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. :)