This is the sixth installment in our series, Homemaking Your Way. Catch up on the first five here.
Forget smart phones. I firmly believe that the humble washing machine is one of the world’s greatest inventions. I love washing clothes. While I am checking email or eating lunch or doing 24-piece puzzles, clothes are being cleaned while demanding nothing more from me than a scoop of soap and the push of a button. It is like magic. I could wash clothes all day long.
Folding and putting away clothes, however, is a different story. This is a tedious, time-consuming task. So, instead of having a devoted laundry day, I just spread it throughout the week. If I do not like doing something, I put it off. If I put laundry off, the pile grows bigger. Funny how that works. Then I get overwhelmed and threaten to throw all of our clothing away and start over. For the way I am wired, I prefer dealing with 1-2 loads, instead of 1-2 mountains, of laundry at a time.
So here is my simple, boring laundry routine:
First of all, my secret: I do not sort clothing. I wash all of our clothes together on cold. There are maybe four pieces of clothing in my entire home that earn special treatment. Everything else is just good ol’ hardworking, machine washable clothing. In three years of mixing colors, I have never had a problem with colors running. If I’m nervous about a dark red shirt or new blue jeans, I may wash the item with like colors the first time. After that, I expect it to play nicely with everyone else in the washing machine. Life is too short to deal with fussy clothing.
In our house, because the thought of dust mites freaks me out a little bit.
I have two laundry hampers: one in a bedroom and one in a bathroom. Dirty, dry laundry goes in the hampers. Anything that is wet or needs stain spray gets tossed straight in the washing machine to wait for a full load. Every 2ish days, I grab the two hampers and add those clothes to the machine.
When the load is out of the dryer, it gets tossed on our bed. I like folding clothes in our bedroom because it cuts out a move. I will either fold and put away clothes throughout the day [My three year old is surprisingly helpful here! While trying on 6 pairs of underwear, she sorts out clothes into piles and folds small towels. Seriously, teach your children to help with the laundry. After all, they are generating most of it.] or my husband and I will take 5-10 minutes to do it together at the end of the day.
It’s not a perfect system, but it is the easiest way for me to stay on top of the never-ending parade of dirty clothes through our home.
Here are a few out-of-the-ordinary items I throw in our front-loader washing machine:
- Shoes- Whenever our athletic shoes are looking dingy, I just wash them. To dry, simply stuff with single sheets of wadded-up newspaper. They will look and smell much better. I also toss our flip flops and our kids’ Crocs into the washing machine as needed. This has significantly extended the life & look of those shoes that take the hardest beatings.
- Couch cushion coverings- I don’t even want to think about what has been spilled or puked or wiped on our poor couch. And there are only so many times you can flip the cushions. So, every time we have an unfortunate incident involving the couch, I just unzip the cushions and wash those coverings separately on cold. I dry them on a rack and wrestle them back on to the cushion. This won’t work for every couch, but it has given ours a new lease on life.
- Feather comforters- I used to take these to be dry-cleaned every time they had a run-in with a leaky kid diaper or every spring, whichever came first. Now I just wash and line dry our down comforters and blankets before packing them up for the summer. Much cheaper!
- Dry Clean-only clothes- 99% of the time I ignore , and 99% of the time I have no problem. I just wash them on a gentle setting and skip the dryer.
Don’t assume clothes are dirty simply because they were worn once. I used to toss once-worn clothing, like pajamas or sweatshirts, in the hamper just because it was easier than folding and putting it away. This wasn’t very logical. So I am trying to train myself and my family that clothes only go in the hamper if they really are dirty. Amazing, I know. Actually at this point, I would be thrilled if my darling family members would just put their clothes in the hamper instead of tossing it on the floor three feet away. What is up with that?
If you have a laundry room, paint it a happy color. We moved our washer/dryer from our garage into our house last year. The utility room is painted a bright blue-green. It makes me happy when I am in there. Even if I am shaking noodles out of my son’s pants.
And finally, no Portland-based blog post on laundry would be complete without mentioning drying clothes on a rack or line. Which my husband and I do as often as possible. No really, we do. My husband is obsessed with making our home as energy efficient as possible. As soon as we start having consistently warm, dry days, he runs a clothesline across one side of our back yard. This same husband, who is mildly allergic to household chores, happily hangs wet laundry and pulls it off the line when it’s dry. I just go with it.
Actually, to be honest, I really do love hanging clothes and watching them flap on the line while my kids play in the backyard. Strange but true. It brings back all those ridiculously romantic images of pioneer life I had as a kid. Oh, and everything comes off the line smelling fresh and feeling crisp. It’s not for everyone, but we like it. And it significantly reduces our spring/summer energy bills. According to my husband, dryers are some of the biggest power hogs in a home. He’s figured out that even our fancy front loader costs .75/load. See, I did not use the word obsessed lightly.
There you have it. That is officially the longest I have thought or written about dirty laundry in my life. Hope it helps tackle those never-ending piles in your own home.
What are your laundry tips and tricks?
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