There is a quiet revolution stirring in our house, and it is happening in my laundry basket.
You know you are a full time home-maker when you feel compelled to write about laundry. But let’s face it, it is a big part of my everyday, as much as I would prefer it to be otherwise. Ok, justification over.
A family of five generates a fair bit of dirty laundry. And I for one found it pretty overwhelming, especially after a new baby came along and the pile of dirts seemed to triple overnight. It all came to a head when I realised I was spending two to three hours every Saturday night sorting and folding clean clothes, and what felt like an hour every Sunday trying to put it all away in between and around life with the girls. Super frustrating. And not fun.
In my quest to simplify, nay nullify(!), my laundry nemesis, I’ll confess to having read a fair bit around the scintillating topic that is washing clothes. In the process, I have cobbled together a few simple habits that have made my laundry mountain and hours of folding a thing of the past, breaking the job into 15-ish minute tasks that can be done over the course of the day, every day.
At the risk of exposing myself as a true home-making geek, and in case it’s of any help or use to anyone else trying to manage their own laundry adventures, here they are.
- Use a really small laundry basket/s. When we moved into our new home I repurposed a set of paper baskets I’d bought from Homebase years ago for our laundry. They are only 23cm high and 43cm wide. But for all the reasons below, they are, surprise surprise, sufficient for a young family of five. Including a very messy baby and similarly inclined toddler. I keep one basket in our bedroom as a landing point for everyone’s dirty clothes, and the other two migrate between our washing machine downstairs, our living room where I organise and fold everything, and transporting everything to it’s rightful place upstairs and elsewhere when a full cycle is done. Working with small baskets means you can’t really leave the pile to fester for more than a couple of days because it overflows. Well I can’t, because I hate the sight of a big pile of yuck. Which in my case motivates me to keep on top of things.
- Put a load on every single day, at the end of the day. I picked up this tip from this post on one of my new favourite blogs Simple Families. In it Denaye Barahona talks about popping on her pjs at the end of the day and putting everyone’s clothes in the washing machine and drier before bed. I’ve tried it. It is simple, and it works. At the end of every day, all the kids clothes, tea towels, hand towels, my apron (yes, I’ve defaulted to wearing one to save the few clothes that fit from as many kiddie related stains as I can) all go in. Which means each night our laundry basket is empty. Hip hip…! Towels are chucked in once weekly, and bedding, well, I get to them when I remember them. (Note to self, better routine needed for bedding.)
- Hang the clean clothes out last thing before bed or first thing in the morning. Or use the drier if that’s your jam. I write up this obvious step because I’ve been known to forget about wet clean clothes in the machine for so long that I need to wash them again because they smell.
- Separate the clothes into 6 piles: In my case, I organise the clean stuff into a pile each for (1) hubby, (2)myself, (3) big sis, (4) middle sis, (5) baby sis, and (6) other – towels, bedding, napkins. This is an easy task to get toddlers and pre-schoolers involved in as you work towards regular chores, should you be that way inclined.
- Fold using the ‘KonMarie’ folding technique: In “The life changing magic of tidying up”, Marie Kondo advocates folding clothes so that you can store and scan them vertically (like you would books), instead of the usual horizontal piles. Which means in theory you should be able to see everything at a glance when you open your drawers. Let me tell you – this is amazing! My kids have loved being able to see all their things and pick out what they want. Check out her folding technique on this video. I now fold my six piles of clean stuff, using her suggested fold, and pop them neatly into an empty basket for putting away the next day.
- Put the clothes away the next day. It’s a five to ten minute job now that I am doing it daily (mostly! Life happens right?) and everything is grouped by owner. I whizz around everyone’s drawers and slot the clean stuff into their proper place. Job done. It also means, as Denaye points out in her podcast, that you need a lot less clothes because everything is clean all of the time. So theoretically you could buy less clothes, but spend more money on nicer stuff that washes better.This is good news to me as I begin to take my first steps towards creating my first capsule wardrobe.
So there you have it. Our simplified laundry strategy for a young family of five, as inspired by Simple Families and Marie Kondo.
Feel free to feedback using the comments box below.
Until next time,