Laundry Made Simple(r)
By Katrina Watson
There are three things on the top of my "I am so thankful for this" list. The dishwasher, the washing machine/dryer and the garbage truck! And while I am thankful for the washing machine, at times laundry feels like an overwhelming task. Mounds of clothes, littered pieces of clothing and endless nights.
Over the last 14 years of doing laundry for many people, I have found a few processes that have worked well and I'd like to share them.
My overall best tip is Rethink how you buy and use clothes for your kids (and may-be even yourself). When my first daughter was born, I had an abundance of outfits for her. Seriously, I must have had a hundred pieces of clothing for just her. Everything was so cute and I had waited so long for her. I bought everything in sight. Well as many of you may have learned, a tiny baby can only wear so many clothes before they outgrow them. Then it was the same process all over again--only in bigger sizes. And so on.
It wasn't until I had 5 kids that I finally came into the idea that less was indeed better. So, now I buy 8 outfits for each child per season (fall/winter and spring/summer). I only buy in outfits. If it is winter, then I put together one pair of pants with one top and so on. This cuts down significantly on the number of items to wash and maintain and it makes putting outfits together a breeze. When my children were younger, I would clip the two matching pieces together with a colorful clothespin so they knew which items went together. Now that they are older, I just place them together in stacks. I also ask that they wear only one outfit per day. This cuts down on extra laundry and over washing.
My second tip is regarding clothing organization. Years ago, I came across the idea of Creating a Family Closet. This has been my best change for my clothing organization and laundry simplicity BY FAR! If you haven't heard of a Family Closet, it is basically finding a place where you can house all of the clothing (with the exception of your own). I am lucky enough to have a laundry room in my current house which I use for all of my kids clothes. If each child has 8 outfits (plus special seasonal items like Holiday Dress) I have over 100 pieces of clothing to store. If I am able to place all of the pieces in the same area, I am ahead of the game. I no longer need to go from room to room gathering up all the dirty laundry or cleaning items off of the floor. I now have cubbies and shelves (one per person) that I keep the outfits on. The dirty laundry bins are also in the laundry room so after the kids change, they place the dirty clothes in the bins. They also each have a cloth bin which houses their pajamas, socks and underwear. I have found that I do not need to hang most items of clothing. If it is needed, I hang them on the back of the door. If you do not have a laundry room, it is also possible to use a hall closet with shelving. Then use your laundry area for the dirty clothes. If you can get your children in the habit of using one particular room for changing (a laundry room or bath) this will also help with travelling laundry items. The whole idea of this tip is to have everything in close proximity. Process: Empty dirty laundry bins into washing machine. Dry. Take out and fold. Place on correct shelves in same room. Dirty clothes placed in bins. Repeat.
My final tip is to keep your gently used clothing that you can pass down in bins for the next year as well as change out seasonal items into bins. I have four bins in our small utility room that I keep our clothing that I can pass down as well as next seasons clothes. If I come across some great deals on clothes but it isn't the right season, I place these items in my bins as well. At the beginning of each season, I go through the clothes and place into sizes and outfits. I have the kids try on the outfits to determine what fits and what goes back into the bins. Then I make a list of what is needed to make the 8 outfits per child. This way, I keep to my list and I know exactly what I need to make 8 nicely matched outfits. Note: I have been doing this system for many years now and my teenage girl is fine with the system. The only thing I changed is regarding laundry for her clothing. She decided that she wanted to wash her own clothes alone so I have allowed her to do this. She keeps her dirty clothes in her room and washes them all when the washing machine is not in use.
As you can guess, I do not have dressers in my kids rooms. This saves money and space so they have more room to play, etc. It also cuts down on my time organizing items in their rooms. I try to have as little in their rooms as possible so they stay clean longer and are easier to clean when needed. These tips are only guidelines to help you in thinking about your processes and how to make them easier. I am thankful that i learned these tips long ago because they have truly made a difference in my time and efforts regarding laundry and cleaning. Happy washing!!