We have no shortage of laundry in a family of 9. I remind myself that many of them are still little, and the piles will be taller and wider as they grow. Since they’re growing at lightning speed, I knew I had to prepare myself. Washer capacity, chore assignment and a method to the madness is being established. I hope you find some of these tips helpful!
Laundry Rule #1: Limit the number of clothes each child has.
In theory, it will require him or her to wear something more than once if possible before throwing it in the hamper. If you typically do wash once or twice a week, each child only needs a dozen shirts, a few pants/shorts/skirts, pajamas, a handful of socks and underwear.
Note: Due to an overwhelming amount of hand-me-downs, we are still working on this rule. It also varies on your area’s temps, and we’re in Minnesota. We have multiple “seasons” of clothes.
Laundry Rule #2: Can it be worn again?
If it can be worn again, it can be hung over a chair or end of the bed for the next day. Each child has a laundry basket, a little over 1 cubic foot in size. It sits in their room for them to toss in the “actually dirty” stuff. It shouldn’t ever heap, except possibly in the winter months where clothes are bulkier. All pocket items and stickers MUST be removed before tossing!
*Use whatever fits your needs or decorating style. You could choose from the Sterilite 1.5 Bushel Basket or the Mainstays Flex Basket we found at Walmart for around $4 each, which we hope will last years of abuse, because we all know, baskets can become rockets, cradles and cars.
Laundry Rule #3: Sort it all out.
This is a simple life skill! This method keeps clothes brighter and fresher in my experience. At the end of the week they are responsible for sorting their clothes into the laundry room hampers for me (or assigned person) to wash. I’ve always divided loads into 5 categories: Whites/Lights, Darks, Reds, Towels, and The Stinkies (undies, socks, cloth diapers). Delicates are rare. Bedding is on its own and washed immediately when we’re in potty training phase, or reserved for Fridays when I wash bedding and towels.
We used to have a 3-compartment cloth hamper. It’s on its way out the door, because it collects smells, it falls apart, and worst of all – my arm cannot reach the bottom. In its place, I’ve selected these flex hampers whereby I can individually dump a load into the washer. It will also serve to carry the clean load for sorting. Use whatever fits your needs or decorating style. (In our dream house, we would have a “family closet” with built in laundry area so there will be no need to relocate the laundry – as pictured at this link.)
Laundry Rule #4: Have a machine and cleaner that can handle the load!
We have a large capacity washer and dryer (LG top loader) which has served us well. Our washer holds a week or so worth of each category.
Line dry the big stuff and cloth diapers. We enjoy our clothes lines!
We choose Melaleuca, Inc product for all our cleaning needs since 1995. Our sensitivities are well met with their laundry products that keep our clothes bright, clean and soft without being caustic or expensive. Even my cloth diapers have done very well in the unscented version. I personally trust these products, and have no desire or time to make my own. Let me know if you’re considering these eco/family friendly products.
Laundry Rule #5: Monday is “Laundry Day.”
While in the midst of reading “Large Family Logistics” by Kim Brenneman, I’ve adjusted my schedule to include themed days such as this. On Saturday evening, the children are required to round up their dirty bins and sort it. Sunday evening / Monday morning the washing commences.
Mondays will be my seamstress days for mending and sewing. My husband is a carpenter, so I tend to only iron for special occasions. This theme day extends to evening hobbies of sewing, crocheting, embroidery, etc. It’s a good day to teach the kiddos these life skills.
Laundry Rule #6: Laundry is a chore, not an activity. It will NOT consume my day.
This is where efficiency and cooperation come in. If everyone has done their part, the rest should be a breeze. When all the wash is done and dry, it is tossed or quickly folded into each person’s basket. They are responsible for matching sock pairs, neatly folding items into drawers/shelves, and hanging the rest. In our home, everyone has drawers for socks & undies, shorts/pants/skirts, and pajamas. Shirts, dresses and long skirts are hung. This eliminates a lot of need for ironing.
This must be the most controversial topic amongst mothers of many children. What to do with all those socks!? You could toss socks into each person’s basket as you pull them from the pile, or start with a pile of socks then choose a method:
6. Everyone has their socks and mom just knows what goes to whom. They’re matched, bundled and sent to the sock drawer. Aw.
5. Each person gets a drawstring mesh bag for their socks. They are washed together, therefore no hunting for pairs is needed. However, socks must not be bunched when tossed in.
4. Each child has a color, style, brand sock that is unique to them. (Dad gets black, Mom gets white, Big sister gets striped, Brother gets blue, Sister gets cuffed, Baby socks are undeniably cute.)
3. Children are responsible for sock sorting on laundry day. They learn to sort by size and color/pattern. Children grab the socks they think are theirs. (What’s left is for Mom & Dad)
2. Everyone gets white tube socks. The sock that grows with you :-)
1. All socks go into one bin. Good luck!
*Note: We wash our socks with “The Stinkies” category. This load is washed in a hot/cold cycle, unscented detergent, no fabric softener. We use the dryer, but you can choose to line dry to prolong their life. If there are no cloth diapers or its not sock season, go ahead and throw it in with the other loads.
Again, I hope that this system we’ve created inspires you in your laundry endeavors. Please share your favorite tips from this post or elsewhere in the comments!