Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Organising your Laundry {Blog Hop Week}

Welcome to day 2 of our Blog Hop Week!

Today, the mountainous subject of LAUNDRY!  Which house does NOT have an ongoing battle with laundry?  That love-hate relationship.... those clothes which we need, and often rather love, but which need to be regularly cleaned. Throw small children into the mix, who seem to care less fro their clothes, and get through more than ONE outfit a day, and your mountain starts to build!

With 7 children, and 2 adults, in our home, laundry is a big thing. It's something that cannot be ignored. It cannot be neglected.  I do NOT want our family to look and smell like a band of homeless people, so laundry MUST happen.

As with pretty much everything in life, if you can organised about your laundry, it won't become the Mount Everest that it has the potential to be, and maybe stick to a Nevis proportion, instead.

There are so many different views on how, when and what way to organise your laundry.  I read an interesting discussion amongst some friends recently, about what age they get their children to do laundry. I found it particularly interesting, as it is not really an area of life I have got my children to take charge in.

When I got to thinking WHY that was, I realised that the logistics of laundry depend a LOT upon the size of your home, or the space you have to put laundry baskets around the house.  Also, if you have a laundry room, or not.  Various other things factor in, too.

This will also be a blog post about how I would LIKE to organise things, as I have not fully got my desired system into play, as yet.

When we moved to this house, in December 2011, I was THRILLED that I finally had a utility/laundry room.  As it transpires, the only thing I actually have IN the room, at the moment, is the washer, a dryer and a sink.  No cupboards, no work space. Just the machines, and floor.  Now, the extra floor space is a lot of help, because in the last house we didn't even relay have the space to BRING the dirty laundry to the machine! It was ever so easy for the whole process to get backed up, just through lack of space to put the dirty clothes, and the clean, unfolded ones. I would invariably end up with random baskets of clothes, in various states of cleanliness, folded and unfolded, around my house.

One of the first things I think is important is to have some kind of storage for your dirty clothes.  Whether it's baskets in each bedroom, or baskets in a laundry room (or, erm, the floor in front of the ashing machine??... )- the children need to know WHERE to put their dirty laundry.  In our home, the children bring their dirty laundry down at the end of the day, after they get ready for bed.  Well, they should.... Robert and I have a laundry basket in our room.  For our laundry, I sort through it once or twice a week, dividing it up into the type of wash I will put it in. (more on that in a minute...) It's amazing how much we can squish in there, if I only get to it once a week.... *whistles*

Once the the laundry is brought down, *I* then sort it into the right "wash" for it to go in.  Now, this is a job that will eventually be done by the chidlren, when they bring their dirty laundry downstairs.  At the moment, I do not have the space to implement it. I do "light", "dark", "denim", "shirts" and "towels".  I used to throw the denim in with the dark wash, but when it needs to go in the drier, the denim never dries properly, and it can cometimes stop some of the t-shirt type things from fully drying, too.  My dryer works more efficienctly (it's one of these "smart" ones) if the majority of the clothes are of one fabric type.  Hence why I separate out shirts and denim. Shirts dry VERY quickly in my dryer, and also dry nicely on the line.  Sometimes I used to hang them on the shower rail in our en suite, but since our refit, we now have a shower screen, and the rail is gone.  I will miss that! At the moment, it's easier for me to go through the children's washing, and sort it myself.

When we get some cupboards and shelving into the room, then THIS is how I plan to organise it.  I will have a work surface, with open shelving underneath - ie, no cupboard fronts.  I have these Ikea baskets...

I found this image, which shows you the idea of what I would like.

I plan to have at least 6 of these in the shelving, under the work surface/counter.  One will be for light, one for dark, one for denim, one for towels, one for shirts, one for ironing. The dirty clothes will get sorted into these baskets as soon as they come downstairs. When the basket gets full, I plan that whoever sees there is a full load, will put the wash on. Now, this will be a trial and error issue. I may find just one person needs to be responsible for it... maybe me.  I don't want children either over or under-loading the washing machine, and either things not washing properly, or wasting water. It will certainly keep the whole process tidier, once we have these shelves.  It's on our to-do list, but I would like it to-done pretty soon! 

When the wash is done, and the clothes are dry, it used to be fairly common for me to NOT get the folding done straight away.  Then I got my new kitchen table.

  I realised that the reason for me not doing the folding immediately, was a lack of reasonable space to do it. If I did it on the lounge floor, I had to wait until the children weren't around to kick it over. If I did it on the kitchen table, I was limited by children using it for school, or using it for meals and meal prep.  If I used the dining room table, the same problems applied.  Once I got this EXTRA table, its function was for me to HAVE a work table.  It's eventually going to be used for sewing (once i get my machine fixed...), and other crafts, but I realised it was PERFECT for folding laundry.  I lift a load onto the table, and sort it into piles for each person in the house. the table is big enough to have a pile for each person, so it's perfect!  I then shout for the children, and they bring the laundry straight up to their drawers, rooms. (yes, it's supposed to go straight into their drawers, but this does NOT always happen....)

I have never kept on top of my laundry so well as this, until I got that table!  I have ALWAYS maintained that you can be more organised and tidy if you have a HOME for everything! It's TRUE! Find a home for things, and tidiness will be far easier!

Yes, I could get my children to take over laundry folding, but I am quite particular about how I like my clothes folded (ask anyone who has helped me with it before... I sit, trying not to tell them they are folding something "wrong", and then just try and subtly re-do it myself...which kind of defeats the purpose of them helping, but some people still fold it their way, after I have asked them to do it another way.  The problem is with me, not them... lol )I find it's just quicker and more efficient if I do it myself.  I think I need to "give up" my control over that area at some point, and let the children help!

I seem to also do something else with my laundry, that is a dying art.  Ironing.  Yes, I iron.  My husband wears a shirt EVERY day.  I can NOT have him going out in a crumpled shirt, and I especially cannot have him standing in a pulpit looking crumpled! I don't iron everything, by a LONG stretch.  I know some people who literally do, and think I am some kind of sinner because I don't iron my bed-sheets/denim skirts/t-shirts or tea towels. If I fold them as soon as they are dry, and especially if they have been in the dryer, then the creases come out just fine.  The same does NOT apply to Robert's shirts, my blouses, the children's Sunday clothes, and Robert's cotton hankies.  Yes, cotton hankies.  (You DON'T use cotton hankies??... tut tut... LOL )  That is all I iron, and THAT takes me long enough in a week.

Personally, I think that these choices are completely personal, with issues like ironing.  For me, its more important to spend my time doing something other than ironing bed-sheets that you sleep under, with your eyes shut, in the dark.  If someone else has the time and energy to put into such things, good for them!  But, you can't say that someone else is WRONG for not doing it!!! It doesn't mean you are lazy, that you "don't care", that you are messy or whatever accusation people make..  It means you have prioritised life differently, and do you know what?  That's FINE! 

So, there we have it.  Washing, folding, putting away and ironing.  That about covers laundry, right?

Oh, hang on.

Let me just finish with my bug bear, and how I am trying to sort it out.

Wait, TWO things.

Odd socks.  

Enough said.

Children who put clean clothes in the dirty laundry pile.  PET HATE.  I think that is one reason that I hang onto the sorting/washing job.  Then *I* can look at the clothes and decide if they REALLY need to be washed, or the child has simply routinely chucked it in the washing pile. I am trying to train them to CHECK, and only put things in if they look or smell dirty.  The odd spot we can clean off by hand. 

Other pet hate... FOLDED laundry ending up back in the dirty washing pile.  They really get in trouble for that, because it clearly shows they have not even bothered putting it away, and it's ended up on the floor with the dirty washing they have taken off! Mostly a boy thing, I hasten to add.

Final pet hate.  INSIDE OUT CLOTHES!! I give it back to the child, to turn the right way round, before I will wash it.  Also, girls leaving pants inside tights. GRRRRR! 

Hey, that was more than 2 things.... oops.

To be fair, most of those issues are child-training issues, and it's down to me, as the mother, to consistently teach them how to deal with their clothes, and discipline them if they don't obey. That's ME needing to be organised.

Oh, I didn't mention bed linen.  I wash that whenever I get a moment in a day when there isn't endless other washing to be done!!  I wash ours more frequently than the children's.  For mine, I just have to set my mind to get it done, and it doesn't always get washed the day it gets taken off (we have 2 sets for our bed), but because it takes up so much space in the dirty pile, it gets done within 24 hours. With the children's beds, I usually just make sure that the whole set gets washed, dried and put back on, in the same day.  

That's about it, I think.  The short version is that I organise my laundry to suit our circumstances, but I plan to organise it better once I have the space created to do so. 

Hop on over to the other bloggers, to see what they do! And, please link up with your own posts, if possible, and share how you keep on top of Mount Laundry! 





  1. I think things are so different in America because they have the large sized washers and driers. It would completely change my laundry routine if we were able to put large loads on rather than the small amount our machines take.

  2. I found this week-long blog hop over at Raising Arrows. Thanks for putting this together! -Rebecca @ familyabounds.blogspot.com

  3. Ah, the laundry conundrum...such a puzzle! I think we have the same ...irritants! Oh that missing sock thing bugs me so much! A few years ago, I found in a store here a package of 10 little girl footie socks....NO TWO were alike! I stared at the package...thought, and then bought two of the packages for my twins. (Now, none of the 20 socks were the same!) When their socks come thru the laundry, they just put them all away in stacks in their drawers....no looking for the matches since they do not exist! - so our casual sock problem was solved for....2/12 of the family. For most of the younger kids, I only buy one style and color of sock....then I can only have 1 unmatched sock per person.
    Even with our larger machines here in the US, we do 3 or 4 loads of laundry a day. When we miss a day, it is .....unpleasant.
    I LOVE your laundry room idea...the baskets and cubby holes to put them in! BEAUTIFUL!

  4. My mom has a cupboard with stackable wire baskets, similar to closet maid (you can get this on Amazon). For each different colour/type laundry she has a different basket. Every morning one of the girls would gather all the laundry in the house and sort it into there, and if the basket was full that meant that we had to do that colour that day. She has had this for many years now and it has worked well with our family. Even if you didn't have a closet you could put it in it would still look better than having all the laundry on the floor. I don't have this yet, seeing I only have to do laundry once a week yet in our family, but it is definitely something I would incorporate into our family as it grows bigger.

  5. Odd socks!
    I have hung one of my old favorite pretty handbags on the wall in the laundry and all odd socks get stuffed in here as they are found in the clean washing. When the bag is full, or about once a month I sort them out. In the mean time they are out of sight and out of mind :-)
    Works for us!