Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday, Wash Day

Hello, F.O.T.E.'s,

(That's "Friends of The Ewe" for any newcomers ;-).

I'm elbow deep into the washing machine today--it being Monday and all. I usually do *some* kind of laundry every day, but on Monday and Thursday, I try to beat Mt. Washmore down (the lambs call it "Mt. Foldmore," since folding is the least enjoyed part).

We have tried many L.A.P.'s--Laundry Attack Plans--each with its own strengths/weaknesses. Most plus-sized families I know make laundry a topic of much study and experimentation. When you multiply the daily clothing, bedding and towels/miscellaneous times 7 every day...welcome to the power of compounding. :-)

I've decided I'd like to blog a series (stop laughing) about defeating laundry. I'm certainly no expert on efficiency or organization, but I do want to pass on any tips that have helped us. So...

I will share my thoughts on laundry in a 3-part series entitled....(drum roll)

"Reduce, Reuse and Recycle"

Today, "Reduce":

--Firstly, "Reduce... the Wardrobe"

Don't overestimate your children's clothing needs. Especially if you homeschool, little ones can get by with very few clothes. When they're little, they don't really care if they wear the same 4-5 outfits every week. Also, sometimes an outfit can last 2 days. Buy cheap over-the-door hooks for them to hang clothes that would do another day. An exception: we do try to keep each child in 6-7 pairs of undies which are in good repair and not overly stained (what if they were involved in an accident?) :-) Also, 2-3 nice Sunday outfits. When the girls were younger, I'd buy each of them 3 Land's End jersey, pullover dresses each season (actually, I bought 3 at the end of each season, in the size the girl would be in the next year). They would wear their Land's End dresses on Sundays until the dresses started to get worn/tight. This usually took 2 years. (!) Then, those dresses became weekday dresses, and the new Land's End dresses (purchased on clearance the last year) became the new Sunday dresses. Of course, as the girls got bigger, this lovely plan stopped working, as Land's End doesn't make pullover ladies' dresses like that, and I have a couple girls in ladies' sizes now. But, anyway, do try to limit the amount of clothing your children have.

One trick I'm using now, to help keep the clothes weeded down is the Broken Hanger Trick. We use those tubular, plastic clothes hangers. They are not hard to break, especially when a little person is a bit too short to easily get their clothes off the rod in the closet. ;-) So, when a hanger breaks, I choose (or if the child is old enough they do themselves) a garment to discard--either into the Goodwill box or the trash. I choose the rattiest of the ratty or the most stained or least liked or illest fitting--something that won't really be missed. I used to buy hangers at Walmart regularly, but I like this plan better. Granted, eventually I will have buy more hangers--we have to have *some* clothes!!--but I'm not buying nearly the amount I used to.

Next: "Reduce... the Paraphernalia" -- laundry gadgets, stain removers, etc...

I think I've tried nearly every laundry detergent and stain remover on the planet. I bought a bleach pen and never used it...I was afraid the residual bleach would spot the rest of the clothes...So, my laundry arsenal is down to cheap detergent (I didn't find much difference in effectiveness of the different brands), Clorox (the name brand...somehow, it seems to matter ??), cheap fabric softener sheets and dishwashing liquid. Yes, dishwashing liquid. I've stopped buying any stain remover, as I never found one that worked as well as Dawn or Palmolive dish soap. Most of our stains around here are food anyway, so it makes sense that Dawn would work. I tried the new Tide with Dawn...didn't seem to help much. Oh, btw, when you use Dawn as a stain remover, don't wet the stain, and don't dilute the Dawn. Just squirt it on full strength and scrub it in with a brush or between your hands. Let it sit at least an hour or so...up to a week. I can get most stains out this way.

And, if the stain is bad enough, and I've tried the stain treatment and washing 2-3 times...I toss the garment. Not worth more effort than that, unless it's a special piece of clothing.

Now, lest I sound heartless, I do let the lambs save back outgrown/stained clothing that has special meaning to them. Those items go into our sewing fabric chest of drawers (6 drawers--red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) to be used (only by the owner of the Special Item) in a quilt or other crafty venture. The unbending rule is that the owner is the only person who can use that special cloth for a project. We have some precious items that were made for the girls by their Grandmom--we don't toss those things!

Here's another tip: "Reduce... the Sorting" --i.e. dirty laundry

I sort into "hot," "cold," and "hot with bleach." I don't do a lot of bleach loads--primarily just dish cloths and towels, and I don't even bleach those every time. Everything else gets either hot water or cold water. I don't do "darks and lights," "jeans only" or anything like that. (I do understand the rationale behind doing jeans separately--they *do* bleed forever). This is the only sorting system in which I get to keep my sanity and have the satisfaction of knowing a Lamb could take over, if need be. I don't have time for each piece of clothing to get special treatment--outside of stain removing. For clothing, coming to our house is like joining the Marines--the Few, the Proud...the Durable. :-) I try not to buy anything that needs hand washing...and very few things that can't be tumbled dry.

Reducing the sorting also is a part of our next laundry attack tactic...

Next: "Reduce... the Confusion"

--It is my goal to work myself out of a job and to raise up children who are *not* as clueless as I was when I left home. Learning to run a household was (is?) very strenuous for me. There was just so much I didn't know how to do...or even that you were *supposed* to *do it*! ("You dust THOSE?!?" "Yes, Dear. It's called a 'baseboard.'") So, I've got to stick with simple house care attack plans. One thing I do to be sure that someone else could step in and help w/ the laundry is dotting the undies. (not related to "crossing the T's") This would work for socks and anything else as well, but for us, we just dot undies. The firstborn gets 1 dot...the second born gets 2 dots...the 3rd child gets 3 get the drift. I put a Sharpie dot on the waist elastic of each pair of child's undies, in the back, on the outside. That way, if The Ram wants to bless me, he can easily tell whose drawers are whose. Or into whose drawers to put the drawers...I'll admit, it helps me, too. Another way we reduce confusion is to stick with mainly white socks for the children. We usually buy the same style, so everyone can share (within reason). White is good, too, because I can bleach them if (when) they get really dingy.

Finally, "Reduce...the Whining"

For years, I was amazed at how much faster my wonderful mother-in-law could do my laundry than I. Eventually, I realized that I wasted a lot of time just dreading the task. I would avoid putting the clean clothes away, because I feared it would "take all day." Once I just dove in and stopped dreading/complaining, I started making laundry headway.

While doing laundry, I try to remind myself how blessed we are to have clothing for all the children, with even extra to spare. I try to often pray for the family member whose shirt I'm hanging up or whose dress I'm de-staining. This is not to say that washing clothes is never a daunting task for me or that I just can't wait each day to get into my laundry room, but it *is* becoming an easier job as I continue to "Reduce."

Must run...The Ram needs clean clothes for work. ;-)

Y'all keep your wool dry,

The Ewe

1 comment:

Alipurr said...

hey, i love this, will have to re-read and ruminate awhile, ha ha

one thing i do right now that saves my sanity is to keep different people's clothes in separate laundry places (though i don't always stick to it)

I put husband's laundry in a separate place with mine, I put the girls' laundry together, and i put the baby's laundry all by itself. My husband seems to have not very many clothes, compared to all us girls, so if I put them all together, his would never get washed in a timely manner.

It is true about the reducing. I seem to do it all the time, every season, every time someone gives me a bag of clothes for the girls....(hey maybe that's my problem, I have trouble saying no to a bag of free clothes, especially if I know where they came from, ha ha).

my other challenge right now is the girls' clothes....i have one in 6x/7 and one in 4/ i am continually pulling out 6's that are too little for my oldest and too big for my little girl....if i had plenty of space i would just stick them in her drawer. Right now there is a big plastic bin on the floor near the closet for things that the older one outgrows and will pass down. if you have any other hints/suggestions about that, i'm all ears :)

i have to say, too that this is very timely, as i have several loads to fold right now in my dining room, and also a load of towels to fold on my husband's chair in the living room (i ran out of laundry baskets)