Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I had a lady ask me not too long ago about our laundry routine, so I thought that would be good post. All housewives, I am convinced, have areas they have to constantly work at, and some that come relatively easily and naturally. Menu planning and making myself cook when I don't want to is something that I have to work at. Laundry, while it is a big bugaboo for many a large(r) family, has not been something I struggle with.

When I just had one to two children, I adopted the old-fashioned Monday laundry schedule. (Actually before we had kids and Kelly and I were both full-time college students and worked part time jobs, laundry got done when we (a.) had time to do it, (b.) had enough quarters to go downstairs to the laundromat, and (c.) were in danger of running out of clean clothes. But I try not to remember those times. ;-) ) And I have to say, that even at the point when Kora was two I already had her helping with the laundry on Mondays. She followed me around copying me anyway, so I started teaching her to sort lights from darks and to fold wash rags.

Once I had baby number three, I moved to doing laundry on Tuesdays and Thursdays: Tuesday were for clothes and Thursdays were for sheets and towels. Again as soon as the kids were old enough, they helped carry, sort, and fold.

Well, with even more kids came more laundry, so I finally broke down and switched to a full week schedule. This allows me to do 2 or occasionally three loads a day, so we never feel swamped, but there is also never a back load of laundry in the laundry room. While I tweak this ever once in a while as needs change or as I have kids get old enough to take over more responsibilities, this has been our basic formula for the past few years:

Monday: upstairs towels (2 loads)
Tuesday: Cotton Sturdy* from whole house (2 loads, one white/lights, one darks)
Wednesday: Permanent Press* for Kora, Lauryn, Kelly and me (2 loads, one lights, one darks)
Thursday: Permanent Press* for Aubrey, Brynna and Hailey (2 loads)
Friday: Master bathroom towels and cleaning towels (2 loads)
Saturday: sheets

[*Update: These are what we call them just to have a name for different loads. I prefer to wash underwear and socks in hot, so we call that cotton sturdy lights. The CS darks are things like jeans and sweats that are washed in warm water. We lump everything else under the title "permanent press" - really because I thought it would be less confusing teaching kids since that was on the machines - and wash them in cold. I really try not to get too complicated with the laundry, but I have a thing with washing underclothing in HOT.]

The sheets I wash on the weekends usually sit in the dryer until Monday when Kora and Aubrey fold them at the same time they fold the towels. For me, the beauty of this schedule is that the girls know it. I even post it in their room until they know it by heart. So every morning except Fridays, they bring the appropriate laundry from their hampers or their bathrooms when they come downstairs for breakfast. In fact, they don't get breakfast until they come down with the laundry. It wouldn't seem like a Monday to them if they didn't bring down the towels. But the same effect could be seen by gathering it all up the night before.

On days when communal laundry is done, I take charge of making sure the loads get changed out - I may delegate, but I keep track of it. On permanent press day, my older three girls are in charge of their own laundry. Plus Kora and Aubrey have laundry buddies (Kora= Lauryn, Aubrey= Hailey). So Kora does her laundry as well as Lauryn's and also puts it away. Hailey (age 5) brings down her laundry and puts away anything that is folded, but Aubrey is in charge of washing and drying her stuff and hanging up her clothes. The folding of clothes usually happens in the afternoon after rest time. They will spread hanging clothes out on my big king sized bed as soon as they come out of the dryer, and then hang them up when they are done with school or after rest time.

These are such integrated parts of every day that my girls don't even think about it, anymore than they would have to be reminded to eat. I like having just 2-3 loads a day as I don't feel like I am spending my whole day on laundry. And frankly, I don't fold a thing. The girls fold everything. The only thing I do is hang up Kelly's and my hanging clothes, and put the folded items in our drawers. Lauryn can even fold wash rags and cloth napkins, so with 5 folders, the jobs go fast.

We do occasionally have unexpected loads, like when the girls get spaghetti sauce on their shirts. We also only use cloth napkins, so I throw those in whatever load I am washing, so they are never a load of their own. I've started teaching the girls to actually load the washer and dryer and to take charge of their own laundry starting at age 6, but they are not left alone to do it. Either I or an older sister supervises for a long time. While I'll have to tweak our schedule just a bit after the baby comes, we will keep some sort of schedule like this in place as it just makes life around here much smoother.

Well, I think that about covers the absolutely scintillating subject of laundry. Does your family have any great tricks/tools/routines/etc. that make laundry easier for you?


dirksgirl said...

Hmm, I have no clue how I would distinguish PP and CS. I do have a daily system, though to help me remember which three loads to get done everyday.
It was very freeing to me when I heard (when first married) Martha Stewart say that laundry wasnt as complicated as the machines make it look & there are only a few laundry things to learn: sheets and towels in hot for 10-12min, whites can usually be done in warm, everything else in cold, and the dirtiest of clothes need no more than an 8-10min. cycle. Those tips have saved me a whole lot of grief! That and a couple of good stain removers:)

Tami said...

CS and PP are really just what I call them. Cotton Sturdy whites in my house are whites/lights that are washed in hot - mainly socks, undershirts, and underwear. CS darks are dark clothing that is washed in warm - jeans, sweats, etc. Everything else I lump under the title permanent press and wash in cold. I do separate lights from darks even in cold, partly because I'd have to separate loads anyway, and partly because I have had some dark things run even in cold water.

Lora said...

Way too complex for me! My boys have a white and dark blue basket in thier room. Obviously they put whites in the white one and everything else in the other. We collect towels/sheets on Fri. Boys do thier own plus towels and I do Jules and ours plus sheets.

Simple and it gets done. But we also only do laundry 2 days a week cause every laundry day requires us to pump the septic. I guess this is a luxury of only 5 in a household, too.

Kim said...

Yikes! My head is spinning just looking at it! We have a very simple system that worked for my mom, so it's what I have adopted (at least until I decide to be more picky). All laundry is done together after it has been separated lights and darks. The boys help start laundry, transfer to the dryer, then Tyler folds his clothes along with Andrew's and the towels. Everyone (except Melia) puts aways their own clothes. We do laundry about every other day to keep it from getting piled up!

Candace said...

I adopted my mom's philosophy of doing "a little laundry every day". I'm with you.....I don't want to devote one whole day to just doing laundry. Our categories are whites, lights, darks, towels, baby clothes and linens. We do about two to three loads a day. Cheyenne and Celeste have their scheduled laundry days as do I. We all help to fold and put away the laundry and the little ones help to fold. I have a system with putting away laundry, but this new keyboard is driving me crazy so I'll just stop here.