Having a large family means that you spend a big chunk of your time doing laundry. In part 9 of our large family organization series we will being taking a look at the laundry.
When I look back on my years being married, I look at the journey that I have taken in our path of doing laundry.
When we were first married, our laundry would take a minimal amount of time to do. I would dedicate 1 or 2 days per week and do all of it. I would then throw it into one big pile in the living room floor and fold and put away all at the same time.
Years went by and we had more children, we had our share of broken washer and dryers. I learned the value of hanging your laundry on the clothesline. It saved a lot of money on our electric bill. But during the winter months you had to be a little bit more prepared. I learned that the Amish hang theirs out through the winter time and have no problems. I was determined to try it. I told my husband I could wait on the dryer and would just hang our laundry. It was fun each morning waking up early,getting it all washed, and then hanging it out to dry. I would hang our shirts and dresses right on the hangers and set them on the clothesline. It was easy to then just put them away when dry. A friend of mine, saw how I was doing laundry and thought I was crazy:) she gave me a drying rack and I realized the value of this. I used it for all of my socks and undergarments, very nice. If it was a particular cold day, I would put it in the house to dry. The humidity it added to my home during the winter months was wonderful. No need for a humidifier.
As I was using cloth diapers in the beginning, I would attach a small line to the bottom of our clothesline for my little ones to help hang up diapers.
Nothing is prettier than seeing a line of clothing flapping in the wind. I would try and make it my goal to have all of the laundry on the line before noon. You couldn’t beat the sun for its natural bleaching and stain removing properties. I would fold the clothing directly from the line into my baskets. This was great for getting outside in the sunshine, soaking up some Vitamin D. It was also peaceful for listening to the birds and seeing the beautiful nature outside.
Then I had 6 more babies…..and laundry has changed.
After going through multiple used washer and dryers, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and purchase a nice new set of HE washer and dryers. I am sure glad we did.
Laundry now a days is so much faster compared to doing it with a standard washer and dryer. Plus my diapers seem to get cleaner with the HE washing machines. We opted to get a top loading washer verses the front loading washer. I had heard from friends that lived in the country how theirs started to leak. When using hard water there is rust that starts to build up in your seals and will cause that to happen.
I can wash so much laundry with our machines it is amazing. Our laundry time is cut in half. The loads do take more time to wash, no quick cycles here, but when you have much to do, you can do larger quantities and that helps hugely.
We got ours from Lowes and purchased a warranty. I am not big on warranties for products, but I knew that within 5 years time, we would be going through a new washer or dryer eventually. This was something we use everyday and are very hard on. So I believe it cost under $200 for the warranty, but well worth it. I have already had a minor problem and they fixed it for free.
Our laundry room is small, but we have made it efficient. I realized that I could not possibly wash and fold all of our families laundry in one days time. It was taking up too much of my day. Plus I would have a clean basket of laundry sitting on the floor and someone would accidentally throw in a wet dish cloth or the dog would walk by it getting hair on our clean laundry. My situation was just not working. Something had to change.
I had to utilize the space that we had, which wasn’t much. I had my husband build me some simple shelves. I then bought good sturdy laundry baskets for each person. I have 2 baskets for the lower half children that all share the same closet.
Our large family laundry routine
We keep a basket in our bathroom that gets emptied each morning. I take the basket to the laundry room and separate into 1 of 4 hampers. These hampers are placed underneath our shelf of baskets
- work clothes/darks
Since my daughter has excema very badly, we switched to an all natural laundry soap that we make easily. I keep the soap in a large 5 gallon bucket on top of a bar stool, to avoid having to bend so much during the day to get some soap.I use this to wash all of our clothing in.
After I separate the dirty laundry, I access which hamper is full. I then dump a whole hamper into the washer to be washed. If I have a lot of laundry to do that day, like bedding or towels used at the beach, I do a quick wash first with those and set them in a basket on the dryer awaiting an older child to take them out to the clothesline to dry. No sense racking up our electric bill when we can easily hang them out. I don’t usually hang up much more clothing except during the warm summer months, to cut down on expenses. Just towels and blankets are easy to hang and fold right off the line.
As the clothing comes out of the dryer, I separate them into the corresponding baskets. I just throw it in, I don’t fold anything unless it is a nicer church outfit. Then I grab a hanger and hang it up and set on the bar. Towels go into a hamper in front of the washer waiting to be folded on their designated day. Usually 2 times per week.
We can usually get through a whole week without having to come back and look through the baskets for clothes. If I find that each week I am constantly getting a certain clothing item for someone, I put it on my list of things to buy. Maybe that means a trip to Goodwill or another package of socks. I try and make my life easier and searching through laundry baskets for matching socks is not easy. I have an older child deliver the baskets on Saturday to each room. Each person is then responsible for putting away their own laundry and returning the basket to the laundry room. I put away my husband and my laundry as well as the lower half’s pile. I have the younger girls help me hang up all of our dresses and tops.
As of right now, we still have to wash cloth diapers. I have a one year old and a potty training 2 year old in them. We only need to wash every 2 days. Click here to see our cloth diaper routine.
**update as of 5.2014 I no longer use cloth diapers. My growing boy is 1 1/2 and a big boy. I purchase disposable diapers for him and it makes a lot less leaks. I used my cloth diapers for about 5 years and 4 children, constantly everyday. They definitely did their duty. Well worth the investment. But for now, until potty training happens we use disposables.
It is helpful to have your family learn how to take off their clothing right side out, socks un-balled, and layers removed from each other. Teach them to empty their pockets as well. I know some wives will empty pockets and turn pants right side out, but I do not have time to do that. I told my children if they do not empty their pockets, things will get ruined and I will become very rich. Only a few headphones,MP3 players and $20 bills have gone through the laundry but it has taught them to keep track of their things. I show them how balled up socks do not get cleaned and are still dirty inside. Letting them know that Mom is not always going to be there taking care of every need, and that they need to start taking responsiblity for their things.
If a child does not bring back their laundry basket before I start doing laundry again, usually within 1 day, I put their clean laundry mixed up with the towels in a basket. Then they are going to have to fold the towels and put them away to get to their laundry.
Here are some tips I have gleaned over the years:
- Treat stains as they happen to your clothing. I have numerous things I use to get stains out.
- Put bibs on little ones while they eat. Around here, bibs get lost easily so I improvise. Use a hand towel and a clothespin to hold around babies neck.
- Avoid white clothing!!!!
- read labels before buying clothing, don’t buy dry clean only items
- Don’ t leave towels or washcloths that have cleaned up milk sitting too long. They will create a horrid smell that actually ferments.
- Label your shelves to assist the people who help put away your clothing
- Remember sunshine is great for brightening whites, fading stains, removing smells and killing germs
- While hanging clothing on the clothesline, be efficient hanging clothing side by side, sharing clothespins.
- Before you hang up clothing or place in dryer, give them a good snap to remove wrinkles.
- Do not overload your washer machine. Water and soap cannot circulate around the clothing if it is packed full.
- Avoid washing red items with other clothing until you know that it is not going to bleed to other fabrics
- Fresh blood will come out immediately if rinsed continually in cold water. Or you can use hydrogen peroxide.
- Remember heat sets a stain
Make a laundry poster
This was something that I had when my other children were doing the laundry. As of now, the laundry is my job so I do not have a sign up currently. But as our jobs rotate I will be needing to make one up again. I listed which hamper of clothes and what wash cycle they went on.
Towels —1 cup of soap—-heavy duty—cold
Diapers–rinse–cold—-1 scoop of soap–whites–hot–extra rinse
I also had signs listed above each dirty laundry hamper so that the “sorting child” new which baskets to put them in.
This is our large family organizing tips for the laundry room. Up next the storage area.