Friday, October 24, 2008

It all comes out in the wash...

I mentioned last week that I've been thinking about a couple of my household systems--mainly laundry and meals. I have to stay on top of those two areas in order for life around here to stay on track. If I get off track it seems to take a long time for me to catch back up.

So, in light of that, here's my laundry system:
I do 2 loads of laundry every single day. Usually darks and whites.

I have friends who do laundry once a week and others who do it twice a week. I'm a big believer in finding out what works for you and sticking with it.

For me, creating a household system such as laundry is usually a response to a need to do get things in order or to take what I'm currently doing and find ways to do it better or more efficiently.

Here are some ideas that have helped me.

Start first thing in the morning. My best laundry days are days that I get up and get the wash going right away. I've found that the few minutes it takes for the coffee to brew or the tea to steep is the perfect window of time to get a load in the washer. After breakfast, I run down (my laundry room is in my basement) and put that load in the dryer, and the next load in to wash. I can usually get my two loads of clothes washed before the girls leave for school. That's a very productive feeling!

This works well for me because I can handle 2 loads every day. When I wait and let it pile up, it takes me an entire day to do it all, and honestly, I don't have very many days in my week when I'm home for the entire day. I don't like spending my weekends that way either, so this system has evolved as a way of breaking it down and keeping the task manageable.

Evaluate what hinders you and take action. I'm able to get up and start my laundry first thing because I keep my washer empty. It frustrates me to no end to open the washer to add a load and realize that there is another load in there already (and who knows how long it's been there!). Same thing with the dryer. After many years I've finally learned how important follow-thru is for me when it comes to laundry. If I start a load, I remember to dry it. Clothes that are dry get folded and put away. This not only keeps me caught up daily, but it elminates wasted time having to rewash the load that sat for two days, or re-dry/iron the clothes that sat in the dryer. Because I hate to iron, I like to fold things while they're warm and get them put away.

Putting things away after they've been folded is a huge timesaver for me. I can usually get a load of clothes folded and put away in less than 10 minutes...if I do it immediately! Otherwise, it takes me all week and I end up moving them from my bed (my favorite place to fold clothes) to the floor or a chair.

Other than underwear and pajamas, I keep most of our clothes on hangers. Another thing I've learned is to keep a stash of hangers handy when I'm folding laundry. It's so easy to slip things on the hangers and hang things up immediately rather than stacking them on the chair/bed to hang up later. Too many times those clothes stay there for a couple of days waiting for hangers to magically appear. I also have a stash of hangers and a place to hang things up in my laundry room. I don't dry everything so as soon as stuff comes out of the washer, I go through it and hang up what needs to be air dried.

Figure out what motivates you to keep up with your laundry! I cannot stand clutter. Baskets or piles of dirty laundry equals clutter in my mind. That's probably the biggest reason that I do it every day! I'm also motivated by a clean laundry room, a feeling of accomplishment and order, and the smell and warmth of clothes fresh from the dryer. It's also nice to be able to go to the closet and find what we want to wear and find it hanging neatly instead of sitting at the bottom of a pile of dirty clothes.

How can I incorporate my family's help? My kids know that their dirty clothes go in the laundry basket in the hall closet if they want them to get washed. In the summertime when they're home, they help me with various laundry related tasks including folding/putting clothes away. During the school year, I usually do it for them (I have this thing about clutter, remember?), but occasionally, I'll leave a stack of clothes on their beds for them to put away or hang up when they get home.

Constantly evaluate how the current system can be improved. Because I know that I like to get a jump on the laundry first thing in the morning, I've recently started taking the laundry downstairs at night and sorting it. Same thing with stains that need to be treated. If I do it at night (or as soon as we take the item off), then it's ready to go when I am. I believe there's always some tweaking and room for improvement.

PLEASE know that I'm not perfect when it comes to my system. Just ask my husband. He reads my blog and he'll tell you that not every day is a 2-loads-of-laundry-day. I sometimes spend days and weeks playing catch up...especially when things get busy for us. He'll also tell you that I don't like to get off track with laundry, and that things run much more smoothly for all of us when I'm in my groove. I like it when things run smoothly in our home, and that alone motivates me to keep up with it.

PLEASE let me reiterate again that this is what works for ME. We're all different and we all have different ways of doing things, and I believe we can all learn from each other!

Here's a list of FAQs:

You have enough to do two full loads of laundry every day?
Yes. Especially in the winter when we wear lots of layers. I also don't make my kids wear things twice and here's why. I'm a germophobe. They come home from school smelling like their school and I can't stand it. They've been sitting on the floor and at their desk and sharing thousands of germs with other kids. I just feel better washing everything, so I do. (My green friends are probably cringing at my waste of water and energy right now.) My germophobic tendencies also cause me to go through 4-6 kitchen dishtowels every day too, which nicely rounds out my daily load of whites.

Do you make your own laundry detergent?
No, but I have friends who do. If you are one of those friends and you want to share your recipe, leave it in the comments!

Do you go through tons of detergent?
Not really. I buy a bottle of the liquid kind every two weeks. A lot of times I use less than a full capful to stretch it a bit. And I like to cut my dryer sheets in half to make them stretch a little further too.

How often do you wash sheets?
Usually once every week or two. I try to wash my bathroom rugs once a week as well.

That's all I can think of for now. If you have questions or ideas or suggestions or you think I'm a lunatic, leave me a comment. I'd also love to hear what kind of system works for you in regard to laundry!

PS--My friend, Stephanie, is the one who got me thinking about my systems. You can click here to read what works for her.

PSS--If your name is Rich M --don't even think about commenting on the content of this post or I'll out you and your geriatric issues. :)


Jodi said...

You're absolutely right about doing what works for you! I do most my wash in the evenings because I have an "almost 2 year old" and it's easier that way! The positive side to washing late is that it's cheaper to wash at non-peak hours!

Gina said...

I have the huge, heavy duty front loaders, so I do wash once a week. Theoretically it is Monday- this week it was Wednesday.
I like to have at least one day home- but I homeschool, so that is easy for me.
I have a closet rod in my laundry room and I hang everything that needs to be hung right there. Then I fold everything as it dries on my bed and put it on the kids' beds. They are expected to put it away before they go to bed- which includes checking the laundry room for hanging items. I am so bad, though, because I almost always leave the last load in the dryer until the next time I do laundry.

I bet we do the same number of loads each week, though.

Megan L Hutchings said...

This is great advice! Right now I usually do a load every other day and I do Vance's laundry one day a week.

I am absolutely like you...
- start first thing in the morning
- sometimes work on it during my lunch break
- do not like clutter

I am sure I will tweak my system some as the years go on ;)!

Gretchen said...

Ooooh, now you've got me wondering about the skinny on Rich M. ;)

Great tips, Mer. I find I'm more of a once a week girl, but somebody always ends up needing something, so maybe a once a day laundry would be good.

Unknown said...

I'm with Gretchen...I've never heard you be so firm! Rich M has been warned! LOL!

I am with you on the wearing things to school. WHat I do not like is the wearing something for an hour, and then changing several times in a day when we haven't gone anywhere. THat's irritating.

I also go through a lot of kitchen towels and wash clothes!

Happy Friday!

Joanne : The Simple Wife said...

I'll add my affirmation on doing what works best for your family. I'm a HUGE believer in that.

And I also like hearing what works best for other families, because it helps me tweak what we do.

I am a once-a-week laundry girl. Clothes on Mondays. Sheets and towels on Tuesdays.

And I couldn't agree more about getting things folded right away. I recently added a huge table to my laundry area, so I fold on that and everyone gets a stack.

When it's ALL done, I carry the baskets back upstairs and TRY to get it put away. Otherwise it sits in the baskets too long (read: all week!).

I too keep hangers handy now--stuff to be ironed gets hung up by the ironing board, stuff to hang in closets gets hung up right away.

Most of my girls' clothes are folded and put into drawers. (The house came with ELFA closets from Container Store!) I like the drawers for organizing, but when the girls mess up my system they know to run and hide!

Okay, this is getting too, too long.


Hope you love HSM3--it was awesome! Can't wait to hear what you thought!

Jennifer said...

I wash at least 2 times a week, sometimes 3. If I wash less it piles up and I feel jittery because there is too much to do. LOL

Have you tried the Melaleuca Mela Power? That stuff is awesome! It's a simple pump, one pump will do a wash. I go thru one jug once every month to month and a half. Love it! If you have a Mela person you know consider buying some. :) You'll love it! :)

Now we all are curious about Rich M. LOL

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

I like to keep up w/ it, too. The only thing I would add is our laundry basket IS a sorter. I got it at Target and it has three large compartments and a bar over top to hang stuff on. So I sort as I throw in... cuts out that step nicely. I always have a load sorted to throw in (and I always keep mine empty and ready to go like you mentioned).

Pilgrim Path said...

Was I just THREATENED?!?!? You'lll get no flack from me. Rich M. P.S. Thanks for the mention, Mer. Maybe I'll pick up a few new readers along the way.

Tiffani said...

Well, we're home from a wonderful peppy fun movie and I'm checking in here at high altitude and what do I get?? Laundry! :)

I am SO out of sync right now..I don't know WHAT day is up or down...WHEN I AM in sync...I do laundry for 2 problem?? Folding and putting away!

I have discovered (while trying to work on some system) that if I refuse to start more laundry until the load is folded and put away out of the's better. Then, I don't get ahead of myself with loads sitting around waiting to be tended to ;)!

I actually think I like the load a day (that would do it for us) idea, it would definitely keep me caught up..I may try that

Have a GREAT weekend!

Amber said...

I do an amazing job of staying on top of my laundry during the summer, but when school/work starts back up it is all I can do to stay on top of it all. We wear so many more clothes though, too, than we do in the summer. I'm up late tonight as I type this waiting on a load to finish up so I can reload....

Shameful...I'm notorious for leaving the load in the dryer and having to knock the wrinkles out about half a dozen times because I keep forgetting...yikes!

Love hearing how other people manage though...thanks!

MiMi said...

I came over from Homeward Bound (Jen's blog) and just wanted to say that I love your blog! Such a pretty header, too! Makes me want to be in Colorado!

As for the laundry, I don't have so much of an issue any more. All of my children are grown so I don't do laundry, but once a week and I pretty much hang all of my clothes to dry. Needless to say, I don't go through much laundry detergent these days, either! (-: Sounds like you have a great system, though!

leigh said...

I'm impressed. This post speaks to me! I'm always trying to get ALL my laundry done today...and that's not happenin'. You've inspired me to break it down. I've already done one load today - now off to do the second.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the laundry tips! I just got caught up from being majorly behind on laundry (when we moved a few weeks ago). It was so stressful to be that behind on laundry on me and my family! I'm going to give your trick of daily loads early in the morning a try! Sounds like it could really work for me! Really appreciate all the details and ideas!

~ Ali

Kelli said...

Hi, great laundry tips!

I am posting my recipe for the detergent I use... I think it came from hillbilly housewife...i use the powdered kind because one time I made the liquid and thought it was disgusting!

Powdered Laundry Detergent

1 cup grated Fels-Naptha soap
1/2 Cup washing soda
1/2 Cup Borax

Mix well and store in a closed container. You should use approximately 1-2 tablespoons per load.

NOTES: 1 cup of grated soap is about one bar, I think.
Fels-Naptha soap is not really hard to find, but I don't like the smell much so I've used Dove,Ivory, Palmolive and Pure and Natural. You can use deodorant soaps too. I like the smell of Ivory.
Washing soda is not baking soda. It does come in a yellow box, and it's with the laundry detergents, and it's usually made by Arm & Hammer, but make sure you get washing soda. Borax is most commonly called 20 Mule Team Borax.
You can double, triple, whatever, this recipe and it works wonderfully!

Michelle@Life with Three said...

This was such a great post! I really do need to put a system in place. What usually happens for me is that I stay on top of the laundry for three or four days. Then I get smug and proud of myself and figure I deserve a "day off" -- except that it's never a day. It's more like a week. Then I'm behind again. Ugh!

I'm going to try starting a load in the morning first thing and then setting the kitchen timer to remind me to switch it to the dryer. That's where I always drop the ball. I get distracted and forget to finish the job.

And the school clothes and germ issue? I am SO with you on that one. I wash every thing my kids wear because it makes me cringe to think of what's crawling all over it! :)

Jenn said...

Thanks for the tips. I was doing so good on my laundry until this weekend. Now I am behind again - very stressful for me. I am going to try your system to see if it works for me.

Why do you prefer liquid over powder?

Thanks for taking the time to write this out for us to read. :o)

Christen said...

uugghh i need to get out of this laundry slump i'm in. i've been doing once a week and i think it's too overwhelming. i may try one load a day again like one day towels, the next colors, then jeans, whites, another day of colors, etc. i agree and start first thing in the morning. i love the starting, smells good, anticipation of being productive but the folding ugh then putting away. my worst is the whites all those pesky little socks to match(which i do last and probably shouldn't)i have to fold and hang mine in the laundry room or i just end up piling them all over my room and wake up to piles and start my day bad! i shouldn't even complain since the laundry room is upstairs where all our clothes are. i need to get over this! thanks for the inspiration :) when i'm doing laundry and thinking about griping i say thank you Lord for blessing us with so many clothes :)