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Domestic Goddesses - I need help with laundry!

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Can you ladies give me some tips on how to better manage laundry? I do laundry for myself, my husband, and our baby.. We each have a TON of clothes, and all go thru them quickly leaving lots of laundry needing to be washed. I have 3 clothes bins- one for me, one for hubby, one for baby.

I get so overwhelmed with it so what winds up happening is I wash it all, but then only half get hung up. I REALLY get stressed when the laundry isn't done, I like the house nice and tidey and the laundry not being done really bugs me But it seems that the only way I can manage it is if I spend an entire day as a "laundry" day. And that is soo hard with a 4month old.

I've tried doing one load a day but that failed. So for those of you who successfully keep the laundry mostly kept up, and hung up/put away, what's the secret?
post #2 of 28
I have only one laundry basket that gets normal use. When it is full, I do a load. Sometimes this means every day and sometimes it takes a few days. Either way, its annoying to have it overflowing when I could just quickly throw it in the wash.

We have a lot less clothing so even if I'm really behind, its hard to have TOO much to do. Our clothes all total maybe 2 or 3 loads and towels/kitchen things all equal one load and diapers/wipes all equal one load.

We rewear things. If it doesn't smell and nothing spilled on it, its fair game to be worn again. Washing things wears them down so it has the added benefit of our clothes staying nicer longer. anything we plan on rewearing doesn't get put in the basket obviously, I set it on a shelf. It is easier to get laundry done when one wear doesn't automatically require a wash, especially considering we often don't wear things for a full day anyway.

As for putting away, that is my weak spot as well. I find that it is easiest to sort my laundry to put away. Since I do the basket = a load rule rather than sorting by room or by color to wash, this means I have all sorts of things in the load. I can organize the clean load therefor by where it goes. For me, my piles usually are something like 'closet' 'dresser' 'kiddo's room' 'bathroom' 'kitchen.' Then I put it away in whatever order seems most convenient. This almost always means putting the dresser pile away first and the closet pile away second for me personally. This is especially convenient because I can always put the kitchen pile in the kitchen to actually put AWAY away later when I'm in there already same for bathroom and kiddo piles. I might still have the mess, but its in smaller piles that I can find the few minutes it will take to put away when I'm actually IN that room so it feels less messy to me. It seems to go a lot faster not folding everything and THEN putting it away, but just sorting and putting away based on location, especially considering most of our clothes get hung so its a waste of time to fold and then unfold to hang. I can zip right through when I know everything I grab is just getting hung. same for towels, I can fold them as I go but when I know everything is about to be placed in the closet I'm standing in front of, there are no pauses... quick fold and place. done.

I had to start this once I had a kid too. laundry is easily the worst chore because there are so many steps and you have to wait to do each one. You can't just DO it like you can vacuum a room or clean a mirror.

as for the 4 month old, I found even at that young age sometimes she could help if I could muster up the patience. giving her a new item from the laundry pile every few minutes to catch her fancy or putting her in or under the basket to amuse her kept her calm long enough to get at least most of laundry done. It was frustrating and hard oftentimes but sometimes I could incorporate her into the chore a little bit to keep my sanity and keep her chill.
post #3 of 28
I have struggled with laundry too, and here's my secret. I don't always keep up, but it works well when I do it.

I do a load every morning. My washer is a frontloader w/a timer so I can set it to wash in up to six hours, so I usually load it before I go to bed, then the wash is done in the morning. I hang it up (we no longer have a dryer) first thing in the morning, and then when I get home I fold it into hampers.

Each kid has their own hamper, which they are old enough to clean out every day, and then I put washcloths, towels, sheets, dh's and my stuff, etc. in another one and put it away immediately. I fold it as I take it off the rack, so that actually makes it easier than when we had a dryer, but you could just fold it as you take it out of the dryer.

My downfall is socks, but my dd usually does them as her chore, so that helps.

Can you figure out what you can skip folding? If you use cloth diapers, they could just go in loose? I think the secret is really to fold and put away immediately. I'm also a super-fast folder, I don't care if it's perfect. My dh is a meticulous folder and can spend half an hour on one load. I can do a load in about 5-10 minutes.
post #4 of 28
Originally Posted by Dixielane View Post
I do laundry for myself, my husband, and our baby.. We each have a TON of clothes, and all go thru them quickly leaving lots of laundry needing to be washed.
Herein lies the source of your problem...too many clothes.

Of course with a baby they need to be changed regularly but not having too many outfit options will reduce how many you are throwing in the wash. Perhaps weed down how many clothes she has to your favourites, and donate the rest?

I agree with the OP that you can also try wearing them for longer, or even airing clothes if they are not dirty, and just need a freshening up.

I don't have any magical secrets to laundry, just have to keep doing it day after day....with 3 children, I find I have to do washing every day. When they were babies, I kept a bucket in the laundry sink and tossed things in there to soak, so they were easier to wash when it was time to wash.

I hang all my clothes, and only put towels in the tumble dryer. When the clothes on the line are dry, I fold them straight from the line into piles according to who they belong to. I then either hand that pile to the child to put away, or if they are out, I will take their pile to their room and just put them straight away.

Have you considered carrying the baby in a pouch while you do the laundry? That way you can keep doing housework and not having to leave the baby.
post #5 of 28
i also do the laundry for the three of us, and i think that--literally all told--we have 4 loads of laundry (that includes "whites" meaning towels, sheets, etc).

i mostly do mixed laundry--meaning all on cold, with baking soda and a bit of soap and a vinegar rinse. every once and a while, i'll do an all whites, hot load (includes his training pants, as he is now two, but because we EC and he is pretty much a graduate (one miss a day or less right now), we don't really have to worry about stinky trainers).

as soon as it is dry (either from the line or from the dryer), i fold it up and put it into our dresser. All three of us share a dresser, so this makes it easy. it takes about 5 minutes for me to fold a load and put it away.

so, the first step truly is having less.
post #6 of 28
What didn't work out when you were doing a load a day?

We also have quite a bit of clothing(I have the least among us). The boys' laundry goes together. Mine and DH's laundry goes together. We wash towels together. Sheets are done a set at a time because they're so big(sometimes I combine the boys' because they're smaller).

I do about two loads a day. Today I'm doing clothes. I already have the boys' clothes into the dryer. When the dryer is done, I'll take the basket of clothes into the boys' room and fold and put away right then. I'll do mine and DH's clothes when DH wakes up, and do the same.... put away as soon as it's done.

Tomorrow, because I did clothing today, I'll do towels. Sheets won't need to be done until later in the week.

If I don't do laundry every day, it piles up, and gets out of control.
post #7 of 28
I do laundry twice a week. Wednesdays I wash colored clothes, which is usually only one load for all of us. Sundays, I wash everything. That ends up being about 5 loads, depending on the week. But then I fold as everything comes out of the dryer and it goes into each person's basket and when I'm done I put it all away.

I do towels and sheets on Saturdays while I'm cleaning.

I could never do the load a day thing. I like having set times to get it done and then have it finished for a few days. You could downsize your clothes, but I don't. I like having a variety and not having to do laundry constantly because I only have 3 shirts. Plus I think it makes them wear out faster.
post #8 of 28
I find that the fold-put-away cycle is the one that slows me down, so I do what I can to lessen that.

I washed baby clothing separately from adult clothing. This makes for easier sorting, I feel. Also, I stick with as few styles of clothing as possible, especially for baby. So, my babe wore onsies and pants or a sleeper. Rarely did he wear a sweater or top. When he finally wore socks, they were 12 pairs of the same style and color. MUCH faster fold-put-away.

This is the only tip I can give you that hasn't been mentioned already.
post #9 of 28
I do laundry once a day on most days. I sort colors, whites, towels / washchloths / family cloth, jeans often go extra. (We're 6 people, so usually that works out.) I don't like the "laundry once a week" system because it gets too overwhelming.

For me the trick is to deal with it right away. I usually wash in the morning, hang or dry preferably as soon as the load is done, and fold right away from the dryer or laundry rack. I'm a bit finicky about hanging clothes but I find that it makes for easier folding and less ironing.
post #10 of 28
I also do at least 1 load a day (often 2 - one of 'household' laundry like sheets/towels, and sometimes skip a day or 2 a week). We hang dry most of the clothes, and I'll fold as many as I can once I've put a new load in to wash. I *do* have a shelf for clean, folded laundry in the laundry room so I put everything there once it's dry/folded. people have their own shelf for clean clothes on it.
Getting it upstairs is a whole other thing, but people can always just run downstairs and find something on their shelf if needed (so there are always usually clean things, they might just not be in your dresser if you haven't brought your piles upstairs).

I do mix all our clothes (me, dh, dd1, dd2) and wash by color, but both dd's have their own laundry place so if they're specifically running out of anything I grab theirs and wash mainly their clothes. Dh & I otherwise use our laundry chute (which dh empties & sorts).

IF you go through and thin out your clothes, though, it helps a ton. Laundry is easiest and least overwhelming on the occasions I've done that.
post #11 of 28
It helps me to keep our laundry separate. We are disorganized right now, but when we each had our own hamper and basket it was easier for me. One of my biggest problems is when it all gets messed up and then I end up leaving a bunch of piles on my bed instead of just sticking it in the drawers.
I also do little things, like hang songs in pairs, so I can just fold them together as I take them off the line. If I am not in a rush to beat the rain, I fold as I'm bringing it off the line.
post #12 of 28
We are a family of 5 women (3 girls), so we have a lot of laundry. At least 20 outfits a week, since I tend to re-wear a lot of stuff if it's not dirty or stinky.

Mama's, I have finally thrown in the towel and am paying our cleaning lady $10 (that's all she wants!!) extra a week to help me fold and put away laundry. I could absolutely NOT say no to that price. The only thing is that I'm doing our underwear 'cause that just sorta makes me feel weird! LOL!
post #13 of 28
Do you hang laundry to dry, or just to store? Honestly, it's terrible of me, but if I didn't have a dryer, I'd never manage to stay on top of it.

What works for me is the load a day thing--before I go to bed at night, I put a load in the washer and switch one to the dryer and run them both. When I get up in the morning, I make sure I'm up before the kids, and I do the same thing. I don't hang for storage, because I find folding easier than wrestling with hangers. Right now, most of the clothes live downstairs, and the kids go down and get something if they need it and it's not in their rooms.

I'm hearing more and more people talk about doing a "family closet" where everything lives in the laundry room or nearby, and people get their own stuff as they need it. My aunt uses her formal dining room, which they never used, as a laundry staging area for that purpose.

I'm not always on the ball with laundry, but when I am, the twice-a-day switch is what keeps things going for me. Of course, you should also cut yourself some slack in that area too. You're a new mama with a teeny-tiny needy baby. Don't let laundry bring you down
post #14 of 28
Weed out and sell or donate any clothes that you don't really love. My clothing takes up one dresser. Each of my kids has about two weeks worth of clothes.

With owning less stuff, there's less that can pile up.
post #15 of 28
Originally Posted by BCFD View Post
We are a family of 5 women (3 girls), so we have a lot of laundry. At least 20 outfits a week, since I tend to re-wear a lot of stuff if it's not dirty or stinky.

Mama's, I have finally thrown in the towel and am paying our cleaning lady $10 (that's all she wants!!) extra a week to help me fold and put away laundry. I could absolutely NOT say no to that price. The only thing is that I'm doing our underwear 'cause that just sorta makes me feel weird! LOL!
I once had a job in grad school where I did the children's laundry. Once a week - 2-3 loads, including soaking and scrubbing for stains. I read while the laundry was washing and drying. It took the better part of an afternoon, but this was pre-cell-phone and pre-laptop, so I got a lot of concentrated reading in.

(cooking dinner 5 nights a week, and the grocery shopping once a week were also a part of the job.)
post #16 of 28
Declutter as much as possible (get rid of anything stained, holes, doesn't fit etc.)

We have two laundry baskets. When one gets full it gets brought downstairs and then sorted into a 3-sorted-basket-thingy. Whites in one, Towels in one and everything else in the other (when we have our second kid we might get another 3 sorter and also start sorting by "person).

When one of those 3 is full, that is the load that goes in, then it gets switched over to dry and then carried back up in the other laundry basket (so one lives upstairs and one down and those two are always switching). Then right then and there I dump it out on the bed, fold it all and put it away immediately.

This system has worked for over a year now, so i'm sticking with it
post #17 of 28
I actually find the once-a-week laundry day to work pretty well, but that is pretty much the *only* thing I plan on doing on that day. No going out, no other cleaning, just the basics. For me it's a time management thing--if I can remember and keep on top of it, I can get it washed, dried, and folded in one day, and then I will save the putting away for the next day. That way it's not hanging over my head all week.

Also, you might consider your clothing usage, and whether it's possible to rewear some things. Jammies, for instance. And using towels twice instead of once makes a huge difference. I can always tell when my sister is home because suddenly the laundry pile is massive--multiple towels and multiple changes of clothing every day.
post #18 of 28
here is how i fold and put away.

i take an arm-full (not a basket) of clothes from the dryer to my bed. i put it on my bed, and i stand between my bed and my dresser--which is where all of the clothes go. i divide the clothes into piles based on where those clothes go. 1 for underwear drawer; one for DH's drawers; one for DS's drawer; one for mine; and one for trainers/towels/etc that go in the linen closet.

then, i fold baby's and as i fold i put it into the drawer, then mine, the DH's then undergarments, and then linen closet and i walk those out to the closet and put them away.

whole process takes 10 minutes max, and usually far less.
post #19 of 28
DH and I have a laundry basket in our room; our sons' rooms are near the laundry room, so they just throw their clothes in a basket there. I have a separate small basket for whites - socks and underwear.

Sometimes it works out that there is a full load of boys' clothes, sometimes a full load of our clothes, sometimes a mixture. I do a load when I have a full basket.

The washing and drying are easy; I agree that the putting away is the challenge!

Recently I started doing something that streamlined the whole process. I bought new hangers, so we have plenty. There's a rod in the laundry room for hanging clothes. Shirts go directly from the dryer to the hanger, and sorted by room on the rod. Then it's easy peasy to carry the hangers to the designated room, and put them right in the closet. I wish I'd thought of this years ago!

The remaining clothes are jeans and pajamas, which require minimal folding.

We try to keep socks simple. DH and the boys all wear the same size, and the same style white cotton socks. I simply match up a pair, and throw two pairs into the boys' basket for every one in DH's basket. My socks have pink heels and toes, so they are easy to sort. The boys wear boxers; DH wears tidy whiteys, so those are easy to sort as well.
post #20 of 28
I don't sweat the laundry much. I wash when we have a pile, I dry, I fold while having a beer after the kids go to bed. Sure, there will be more tomorrow. And the day after that. Honestly, I think the trick is to let go of the idea that the laundry will ever be 'done'. With a baby and a house full of people, dirty clothes are a daily given.

So, that's my big idea -- don't sweat it!

And if you really have so many clothes, why not weed a few out? Sounds like volume might be an issue for your family.
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