Here we are with the second installment of Not Your Typical Spring Cleaning Tips. Remember, I'm not talking about “spring cleaning” per se; it just happens to be spring when I am talking about cleaning… :-) Last week was about using spare minutes throughout the day to get a handle on big projects. Next week I'll share my favorite cleaning formulas and how to use them.
Today I want to talk about how to do laundry, which believe it or not is one of my favorite household tasks. Of course, that's not saying a whole lot, when you realize how much I hate cleaning at all, lol. But I actually sorta enjoy doing laundry… really and truly! Taming laundry in a large household goes a long way towards de-stressing mama. And I've found a system that does just that.
How to do laundry the Annie & Everything way:
Sort clothing as it comes into the laundry room – Since they were very small, my kids have brought their own dirty clothing to the laundry area and sorted it themselves. In their closets, they each have a basket or hamper into which they throw their clothes when they take them off. Then a couple of times per week they bring those clothes to the laundry area, where there is a divided hamper with three bins. Darks go in one bin, lights in another, and whites in the third. Even small kids can tell which clothes should go in which bin. There is no need to sort clothes by exact color (all yellows, all blues, all greens) or style (all jeans, all shirts), or to separate towels from clothes. Keep it simple; it will all still get clean.
We DO sort out the delicate articles by putting them all, regardless of color, into a plastic tub that sits on the shelf above the dryer. I will split these up into lights and darks as I wash them. (And since the only people who own delicates are me and my older girls, it is not difficult for us to reach the bin on the shelf.)
Fold clothing as it comes out of the dryer – This is probably the thing that makes the biggest difference for me. Clean laundry does not get shoved into a basket and taken out to the living room or any other room, left there to become wrinkled and make the house look messy. Instead, I stand at the dryer and take the clothing out one piece at a time, folding each one as I go. Then the folded item is put onto its owner's clean laundry pile, which is a designated spot on a shelf in the laundry room. Every child knows to regularly get his clean laundry and put it away in his room.
Folding the laundry as it comes out of the dryer eliminates piles of clean laundry laying around the house. It also eliminates a LOT of footsteps — mom's footsteps, anyway. :-) And I actually enjoy the quiet time alone in the laundry room while I am folding; it is a chance to breathe slow and relish a momentary break from the usual frenzy…
When I didn't have a laundry room, I kept a bookshelf near the washer and dryer. The bookshelf had bins on it, one for each person in the family; and it was into these bins that their clean clothes went. For those whose laundry facilities are in a closet in the hallway, maybe some kind of rolling cart would work – bring the cart over to fold a load of clothes, then roll the cart to each room to put them away… then store the cart in a closet somewhere when it's not in use.
Put the dryer on a pedestal – This makes a surprisingly huge impact, y'all, on the ease of doing laundry. My husband made a platform to put our dryer on, so that the whole thing is raised up off the floor about 8 inches. This means I do not have to bend way over to get the laundry out of it; and if I want to, I can use the open door (the kind that hinges on the bottom) as a shelf for folding. It's easy to hammer some chunks of wood together to make a pedestal, but you can also purchase one here or here or here.
Do a few loads of laundry every day – It is easier to keep on top of a task if it is part of your routine, and it seems less overwhelming when it's done a little at a time. Switching laundry is a five-minute job. I try to get two loads done and folded every day. This is enough, now, to keep everyone in clean clothes and the dirty pile from getting too high. When all of the kids were still home, I had to do three.
Another advantage of doing loads regularly is that you don't have to own as many clothes, especially for the kids. You don't need to buy three pairs of jeans to last Johnny a full week when you are doing a load of darks every other day or so; one or two pairs will do. This is a way to save significant money, because the kids are growing and need replacements so often as it is.
Don't wash bath towels after every shower – My mother-in-law insisted that it was necessary to wash your bath towel EVERY day. That makes for a lot of laundry, y'all – and it also meant she thought I was a poor housekeeper… sigh. But if we are drying off bodies that are CLEAN, then why do we need to wash the towels so often? Let's not live by some impractical standard of what a good homemaker is supposed to do. Hang hooks or towel rods in the bathroom with everyone having a designated spot for his/her towel. After use the towel gets hung to dry and used again the next time. Once a week or so they can all be gathered up and taken to the laundry room.
Make the laundry room cheerful – Mine is a bright cornflower blue (although it's showing up more gray in the pictures). I can't tell you what a difference that makes when I have to go in there and work. It cheers me up and makes the repetitive work more bearable.
Keep clutter to a minimum – Our laundry room is also our mud room, i.e., the entrance into the house from the garage. It is too convenient to dump stuff there, so I have bins and baskets on the shelves to make it easy to put things back where they belong. Baskets are easier because there is no door to open and no lid to close – just throw your item in the basket and you're done. Did you know that laundry baskets, in particular, make great places to store hats and gloves, athletic equipment, shoes, etc.? And they are much less expensive than fancy decorative baskets.
Also keep the top of the dryer clutter- free by having a shelf directly above it to store items you don't use every load, like bleach or stain remover. This makes it easy to wipe off the dryer regularly, because we all know how lint likes to fly around and land all over everything in the laundry room.
Use an easy homemade laundry soap recipe – I have tried several different types of homemade laundry soap, y'all. All of them are quite frugal, but not all of them are easy. You want it to be a recipe that can be thrown together quickly without needing any hard-to-find ingredients. Because it's a bummer when your laundry piles up because you can't get to that certain far away store that has that certain product you need to make your laundry detergent, or you haven't had the time or motivation to go through the laborious process of making it. I've done the boiled kind that makes liquid, and the powdered kind, but I think this laundry soap recipe is the easiest. It uses full boxes of ingredients, so there is no measuring; and it makes a good six months' worth at a time, so you don't have to do the process that often. It is extremely quick to virtually throw together and stir in a five-gallon bucket. It yields me two full big plastic ice-cream tubs; I empty one of them into a pretty glass jar and store the other on the shelf above the dryer.
Use an easy homemade stain remover – This one is my own recipe: I just put about an inch of Dawn in a squirt bottle and then fill the rest with vinegar. Easy to make, easy to use. That's the way I like it.
What are your favorite laundry tips? Comment below or write me a note on Facebook! :-)
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