Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our developing laundry system

I mentioned in my last post that I've finally figured out a laundry system that we seem to be able to implement with some consistency. Here is more about that system and its evolution, in hopes that some part of it will be helpful or inspiring to you.

I should start by saying that the whole laundry thing has been a blight on my homemaking existence for years. I've often thought with a bit of (naive, I'm sure) jealousy back to the times when folks just had 2 or 3 outfits to wear and wash. Nine people worth of clothes and laundry just adds up! I never know whether to laugh or cry when one of my friends on Facebook mentions in their status that it's "laundry day." Every day but Sunday is laundry day here, or else Mt. Washmore raises its smelly head in our laundry room.

Several years ago, one of those miracle moms with 10 children and an immaculate house talked at our home school support group about home management. She had a lot of great ideas, some of which I have implemented with varying degrees of success. One idea we adopted was that of giving each child (that is old enough) a day on which it is their responsibility to do their laundry (and for the older ones, the laundry of an assigned sibling, who would be taught more responsibility as they grew). We bought stacking plastic laundry drawers per her suggestion as well.

Over the years, we've tweaked the system here and there. Last year we bought two three-bag laundry sorters, one for the girls' room, one for the boys room. For some reason, this did not work for our Blessings. I'm not sure why, but it just didn't.

Several months ago, we moved the laundry sorter to the laundry room and all the Blessings bring their dirty clothes and put them in the appropriate bag (we have two bags for darks, one for lights/whites). The children still have their day to do laundry, but the requirement has changed to doing two loads of laundry from start to clean and folded, choosing whichever bag(s) most need to be done.

This was a big improvement, but Mt. Washmore still had a tendency to rise, because we didn't have a spot for the towels/sheets/blankets. This "other" category seemed to spread all over the floor AND inspire children to drop their dirty clothes on the floor instead of in the proper bag.

So, a couple months ago, we bought two large sturdy (and cheap!) laundry baskets, one white, one blue. The dark "other" laundry goes in the blue basket, the light in the white basket. These baskets are now included in the "what most needs to be washed" selection process. This seems to have been the piece of the puzzle that we've been missing!

I haven't posted about the evolution of our laundry system for a while because for so long it just wasn't working! But this incarnation has been in place long enough that I think I can say with some confidence that it's working for us.

Here's a picture of the laundry room yesterday morning, in a pretty typical state for a Saturday:

It's not perfect, which is fine with me. There is no mountain, no stench, and no shame. A couple of notes:
~ The laundry sorter's usual home is to the left of the washing machine, so that children can reach the washer. I moved it for a more compact picture. And so that you can't see the mess on my sewing desk.
~ The tan basket on the dryer is the sock basket. It's supposed to have only unmatched socks, but often a whole load worth of socks gets dumped there. It's a process, right?
~ The white laundry basket on the dryer is a rest stop for clothes that no longer fit anyone, but that are nice enough to save. There is a larger tub on top of the big freezer that I can empty this into occasionally, and which I sort through at the seasonal clothes changeover. This is another recent addition which I like much better than the accumulating pile of too-small clothes in my bedroom!
~ I noticed when I looked at this picture that I need to remind the Blessings to throw the bag into the washer when they get to the bottom!
~ Jonathan and I have a blue basket and a white basket in our room. I throw our laundry in in the evening and/or on the weekend.
~ With baby will arrive daily diaper laundry. This will require more diligence at prompting the Blessings to start their laundry early in the day and finish it in time for me to put in diapers in the evening.

So tell me here or post on your blog and share a link. What laundry ideas work for you?


Peachtree said...

That sounds like a lot of laundry to me! :)

At this point I just run a load or two every day (except Sundays), and that is working. I don't sort at all though. Unless there's something extra greasy or what-have-you. Nobody has died yet, nor have any Sunday shirts been dyed pink . . .

I also have an indoor clothesline, and I love it, because it lets me be thrifty (not using the energy hogging dryer) even on the coldest and wettest of days!

We do get tired of ducking laundry all winter, but I don't mind it too much if it saves $$.

MagenRanae said...

I do have a laundry post in the back of my mind. I feel like my laundry system works really well for us...
but, it's yet to be tested on more than just Micah and I! Maybe I should get the post up quick before this baby comes and I have to adjust things! :)

I do have a THEORY on how my system will be adjusted (and the tools to adjust it)...but, it's hard to know how it will work when it's not yet in practice.

TAB said...

So glad you made some good, working adjustments. Feels accomplished, doesn't it?
Our laundry system, since we don't have a washer or dryer in our apartment, consists of doing laundry Saturday or Sunday in one long haul. Fortunately, the laundromat we use offers quadruple-load washers so we are able to use two of those washers and then just divide our clothes into roughly 6-8dryers after they've washed. It takes about 2 1/2 hours to get all washed, dried and folded.
I can totally relate to the growing, stinking Mt. Washmore! We get that a lot when we have accidents at night! Ugh! However, we've found that using pull-ups at night has cut the cost of laundry on the weekends. yay!

born2bmomma said...

We split laundry responsibility also, just differently. One child brings laundry downstairs daily, I wash, one switches laundry from washer to drier and one brings it upstairs. The sorting or putting away stage is always dependent on me, although my husband tries to sort and fold some times - he never gets it right and people end up with other's clothing all gets worn eventually and returned to the cycle :) Soon enough, the girls will be tall enough to help out even more. They are really stretching it to reach the bottom of the washer right now! They are all in training to take over the chores eventually :)