Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Laundry List

Today is laundry day. After an amazing three-day weekend (to be detailed soon...mark your calendars), it is time to reign in the freedom. Time to go back on the diet, back to the budget (I'm trying, Hun!) and, most of all, back to the washingboard.

After years of laundry loathing, I have finally made peace with the spin cycle. I've learned to love the April freshness of Downy mixed with the pungent tang of Clorox. I love the warmth and softness of a crisp, clean batch of cotton sheets. Give me a basket of folded towels instead of a Picasso anyday. A load of well-done laundry is a true work of art.

First off, let me clarify that I do NOT have a dream laundry room. Far from it. If my laundry room were a state it would be Rhode Island. Clearly, the only Ultra Tide the man (because obviously it was a man) who designed this house knew about was the kind that rippled onto the shore of his Cape May beachfront property. Still, I have learned that you don't need a fully-loaded laundromat establishment to enjoy cleaning your linens. All you need is a good system.

Here are a few tricks that really knock my socks off. (And leave them gleaming white and static-free...)
  • Laundry hampers. In every room where clothes are stored, removed or changed. I have them in every bedroom and bathroom. Some larger rooms have more than one.
  • Regularly scheduled wash day. I only wash twice a week. Period. Usually Tuesdays and Fridays. It works best if you are at-home most of the day. (Or have a helpful home-officed husband who doesn't mind shifting the loads, in a pinch.) Promise yourself that you will get all the laundry in and out within a 12-hour period. It takes discipline...but there is nothing more depressing than seeing yesterday's whites still molding away in the washer as you are digging through piles of clean, but rumpled, permanent press searching for the soccer uniform.
  • Individualized laundry baskets. Each kid has their own labeled clean-clothes basket. (Note: these are not the same as the laundry hampers...those are stationary, because there is always more laundry.) Depending on their age, at the end of laundry day, the kids will have either a pile of clean clothes to fold or pre-folded clothes to put away in drawers and closets. (Word to the wise: I don't advise looking in drawers too often. It can cause stomach upset.)
  • Fold as you go. This doesn't work for everybody, but I've found that if I drag all the clean laundry into the family room and fold while watching Oprah or other educational programming, it takes a whole lot longer to finish. Plus, I am annoyed if my kids trip over my work. Time yourself. Folding even the biggest load only takes about twelve minutes. Just pull it out of the dryer and deal with it while it's warm and sweet. Less wrinkles, too.
  • Bright whites. Sort and wash whites first while there is still plenty of hot water. For best results, rinse the load first with cold water. Tip learned from appliance guy: If you have an high-efficiency washer, it may fill with water before the water gets really hot. Before starting the hot cycle, run the faucet in your washtub or closest powder room to get the heat in the pipes.
  • Sock basket. My laundry room is also the mudroom. The kids keep their shoes in there. So it makes sense to keep a big basket of clean white socks handy. I don't even match them. It has streamlined our daily out-the-door routine...and every second counts.
  • Baking soda. Gets the stink out towels and socks. Can be used instead of bleach to brighten whites. Used as a paste will clean out a dirty washing machine. Cheap trick.
  • Finally...buy cute clothes. When apparel shopping, don't just look at cost and fit. When buying any top or bottom, ask yourself, Will I still love this after I've pre-treated, sorted and folded it 50 times? If the answer is no, put it back on the rack.

What's on your laundry list?


Shauna said...

Great Post! Hope things are going well with you! ♥ Hugs :)

Annemarie said...

Ahhh, yes. I have learned to (somewhat enjoy) laundry duty, as well. What is wrong with me??

I'm a firm believer in fold as you go. It just doesn't get done otherwise.

I love the basket of socks trick, that's a good one!!

Happy laundry day!

cami said...

Just what I needed today! We just returned from Disneyland and I missed my regularly scheduled laundry day. So, I'm facing 8 piles of laundry and I am a little irritated by it.

Thanks for the positive spin on it all!

Annie said...

Great post, Gabi. It *almost* made me want to go do laundry. I do two days a week, too, and while I don't exactly love it, I love the sweet results, all stacked up and proud.

When I'm not loving it, I think back to the first few years of marriage when I had to go to the laundromat. Then I go over and give my washer and dryer a big hug.

Christie said...

I am totally a Tuesday/Friday laundry girl, too! And amen to the fold-as-you-go policy. I have found that it takes so much longer to haul and fold multiple loads at once. But one at a time? Totally easy. Love the idea of the clean hamper, too. Might steal that one.

the wrath of khandrea said...

clean white socks in a basket by the door. you are absolutely a genius. i bow to you, master.

Marci said...

I did laundry today too - and I am still working on it. We call it Laundry Hell at my house when it gets as bad as it was today (the boys are even allowed to say the H word, if it is preceded by the word "laundry"). Your laundry list came at just the right time! I am definitely going shopping tomorrow for hampers for each room.

brooke said...

This post was the solution to all my problems and the answer to all my prayers. See: http://iwannatalkaboutbrooke.blogspot.com/2008/11/airing-my-dirty-laundry.html

Where have you been all my life?!

TravelinOma said...

I love your laundry room. It's perfectly situated to catch the clothes as they drop from the bodies of everyone who passes through the room. I was even temped to strip down and practice the routine, but I didn't want to have a laundry assignment.

TravelinOma said...

PS I love the new green look of your blog and the updated photos of the gang.

Susan said...

How do you use the baking soda? Do you pour it in the machine at the beginning of the cycle?

Lauren in GA said...

I savored each and every word.

I so agree...I like to fold as I go. It really does make life easier for me.

I have never thought of having the white socks by the door. That is BRILLIANT!!!!!!!

wenderful said...

I love this post!
I also keep the sock basket close to the mudroom and don't sort the socks (very often unless there are no matches to be found).
I love your tip on using baking soda. I've never heard this. I'll try it.
Laundry is my least favorite chore but you're inspiring me to hate it a little less. :)

wenderful said...

And I have a friend who has a huge laundry room. She uses it as the family closet too. Everyone's clothes, dirty and clean, are kept there. No need to haul clothes back and forth to rooms. Everyone gets dressed and undressed in that room. A great idea if you have the space.

Mique (as in Mickey) said...

My husband and children thank you for this post. I think you know by now how good I am at laundry.
It is my arch nemesis. And to think I worked in the laundry room while at BYU (maybe that's what did me in- washing all those football players' jock straps.........)

Ilene said...

Loving these tips. I need to get baskets for the kids. So much easier than the leaning piles of laundry that plague the laundry room counter.

martha corinna said...

You do make some great suggestions...but I don't care, I still hate laundry, and, I have a fairly decent laundry room(which doesn't seem to improve the experience). Oh well.

♥Shally said...


Hate. It.

I wish I could come to love it, even a little bit.

Just thinking about all the laundry I need to do makes me feel all angry inside!!! :)

Alayna said...

This post came at a great time for me. I had just had my washing machine pronounced DOA on Friday (yep the 13th! it wasn't the only bad thing that happened that day) and had to replace it Monday. So laundry has been on my mind. A lot. Love all the tips and as soon as I get a bigger house I am incorporating more of them. I will be thinking of you (all) on Monday - my designated Laundry Day (and all my online friends know it LOL)

Bridget said...

Tomorrow I am putting white socks in our mud room for my boys. Great idea. I enjoy doing laundry now because I have a good size laundry room. Only you can make a laundry post an interesting read.

Holly said...

Granted we don't have a ton of laundry since we are a smaller family, but I don't usually mind it. I'd much rather be living in this machine wash era than down by the creek banging my clothes against a rock.

Good tips!

Jenibelle said...

Ick Laundry ick.
Don't get me started on ironing.

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