I hate doing housework. Some people love it- but I think they are crazy and I can always think of 5 million other things I would rather be doing. In order to make it all go away, I have tried to make things more efficient, so that there is less to do, and I am always looking for ways to make the house clean itself. Today I have been doing laundry, and so I thought I would share my four tips for cutting laundry in half.
1) Invest in white.
A few years ago, I realized that I spent a lot of my time matching up stray socks, and sorting underthings. I never have to do that now! I simply refuse to buy my children anything but the same white socks and underwear. Each kid has a huge stash of the exact same pair of socks. That way, there is no sorting, they always match. When one sock wears out and the other one is fine, it can be matched up with a similar sock. Also, everything can be bleached. This is a bonus when you have boys that seem to naturally smell like a football locker room. The trick to getting this started is really getting rid of all the striped, polka dotted, cutesy socks, and making a clean break. It is hard to do but well worth it for the incredible amount of tedious work eliminated. Once their load of socks are clean, they all get chucked into the same sock drawer, no rolling , matching, or folding needed!
Socks are just the tip of the iceberg though. I have taken to buying all white, all the time. Think of a hotel- towels, sheets, wash cloths, everything is white. When all of your towels, dish rags, etc. are white, it can all go in a hot bleach load, together. No more sorting out the special care towels. (You know your husband is only going to use them to wipe off the dog's muddy feet and ruin them anyway.) Not only that, but I got tired of faded looking towels and colored sheets. When everything is white, bleach makes it look like new. Extreme tip: I even went so far as to get white washable slip covers for my sofa and chairs in my living room. Name one family you know that has four kids and a dog that has had the same great looking sofa for over a decade!
2) If you can't put it in the dishwasher or washing machine, don't buy it.
I live by this- hardly anything I own has to go to the dry cleaners, and this extends to rugs, bedding, etc. Everything must be able to be chucked into a machine to wash it. If it goes in a machine, and comes out mangled, I consider it not worthy. This may sound like it will only increase laundry time, but on the contrary, gathering up all the dry cleanables, schlepping them to the strip mall, and remembering to go get them takes more time in my book. Extreme tip: I even went so far as to buy a fancy spendy front loader washing machine that will wash my bedding, and all my slipcovers at once- so worth it!
3) Hang Everything
I learned this trick from a friend that is a veteran mom- hang everything that can be hung on a hanger, and hang it in the closet. It might seem counter-intuitive, but folding really takes a lot more time. Things go on a hanger lickety split, and pop into the closet. I have no more messy drawers, or arguing abut putting things away properly. Extreme tip: It helps to hang absolutely everything, dress-ups, pajamas and even the extra set of sheets for the bed. If the closet is too crowded, that is an indicator that maybe some of the older stuff needs to be taken to Good Will.
4) The Federal Express Method
I have tried all kinds of schemes for getting the laundry done, assigning everyone a day, and trying to follow up. But it never seems to work out- there is always some huge mess to clean up that hogs the machine on someone's special day, and that throws the whole week out of whack. So we go on a "who needs clothes the most" basis. This was a nightmare of sorting afterwards, since I might wash two kid's clothes and some towels all at the same time, until I discovered the Federal Express Method. I am a firm believer in the fact that if I have to do laundry, everyone else should too. It is only fair, after all. So I enlist my Fed Ex staff ( the children) and away we go. All the clean laundry and a pile of hangers gets deposited in a central location (the sofa), and the Postmaster General (me) takes random clothes and puts them on a hanger. This is immediately handed to a runner (a child) who runs it to the appropriate closet. This one at a time method might seem like it would take longer than folding piles and taking the stacks of clothes to the dresser, but if you think about it, it is more efficient, because everything only gets sorted once, instead of twice. They laughed at the guy who invented Fed Ex when he wanted to deliver packages this way too. I can get about 6 big loads of laundry sorted and stashed in less than an hour this way. Maybe if you have fewer family members the traditional way would work better, but with six people, the Fed Ex method is a life saver. Extreme tip: The Fed Ex method works for all kinds of situations- if you have a really messy play room with lots of things to sort like random Legos, small toys, etc. take a minute and haul it all into a big pile. gather the boxes the stuff goes in next to the pile and start sorting, then run the boxes where they go, instead of bringing each item to its box. I have no idea why it is faster, it just is.
Do have amazing time saving strategies? I would love to hear them- leave us a comment!
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