Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage. Psalm 84:5

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Laundry in a Large Family

Just imagine how many clothes there must be to wash with 6 children and 2 adults!!!!

Laundry has always been a chore I struggle with. Even when it was just my husband and I. problem! It's the putting away that has always been my problem.

Washed, dried and folded clothes end up in piles everywhere. Flowing out of the baskets-on top of the washer and dryer, on the stairs (at least closer to their destination!), on dresser and bed tops. All with good intentions of making it to closets and drawers.

Before that ever happens, though, there seems to be mounds of more dirty clothes to wash!!!! And so, my laundry time is taken up again with the washing, drying and folding and never the putting away.

This doesn't sound so horrible. I mean, at least everyone has clean clothes to wear! Somewhere! It's just a matter of finding the right pile!

Well-to tell the truth-it is horrible! If you struggle with keeping up with the can relate. Most of the time the piles get sorted through or knocked over or moved so someone can get into their bed and they wind up on the floor- where soon we don't know the dirty from the clean.

Guess what happens next??? 
Yup-you guessed it. The smell test. Sorry-it's just the way it is. OR WAS!!!!! 

Until I started my new laundry system!!! 

It's been working so well-I thought I would share and perhaps it will help someone with similar laundry issues.

Step 1: I started by making my sorting non-existent . That's right-NO SORTING! Each room has their own laundry hamper. I purchased the very light-very cheap, fold up type that just "pop open" when you take them out of the package.
 When people take off their clothes-they go in their own hamper. If they share a room-they can still have their own hamper. That way when I do a load-I know everything in it belongs to one person.

Step 2:Then...I grab a hamper-any hamper-in the morning and throw in that load. The hampers are so light and easy to carry-all but my 2 year old can carry them down.  Often, it's as simple as just asking someone to bring their dirties down to the laundry room.

Some time later-I switch them over to the dryer and put in someone else's. I have been training the two oldest children to do this to ensure the wet clothes don't sit in the wash too long.  Between hampers and sheets-I have to do at least 2 loads a day to keep up.

Step 3:When I am taking the clothes out of the dryer, they go into that room's, similarly made, pop up, laundry basket. I purchased them at Wal-Mart. Very cheap-very light-very easy to carry-and they hold a lot!

I also purchased a cheap, narrow- but long, folding table. This table sits against the wall in my laundry room and all the baskets line up on top of it. The table wasn't actually long enough to hold them all-so some are on top of the school bins that are partially under and partially next to the table.
Yes-we have 8 people but only 6 of these-I just couldn't fit any more. 1 for towels and sheets-and some hold one person's in the front of the bin-and another person (in the same room) in the back of the bin. Still kept very separate.

 Step 4: Now...all clothes are dry and folded and placed in a basket that will stay right where it is until I or someone else takes it only to the room it goes in and that only happens when said person is right that very minute going to put the clothes away!

No more piles of laundry anywhere! Sometimes the baskets get a bit full-but that's how we know whose has to be carried up and put away next.
looks like the girls room laundry is the next to go up!

I have been training the children how to put their clothes away to my standards-but for now I do most of it. Otherwise-it does find it's way onto floors, under beds-and sometimes-right back into the hamper of dirty clothes!

Overall-this system has been a tremendous help and taken a huge level of frustration 
out of the labor of a large families laundry!!!

ps...please, please, please...don't ask me about socks!!!!!! I am still convinced our attic and basement mice take them to use as sleeping bags! Even with each person's clothes being kept and washed separate-we are still finding lone socks!!!!!!!!

Linked up at:Wise Woman
and Raising Mighty Arrows


  1. i have the same problem...
    " problem! It's the putting away that has always been my problem"

    i hate putting away clothes!

  2. I can relate! I am the oldest of 13 children which equaled doing LOTS of laundry. Now I help a family with 7 children and one of my jobs is the follows me:-) And I'm convinced there is no solution for socks.....;-)

  3. I loose socks all the time too. Maybe mine are at your house and yours are at my house. Only 2 adults at our house and I lose clothing all the time. It usually turns up in a pile of clean laundry that I forgot all about. I detest doing laundry. I wish I could just go out and buy new clothes when they get dirty but that would be pretty wasteful. Guess I'll just keep doing the laundry.

  4. Just "Bev S" my dear old friend Bev????

  5. With 5 kids we have "the sock bucket"...all socks go in this basket and everyone (except the 2 littlest) sorts through them that day to find their socks..I also have a similar laundry system only I use rubbermaid type tubs! :)

  6. Great idea! Putting away is always the part i procrastinate, too. My only question is...where does person A put their dirties while their hamper is in the laundry room waiting to go back up with clean clothes in it? Does each person have 2 hampers>

    A Friend of mine posted the question above on my facebook page..I thought is was worth answering here. I only take a person's hamper when the washing machine is empty and ready to be filled. I dump the dirties in and the empty hamper goes right back upstairs-hungry for more!

  7. Should have read her question twice....yes..each has two separate. One is a tall pop up "hamper" that stays in their room. The other (as pictured on the table) is a pop up "basket". Hamper comes down-gets dumped-goes back up. Basket gets filled, goes up to be emptied and put away, comes right back down to the table.

  8. I feel you as well! We have 4 young children, cloth diapers, and sheets and towels to do. Socks... don't even get me started! I went to the system where I buy our kids all the same socks. That way, even when I lose one, I can hold onto the one and have a match for it at some point! I found what worked for me was to not overwhelm myself. I try to do one load a day. And that's it. Wash, dry, fold, and put away. Just one. And yes, the put away part is the hardest for me too. I've been hanging just about all of my kids clothes up so it's easy for them to help me put them away, and for them to get dressed by themselves! Thanks for sharing this! I'm glad I'm not the only one! :)

  9. Putting away is our problem too! The pile in my bedroom is shameful and has things from winter in it still.

  10. I've given up on the socks...I just throw them all in a laundry basket and let everyone find their own. With 4 kids it's just impossible to keep up. The basement where I do our laundry is sometimes our big dressing room, sad to say! Everything is washed, folded and in it's pile, so 3 of my 4 just go down and get dressed. One organized darling always puts her clothes away.

  11. It seems like we all agree on the socks. I will add that having separate hampers for each person/room and then washing only that load (therefore no sorting) has helped cut down on the socks disappearing. Also, on a shelf above our dryer we have a "sock basket". When taking clothes out of the dryer, any socks without a match go in the basket. Every few weeks or so I pay a willing child 10 cents a pair to match them up. After a few months, the still strays get a one way trip in the garbage!

  12. I use the safety pin method: safety pin your socks before you through them in the hamper and when you wash them they never come apart! You can even store them in sock drawers like that so they are always paired up!

  13. Another idea I read online (but haven't tried yet) is to have a garment bag for each laundry hamper. Only socks go into it and are washed and dried in it, so they are still with their match when they come out of the dryer.