Simplifying the Laundry
Author: Erin Jepsen
Laundry. It's a chore we all love to hate. Whether you have a small family or a large one, as I do, the laundry can seem like a monster, waiting to laugh at us as it piles higher and higher.
My laundry room is in a little space between my bathroom and back porch on the main floor. We live in a lovely cottage that was built in 1920, with darling glass doorknobs, and wooden floors, but the closets are characteristically small, and the laundry area almost doesn't have enough room to turn around in. Also, it's on a different floor than the bedrooms and quite a long way from the closets and dressers.
In a way, I guess that's good! I can't let the dirty clothes pile up, or there is really no room to fit them, and because of a chronic back problem, I don't have the energy to haul multiple baskets of clean laundry upstairs each week. Out of necessity, I've had to come up with some creative laundry solutions that simplify our lives and fit our family's needs, that also work in the house space in which we live. Now, I get to share with you some of the tips I've learned for conquering the dreaded chore of laundry.
A good way to stay on top of the laundry is to rotate fewer “everyday” clothes through the system. Choose about 8 outfits per family member (10-12 for infants or toddlers), that are seasonally appropriate, and use these for general wear. Store them in baskets on shelves right there in the laundry area, and it's super easy and quick to sort the clean clothes and put them away! If your laundry room is anywhere near a bathroom, it also makes it easy to choose clothes for the day, get washed and dressed, and then you're ready to go!
Keep the System Moving
Rather than sorting loads, have the family members put their dirty clothes into the washer as they discard them. When it's full, run the load. In this way, you keep things moving without piling up.
Whether you line dry clothes or use a dryer, you can sort the clean clothes one load at a time right in the laundry area, rather than hauling baskets around the house. Obviously, you have to buy color-fast clothing and watch for the odd garment that might stain, but in general, this works very well.
Additionally, running larger loads is the most energy-efficient method for doing laundry, as you use fewer loads, and ultimately less water and soap than running many smaller loads.
Make it Fun
I love baskets and labels! You can easily put each family member's name on a basket, so even the little ones have a sense of ownership.
Get the kids involved with folding and sorting. You can make it a game by tossing clothes to each other or talking about where you were when you last wore a certain item of clothing. Making a game out of a chore like laundry helps it to get done more often, and teaches kids the importance of pulling together as a family to do the chores.
You can also put clothes for kids in baskets on low shelves, or, if there is room in your laundry area, in a small dresser, so the kids can reach their own clothes to put them away. Installing shelves, hooks or a hanging bar at kid-height is an easy way to help kids be more independent with getting dressed and putting away their clothes.
Laundry doesn't have to take over your life!
With a little organization, a little creativity, and some conscious simplification, even the laundry for a large family becomes an easy, manageable chore.
Find a system that works for your family's needs. You might need an extra basket for clean cloth diapers, or a new game to teach the kids to sort socks.
Whatever system you create, make sure it helps you conquer the laundry, rather than letting it overwhelm you!