soon want her own closet back for privacy reasons. I don’t know how I feel about this. I really like having her clothes there, but this closet fits us now only because the two smaller children have small clothes. As everyone grows I don’t see how I am going to make it work. There may be remodeling in our future. A closet attached to the laundry room?
Before doing the laundry we collect it from the usual spots. Most of the time it is all located in my room, but we do have to check the other bedrooms and common areas, including the car, because people undress in the oddest places.
I sort it into lights, darks, underwear and socks, sheets and towels, special care, and usually there is enough for a red load or two depending on how long it has been since I did the laundry. I start with what is needed most, usually underwear.
I don’t do any presoaking usually, but I think I am going to start incorporating this into my routine, especially when it comes to underwear and socks. They never get as white as I would like, but I don’t want to use too much bleach. Hopefully, presoaking will help with this.
As I said, I start with what is needed most and just go from there. I am very careful not to use too much detergent. I was trained to use the amount the container recommended, but in recent years I have found that you can go with about half as much. I wash most of our clothes in cold unless really smelly and then I just use warm. I wash underwear in hot.
I am also careful as to how many clothes I wash in one load. My washer is pretty good, but I can’t use the maximum load because they just don’t get the agitation necessary to really get clean. Luckily, I still get a large load in because our washer has an extra-large basket.
The clothes line is my preferred way to dry most items. This saves our family a significant amount of money every month. About $30 a month when I use it full-time. I don’t do much line drying in the winter. If my line was a little closer to my back door I would, but as it stands, I would risk breaking my neck. I do dry towels and underwear/socks in the dryer. My family HATES when I dry undies outside. I do occasionally pin them to hangers and just let them dry in the laundry room or shower. I gave up on drying towels outside. I HATE how rough they end up.
Instead of pinning the clothes to the line, I hang the clothes on hangers and put the hangers on the line, held in place by one pin so it doesn’t slide. I don’t actually pin the hanger, I just place the hanger next to the pin. This saves so much time. I used to spend lots of time hanging the clothes on the line. The novelty of this wore off after about a month. I still hang sheets and large items the traditional way.
Back to Storage
After clothes are dry I put them away into the family closet. It is quick to grab them off the line and put them right into the closet. Before I had to spend another 20 or 30 minutes to take them off, bring them in, fold or hang, and put away. Often we would do this before bed and I would just not put them away.
My biggest problem as a homemaker is not finishing my projects. The easier I can make a project, or the smaller I can break a project down, the more likely I am to complete it. This goes back to my laziness levels. I make fun of being lazy, but really, I have so many things I would rather be doing like learning, blogging, spending time with the kids, taking a nap…lol…anything is better than chores.