Daily Tip: If something doesn’t work for you, that doesn’t mean you have failed. It means that method wasn’t right for you – try something new.
By Faith Storms, Contributing Writer
Laundry is easily the number one chore about which I hear fellow stay at home moms complain. I don’t share this sentiment, but start talking about cleaning bathrooms and I will be gladly jump in to voice my complaints! I enjoy doing laundry, but I know that is not the case for everyone. Like with most things in my life, including cleaning bathrooms, I find that I enjoy laundry even more when I have a streamlined, predictable routine in place.
In my experience, there are very few items you need in order to do laundry. A washer and a dryer (although I do know families that do just fine with out the latter), certainly, but aside from that what else is there? I keep it simple with three items: soap nuts, wool dryer balls and Calgon for when my cloth diapers need to be stripped.
My husband and I decided to switch to using soap nuts for all of our laundry about one year ago. We lost our supplier of the original cloth diaper detergent we had been using and were struggling to find an affordable option where we were living. I came across this post on soap nuts and was sold. We placed a bulk order in January of last year and split it with two other families. This first order lasted us until December. That is right…two pounds of soap nuts lasted us almost an entire year. Crunch the numbers to see for yourself, but I would venture to guess that, especially for cloth diapering families, soap nuts will be hands down the most frugal option for washing your clothes.
I also have wool dryer balls. I purchased these from our local health food store who gets them from a local sheep farmer, but you could easily make your own. I love that these are a local item, but even more than that I love what they do for our laundry. I rarely have any problems with static cling and our clothes are soft and wrinkle free, provided that I get them out of the dryer as soon as they are done. If you are used to using scented fabric softener sheets, you can easily scent your dryer balls with a few drops of your favorite essential oil. I don’t have experience doing this, but have been told it convinces that skeptical family member who needs the “smell of clean laundry” scent that the laundry is truly clean.
Image by Sean Freese
Since we live in a small apartment, I do not have a traditional laundry room. My washer and dryer are in our kitchen and our laundry baskets along with my laundry tools bin is housed in my husband and my bedroom. Not ideal, of course, but it is what I have to work with.
I have four laundry baskets lined up against one wall of our bedroom. One basket each for coloreds, whites, darks and towels. This keeps the ever mounting pile in check and cuts down on the time I spend sorting clothes. It is an easy system for my husband to participate in and, I think, will be easy for our children to learn as they get older.
I do all of our laundry, with the exception of our bathroom rug and shower curtain, which get washed on Tuesday when I clean the bathroom, on Monday. I do wash our cloth diapers three times a week, but one of those times is on Monday. Although I tried another method, I quickly came back to the all in one day method that has worked for me our entire marriage. I sort the laundry into piles of tops and bottoms separated by color on Sunday evening so as soon as I get up on Monday morning I can get started. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, I get started by six in the morning and am completely finished washing, drying, folding and putting away by the time bedtime rolls around.
Getting the Kids Involved
For many moms, the hardest part of attempting to do all the laundry in one day is finding a way to engage your children in the consuming task. My son is twenty months old and is extremely curious about everything that I do. His job on laundry day is to put the clothes from the washer into the dryer. Now, of course, he can’t complete this task on his own. I hand him the wet clothes from the washer and he throws them into the dryer.
For older children, tasks on laundry day could include sorting the clothes into appropriate piles based on color or style, putting their own folded clothes away or even folding simpler items such as towels or socks. It might be faster to do everything yourself, but I believe it is important to include your children, even toddlers, in the management of the household. You will probably end up re-folding a load of clothes that a well-meaning child dropped or finding mismatched socks halfway through the week, but, in my opinion, it is worth the trouble to include your children in daily tasks.
Note from Kate: My 4-year-old can fold some of the smaller items as well as put away all her own laundry. She can sometimes even pull laundry out of the dryer into a basket and bring it upstairs, if it isn’t too heavy. My 3-year-old can pull diapers out of the dryer into a bag and carry it if it isn’t too heavy. There is a lot the little ones can do!
While this is what works for me and my family, this is certainly not the only way to create a workable laundry routine. The point is that laundry day (or days, if you choose) will go much smoother for everyone involved if there is a routine in place.
Does the never ending laundry pile daunt you? Do you have a routine in place at your house?