Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Great Laundry Debate of '08

I am enjoying a rare quiet moment at home right now. Emma and Isaiah are out with Grandma, Noah is sleeping and Biniam is at school. This is the moment I've been waiting for. A chance to get caught up on some things. Or (bliss) even do a few extra things, like wrap presents and finish some sewing projects.

But first. There is the laundry. People, I need help. Laundry is consuming me. There is always something to wash, fold, or put away (usually there are ALL of those things). I need a new system, because my current one is so not working, and it's affecting my mood and making me feel like everything in my house is behind.

Lately I've taken to "interviewing" everyone (especially those with large families) I run into about how they handle laundry. I'm seeking ideas, advice, inspiration. I have had a few ideas of my own, everything from getting more baskets and hampers, creating a laundry schedule, and even remodeling my laundry room to create more space, or even to add a second washer/dryer set.

Okay, so here's my current system (or lack thereof).

No bedrooms have hampers. All dirty clothes are to go straight into the laundry room (which is upstairs, by the bedrooms) in the appropriate hamper. I have three hampers. One for towels. one for "baby clothes" (Emma, Isaiah and Noah). One for "adult clothes" (Brian, me and Biniam). Also one little one for cloth diapers (I am so over that, by the way).

This current system usually results in lots of dirty clothes in bedrooms (except Biniam, he's really good) since there are no hampers and certain people (pretty much all of us who can walk) are too lazy to walk all the way to the laundry room. Also, when the clothes do make it into the hampers, they fill up extremely fast - not surprising with three people to a hamper. So then I get three full hampers, but I still need to sort out the whites and colors. Only I've recently taken to washing ALL the whites together (adult and baby) so I have two hampers to sort through, just to get one load started. You can see there is just a little room for improvement here...

Next, the clean/dry clothes go into a basket to await folding. Except I usually never have time to fold right away, so the "clean" basket becomes more of a mountain. The basket sits right outside my bedroom door. Last week things were so bad I literally had to climb UP the mountain just to get into my room.

Once clothes do get folded, which is usually while the little kids are napping, they get placed neatly outside the sleeping kids' rooms. In theory, as soon as the kids are awake the clothes would get put away. But in reality, once the kids wake up they are hungry, or we need to go some where, so we just walk over the once-neat piles. Sometimes it takes two or three days for me to get around to putting the clothes away, so for the better part of the week my hallway is trashed with clean (but slightly stepped on) clothes.

And of course once things get put away the cycle has already started again and things are already stacking up.

I took some pictures today to demonstrate a semi-caught-up laundry day.

This isn't too bad. You can see some floor and counter space.
"Whites" have been sorted out of the kid's hamper.

Only one basket waiting to be folded.

So, as you can see, I need help! Send me your ideas!


Anonymous said...


Robin said...

I am no help...but if you come up with a better system, let me know!

I am a clothes-piler too. My kids all have hampers and on laundry day it all gets sorted in the hall. Clean laundry gets folded on our floor (I like to watch tv while I fold.) But inevitably, not all the clothes make it through the cycles and I end up with a dirty pile somewhere and smelly, mildewy laundry in the washer until I have another free day to start the cycle over again. :(

My friend Robin in Oklahoma has 3 kids and she does 1 load of laundry, start to finish, every day. The load goes in the night before, goes into the dryer in the morning, and then gets folded in the afternoon/evening. Then everyone takes their clean laundry and puts it away before bed. I wish I had the discipline!

Anonymous said...

Wow. That was a long story, and SO compelling. (Ever wonder where Shana gets her sarcasm?).

So here's an idea: How about taking the time it takes to write out a story like that and fold some clothes? You could have had a pathway to your bedroom in that much time.

Here's another good idea. Have everyone wear their clothes at least a week before putting them in the laundry. Less work for you, and less wear and tear on the clothes from that nasty agitation and spinning. Of course there would be a trade off, but you could get used to the smell...

Love,(or Regards),

the helpful reader.

Hmmm: Wonder if the phone will ring any minute now.

Shana said...

Thanks, DAD, for the helpful comment. How about we just don't wash any of our clothes until we get to YOUR house? :)

Emily B. said...

I just tried to post a long, thorough explaination of our system but somehow it came back with an error when I hit submitt (grrr...) so here's the cliff's notes version:

2 baskets in every room- one for whites, one for colors

1 hamper in the laundry room for towels and sheets etc.

Do one basket at a time so there's no sorting- rather the whole basket/load goes into one room.

Do 1-2 complete loads per day on a rotation (M- adult whites, T-adult colors, W-little kids whites and colors, T- big kids whites, F-big kids colors and towels etc).

I think smaller goals are a lot better than huge goals like "finish all of the laundry this week". Good luck!

Brianna Heldt said...

Oh Shana I feel your pain! I don't have any advice, but what we do in our family is, there's a hamper in the boys' bedroom, and 2 hampers in the girls' bedroom (b/c I still wash Kaitlyn's clothes in Dreft.) Kevin and I have 2 hampers in our closet, one for whites and one for colors etc. We have a hamper in the basement for towels.

It's the folding and putting away that trips me up. :( Please share if you figure something out!

Todd said...

Two words...."Laundry chute!"

I don't want to hear any excuses about the second floor or anything nonesensical like that.

Chris said...

I am having the same problem.
I want a large laundry room with a table to fold the clothes and shelves for each member of my family. No more clothes in the bedroom. Everyone will go there and get their clothes in the morning. Sounds pretty good huh.My bedroom is always a mess with piles of everybody's clothes.
This is my goal for 2009
good luck

Anonymous said...

I'm a teenager and we don't have any little kids in our house so I'm not sure this will be helpful. We also have a laundry room up by the bedrooms. We have 4 bins: one for underwear, one for whites/lights, one for darks/jeans, and one for bright colors. When dirty laundry is brought to the laundry room it is sorted right then and there so basically when you need to do a load all you have to do is grab all the clothes from one bin and stick them in the washer.

jillybean1023 said...

I am the mother of six (soon to be seven). Laundry stresses me out also. So, my new system is this: Every room has a hamper, i.e. my older two girls share a room, my two boys have one in their room, etc. So once that is full, we bring it to the laundry room where I have two of those three way dividers. I have found by keeping clothes already divided by the rooms they came from and need to end up in creates less sorting etc. The I concentrate on each "room's" laundry for one day....washing, drying, folding and putting away. Also, towels have their own area in the divider and my husband and I do. I use clothe diapers also so that is a whole seperate load. Anyway, just not having to sort and have my laundry room floor overflowing with clothes makes me not feel so overwhelmed.

Kelly said...

I just found your blog off of someone else's and thought it was cute. I have four kids, work full time, and hate laundry, so here is what I do: All kids have a laundry basket in their closets (doesn't help them they are usually empty). In my bathroom (bedrooms upstairs, laundry down - really jealous that you have the machines up)are 3 big baskets. When I notice laundry getting low (ha) usually Thursdays, I yell that everyone must go pick up every item of clothing (that has been WORN - you have to say that)and put them in my bathroom. The baskets are then sorted red/white/blue by the kids (even the 5yo can sort). Then I do one load per day - sometimes on the weekend I do two, but never more because I hate it. I bring the dried clothes to the couch and put on something to watch while I fold, and then all 5 other people in the house must come running and pick up their pile from the coffee table. I only match the socks in that load, we have a sock basket, and the next kid in trouble (or slacks) gets to match the entire thing. Works for us, and I actually do have less to do. I also broke the kids of dumping clean stuff in the laundry by making them do the laundry if I found socks together, or something folded - ALL OF THE BASKETS had to be washed and folded. Haven't seen anything clean in there in months. Nice blog - I'll probably keep lurking. Kelly in SC