How Stacie Does Laundry
Laundry is the one aspect of housekeeping that I really feel like I have down. I figured out a system that works for our family TK years ago, and so far I've been able to stick to it. I like to get it all done and out of the way on Monday (reason TK). I think the biggest reason my system works is that I hang everything, right out of the dryer, so our clothes are never wrinkly. They’re also easy to sort, because we all have our own type of hanger. Everyone in the family knows what their role is in our laundry routine, and it has become a family habit.
I wash all the clothes every Monday, and towels and bed linens on Friday.
- Kids are responsible for getting their clothes in their hampers, right side out, with empty pockets. On Monday morning, the two oldest bring their hampers and their younger siblings’ hampers to the laundry room. If they don’t, they won’t get clean clothes for the week.
- As soon as the kids go to school, I sort the laundry into five piles: whites, lights, darks, jeans, and workout clothes. As I put items in the piles I check for stains and use Shout if I see something I want to pre-treat. I also clean out pockets and turn items right-side out. If there are more than two or three inside out pieces for a particular kid, I'm mean and won't wash them. It's the kids’ responsibility to have their laundry prepped so I can wash it. I also collect cash in pockets as laundry tips, but I rarely find those.
- I wash the clothes in the order of the piles above, anywhere from one to three loads per pile, depending on the week.
- I dry almost everything except bras and workout clothes. I hang both of these to dry.
- I hang everything as it comes out of the dryer except underwear, socks, and pajamas, which I throw in a basket as they come out of the dryer. I have specific hangers for each family member (they have to bring those with their dirty laundry on Monday), so I hang things on the proper hangers and hang them grouped by individual.
- My husband usually sees the clothes hanging when he comes home from work on Monday, and delivers the hanging items to each kid's room. Our oldest can put her own clothes away, but the other kids struggle to reach the rod, so Dad puts their clothes away.
- On Monday nights (or sometimes Tuesday), I turn on a show and spend an hour folding the items in the baskets. Each kid has a pile and I put their clothes in baskets. As I'm folding, I throw all the socks in a basket. Sometimes I match them, sometimes my husband does, sometimes kids do.
Once everything has been folded (including socks) I put the baskets on the coffee table and each child is responsible for putting them away in their rooms. One child puts away his younger brother's items because they both live on the same floor. I usually remind them to take the baskets to their room in the morning and then ask for the basket a minute or two later. I've threatened to not wash/fold laundry if they don't put it away nicely, so they are pretty good about putting stuff away. Since everything else is hung, it is one small pile per kid and doesn't feel overwhelming to put away.
- I try really hard to emphasize to kids that they can wear jeans several times unless there is a stain. It cuts down on laundry and prolongs the life of the clothing. I've been known to rehang jeans that I know weren't worn more than once.
- My threat to make kids do their own laundry if they throw clean items in the hamper has worked so far. It probably helps that their dad (and grandma) tells them often about how he got caught throwing clean clothes in the dirty bin one too many times. From that point on, he and his siblings had to do their own laundry.
- On my whites-only load, I include a scoop of OxyClean. I love Hex detergent for washing workout clothes and stinky shoes.
- I dry towels without a dryer sheet and it keeps them from smelling funky. I read about this a long time ago in Good Housekeeping. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/cleaning/tips/a19506/fabric-softener-cleaning-product/ I thought my towels wouldn't be soft, but they are still soft and fluffy from the dryer. The article said that dryer sheets inhibit the towel's ability to absorb water.
- I buy wrinkle-free shirts for my husband, and since I hang them as soon as they are done, I rarely iron. Sometimes they need a quick touch-up, but rarely. I love the shirts from Eddie Bauer or Land's End. When I win the lottery, I will send his shirts to the dry cleaner (and have a cleaning lady come weekly)!
- My biggest challenge with laundry is giving up control. I don't like my husband or kids to mess up my processes, but I recognize that I need to start letting my 10-year-old be part of the process. I grew up in a house where my mom always did the laundry because she was a control freak like me about laundry, but my husband started doing his own laundry when he was a teen. I don't plan to do everyone's laundry forever, so I need to start figuring out how to let my oldest have her own laundry day and be responsible for herself. I want her to be independent, but I also don't want to nag her. I'm still working on what this will actually end up looking like.
Stacie Cowan is the mother of four children, ages 10, 8, 3, and 4 months.