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making laundry simple?

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I need help!


We're a family of 5, with number 6 on the way, and I do two loads of laundry every day.  When I'm using cloth dipes it's 3 loads a day.  We have a HE front loader and dryer, and we're on a well with very "hard water" (iron and sulfer mostly).  Each load of laundry takes an hour to wash and an hour to an hour and a half to dry so two loads (or three!) is a serious chunk of time.


I've tried cutting back on the amount of dirty laundry being generated, but with three small children and a DH who often gets messy at work (he is in biomed but necropsy is a dirty job!) there isn't a lot to cut.  The only thing I sort if dirty dipes... everything else goes in the same load.


So...how do YOU minimize, organize, simplify, or survive the laundry?

post #2 of 18
I'm no laundry expert, so I should start off with that. But I have read here that the only way to cut back is to limit the number of outfits you each have. No more than 7-10 days worth of clothing. If you do 2 or 3 loads every day, without fail, then I don't know if that will help. Another thing I read on here is to have a family closet. All clothing in one place saves time with putting it away. Hanging is supposed to be faster than folding.

I finally had my 6 yO start putting her own laundry away, and it really does help. She hangs the pants and shirts for an outfit on the same hanger and picking out clothes is much easier that way. I just put her stuff in the basket, I lay it flat or fold it, and she puts it away on the weekends.

But I have about 4 loads of laundry on my couch waiting to be folded (and I guess I should put it away too) and then another 4 waiting to be washed. We are just a family of 4, and I decided to forgo the cloth diapers this time around because i just stink at keeping up with laundry.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

LOL... I actually wasn't including the time required to put things away... we don't fold, and the 5yo and 3yo do put their own stuff away most of the time (each kiddo has an open shelving system with those "cloth storage cube" things... shirts in one cube, pants in another, underwear/socks in another, and so on).


I remember as a kid we used a coin op in town so I KNOW it was a once a week deal.  And I remember in junior/high school that my brother and I would fight for the laundry chore because it meant spending most of a day sitting in a heated/air conditioned laundry reading magazines.  But I don't remember using a dozen machines at a time!  Maybe the double and triple loaders of the coin op are distorting my memories!


We do re-use bath towels and I re-wear pants that haven't been totally "child-handled" but there have to be other things that I can streamline.  I'm afraid that when the babe arrives I might be in a 3-4 load a day scenario and that is NOT good!  LOL

post #4 of 18
I don't wash clothes unless they are really dirty. I also let dd stay in her pjs all day if it's cold outside(because she wears a snowsuit, so who cares). That has helped a lot. Try to get into the habit of quickly spot cleaning your clothes if they get a little smudge here and there. Oh, and wear an apron! I wear an apron all day. It helps a lot.
post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 

I LOVE aprons!  I have a few and you're right... they rock!  I'm usually the only person in the house who can re-wear clothes.  What are you using for spot cleaning?


I've thought about making some sort of "pinafore" for the girls that they could wear over their clothes... if the fabric was light weight it might reduce the laundry load or at least keep "regular" clothes clean enough to re-wear.  We do a lot of steampunk and browncoat activities and I've seen some really amazing "mad scientist/girl mechanic" aprons that I think I could get the girls into without much effort.  It's just a question of making them!


My 5yo attends preschool several days a week (it's a waldorf inspired farm school so they muck out stalls, care for the chickens, garden, play in streams, etc... they take pride in the motto "your child WILL get dirty" LOL) and my 3yo daughter has sensory processing disorder and chooses her own clothes so the only person I really have full wardrobe control over is my 1yo.  And he is somehow able to walk through an empty room and come out the other side with banana smeared across his shirt, unidentifiable squish coming out of his pockets, and mud in his hair.  LOL  Apparently my DH was the same as a toddler and he "grew out of it" but I'm still waiting for that miracle to happen with ds.  I do throw those "smock bibs" on him...


And while we don't do family cloth, we do use cloth for everything possible... napkins, tissues, dish clothes, wipes, and so on are all cloth.  It's not a huge amount on it's own, but it does add up.  When I'm doing cloth dipes I throw those things in the dipe wash too and it's a full load of just "necessary fabric squares".


Just curious, but if you have a family with several young children (3, 4, 5, more), about how much laundry do you do?  In a day or a week?  Maybe I should just devote a whole day to laundry?  But then where would I keep the dirty laundry?  (we live in a small cabin, the bathroom where the washer/dryer lives is more of an alcove off the main living area... there is barely room for extra tp, let alone laundry, so putting dirty clothing/clothes right into the washing machine has been our solution to space issues).  The girls are great with sorting and putting away clothing, but I'm looking froward to the day when the kiddos can run the loads!

post #6 of 18

I have 3 small children (8 mo, 2, and 4).  We use cloth napkins, rags, towels, etc (we do use toilet paper).  We cloth diaper.  My 2 year old is a heavy wetter at night, and a couple of times a week, I wash sheets, too (but he's still in a crib, so small sheets).  I send dh's shirts to the cleaners.  He rewears his pants several times.  I rewear my pants a few times as well, but my shirts are always a mess. 


I do laundry every other day, which mostly works out to Monday, Wednesday, Friday (I will do it on the weekends, but prefer not to).   I wash about 4-5 loads on Monday, then 2 or 3 on Wed and Friday.  This includes diapers.  This has been the best system I can find to keep up with it.  It gives me a few days a week that I don't think about it, which is nice, and I just power through on laundry days.

post #7 of 18

My kids are similar ages to yours - 6, 4, 2, and 8 months.  DH is in the military so he wears uniforms at work then t-shirts/jeans at home, we have 2 in cloth diapers, family cloth in one bathroom (well, when I'm caught up on laundry, if not then it's the first to go!), cloth napkins, tissues, dish cloths, etc., so similar cloth use to yours.  And it's just a lot of laundry! 


Theoretically I think that if I ever get caught up (that's a big if!) then 2 loads a day, 3 loads on diaper laundry days, would keep me caught up.  But something always happens and I fall behind and it's hard to catch up again.  Somebody has an accident at night and then there's an extra load of sheets/mattress pads/blankets to wash, the cat throws up on our king-sized comforter, DD2 (2.5) is potty-learning and has 5 accidents in a day, somebody throws up - I just call it a biohazard day and that can easily throw the laundry offtrack for a week.  If nobody is involuntarily going commando then I just call it good.  DS1 (6) can carry his own laundry down and start it in the front loader as long as I leave a cup of soap down for him, I usually keep it up high on a shelf because my toddler is obsessed with all things messy.  He can't put it in the dryer yet because our washer/dryer are stacked.  My 4 year old DD1 can carry the girls' mesh basket of dirty laundry down to the laundry room and put the clothes into the washer but I start it.

post #8 of 18

We are a family of 5 soon to be 6.  There's DH, DD (6), DS (4), DS (almost 2), and myself and we're expecting DS3 in April.  We do a ton of laundry!  I'd say on an average week I wash 10+ loads of laundry.  We have a HE washer/dryer also and even though they hold more I still do that much laundry.  Our washer takes 45 min-1hr to wash and about an hour to dry.  Diapers take 1 1/2 - almost 2 hours to wash (30 min rinse, with 70 min wash)  Our washer has a timer, but it always takes longer than it says... The last "5 min" is usually more like 15!


I do find it easier to wash every ones stuff separately because that way I can take the clean clothes in the laundry basket and I don't have to figure out whose they are or where they have to go.  I know if I wash all my clothes together when I fold them they are all going in my room/into my dresser.  DH's clothes all go into the closet.  It also makes it easier for my 6 y/o to put her clothes away because she doesn't have to pick through a basket to find what clothes are hers.


I wash the kids clothes once a week, either on Sat or Monday.  1 load of darks for each child, and one load of whites for all of them together since the only whites they really have are socks and undershirts.  I try to do those 4 loads all in one day that way I can get them all folded and put away the same day and I don't have to worry about them again for a whole week.


DH wears work clothes, that I wash separate from our other clothes because he gets all kinds of stuff on his work clothes (construction work).  He has enough clothes that if I wash his work clothes on Sun he has enough for the week as well.  He also wears jeans/sweat pants around the house but he usually gets more than one wear out of those so I don't have to wash those so often, but with his socks and underwear I do his wash once a week also.  I wear most of my clothes more than once but still have to wash a load once a week.  All of the whites that DH and I wear get washed together.  So Sunday I usually end up washing 4 loads of laundry for DH and I, and then we are good for the whole week.


I also cloth diaper and try to mostly use family cloth, diapers get washed I'd say every other to every 2 days, I can tell when they need to get washed since we run out of family cloth.  Dish towels/napkins get washed when we are about to run out.. we can go almost a full week.  Bath towels and mats usually get washed once a week also.  The bedsheets and blankets don't get washed as often maybe every 3 weeks, unless there is an accident or they get really dirty for some odd reason.  I was doing a load a day, but it almost seems easier for me to do a few loads in a day a couple days a week and fill in on the off days as needed with diapers and stuff.


I think with so many people in the house there's just always going to be a lot of laundry, it's just part of life.

post #9 of 18

I try to have enough clothes for a full week for each child, and myself, so I can do a load for them only once or twice a week. I know for some people this doesn't work, but I much prefer doing one or two loads for the kids 1x or 2x a week.


How often are you washing sheets? We honestly wash less in winter cause we aren't as dirty/sweaty as spring, summer and fall. I was every couple of weeks in the winter and I don't do blankets all that often unless we need to.


Cloth- I did part time cloth, so I wasn't washing as often and by the time dd was nearing 2, I switched to sposies cause it was overwhelming- sorry I am not help on that.


post #10 of 18

I can't offer any suggestions...but just to say that it must get better as they get older! My ds's are 14/11 and myself and I do only 2 loads a WEEK for clothes and then one for bedding/one for family cloth/towels (I wash the FC a hot wash then add towels. We use cloth for everything and we homeschool and live in the boonies with animals so we're getting dirty. I'm sure when new babe arrives I will have more just with cloth diapers and probably another load a week. And I shouldn't even say "I" do it, as the boys do all the laundry!


But I think what really helps is that my ds's and myself have a very limited wardrobes. We usually wear the same things multiple days though we shower/bathe most every day (except for 11 yo which is every other). So we have underwear/t-shirt new every day, but we'll each use our same towel for showers for the week and hang them to dry in between. But we each have basically 2 pairs of jeans (1 good/1 work), few t-shirts, few long sleeve shirts, socks/undies, and then 'leggings' type pants we wear inside. I usually wear a skirt over those or the boys have sweats and/or wear shorts over them in winter as they love their shorts. Then of course we have some special occasion stuff and summer wear. But, our regularly used in-season clothing fits into ONE dresser (six drawers) and a small single door closet for the three of us. We used to live in a 200ish SF motorhome so they are used to limited clothing choices/space. And they maybe because they are boys, they care as much about what they've got on as long as it's appropriate to the activity? But also homeschooling means they aren't big trend followers either. My oldest is dx Asperger's/Tourettes and is sensitive about clothing, but he got to pick what he has and it's just what he likes. I find that having less choices makes it all easier too. You just have to put on what's there! That's all there is!


They are also old enough to understand there are 'dirty' clothes for outside play and then 'clean' clothes for inside and to switch in between.


This time of year, they usually wear sweats or 'leggings type pants', t-shirt, and a sweatshirt inside. The sweatshirt they will likely wear all week as it's just over clean clothes. And if they spill something on it, they clean it up with some water/handsoap and keep it on or hang to dry if too dirty. They have a pair of jeans hanging in our mudroom that they put on to go outside and play/work. They usually just pull on over the leggings type pants (they'd die if they heard me call them leggings...they are boys! LOL) and then when they come in remove and hang. The jeans only get washed 1x a week. So, your suggestions of an apron/pinny for your girls would probably help keep them cleaner!


If we go to town, they will pull out clean jeans/shirts/etc. but when we come home, at least the jeans get hung on a hook in their closet to wear again when needed. Shirt may or may not depending how dirty they got in town.


Also how I've cut down on bedding laundry is that each bed has a sheet/pilllowcase/duvet cover and I can fit all three beds (all fulls) into one load. The duvet covers I made by sewing together two full size sheets and then a fitted on the bed. I got all the same solid colors for fitteds/cases and did the duvets different for each of us. But no blankets/quilts/top sheets/etc. to wash also. I wash the down comforters a few times a year.


So, I don't know if that helps....but it will get better as they get older I think!

post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 

sheets- my mom would be horrified but they get washed maybe every other week unless there is an accident (knock on wood 3yo dd2 is usually dry overnight so accidents are usually leaks from the 1yo).  And even then it's just a single fitted sheet and a duvet... the girls each have an air mattress and sleeping bag if they want "private sleep space" and those get washed every month or so.


I like the idea of a different person each day!  How do you pre-sort?  We have one big room downstairs and one sleep loft upstairs so not a lot of space, but I could maybe hang fabric laundry sacks up on the railing.  That could work!


amount of clothing- we have enough for a week, maybe a week and a half.  It's tough during the winter since some things get "doubled"... like, dd1 has 7 shirts but also 4 sweaters/polar fleece tops so she can layer as needed.  Same with the rest of us.  I'm looking forward to summer when the fabric weight is less, the fabric volume is less, and some things will be line dried.  :)  And I hope you're right about getting better with age!  Dh actually suggested the same thing, that maybe once the kiddos outgrow the really hands on all the time stages of childhood it'll be easier for them to get through a day (because they'll actually use things like aprons and gloves and smocks as intended instead of putting those things on and then wiping their hands on their bums anyway).


I have to admit it's both a little depressing and a little reassuring to hear that my 10-12 loads/week isn't that far off the norm.  I seriously don't remember doing this much laundry as a kid but then... I grew up in a family of 4, my parents were academics and not getting "messy" at work, we didn't use fabric for much other than bath towels and clothing, we used coin op double and triple loaders once a week, and we certainly used several of those machines at once.  So maybe it was a similar volume, just done more quickly with the industrial sized machines.


post #12 of 18

i suggest checking your dryer vents.  HE washers are great about getting clothes fairly dry so the longer wash cycle is off set by a quicker drying time, as the clothes aren't as wet.  all but my towels easily dry in 30mins or less

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Vents are clean (we're building our home as we live in it and the dryer vents were actually moved in November so I KNOW they're clean the whole way through... I was hoping the move would shorten drying time but it hasn't seemed to affect things one way or the other) and I clean the lint filter with each use.  We don't use dryer sheets, and the heat is always set to high (according to the repair guy the temp is hitting the correct range).  It's a Frigidaire Affinity HE front loading washer/dryer pair that we bought new three years ago... and I have to say we had 4 service calls on the washer in the first year and were really underwhelmed by the quality of what should have been a good product.  It was an expensive and massively researched purchase and I sort of feel like we would have been better served by a cheaper knock off.


At least the service visits were all covered by warranty but we were /this close/ to demanding a replacement washer.


I did try doing a "spin only" cycle on the washer to get things extra dry but it just seemed to cancel itself out.  So I figured streamlining would be a better time saver overall.

post #14 of 18

I don't know where you live, but when I can hang dry laundry is much simpler. I have a line that can take 3 loads, so I wash everything, then go outside to hang, and take it down when I get the time. Saves running up and down starting loads and checking the dryer, and having wet laundry sit and get musty.

post #15 of 18

Just an FYI, our front-loader HE washer matching dryer is horrible too! I have two homes and this one has the nice 'matching set' I don't even remember what brand. But, the other has a nice front loader and a 10 yr old Maytag dryer. That one will dry virtually anything from the front loader in 30 mins. The one here that matches the HE washer takes usually two spins on the matching dryer at 41 mins each. If I set it manually to 60 mins, it usually isn't even dry totally. I just went to hanging a lot of stuff, but that's hard in the winter.

post #16 of 18

We are three (soon to be four) with a two year old who likes his mess.  We do all cloth except TP, I wash our sheets every week or every other week, toddler sheets and duvet cover and towels once a week. Monkey sometimes gets to wear pants twice, but usually that is because we give up on pants for him after nap. PJs occasially get two wearings, but usually they get covered in yogurt. I can get a few days out of jeans and most days can keep a shirt clean enough (toddler snot is a killer). Husband works in an office, so needs a new button down shirt every day (I love Lands' End no iron ones) and I wash two or three pairs of wool dress pants a week. We line dry during the summer, but the midwest winter means the dryer. I love the idea of smocks to cut down on outfit changes and wear aprons (I just need a good nursing apron design)


I do 5 loads a week of clothes etc.  Cold, whites, lights, brights and darks. I sort in the hall before I start from our two compartment hamper, the boy's hamper and the kitchen bag into Ikea blue bags. I do it all on Monday. I am at home and find it easiest to get it all out of the way at once. I work really hard to get it folded out of the dryer and sorted into big LL Bean totes by room to get put away. That is my week spot and if I did laundry every day it would never get done. Ever.There are also two or sometimes three loads of cloth diapers throughout the week as needed. I do a midweek wash only if something needs can not wait. Since most of the laundry is done on Monday, it is not displacing anything and does not throw us off. If and when we get to be more people/laundry, I think I will add Thursday laundry and do non clothes then.



If you are not sorting by colour, I would do a rough sort by weight so that your dryer loads will not all take a long time.

Check your dryer temperature too. My dyer venting is terrible (rental) and I can only get things dry on high.

http://www.mamaslaundrytalk.com/ is devoted to the topic (she has four under six) and makes for a good read.

post #17 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thanks, I'll check that site out!


We do line dry in the summer, but winter makes that a "not so good" option (2 degrees this morning with over two feet of snow on the ground lol) and we live in a very wooded area... lots of wind but heavy items don't dry (towels for instance just stay damp) since there is no direct sun.  So sheets and tshirt weight stuff do go out in the summer.


I actually hold up the laundry to the dryer speed to try and not have the "wet laundry getting stinky" backlog.  That might be an idea for others too.

post #18 of 18

Laundry stink- I tend to throw a load in at night before bed and dry in the morning. In the fall, winter,spring this isn't a problem for stink but in summer it is a different matter. I will also throw a load in before I leave to go somewhere, so I don't waste time sitting home doing laundry. Not sure if this would help you, I know you mentioned slowing down the wash time to catch up with the dry time, but this has really saved me time.

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