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My Laundry Woes -- how to reduce the mountain?

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 
There are four of us in the house. DD (almost 4), DS (6), DH and myself. But from the amount of laundry that we go through in a week, you would think that we had 20 people living here!

DH's clothes are big and take up a large amount of space in the washer/dryer, and he rarely wears his shirts more than once before they end up in the wash. His pants he'll wear 2-3 times before they go in the wash. (Longer if he doesn't have anything clean to wear).

DS goes to a school where he's outdoors a lot, and he wears LOTS and LOTS of layers to keep warm. And they all end up mucky, wet and dirty. So he goes through a TON of laundry, and I don't think there's any way around that!

DD has thousands of dresses, and will wear them all (at the same time!) if she's left to her own devices. And she likes to throw out eveything on the floor while she's selecting her clothes to wear, so I never know what's clean and what's dirty.

The kids go swimming once a week, so there's bathing suits and towels that need to be washed every week. They also do Karate three times a week, and their uniforms always need to be clean.

DH for some reason almost NEVER hangs up his towels after a shower, they always end up crumpled up on the floor of our bedroom or walk-in closet, so by the time I notice it they are usually already smelly.

DD pees the bed frequently, and DS occasionally, so I have to wash all of their bedding at least once a week, which takes a min. of two loads because it just all won't fit in the wash with the sheets, mattress protector and comforter all in one load.

If I got to all of the laundry all of the time, I could EASILY do about 10 loads of laundry every week, and I swear that the percentage consists of:
25% Towels, bathing suits, karate uniforms, etc.
25% DH's clothes
20% DS's clothes and bedding
20% DD's clothes and bedding
5% misc. stuff (rags, table clothes, aprons, sheets, etc.)
5% my stuff...

I hate the folding/sorting/putting away step, so when I do it, I usually do 2-3 loads at a time. It takes me no time at all to fold and put away my 1 pair of jeans, my 1 bra, my 1 T-shirt, a few pairs of panties and socks. And then I have this mountain of stuff left by everyone else.

What can I do to reduce this mountain? If anyone has any suggestions on how I might proceed to reduce this amount of work, I'm all for the advice or support.

ETA: How can I get my family to re-wear their clothes, and what is an "appropriate" amount of time to wear them?
post #2 of 34
There are some things that you can't fix (like the bedding and karate outfits). Other things, the family can help make your life easier.

You should ask your DH to hang up towels. Make sure there are lots of hooks in the bathroom. It simply isn't fair to give you loads more work by using a towel only once, plus it isn't great for Mother Earth!

Make sure there are lots of hooks at your level, and at the kids' level, in the kids rooms. This is where we put "can wear again" items. Teach your daughter not to throw clothes on the floor. She can hang them on hooks if she can't work the hangers.

Good luck mama!

We have tons of clothes too .... and I consider decluttering... but it is sure nice to sometimes go a week without doing laundry!!! Tough call!
post #3 of 34
I hate folding too! I don't mind washing and want to be the one to do it since I am particular about how things are washed and with what, this item in this cycle, that item with that detergent, etc. But the folding. Ugh.

We also have a lot of wash b/c there is an adult in the house who wets the bed sometimes, plus a dirty toddler. Also, he other adult's clothes are always spilled on and funky at the end of the day so they can not be worn more than one time.
I'm pretty sure we have more than 10 loads per week and that's not counting the times when the other adult has multiple accidents per day, several days in a row.
DH wears a uniform-type outfit to work in and needs a new shirt each day but wears his pants several times. He has enough shirts that I just save up a load and wash them on the weekends and then he folds them and puts them away. Then his heavy duty pants, work jacket, etc. make up another load that he also puts away. Once he is home he showers when he first comes in and then he has a lounging type outfit (track pants, tshirt) or pajamas on and generally he wears that 3-4 nights before I wash it.

Well, for bedding we usually don't put it away, just make sure to wash and dry it all that day and then it goes straight back on the bed. (I do have more than one set, but I'll rotate every few months- when someone is around to help me fold!- instead of every bed change)

Also, if DH was leaving his wet towels on the floor I'd just hang them up and have him use them again even if their a little funky. Really, he can either hang them up properly or wash them himself if he has a problem with that.

It sounds like you need to be a little more involved with DD getting dressed. Or at least make sure there are no dirty clothes around when she goes to bed at night. That way in the am you will know that anything thrown around is clean.

Also, how are you pre-sorting things? So the other adult is responsible for most of our laundry, but he has enough clothes that I don't wash anything of his during the week. (except for accidents, wet bedding) When I do wash on the weekends I do one load of all pants- mostly his plus my 2 pairs of jeans or if DH wore regular pants out socially or something. So then when I am folding I am on automatic pilot. Pants, pants, pants. Then we have a load of all shirts. No picking out a few pairs of underwear and then having a towel in the middle of it.

Also, I understand the desire to want to save up and do a bunch at once, which I sort of do by saving 80% of our laundry for the weekends. But I try to fold most of the loads when they come out (especially the easy bulky things like pants and towels.)
The little piddly stuff (underwear, DS's clothes, my thin tops) I will save and that I fold while watching a movie.
post #4 of 34
ok, 1st, fix dd's problem--keep the dresses up high and tell her that you will give her a choice between 2 dresses.

DH--talk to him and let him know that he will get one towel for the week. If he chooses not to hang it up, well, that's on him.

bath towel--everyone gets one for the week. Wash them when you wash the swim towel. (though honestly, I don't think i'd wash the swim towel weekly)

Ok, so now you'll have 1 load of jeans/pants
1 load of towels

Next, go get the shout color shields/color catchers. I swear by them. I can now just throw all the knits/cottons in together and not worry about sorting, etc.

I use a 3 bin laundry sorter--jeans/clothes/towels.

when folding the dry wash, I fold right into each person's basket, which helps a lot.

Talk to DH and tell him that you will wash, dry and fold, but he needs to put away. Tell him if he doesn't help, he must do his own laundry--and hold him to it!
post #5 of 34
I agree with getting dd to manage her clothes better - if she has a hamper for dirty clothes, then if she insists on throwing outfits on the floor, at least you can assume anything on the floor is clean.

My DH swims almost every day, and he hangs his towel dry for a few days before washing (just like bath towels).

I fold/sort as things come out of the dryer, which saves a step. I have a number of laundry baskets, so when clothes come out of the dryer, they get folded immediately and placed into one of two baskets - one for DH and me, the other for our sons (twins - they wear the same size, so I don't have to separate jeans or boxers). They have a lot of closet space, so their shirts go on hangers right out of the dryer - no folding required!

Whiles are simple for us - we all wear white cotton socks, but I make sure I always buy mine with pink heels and toes. DH and the boys all wear the same size socks, to it's just a matter of putting two pair in their basket for every one pair of DH's.

When they all three wore white briefs, and the boys were big enough that the size difference between theirs and DH's wasn't immediately obvious (but very obvious when putting them on!), I bought DH briefs with a dark waistband, and the boys got a white waistband. That saved a lot of time in sorting too.

Good luck!
post #6 of 34
another thought--why does your ds wear so many layers? Why can't he just wear a coat?
post #7 of 34
maybe night pees are totally different at that age, so ignore me if this is irrelevant, but here's my nighttime ec solution, working well for my 2 year old:

on top of the mattress protector, I have a wool blanket, a flat sheet, a wool blanket, a flat sheet, a wool blanket, a flat sheet... yup 3 of those. And we cosleep under a flat sheet and another wool blanket below the top layer of comforter. So, when there's a night pee, I strip off the affected flat sheets and wool blankets, and back to sleep we go. The next day, it's only the flat sheets that need washing, and the wool blankets go out to sun and dry. I find that even if they are not lanolized, there's no pee smell. Can't explain it, but there it is.

If that would work for big kid pees, it would save you a few big pieces of laundry at least.

And I agree with the pp who said let your dh use his funky towels. Mine does the same as yours, and has no memory of which towel he last used, nor does he really care. I keep mine and my son's dry and sorted, and the rest just lay there or get tossed over the shower rod. When he really gets done with one, or when I can't stand it - into the wash.

My rule for "can it go out in public?" depends on how stained and smelly it is. If I can stand it, anyone else can too. I have separate hooks and baskets for re-usable clothes, and the key is to get them into the right place when they come off the person, otherwise the laundry really builds up. Right now, my husband's re-usable basket is more full than the dirty laundry basket. In a few weeks, it'll overflow and I'll ask him to resort it. Til then, it's not my problem, and even then, it's one extra medium load.

I have no idea how you even manage to get your teeth brushed with 2 kids, so maybe just consider yourself lucky that you're all dressed on most days!
post #8 of 34
i feel your pain
post #9 of 34
when i was 6 years old, i had to help my mother fold the laundry and put away my clothes. my sister did the same at the same age. it was a chore that we did at night while watching TV, and then we had to put our clothes away at the commercial break.
post #10 of 34
Where do you find the wool blankets? Is that a common item to find at say Walmart? I do like that idea! We have a bedwetter and a little guy that sometimes leaks out of his cloth diaper. I sleep between them, you can guess that I wake up in wet sheets!
post #11 of 34
A hopefully helpful piece for your "outdoor kid": in Scandinavia and Germany, many mothers use what we call "Matschhose" in German ("mud pants"). Those are bib trousers from a fabric similar to a windbreaker / raincoat. I always used them when my younger boys had their "day (or week) in the woods" at preschool back in Germany. They really help!
I'm not sure where to buy them in the U. S. but I'm pretty sure you'd be able to find them in one of the online stores here.
post #12 of 34
Ok, I just g--gled "mud pants children" and here we go - that's what I was talking about: http://www.suseskinder.com/mudpants.htm
post #13 of 34
We have the opposite source but same problem! My dd and I both have limited clothing, and she's doing the typical 3 year old wear-the-same-clothes-every-day maneuver, so I do laundry every day. I no longer separate many things as I did when using a wringer washer, so the only time there's a separation of items is when I whiten up the white stuff. Typically, all is sent in the same load unless there's a bleeder in there. So, in the morning, I do the run through and dump it all in the washer and after work my first stop is the dryer. We rarely have laundry laying about, but if someone were to audit my procedure, they would find we do wash things that aren't really dirty. It's my trade-off for sanity.

A friend of mine uses one of those plastic shelving units for her laundry stacking after the fold. Family members must come to get the stuff from their shelf. It saved her on the running all over the house thing, and she had a place to point if the kids were saying "where's my _____"
post #14 of 34
Originally Posted by mymaybaby05 View Post
Where do you find the wool blankets?
Goodwill, Salvation Army, other thrift stores, and the closets of older relatives.
post #15 of 34
Originally Posted by Kivgaen View Post
ETA: How can I get my family to re-wear their clothes, and what is an "appropriate" amount of time to wear them?
We have mountains of laundry too but as far as this^ goes, DH was always throwing things in the laundry after wearing them once. I finally told him to look at the clothes & smell them. If they weren't visibly dirty & they didn't smell, put them back in the drawer. He will now keep out the smelly clothes too if he knows he's going to be working around the house the next day or something, but for the most part we rewear clothes until they become smelly or visibly dirty. So DS rewears clothes a lot less often than DH & I (and if something is borderline, it is worn to bed in place of pj's).
post #16 of 34
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by cheer mom View Post
another thought--why does your ds wear so many layers? Why can't he just wear a coat?
Because we live in Canada, and in the winter months, a coat just isn't good enough!
post #17 of 34
ohhhhhh! Gotcha!
post #18 of 34
From age 1, yep 12 months, DD has been helping around the house. Fun ways, easy stuff. However, that really set the stage for really helping now at age 9. Just an hour ago, she filled the laundry basket with a load of "mediums" (not darks and not whites ) for me to wash. I started the washer when I went downstairs to start dinner. (She wants a specific pair of jammies for a Girl Scout event tomorrow night. I do one load of laundry a day, but don't mind this kind of thing.)

She folds and puts away her own clothes, too, and has been doing it from at least age 5. Perfection is not required.

I generally wash, dry, fold, and put away all of mine and DH's clothes and most of the non-clothing items. DD helps with some. DH helps with some. He actually washed and dried the load of the day today (towels -- he was working from home today).

We all sort the clothing as it comes off our bodies. DD has a low set of hooks in her closet for re-wearable clothing. DH and I have hooks on our bathroom door for re-wearable items. I have gone over the sniff test and visibly dirty guidelines for DD several times as she has gotten older. We have a 3-bin sorter for dirty laundry (whites, mediums, darks) and I do one load per day (whichever is fullest) unless we need towels or sheets done. I do 5-6 loads of laundry per week.

Your DH can learn to hang up his towel and reuse it. He is a grown man. Make it easy for him by making sure there is room in the bathroom...a rod for him or a hook just for his towel. If he insists on dropping it in the bedroom, be creative and find something for him to hang it on in the bedroom (maybe as a temporary measure) so it can airdry and not smell funky. Leave it alone. Wherever he leaves it is where he'll find it when he needs it next. If he is accustomed to getting out a new towel from the linen closet every day, either move those until he adjusts to the new routine or find a way for him to hang his towel each day near the closet. Talk to him about the situation and ask for his ideas. Suggest some of the above, if he doesn't have any. Implement one of his ideas, if possible, at least temporarily. Make him feel good about helping you out!

Reduce your clothing. Divide it up somehow. Do anything to tame the laundry beast!

Something that worked wonders for my DD at your DD's age and continued until this year (3rd grade).... We divided her clothes into "categories". I forget the specifics right now, but vaguely:
1. daycare clothes (worst shape, which also became preschool clothes and later K-1 clothes...from 2nd grade on, her school clothes can be nicer)
2. play clothes (when I was with her and would see/take care of messes)
3. everyday clothes (eventually this became two drawers: one for tops and one for bottoms)
and 4. nice clothes (eventually this became only hung-up clothes).
One category per drawer. I determined the appropriate category for the following day (or that day, depending on work days, etc) and she chose the exact outfit from within that category. I said nothing about what she chose when I didn't care for the combination. I praised her for getting dressed in a timely manner and thanked her for cleaning up any mess she may have made. Nice dresses were hung up and off-limits. Other dresses were folded and put in the appropriate drawer and were viable options any time that category was appropriate.
post #19 of 34
You've gotten lots of great advice. I think the toughest challenge is to get your family involved. Start with small changes, make habits little by little for your kids and for your dh. I have read several of your threads on organizing and cleaning and it sounds like you are overwhelmed. It's not easy going from messy to an organized and clean home and if you try to do everything all at once it might get overwhelming.

I am trying to reform my cluttered ways and keep a clean house with two LOs and a DH who does 50% of the work and it is still hard! Our house is moderately clean, meaning a guest could drop by and I wouldn't be embarrased. But we both clean all the time. I bet we each spend an hr a day doing chores, not all at once. Our laundry still piles up, but there are mire important places in the house to attend to. I like clean kitchen and counters so that gets done continuously.
post #20 of 34
I don't have much time so I didn't read the replies, but I have experienced my own laundry woes so I've been there. My ideas, sorry if they repeat:

1) Culling clothes has made a big impact. This step doesn't reduce laundry per se but it forces you to keep up with it, so it doesn't get so overwhelming. Personally, when laundry exceeded a certain amount I got overwhelmed and the problems began - like not getting to folding them and putting them away, and then the clean got all mixed up with the dirty and then I'd be even further behind.

2) My DD likes to wear a bunch of dresses too, and honestly I just consider a dress I find on the floor clean unless I see something dirty on it. I also have been working with DD to insist that she put a dress away when she changes one - she has a box of play dresses and also a drawer. I am not picky about play dresses staying in the play dress box and the regular dresses in the drawer, I just want to see them put away when changed. (Yes, of course the dresses wrinkle if not hung up but I'm not talking about expensive crepe stuff, just play dresses).

3) DH likes to toss his JACKETS in the wash, and lately I've just taken them out and hung them right back up instead of washing them every time. If that means a jacket is a little funky from being next to a wet towel I don't care. If DH cares, he can keep his jackets out of the laundry pile unless they are really dirty, you know?. So my point is, just because someone else in the house isn't cooperating, it doesn't mean you have to deal with the consequences. Some consequences can be put back on the other person

4) Along the lines of the above, you can consider hanging up your DH's towels when you find them. If they are smelly, too bad for him. He can learn to hang them up. That obviously only works if he uses them instead of reaching for the next clean towel. Personally, I have fought the towel fight with my husband and I've chosen to drop it. That's not meant as advice, just sharing my experience.

I don't have advice for the swimming and towels thing - I have only 1 DD and even that does seem to increase the laundry. Same with the mucky layers for DS, no ideas on that.

When I fold clothes I do a bunch at once and sort them by owner (mine, DH, DD and towels/household). I have noticed the biggest pile by far is DH followed by the towel/household pile (which is invariably mostly DH too). DD's pile is small (but she is small too) and mine is the same size as hers.

You could get an extra laundry hamper for your DH, a different style or color so it's never mixed up with any others. And his clean stuff just gets dumped in there and it's up to him. He can fold it or he can just keep it there and fish through it when he needs stuff. If you do this, I wouldn't make it a big deal, and I'd even fold it every now and then if I had the time/urge - but it would take the pressure off of you to always keep up with it, and remove the resentment from both sides. Obviously that's assuming he doesn't wear collared shirts and pants that need pressing or anything like that. But even if he does, you can still do this method partially - just throw the socks, underwear, tshirts, jeans, sweatshirts and so on in the special basket and ONLY tackle the stuff that needs to be hung up.
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