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Thursday, October 2, 2014

Conquering the Laundry

What is it about laundry that makes it one of our least favorite chores? I mean, it’s fairly easy to put the clothes in the washer and then transfer those clothes to the dryer, right? We can pretty much walk off and do other things while they are washing and drying but—what is it?

Is it because doing the laundry is boring and takes up too much time? Is it because of all the sorting, pre-treating, too many products to choose from, ironing and folding?

Could it be there are articles of clothing someone in the family doesn’t want to go in the dryer because their yoga outfit or favorite sweater could shrink?

What if you don’t remove them from the dryer right away or you completely forget they are in the dryer in the first place? You turn the dryer on again to fluff the wrinkles out before folding—then hopefully it doesn’t get forgotten about again.

And what if you forget they are even in the washing machine until you go to do another load of laundry? You have to rewash the forgotten load. Who hasn’t done this a time or two?

I know that with a large family, the laundry pile is enormous. It can feel like I’m swimming in a sea of dirty clothes, and with kids still in school, I want them to look their best, so it does take time. I can conquer the laundry, though—and so can you!

Gathering Dirty Laundry

If you don’t already have some kind of system in place, create one. This will turn mountains into mole hills. You will be able to organize the laundry chaos and everyone will be working together to eliminate your laundry stress.

Here’s what we do in our house. You can use this as a guide to create your own system:

  • In our house, each bedroom and bathroom used for showering has a laundry basket or hamper for dirty clothes.
  • In our laundry room, we have laundry baskets for jeans, whites, darks, white socks, and clothes that require a gentle wash cycle. It might sound like these baskets in the laundry room take up a bit of space, but we’ve raised the shelves in the closet so the baskets fit nicely under them. We are able to use the shelves above those for additional sorting baskets.
  • When the dirty clothes baskets from the bedrooms and bathrooms are full, we are each responsible for bringing our dirty clothes into the laundry room and sorting them into the appropriate baskets.
  • If an item of clothing needs to be treated for stains, this is typically taken care of right away. It is the responsibility of the wearer to bring stains to my attention so I can treat the stain and, if necessary, wash the item.
  • We typically stay away from dry-clean-only clothing, but they do creep in on occasion. Because we don’t have much, it’s only taken out once a month.

So far, this system has been working great for us. Granted, it took some family members longer than others to figure out that I wasn’t going to be coming around collecting their laundry, as I did when they were younger, but we’ve worked it out and it runs smoothly now.

Washing Dirty Clothes

Washing schedules vary from home to home. What’s really best? Well, that depends on your family’s needs. For instance, the Duggar family may need to wash every day, but we only have a few wash days a week.

  • Beds are stripped and clean sheets put on every Saturday. So, Saturday is the day we wash bedding, towels, and white cotton socks.
  • Sunday is the day we wash other whites and gentle items.
  • Jeans and other dark items are usually done Tuesdays, with an additional load or two on Friday if needed.

We try to break it up on the days that work best for us and to spread it out a little so we are not spending one full day in and out of the laundry room. I mean, we do want to have some fun on the weekends.

If my son is on a school sport team, I’ll usually treat for stains and wash the same night. This way he won’t show up to the next game in a not-so-clean uniform.

Washing White Cotton Socks

We wash our cotton socks separately because my whole family wears them, they are soft and comfy and we want them clean. They can get dingy at times though, so we wash them in a single load all at once.

Select your load size and fill the washing machine with hot water, 1 cup Oxi-Clean and your regular detergent. Let the socks soak for 45 minutes, then continue with the regular wash cycle.

We use Oxi-Clean because it does the same job as bleach but does not destroy cotton.

Washing Tips

  • Some new items should be washed separately the first few times because they can bleed and stain other clothing. This is especially true of red items.
  • Don’t overload the washer—your clothes will be cleaner.
  • At the beginning of each month, I run a hot water cycle with no clothes, addng in a quart-sized bottle of white vinegar. This will disinfect and remove any musty odors from the washing machine.

Stain Removal

There are so many stains that can happen on any given day and we can help you out. Below are a few articles that can help with your stain removal questions.

  1. How to Remove Grass Stains
  2. Removing Sweat / Perspiration / Deodorant & Antiperspirant Stains
  3. How to Remove Lipstick Stains
  4. Removing Blood Stains

Drying Clothes and Other Items

This should really be a no-brainer, but I have left clothes in the dryer for days before realizing I forgot about them. Ah, the busy life.

Don’t overload the dryer, and remove clothes as soon as possible after the cycle is finished. This prevents wrinkling and having to heat them up again to get rid of wrinkles. Additionally, over-drying can damage some fibers, destroying the integrity of the item.

Another reason for not overloading the dryer: if you put too many clothes in and forget about them for a day or two, you may have to rewash them because no matter how long you fluff, the wrinkles just won’t come out.

Dryer Tips

  • Clean the lint trap after you take the clothes out of the dryer. A full lint trap can be a fire hazard and reduces the efficiency of the dryer.
  • Don’t just throw a clump of clothes in the dryer. Shake them out before tossing them in, it can help prevent wrinkling and dry your clothes faster.
  • If you don’t use a liquid fabric softener in the wash cycle, add one to the dryer. It will reduce static cling and make your clothes softer and smell fresher.
  • Choose the correct setting for your clothes and other items. Some people will forget to change to Gentle or Air Dry for delicate items.

Folding and Ironing Clothes

No fun I know, but if you bring the clothes into the family room, fold and iron while you’re watching TV, and have the kids help out, it will go much faster.

We put the clothes in piles by person, kitchen, bathroom, etc. Everybody is responsible for putting their own stuff away.

Laundry Tips

  • Keep a supply of hangers in the laundry room. For us this is a must-have, since a lot of our clothes are put on hangers to air dry. Some clothes are laid flat to dry as well.
  • Put up a clothesline outside. On clear days you can hang bedspreads, jeans, and anything else you want.

Related Articles:

Making Your Own Laundry Detergent
Washing Laundry Tips

We'd like to hear from you. What works best and how do you conquer your mounds of dirty laundry. Do you have helpful tips to share with others, let us and others know your laundry secrets.

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