I’m guessing I am not the only one that has laundry troubles. It is the never ending task. Unless you spend a lot of time completely naked, you are always creating more laundry. Since there are 5 people in my home, dirty laundry is always being made and sometimes at an alarming rate. Not gonna lie, I have considered implementing a nakedness policy just so I could go a whole day with all laundry being done and put away and nothing new being dirtied.
Laundry has always been a point of contention throughout my life. My mother was SO very protective and controlling about the laundry and her precious washer and dryer. I would argue and fight her to be able to do my own laundry because I would get tired of having to wait for something I wanted to wear to be clean again. She had a very particular method to how she did the laundry and since she wouldn’t let anyone touch the washer or dryer, we were all at the mercy of her methods.
I was actually excited when I went to live with my grandpa and one of his conditions was that I learn to do my own laundry. It felt like freedom from an oppressive laundry dictator who controlled my ability to wear clothing based on her schedule and willingness to do everyone’s laundry. FREEDOM!!! Sweet laundry freedom! It was glorious and so simple. I couldn’t understand what my mother was always complaining about. It didn’t take that long to dump clothes in and start a machine and then switch them. Why was she complaining about laundry and why if she hated it so much, didn’t she just let us all do our own?
It took awhile but the freedom of being able to do my own laundry lost its appeal and laundry became a mundane required task. I still didn’t despise it to the level my mother did and I still wasn’t sure what all these other moms were complaining about, but I did find it to be a bit dull and routine.
Then I had a baby and a husband and more babies and now they are large children and small humans and they create a lot of laundry, not just with their actual clothing, but with towels, bedding, stuffed animals, and more. Now I was starting to understand the complaints because I was the only one doing all the laundry for all these other people and it was daunting at times. The reality wasn’t that the actually task of doing the laundry was an issue, the real issue was putting it all away. Sorting the multiple baskets full of fabric some of it clothing, some of it other items, and all of it frustrating and often times not mine or a result of my mess.
Full disclosure, ever since I gained my freedom from the laundry dictator, I have always been the type of laundry doer to throw everything in together and wash it all at the same time. I know, I know, terrible me. I should separate my whites and my darks and my reds, pinks, purples, whatever. Do a separate load of delicates, do a separate load of this and that. Nope, not gonna happen. I don’t know if its my way at rebelling against my mother’s methods or because I am lucky enough to live in a time when laundry detergent and washing machines have advanced technology to keep my colors from “bleeding” onto other items. Either way I have never been a laundry separator and I don’t plan to start now.
For some of you I will remind you to breath and don’t worry my delicates are fine and everyone’s clothing is safe. I promise. If you are a sorter and you are happy with that, that’s wonderful. You’ve got to do what works for you. If it’s not working, perhaps that’s something to look into.
Now that we are past that, I will share what our laundry situation has become. For years the kids were too young and I was under the misguided impression that as the woman I needed to do the laundry for everyone. As the kids got older and I realized that the man I married is capable and willing to take on household tasks, we had to start figuring out a better system. Laundry was usually getting washed, but it was rarely getting putting away and that meant everyone was digging into the same baskets and knocking clean clothes out all over the place. It was a free for all in the laundry pile that was usually on piece of furniture that was no unusable because it was the new family dresser. We had a smaller house at that time and kids all shared one bedroom and husband and I had our room. We were on top of each other and so was our laundry.
At first we tried a system where everyone put their dirty clothes in the washing machine and when it got full I did a load of laundry. Then none clothing items would pile up on the floor in front of the washing machine and clutter up the laundry room floor which was directly in the pathway out our back door. This was an issue for a number of reasons. It still did nothing for the issue of sorting and putting away the laundry. I needed a new system and we needed to start getting the bigger kids into the habit of taking care of their own needs as much as possible.
Since the washer and dryer were downstairs and the bedrooms were upstairs, having hampers in our rooms was never a great solution because then someone (let’s be honest, it would be me) would have to drag all the dirty clothes downstairs to clean then and then back upstairs to put them away and that seemed very inefficient and it would take up more room in the already cramped bedrooms. Whatever the solution it needed to be based around the laundry room. It made sense since the only bathroom in the house was downstairs so that’s where people would be taking off and putting on clothes most of the time anyway.
One day while wondering the laundry aisle at the store, I see packages of laundry bags that are usually something you would see in a dorm room setting. Just a couple of dollars for the bottom of the line ones and closer to $10 for the higher quality ones with patterns or sayings on them. I thought surely I can use these to help with my laundry dilemma.
I was right! I bought one for each of us and grabbed a package of single white hooks that you screw into the wall and I was ready to implement a new system.
Here’s a link to the ones I picked up but there’s plenty of options out there.
The biggest challenge was trying to keep everyone’s laundry bag straight since they all looked the same. There are a few ways you could go with that but I chose using colored tape, electrical or duct tape works well. I took some and wrapped it around the loop that you hand the bag with.
I then hung the white hooks in a straight line down the wall in the laundry room and then placed each person’s bag on a hook. Then instructions were given to everyone that they find their color tape to know which bag was theirs and that was were their laundry should always go at the end of the day. Once their bag was full they needed to do a load of laundry if they were capable of doing it or tell me that their bag was full and I would take care of the washing and drying. Once the clothes were dried whoever that load belongs to would take it out of the dryer and into a laundry basket that was then theirs and theirs alone to put away.
Since everyone had their own separate laundry bag and only one bag was washed at a time, the basket would only have their items in it so no sorting, no claiming it’s not theirs, no valid excuses. No more me dreading sorting the laundry and putting it away and no more family dresser on the furniture.
This system in all it’s simple wisdom, was a great solution to a maddening problem. Now that we have moved and each kid has their own room it’s even better. Everyone had a bad still but each kid’s in handing in their own closet and so are mine and my husbands. When the bag gets full or someone wants to wear a specific item that’s dirty, they take it to the laundry room (which is now upstairs with the bedrooms, happy dance) and they wash and dry their clothes and then take the basket to their room to put it away. If they don’t get it put away then they won’t have a basket when they need to empty the dryer next time but since it’s out of my way and not in “public” spaces of the house, I don’t have to stress about it either way.
Total investment was 5 – $3 laundry bags and 6 – $3 laundry baskets (an extra basket for everything that isn’t our clothing) and the return on that investment was my sanity and a less frustration with my husband and kids. I still do the towels, bedding, floor mats, and anything that isn’t strictly people’s clothing but that’s something I don’t have to do all that often and I can and sometimes do task someone else with that project from time to time.