Thursday, October 12, 2006

A Lesson in Laundry

There are at least two people who will wonder why I think I am qualified to give a lesson in doing laundry. Actually, I admit, I am wondering the same thing. However, sometimes the best teachers are those who had to learn to do something the hard way. Gone are my college days of scooping clean clothes off my dorm bed and into the floor to scramble themselves up with the multiple piles of dirty clothes. Gone are the days that I had to sniff my clothes in order to tell if they were clean or not. With the exception of a few relapses, I have the laundry monster under control.

Now, I must warn you, I am NOT a perfectionist, as you will very quickly see. If you are a perfectionist, pass me by...this method will not be of any help to you at all. However, if you are a harried mom with 3 kids and ten piles of dirty laundry surrounding her washing machine, two more on the bathroom floor, and three more on various bedroom floors...If you have 9 loads of once upon a time was folded, but is now in a heap of clothes on your couch, if you have to move a clean load from your bed every night- then maybe you will find some wisdom here.

First: Goodwill is your friend. No. really. When you are still learning to conquer laundry, having umpteen loads of clothes is NOT a good thing. I pared myself down to one outfit per week per family member. Most of the clothes were old, out of style, and ill-fitting anyway.
Oh, and I know there are some of you who have one or two items that end up in every wash load because it doesn't have a place or is too ugly for you to find a place to put it. Get rid of those things that you dread putting away.

Second: Do a load a day. Every day, and make sure your washer is emptied by the end of the day...keep the lid up because it lets the tank dry out and prevents it from mildewing. No one likes to use sour towels to dry off with in the morning.

OK, now I will just share how things work in my house...pick and choose some things that might work for you.

Each morning I gather dirtylaundry from upstairs and carry it to the top of my basement stairs.
Then I make the kids breakfast. While they are eating, I carry the laundry the rest of the way down the stairs and add it to the pile that is likely down there.

I have a three way laundry organizer that contains the dirty clothes, but I do not separate. I wash everything on warm and so far I have been lucky. Washing everything together saves me a TON of time.
There is usually a load in the dryer from the day before. I take these out and lie them neatly in piles. Each item of clothing gets laid flat onto a folding table I have set up in my basement. I have seeral piles of clothes. One for dh and I, one for the kids. I have a laundry basket that i throw ALL the white into. And I fold towels and washcloths on the spot.

That only takes a few minutes and the clothes in the washer won't be done yet, so I go upstairs and get some otehr work done. When I hear the dinger from the washer go off, I go downstairs and transfer the clothes from the washer- into the dryer. Sometimes I will do another load, sometimes I will stop for the day. Remember NEVER to end the day with clothes ion the washer.

At the end of the week (and sometimes sooner) I will have quite a pile gathered on my folding table. Dustan brings the all upstairs and we have a putting away party. He puts away the hang-up clothes. I put away things that go in drawers. he usually takes care of the whites. The boys put their clothes away after I have folded it and I take care of Esther's clothes. It take about 30 minutes to put away the entire weeks worth of laundry. And nothing is wrinkled because it was all laid out flat.

Easy Peasy. Let me know if it helps at all.

The main rules are:
1. Don't have more clothes than you can keep up with
2. Do a load of laundry every day
3. Make sure the washer is empty every night
4. Condense putting away time by doing it only once a week
5. Have a place to store clean laundry- laid flat- until your putting away day
6. Gather your whites into a basket
6. Have your family help you.

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