Keeping up with laundry in a large family can be a daunting task. On average, our family produces 3-5 loads of laundry a day. How do we keep up and not get overwhelmed with how much laundry we have? I’ll share in this post the procedure I’ve learned to follow.
First off, my husband and the children help me. This is essential with efficiently running a household of this size. My opinion has always been, if 14 people help make the laundry (dishes, sweeping, yard work, or whatever misc. chores) then 14 people should be available to help with completing the task of finishing the chore. They may not all do the chore at the same time, obviously, but I don’t believe the chores produced by a family of this size can be completed by any one person (or even two people). It is definitely a group effort.
My Laundry Room Set-up
My washer and dryer are located in my garage. We’ve thought about having two sets but for right now we are content with one large capacity set.
I’ve purchased many different laundry sorters on the market and have always been disappointed by their quality of construction. They always seem to break or not hold the proper amount of laundry. My husband came up with the idea of using a part of a plastic shelf with the legs attached to hold up two plastic 18 gallon boxes. The legs are just tall enough to fit two plastic 18 gallon boxes underneath them as well. This makes a grand total of four 18 gallon boxes to organize laundry in.
I (or the children) separate laundry into four categories: whites, colors, blankets, and ickies I don’t want in the main laundry. I have a separate box for blankets because I have numerous bed-wetter’s.
I also have an icky box as we always seem to be potty training someone in this house! We spray out their undies and clothes and put them into plastic bags. Every few days I empty out all the bags into the washer and do a prewash before doing a regular wash. I don’t want these items accidentally making their way into the main laundry! That would produce a load with quite the lovely smell!!!
We keep a large laundry basket in the children’s/guests bathroom and a smaller basket in my closet. Every morning, as part of my 18 year old daughter’s morning chores, she takes out the laundry from their bathroom and sorts the laundry into the proper baskets. She then gets a load of laundry started(when she remembers). This is usually done before the majority of the family gets up as she’s one of my early risers.
My basket is taken out by my 13 year old daughter sometime in the morning and sorted with the rest of the laundry. This basket has clothes that are mine, my husband’s, my baby’s, and anyone who uses my shower the previous day. It’s a smaller basket but gets sorted every day.
We have one washer and dryer. We’ve thought about getting two sets but haven’t wanted to spend the money. We’ve considered two stackable units though. It would take up the same amount of floor space, but honestly, we’re able to keep up with our laundry just fine with one set. So, for now, one set it will remain to be!
Our goal is to have all the laundry washed, dried, and put away by lunch. Sometimes we make it. Sometimes we don’t. If we didn’t have this goal the laundry would never get finished.
I figure that it takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour on average before the clothes are dry. When we have a lot of laundry we set the timer on the stove for an hour. Every time it goes off I transfer (or have a kid transfer) the laundry. If we can fold it great. If not it sits in the family room until a time opens up.
If we keep the timer going than the laundry is finished on time. When we don’t keep the timer going than we finish a little bit later. That’s okay too. I just care that the laundry is done. 🙂
One big help with keeping the laundry folded is that I assign the laundry to one of my children as their jurisdiction. This means that they are in charge of making sure the laundry gets folded and put away. They also help with load transfers, folding socks, and ironing. They usually don’t do it all though as, again, laundry is more of a group effort.
As everyone knows, folding laundry immediately after it is finished drying helps eliminate wrinkles and clutter in the home. We rarely are able to accomplish this but it is always a goal of ours. Then we don’t have to look at it anymore that day.
I’ve also found that if there is laundry that needs folding and kids around that want to watch a movie/cartoon then I just make it part of the movie. If you want to watch a movie than either the laundry must be folded prior to it starting OR the whole family folds laundry during the movie (when there are many loads).
I hate ironing. I feel like I’m accomplishing very little. As soon as the clothes are ironed somewhere wears them and wrinkles them again. So, when I’m looking at buying clothes I intentionally look for clothes that are least likely to need to be ironed. If it looks like it will need it I pass it up. You can call me lazy. I don’t care. I’d rather spend my time doing anything else.
For the clothes that we do have that get wrinkled, I keep a basket of clothes that need ironing in my closet. Ideally, this basket is ironed every Saturday, or at least once a week. Realistically, this basket is ironed when it’s full (it’s a small basket) or when a particular item of clothing is needed.
Why did God give us feet? I know we have to walk around but it seems to me that God would have done better making us like hobbits; nice furry feet that don’t need socks or shoes. 😉
It seems like we are always looking for socks. It doesn’t matter if I just bought them all brand new socks a month prior. There will never be matched socks. It’s an irritating reality.
With every load of laundry folded I have them fold the socks that are in the basket. Extras go into the sock bucket (4 gallon bucket). This bucket is emptied and folded about once a week, usually during a movie or when someone is truly desperate to find a match.
I used to pin socks together. I haven’t done this in a while as I was getting tired of the safety pins getting tangled in the threads of the socks. Occasionally I’d also find the pins undone and piercing the ring of my washer. Expensive if it hurts the ring.
Well, there you have it. The procedure we follow to get our never-ending laundry finished, at least for the day.
And then, of course, it starts again the next day… <3 <3 <3
Ohmygosh. This is motivating me to re-do our laundry system. I need new laundry baskets to get me started!
Getting new laundry baskets are a great idea! I just use 18 gallon plastic boxes but I’ve been thinking about getting the pretty cloth kind to spruce the area up a little. 🙂
Carrie Willard says
Yes to hobbit feet! My sister says my brother-in-law already has them. 😉
We’ve been living without a dryer for weeks now, which has been interesting… since it’s winter and wet and clothing, especially hubby’s take an entire DAY to dry, even with a fan running. I’ll so appreciate my dryer when I get it back though!
Oh Carrie! That must be sooo hard. I hope you get your dryer back soon! That would be tough!
Just wanted to share a quick story from one mom to another. You said you have several bed wetters: I had a bed wetter for quite some time. He had an accident every night from the time he was born until around 8. I bought a night wetting alarm out of desperation…it was $100. In less than 2 weeks it had totally fixed the issue! Best $100 I have ever spent. Several years later and he has never had another accident.
Thank you Nikki for the tip! I tried this with my first few children but it didn’t work well with us. I haven’t tried it with any of the others. It always seems to go away on its own so I’m not too worried about it. 😉
I’m fascinated. I don’t use a dryer and leave my washing to dry outside. I’m in Australia and we always hear of Americans using their dryers even if the sun’s out. Is this true and, if so, why? I love the smell of sun-dried laundry and it’s free! Yes though to the frustration in cold or wet weather but I have the fire on right now so not too bad. Even in England I would hang outside in summer and by radiators in winter and if desperate for uniform or something then I would use the dryer that came with the house. Expensive to run though. Family of 12 by the way. Looking for ideas on laundry. I generally love laundry but just struggle with getting it folded and away as there don’t seem to be enough hours in the day right now. I do the washing, sorted into colours, darks and whites. I also do delicate loads and bedding. I have 2 “wet buckets”. 1 for cleaning rags and 1 for muddy, wet or food covered clothing. Toilet accident clothing goes in here too. I do all the laundry myself but a few of my children take turns to hang. My eldest daughter brings it all in. Another daughter and I are meant to fold but that hasn’t been happening frequently enough lately. Each family member has a cubbie in a cube storage system and we post each person’s items in there. Then they are responsible for taking their own and packing it away. The 3 youngest ( 2-5 year olds) have theirs put away by their older “buddies” that they are paired with. Any ideas?
Personally, I dry outside when it’s a peaceful activity. When I have a lot going on my clothes go in the dryer. It just helps the chores go faster. 🙂
As far as some new ideas, I recommend you read my new laundry post! I have changed a few key areas of my laundry routine and love it! It is so much more efficient. 🙂