Tips for keeping up with laundry - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 40 Old 01-14-2009, 02:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm having trouble. History: We have 3 small kids, we've just decluttered and are trying to downsize our stuff and simplify everything. We are almost done!!! It is so great. Anyway, I'm having trouble with one last thing ... the laundry. I can't keep up, our laundry room is a mess all the time. What do I do? Any tips on keeping things sorted and done? I feel like I have to do 500 loads of laundry a week. Like I'm in a race with the laundry and the laundry is always winning. It is crazy. The kids go through a lot of clothes -- I've got 2 young boys who are potty trained and that do have accidents (one more than the other) and a toddler who makes a mess of her clothes everyday. I just started to get caught up this week and now I've still got 5 real loads plus a few random loads to go.

I need a simple routine. Do I need to go out and buy better sorting containers? What are your suggestions?
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#2 of 40 Old 01-14-2009, 03:03 PM
 
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I know where you are coming from!! I have a bunch of little ones at home and it always seems like there is laundry that needs something..wash,fold,dry put away! I literally have to do a little bit every day or we'll either run out of clothes or I'll be washing non stop for days. I ended up buying several laundry baskets and labeled them (label them how it works for you) lights,darks,kids lights,kids darks, towels/linens. Then everyday I put the clothes into their appropriate basket when a particular basket was full I washed. I found for me that i had very limited time to do laundry and I would always spend half my time just trying to sort the mountain of laundry so I found if i did a little each day then it wouldnt be overwhelming and if i had a few minutes I could just grab and basket and dump in the washer and plus I knew everything in the basket went to the same place (room wise at least) I also set up a schedule of laundry for each week day. Monday-linens tuesday/thurs-kids wed-lights thurs-darks I knew what i needed to get done for that day no thinking about it. It has helped me keep on top of our mountains of laundry. Plus it has helped when DH has been home and he sees my "schedule" and automatically knows what to do and I dont have to stand there and help him sort laundry.
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#3 of 40 Old 01-14-2009, 03:12 PM
 
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I have trouble keeping up with it myself. I have a sorter in our closet (one part for DH's uniforms, one for other clothes, one for towels & sheets), DS has a basket in his room and there's another basket in DDs' room. If I do one load of clothes and one what I call a maintenance load (diapers, family cloth, kitchen linens, basically anything not clothes) a day then that will keep me caught up. But, I have to actually get caught up first for that to work.

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#4 of 40 Old 01-14-2009, 03:15 PM
 
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I would probably start by doing a load a day. Even if that means that you put it in at bedtime and swap it out in the morning. Make it a part of your daily routine so that you never get buried under a mountain of it. If you generate 7 loads a week, then you're doing 1 load a day and it's much more manageable than spending all day doing 7 loads.

For myself, we don't generate quite as much laundry as you do, but what's really helped me to get it done is rather than just walking away and forgetting about it, I set a timer that I take with me wherever I wind up, so that I know when the washer is done and needs to be swapped, or the dryer is done and needs to be emptied (our laundry's in the basement, so I can't hear it). Then the clean laundry gets dumped on our bed, so we can't go to bed until it's folded and put away. Usually that means DH has to help me with it.

Because neither of us has to wear professional clothing anymore, our clothes laundry consists entirely of jeans/sweats/tshirts, etc., so I don't bother to sort it. I just grab a load's worth and go. I have a hamper in the bathroom that is just family cloth/kitchen cloth/towels/sheets, and the hamper in the bedroom is just clothes, so everything in a single hamper gets washed in the same way - again, no sorting needed. For me that was a huge time saver.

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#5 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 12:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Adamsmama View Post
I can't keep up, our laundry room is a mess all the time. What do I do? Any tips on keeping things sorted and done?
Not more bins! Over-sorting leads to lots of piles or bins waiting to collect enough more items to justify being run through the washer.

Getting clothing in and out of the washer is the primary objective.

Most clothing can be washed together ... it doesn't hurt towels to share with the sheets, or the underwear to share with shirts. Make every load count by running a full load as often as possible, or at least a medium load.

Most clothing can be washed in cold water: The stuff that says "Warm Wash, Warm Rinse" will do just fine in a cold/cold load. Set the washer on Cold Wash, Cold rinse, large load and forget about it. I've washed clothes for years with no hot water at all, except for the rare "ewwww, gotta hot water and bleach this" one.

Laundry soap will kill any germs you may be worried about.

Don't buy clothing that can't tolerate this laundry style - any exceptions that have to be washed on delicate, hung to dry, bleed dye even after the second washing, or are otherwise a pain in the patootie to launder have to have something really special going for them - like being outerwear, or fancy dress clothing.

Kids clothing and bedding: Pretreat the stains and toss it in a bin. As soon as you have one load accumulated, throw it in the washer. If you have energy restrictions on when you can run the dryer, it can wait in a laundry basket for the dryer. But it's washed!

Speed sort the dried clothing ... one bin per child, toss the items in there or hang it up and drape it on the side of the kid's bin. Stack the bins, take the bins to their rooms, hang up the hangers and fold and stash the clean clothing. An alternate 1-basket method is to go to first bedroom, hang and stash the clothing for that child, repeat in each room. Fewer bins, same amount of sorting work.

Even with occasional bed-wetting and a messy toddler, this method and one load a day should keep up with the kid's clothes and bedding.

Adults: one load of sheets, one load of towels, and three loads for clothing (split however makes sense ... levis, shirts, underwear?) should keep you for a week. I take the sheets straight to the washer on a set day of the week, towels go from rods to washer, so there are no piles or bins for them. Clothing accumulates in the hamper and gets sorted onto the bedroom floor and then goes into the washer. Depending on the mix, I may wash shirts and undies together, levis and towels, or whatever makes the fewest sensibly sorted loads.

ADDING: I don't even sort lights and darks after their first wash ... I've never noticed a problem with color transfer.
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#6 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 12:55 PM
 
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I don't sort light/dark either and also do everything cold/cold. Exception - dog blankets and sometimes sheets/towels get washed in hot. I rarely line dry and only in the summer, but everything except diapers is dried on low heat. There are very few things that have to be line dried. (a few of dh's 100% cotton shirts, my cashmere sweater).

My problem is not doing the laundry but putting it away. I wash everything together and then have to go to every room in the house to put it up. Last night I decided to sort by what goes where and do laundry this way. Kitchen and bath towels together. Kid clothes. Grown up clothes. I only change sheets once a month and usually wash all blankets at this time too.

I do a load of non diaper laundry every day, sometimes more like 2-4. I do diapers every day. I have eliminated the "hot spot" for holding the folded laundry - my ironing board - so if I want to sit on the couch I have to put it up. I also find that smaller loads are easier for me to put away. This is not the greenest method, but if I have to put up everyone's entire wardrobe it just doesn't get done in a timely manner.

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#7 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 01:10 PM
 
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To keep up with my laundry, I don't sort other than darks & whites. I do a load or 2 every few days when the baskets are full. There's on in our room and one for the kids. I throw a load in in the morning while they are eating breakfast (takes 2-3 mins) by the afternoon I fold and make it a family activity with dd and ds. Yes it takes longer with them helping but we learn about colours, textures, groups/similarity, recently I'm teaching dd how to spell the items. Bedsheets are done once a week. Towels are done with the clothes.
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#8 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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Firstly, if your laundry room is full and you go to your rooms and find the closets are full too then you need to get rid of some clothes.

If you find that you are regulalry washing the same clothes then you can probablylive without a lot of what you have stored in closets.

There are 6 of us and we have this system: 2 small sized bags in the bathroom which hold just under one washload. One for colours and one for whites. the onlything that is washed seperately is wools. Whichever is full first goes in the washer with whatever else I can pick up to add to it; towels fom the bedroom or sheets or stuff from the kitchen - handtowels, odd socks wet stuff etc. The empty bag goes back up and sometimes becomes a pink bag or goes back to being a dark or white bag.

I wash every other day more or less but I am rtuled by the bag not by the day! When everything is washed and dry I put it away straightaway. I have to force myself to do this but it really makes a difference in the battle.
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#9 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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I ran across this blog the other day and I thought it was great. Yeah, there's a lot of stuff you already know, but I thought it was a really good comprehensive guide to remind me of the basics and I even learned a couple new things.

Another thing that helps me is starting laundry the second I wake up, second only to using the restroom. Even if I don't get back to switch it for a couple of hours, at least it's clean and no matter what I can generally get it dried and put away before bed.

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#10 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 04:09 PM
 
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One thing that I started doing is NOT sorting! I wash everything on cold wash and it can all go in together. Large items like bedding do get washed separately though. If there are items that are extra grungy then I do wash them separatly, other than that it all goes in together... darks, colors, whites, everything. Every now and then I will sort out all the whites and bleach them.
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#11 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 08:47 PM
 
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Just keep up on it. I fold (and dh helps sometimes) and the kids put away everything except dh and my clothes. It may not work if your kids are too small, mine are 6 and 3.

Don't let it get too big. Do a morning load and another one at night.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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#12 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 09:53 PM
 
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There's 6 (soon to be 7) of us, and here's what I do. I have a big 3 pocket bin in my closet (white, lights, darks). Every morning, I take a load down and it gets wash, dried and put away during the day - every day. Sometimes (clean sheet day and when diapers need washed) I do two loads. When I undress, I throw my clothes in the appropriate bin. The kids bring in their dirty clothes every evening. I don't have them sort it, but they put it on the floor in front of the bin, and I sort it when I go to bed. It's doesn't feel overwhelming when it's one or two loads a day. If it piles up - whoa - that is overwhelming.
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#13 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 10:15 PM
 
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All of our laundry is kept in a very large rubbermaid laundry basket in our ensuite.

I do one load per day -- I spend about 10 minutes perday at it:

sample:
  • 8:00 am - the first thing I do every morning is grab a handful of laundry from our ensuite and go downstairs and stick it in the washer (this takes approx 1 minute)
  • 9:00 am - I take what is in the dryer from yesterdays load and fold and put away (its only socks, towels, jeans --- so takes approx 5 minutes)
  • 9:05 am - I take what is in the washer and either throw into the dryer or put on hangers to dry (takes approx 4 minutes)
DONE:

I do this 7 days a week
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#14 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 11:03 PM
 
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I try to do a load of laundry or two everyday. I do this for a few days and then I take a couple days off for my sanity. oh, and I rarely ever sort anything, unless it's summer and we have more whites. Otherwise, I don't buy white clothes.

I'll also note that it is so nice having a child that is old enough to sort her laundry. I was hers separately and give her the whole basket when it comes out. I can't wait until they can all do their own.

Wendy - mom to dd1(11), dd2(7), dd3(3)
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#15 of 40 Old 01-15-2009, 11:53 PM
 
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Reading through all these posts the things that jump out at me is that all these systems took people 5 paragraphs to explain.

Here is our system: We have one laundry basket in the master bedroom. All laundry goes in there. When it gets full, I wash it (everything gets washed on warm), dry it, and dump it in the living room. While sitting and playing with DS I fold it and put it away. (really if you sit down and fold and put away one load it takes maybe 10 minutes. it is only when it piles up that it gets bad).

We also of course have a seperate CD laundry basket, but it sounds like you are past CD's.

The key to all of this is that you have to get caught up. Ask a friend to come over and hang out for the day and your kids can help entertain each other while you climb Mt. Laundry.

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#16 of 40 Old 01-16-2009, 01:32 AM
 
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I totally feel you. I hate laundry. I hate folding more than anything. Right now I'm doing at least 4 loads a day trying to get caught up, and hopefully after I'm caught up I can just do 1 a day.

I finally figured out that there is no system that will work. You just have to DO IT! That's all there is to it. No procrastinating. No skipping days. Just wash the clothes, dry them, and fold them. (I'm not talking to you here, I'm talking to myself )

I don't sort, either. If I have enough towels to do just a towel load, so be it. But other than that, I just cram everything in there together and wash on cold. The only thing I wash separate is diapers, and even then sometimes I throw towels or something in there. (I do wash diapers on hot.)

And now with American Idol on TV, I Tivo it and watch it while I'm folding clothes. I watched 2 hours of Idol yesterday and two today while I folded. I need something mindless to do while I watch a mindless show that doesn't require I look at the TV every second.
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#17 of 40 Old 01-16-2009, 01:44 AM
 
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I do at least a load a day, and every day is a different "day". I wash sheets on one day, towels another, DS's clothes another, DH's shirts another, diapers another, etc. Some days have 2 loads, and I find that I can keep up with it this way. And I always know when I have missed something - this way DH isn't guessing about the last time the bed sheets were changed. Each day is scheduled out, and always happens on the same day of the week. The day I wash towels is the day I also clean the bathrooms. The day I wash the bedsheets is the day I vacuum the bedrooms/mop the upstairs floors.

I fold and put it away that same day. I usually fold it while watching TV after DS's nap (he usually helps), and then it gets put away right after. I don't have a laundry room, and I think that is helpful. My mom always had a laundry room, and the laundry would sit in piles forever until she got motivated to clean it out, and then it would fill up again in a few weeks. And my sister and I always did our own laundry!

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#18 of 40 Old 01-16-2009, 08:41 PM
 
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All dirty laundry goes into the one basket in the master bedroom. When it's almost full it all goes in the wash. Our washing machine has a buzzer so I know when it's finished. When time alows I switch it to the drier. Clean clothes get folded and sorted into piles belonging to each child and adult clothes are put away right away. The only problem I hae is taking the baskets up to the boys room to be put into their draws. I am working on getting them to put their own clothes away.

I long ago did away with sorting colours/whites etc. Too time and space consuming.
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#19 of 40 Old 01-16-2009, 08:54 PM
 
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I took a cue from the Duggars and turned our laundry room into the family closet. There's a couple of hanging racks in there, and our dressers, and a retractable clothesline. It makes things SO much easier.

I also made a pact with myself that once I did that, the clean clothes would not leave the laundry room unless they were on a body. (As in, I don't put the clothes in a basket and take them somewhere else to be folded. They get folded while I'm standing in the laundry room and put away right there.)

Single WAHM to 5yo DD, 2yo DS, and forever 7 week old angel DD.
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#20 of 40 Old 01-16-2009, 09:14 PM
 
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We have a sorting bin in the laundry room, and two baskets. The boys bring down and sort their own laundry when the basket in their room is full. I wash pretty often, especially when you consider the cd that we have to do. Dh's job is to put away the full baskets. It helps me to just have two baskets because it prevents me from just letting the laundry pile up in them.
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#21 of 40 Old 01-17-2009, 01:28 AM
 
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i took a cue from the duggars and turned our laundry room into the family closet. There's a couple of hanging racks in there, and our dressers, and a retractable clothesline. It makes things so much easier.

I also made a pact with myself that once i did that, the clean clothes would not leave the laundry room unless they were on a body. (as in, i don't put the clothes in a basket and take them somewhere else to be folded. They get folded while i'm standing in the laundry room and put away right there.)

this is my goal! We have five kids + my husband & me. In july we'll have 6 kids. The first thing i need to do is get rid of three-quarters of each child's clothes..... They'd each still have enough for 2 kids! And then i'd like to do like the duggars and have a combination laundry room / family closet. Another laundry issue i have is that i can never get around to putting it all away.

Dana, Wife to DH, SAHM to Mac, 14, Mikael, 10, Holland Eve, 8, Danica Lyn, 5, Noah Rebekah, 3, & baby brother Elisha Isaac, born 7/21/09
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#22 of 40 Old 01-18-2009, 05:03 PM
 
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I have 4 young kids, so I know how much laundry there is to do.

I have my laundry down to a science finally. I do laundry only on Monday and Friday. I start it the moment I come downstairs and I am usually done before I start dinner. I usually do 4 loads. 1 each of towels/linens/bibs, lights, darks, and whites.

I have a basket for each of the colors that I sort into each day as the clothes come down the laundry chute. I try to keep track of things that need stain treatment and I set those in the utility sink so I can spray them before they get washed.

Since 3 or my 4 are still in diapers and need new pj's everyday (I think they smell like pee even if they aren't leaky) I did need to buy a couple extra pairs of pj's for the twins, so we could have 4 pairs each.

My suggestion would be to find out exactly how many full loads of each type you are doing each week and then figure out how to break that into the least amount of days doing laundry. That way you aren't doing a bunch of small loads of the same type and wasting precious time. That is what was killing me. I would do not quite full loads to get it done, but it actually ate up my time, because a not full load and a full load take the same time to do, but you have to do more not full loads.
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#23 of 40 Old 01-18-2009, 07:13 PM
 
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Another laundry issue i have is that i can never get around to putting it all away.
Yep, I have no problem actually getting the laundry done, it's the folding and putting away that I struggle with. I swear, the family closet system makes things SO much easier.

Single WAHM to 5yo DD, 2yo DS, and forever 7 week old angel DD.
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#24 of 40 Old 01-18-2009, 08:03 PM
 
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I've posted about my solution to the laundry problem before, so I'll just cut and paste what I wrote in an earlier post.

I do mix colors and whites to no ill effect (give or take one or two pink loads). I mix towels and sheets with socks and underwear, etc.


"Here's my laundry system: the kids share the master bedroom with the walk in closet. We put the washer and dryer in the closet. We put four hanging sweater bags--the kinds with six cubbies each--along the rod. Each night, the kids undress for their baths and toss their clothes right in the washing machine, where other dirty laundry (clothes from the kitchen, wet socks, running clothes, tc) has been tossed all day. I put my jamps on then, too. Then I run the machine. By the time they are done with their baths and we've done our reading, the clothes are done and ready for the dryer. When the clothes are dry and the kids are asleep I put their clothes out at the foot of their beds for them (the boys and I wear the same things day after day, which really cuts down on the stuff that has to be put away, Dh and dd like a bit of variety.) What remains gets put on the hanging bags.

We have some things stored, but we each have very few clothes in circulation at a given time. I wear about three different things, my boys two, my dd four or five. It really makes life so much easier.

I also do a load of laundry in the morning--sheets, towels, pajamas. Again, the pajams just get put into the communal jamps basket until bed, when they get put on again."

Happy mom to DS2000, DS2002, DD2004, DS2006 and DS 10/2009:
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#25 of 40 Old 01-19-2009, 01:09 AM
 
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Not the OP, but thanks for the ideas! I'm going to start loading the laundry at night and starting it up in the AM. I used to start laundy as soon as I got out of bed, but got out of that habit with the baby. I can only do a load or two a day anyway as I hang dry.

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#26 of 40 Old 01-19-2009, 01:30 AM
 
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I tried doing a load a day. I HATED it. I hated feeling like the laundry was never-ending. Now I do all laundry on one day (usually Sunday). Either DP or I will take all the laundry that needs washed and throw it into a huge pile in the hallway by the laundry room. Then we just do it. Whoever happens to notice the washer/dryer stopped will put another load in. All dry laundry goes on the loveseat in a big pile, where I then sort/fold. Then we carry all upstairs and put away. Sometimes if we're really busy it might sit on the loveseat until Monday. Usually it doesn't sit there any longer than that. And then laundry is DONE until Sunday

Steph, DH Jason (1-1-11), DS Owen (10-3-03) and DS Kai (10-13-11)

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#27 of 40 Old 01-19-2009, 01:41 AM
 
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I've let go of the expectation of having all the laundry done at once. I got caught up one weekend and i've done at least one load a day since (except for the rare times i don't have anything to do) and its helped. I only sort towels/sheets and other clothes. We wash everything in cold. We don't have hampers in the kids rooms, just one in their bathroom and one in our bedroom.
I enlist my husband to help me fold every couple days and we do it while watching tv before bed. Sometimes it stays in the basket folded for days. That is ok for us. The goal is clean clothes.

E Veg*n Mom to ds 6 : dd 3
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#28 of 40 Old 01-19-2009, 04:30 PM
 
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I struggle with laundry too and think that the key for moms with many small children (or others that struggle in this area) is to Keep It Simple. Could you just treat the stains and throw everything into the wash as you wear it and then start the load when it gets full? I also am one that does not separate much and washes almost everything on cold. I use color safe bleach if I feel it needs it. Sure, I have a few items that are an exception, but they are very few and I really think twice about having "special needs" clothing. Also, maybe set a few times a day that you check/swap the laundry (I do after breakfast & lunch & kids bedtime).

I do not know if you have this problem, but my dds like to unfold my clean/folded laundry and pulling their clothes out of their dressers. I was also having problems getting the laundry put up because of sleeping kids. I ended up putting their dresser in my bedroom and the problem was solved. I easily fold laundry on my bed and then immediately put it all up.
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#29 of 40 Old 01-19-2009, 05:43 PM
 
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Laundry is an every day chore here too! I usually do 1-2 loads plus a load of diapers. Typically I start right in the morning. I dry on the line overnight to cut down on dryer time so that takes an extra step.

I usually take whats on the line and throw it in the dryer to finish it. Put whats in the washer on the line and start a load in the washer. I'll take what was in the dryer upstairs with me and put the basket in the living room. Usually while ds2 is napping I'll fold the clothes while keeping ds1 company while he colors or something. Then I'll take a couple minutes to put away what I folded (this was always the hardest for me) and then maybe do another round from the beginning if I have time.

I don't sort my clothes unless I know I have something that bleeds-I've been lucky and never had a problem-and everything is done on cold.

By far my biggest challenge with laundry has been going from the "folded in the basket/on the couch" stage to "put away in drawers" so I just limit what I bring up from the basement. For a good while there, our sofa was everyones dresser because thats as far as I would get!

Lisa, mama to A (3/05) and R (11/07) and L (8/10)
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#30 of 40 Old 01-20-2009, 12:32 AM
 
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I just happened upon this thread earlier today, and it totally inspired me to just get it done! I did about 8 loads and I'm almost done. I still have a few piles left, but they're mostly delicates/hand-wash and dry clean only. And once those are clean I'll probably donate at least half of them cause I just don't need them anymore and can't keep up!

I ran out of hangers - I had to sent my hubby to the store after work to pick some up! I've never had all the clothes hung up at the same time!

Kristen - doula and birth educator, wife to Ben and mama to Sydney Mu (8/06) and Cal Edward (7/09) :
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