A Simple Approach to Living With Less

The Low Down on Laundry

I have decided that a major reason people join nudist colonies is to avoid doing laundry. I am convinced that in their brochures, the top three reasons for becoming a nudist are:

1) Become closer to nature
2) Release your inner inhibitions
3) No laundry day

Seriously though, I have yet to find a fun way to deal with laundry. It’s a never ending chore and around here there sure is plenty of it! Many of you asked for practical tips and a glimpse of our lives in a combined household. Well, you can’t get more practical that dealing with laundry.

Living in the Land of Laundry

Living in a household of 10 creates between 20-30 loads of laundry every week. That’s clothes for 10, towels for 10, and sheets for 8 beds. We wash sheets every other week so the number of loads varies depending on who is washing sheets that week. One of the ways we stay on top of things is that we have scheduled laundry days.

Laundry Schedule. My parents start the week with laundry day on Monday. My 16 year old brother does his own laundry on Tuesday. My 15 year old sister does her laundry on Wednesday. My crew of five has been allotted two days if necessary on Thursday and Friday. And my grandmother’s laundry day is Saturday.

The Pros and Cons of a Scheduled Laundry Day. I have tried tackling the laundry issue in many different ways. I have tried doing just a couple loads every day in order to not feel overwhelmed with one major laundry day. Although it has some perks, it just left me feeling like my laundry was never done. Although having a single day to focus on laundry can be less than thrilling, it does give you a sense of satisfaction that you’re done for the rest of the week. Plus, keeping the day the same every week helps you plan your week and not let it go by unnoticed until someone complains of not having any clean socks.

Teach them Early. Training for doing your own laundry around here begins about the time you learn to read. One of my brothers was as young as five when he started doing his own laundry. Granted some oversight is required so you don’t lose a child in the bottom of the washing machine, but everyone gets trained at a young age. At this point, my boys know how to do their laundry, but I currently have them only help with folding and putting away so we can keep things moving at a steady pace.

Tips for Minimizing the Laundry Hassle

  • Schedule a laundry day – see above for the Pros and Cons of picking a laundry day. The other important element is actually putting the laundry away. This is the hardest part for me. If I don’t put clothes away when they’re done, it’s easier for me to ignore them.
  • Wear fewer clothes - This one’s pretty straight forward. If you wear fewer clothes, there are fewer items to clean. My big decision of the day in the clothing department is: dark jeans or not-so-dark jeans.  If you need some inspiration for paring down your clothing choices, check out theProject333.com
  • Use fewer towels - I know of people that use a clean towel for every single shower. If you are doing a good job of cleaning yourself, then your towel is just there to mop up clean water off a clean body. We limit everyone to one towel per week and it seems to work just fine.
  • Teach your kids to help – I went to college with friends who had no clue how to do laundry and I really think that’s doing kids a disservice. Even if they don’t wash their own clothes yet, get your kids help with folding and definitely putting their own laundry away.
  • Fold clothes as soon as they are dry – This is a tip from my mom. As soon as the dryer is finished, she pulls a stool over, sits in front of the dryer, and folds clothes directly into a basket. This eliminates wrinkles and avoids the procrastination factor of throwing clothes in a basket that you have to deal with later.
  • Consider line drying your laundry – Honestly, this wouldn’t work for the quantity of laundry we go through, but it’s a great alternative you should consider.
  • Other ways to save energy – Use a lower temperature for washing and rinsing; wash full but not crammed loads of laundry; clean out the dryer vent and filter; don’t over dry clothing. Every little bit of savings definitely adds up.

Do you have any great tips for how you’ve tackled the laundry issue? I’d love to hear about them in the comment section.

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photo by btwist
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Comments

  1. Jill Foley says:

    We do a lot of what you mention here, although we are only a family of 4. I aim for two laundry days a week, but am flexible on the actual days – it really depends on our schedule and the need to do laundry.

    Recently I created a family closet and it seems to have revolutionized how I view laundry. All the clothes are in one space – dirty and clean. We have one laundry basket so it’s very easy to determine when a load needs to be done. My girls have been able to “up their game” in helping with laundry – they can reach all their clothes to put them away. We also have front loading machines and they can pull clean clothes out of the dryer, transfer wet ones to the dryer, load the washer. This week I even had them strip their own beds when it was time to wash their sheets.

    We do laundry together. Yes – it takes a bit more time, but it’s worth it to teach them. I’m hoping in a few short years they will take over the laundry for me.

  2. I wrote more about our family closet on my blog if you (or anyone else) are interested.

    http://jill-foleyjourney.blogspot.com/2011/01/boot-camp-day-9.html

    • Faith Janes says:

      That’s really neat. We don’t have any closets big enough for that but that’s a neat idea! Thanks for sharing it.

  3. Faith, you make me laugh!
    I’m from a family of seven and my mom had us doing laundry at a young age as well. I think I was 8 when I was responsible for getting my own laundry done.
    I do a focused day of laundry as well. We don’t have a lot of clothes so it’s a necessity to do laundry once a week. I like having everything done and put away and not having to think of it for a few days.
    However, we use cloth diapers so I have additional diaper laundry twice a week. It’ll be nice to be done with that some day!

    • Faith Janes says:

      Hi Rachel, glad I could make you smile. I’m too cold natured to be a nudist anyway.

      We are working on potty training around here so some in between loads are still necessary sometimes. I can’t wait for that part to be over!

  4. One laundry day a week never worked for me. In cases where I’ve let it get out of control I may do a couple loads a day, but if I just do it once a week I end up dreading it. I use Flylady’s load a day system to conquer my “mount washmore”. I get up in the morning and put the load in the washer, and after work while dinner’s cooking I put it in the dryer. After dinner, I fold and my husband drags it up the 3 flights of stairs if the basket is full. if I do that, I can more than keep on top of laundry for 2.

  5. As I listen to my fourth load of the day in the machine I remember why I DON’T like to have ‘washing day’! I normally like to do a load (or two) each day, so that I don’t feel I have an entire day out at the washing line.

    Before children, when we were both working, my husband and I would just do 3-4 loads of washing over the weekend. We have two kids now, the smallest still going through 12-15 cloth nappies a day, and I now do at least 8 loads of washing a week! I try and do one a day, hang it out as soon as I get a chance, and fold it straight away. I only have one washing basket to prevent the temptation of leaving it till later.

    My Mum, who had seven kids, bought a washing machine with a timer when it was time for an upgrade. She’d put the washing on before she went to bed, then hang it out and put the next load on before breakfast, then hung out load two after breakfast. She still does that and there is just her and two kids at home, and she’s a bit at a loss because they don’t even need on load washed every day anymore!

  6. Fantastic Tips Faith! I took on the laundry monster and won late last year and haven’t looked back. This would be a really long comment if I put my tips in so I hope you don’t mind me dropping in a link to my post of a ‘simplified laundry routine’ to explain how I do it!
    http://simplybeingmum.wordpress.com/2011/01/04/simple-top-tip-tuesday-laundry/

    Have a great weekend – Jo (simplybeingmum – family life simply done)

  7. ps – I’m on potty training next week – second time around for me… have been putting it off! Any tips greatly received – I seem to have forgotten everything from the first borns experience…

  8. I had to laugh and read to my husband the tip from your mom about folding the clothes immediately. Her technique is the same as mine. I pull up my stool and use the table (dryer door) to fold. I have 3 baskets, one for myself, one for my husband, and one for my son so the clothing can be easily placed in the appropriate drawers without rummaging through the basket and messing up the clothes. I line dry in warm weather. We are all hooked on the smell and the texture of the towels, especially.

  9. Hidden behind dining room windows (sunniest room/pollen allergies) we have hidden a clothesline that we put up in the morning. We wash our clothes when we wake up then put into dryer for just 10 minutes which fluffs so clothes won’t dry stiff. It takes no time to hang clothes on indoor line when we work as a team and they are done by before kids get home from school.

  10. After years of apartment living when we finally built our cabin we put washer/dryer connections in but never bought a unit. I just sorta got used to going to the laundromat, and this is weird, I kind of like it.

    Now with Patrick and I both working from home I like it even more. Even though we live with Cora who does have a washer (no dryer, she prefers to line dry) we still go to the laundromat.

    I didn’t want to burden her with our stuff at all and I knew she’d end up taking over laundry duties for us. So we keep it outside her sphere completely. We keep our laundry bag in our room and we head over to the laundromat once a week. Like you we do our towels once a week (1 towel per person for the week) and our sheets once a week. Then there’s the dog bed and doggie towel (if it was bath time for Miss Sunshine the Sunny Dog) which gets done every two weeks.

    It’s nice. At the laundromat we sit in the car and catch up for an hour while clothes are washing and drying. It all gets done in one big swoop and we catch some of the alone time we’ve been missing out on. But, we’ve always been weird “car sitters”. The best conversations for us have been sitting in a car, not going anywhere, just talking.

    So laundry day is our “date day”. How funny!

    Cheers,
    Tanja

  11. I also have a scheduled laundry day. I’ve switched that day around a bit (at one point it was Friday, then Saturday, and now it’s Sunday), but I always find that it’s been easier to get it all done at once. I rotate sheets/towels, etc. as well, so that they are done in different weeks. And, I also have my children help gather clothes, sort them, and put them away. Then, the laundry room is closed until the next week. This way, I get the satisfaction of getting it all done for at least one day of the week!

    Dr. Laura

  12. Just found your blog today and had to read this post because I hate laundry…and it’s only for my husband and I. I love all your tips. One idea I’ve seen and fully plan to use when I can/when we build is to have a laundry room/family closet combined in one room. My biggest dislikes are gathering laundry and putting it away, in a family closet the dirty laundry is kept there and then everything goes in one place right after it’s clean. Whoever invented this is genius in my book! :)
    Great spot on the web. I’ll be back often!

  13. I set a timer on my phone to know when the dryer is almost done, so there is no fluffing cycle over and over all day because you forget about it.

    http://minimalistfreak.com/2010/11/04/no-chores-on-the-weekend/

  14. Monique, from New Zealand says:

    Hi, I never use a dryer but between the sun and our wood burner I can get the laundry dry. I wash 7/8 loads a week, washing one load most days. This includes washing cloth nappies every second day for a 13 month old. We are a family of 3 so I realise the more people the more laundry. I don’t mind laundry and I think using soapnuts helps that feeling. I bung them in the wash (I do have to use a warm cycle) and then use a light rinse cycle at the end (I would not rinse at all if my machine would let me. I tried using a timer to run down to the garage and turn it off but it was too much work so I try and save water elsewhere). I pre-rinse my cloth nappies before they go in the machine and add all my whites and lights in with them. When dry I fold my laundry while watching TV or my young son plays with it while I fold then I put the folded items in a basket until I’m ready to put them away. Normally I add to the basket until it is full then I have to put the clothes away. I don’t like the putting away part so prefer to do a lot at once rather than small bits often.

  15. Great ideas! I’m only one person right now so I don’t have to do but a couple loads of laundry every 2-3 wks, but I definitely wear clothes multiple times before I wash them, esp. pants. I have a re-wear pile and if my clothes don’t stink when I take them off I put them in that pile to wear later. I also make my own laundry detergent which is a ton cheaper & all natural/biodegradable.

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