Sunday, August 28, 2011

Laundry ---Ideas? Tips? Commiseration?

The only bad part out of moving out of a tiny apartment, is that I'm suddenly finding it overwhelming to do laundry in a house with three floor and an unsteady toddler who likes to always be in eye sight of her Mama.

How do you guys survive?

My old laundry routine was a) have a family closet in our room three steps away from the dryer (I put all the dresser drawers in our room. My young kids tend to throw clean clothes on the floor and that way I could quickly clean up the mess without resorting to tons of unnecessary loads.)
b) fold clean clothes on my bed
c) make it a rule that we always had to fold up any extra clean clothes before the parents went to bed

The new house doesn't have a system yet!

Now I've got my kids on the second floor, our bedroom on the first floor, and our washer/dryer unit on the first floor. Our dryer is old and on the fritz, so we're talking about having to run each load through multiple times. Also, my only safe place to put Baby Tess while I'm doing laundry in our dangerous basement is leave her in her crib, and she hates that! Her crying sort of add this added pressure to get all laundry tasks done within 2 to 4 minute spurts. All that post-moving chaos combined with my fatigue, have just made me feel so hopeless about the situation.

Just today, I'm trying to figure out a big-picture solution to this task.

First, I thinned out the kids clothes to things that they actually wear. I'm putting everything that is not currently a summer-time favorite, on a hanger in their bedroom closet. Then I moved down their dressers to the basement. I've got a place for "hanging items" and now places for clean laundry. Now it should be easier to fold things straight out of the dryer, or hang up wet delicate to air dry.

I also found these two interesting articles on green laundry methods and practical laundry collection ideas.

Does anyone have some wisdom to share? I'm open to trying almost anything but FlyLady.

St. Clare, patron Saint of Laundress, pray for us!


  1. Check out the right sidebar on the "Like Morher, Like Daughter blog at She has a whole section devoted to laundry management.

    I would suggest finding a used playpen or portacrib to have in the basement area -- to keep the toddler close by -- with fun toys she only gets to play with while there with you while you quickly work.

  2. I love the family closet concept and have a wall of bins in my laundry area for everyone's clothes (except my husband's.) SO much more efficient!

    I like your idea of moving the drawers down there. Maybe you could make a habit of bringing up tomorrow's clean clothes for everyone and leaving them in the kitchen?

    My grandma (mom of 10) had a basement laundry. She installed a dirty laundry chute from the kitchen cabinet through the floor to the area where the machines were located.

  3. I'm trying to remember how I managed in our apartment when the laundry was in the basement. I think I ended up doing most of the taking out of the dryer when the toddler was napping. But we only had three people at that point.

    Now I'm lucky to have the laundry room off the kitchen. It isn't ideal but at least I don't have to deal with stairs or an unsafe basement. And because our house is all one floor I've trained the kids to deliver dirty clothes to the hamper next to the washer as soon as they take them off. Could you put your hamper next to the basement stairs so at least you don't have to move the dirty clothes as far?

    I like the idea of finding a playpen or portacrib for Miss Tess. When she gets a bit older, I'm sure she'll want to help you with the laundry. Ben loves to help move clothes from the washer to the dryer and his special job is to push the buttons to start both washer and dryer.

    Can you work out some kind of assembly line system getting the big kids to help you to get through everything quickly? One person pulls things out of the dryer, another hangs, another folds, another puts them in the drawers, etc.

    I hope you find a system that works for you. I know it took a while with each move to figure it all out again.

  4. The Play pen idea might work in a few months, but right now Miss Tess has newly figured out how to WALK. Toys have no interest for her. If she's not able to walk around, she feels caged in and starts to scream.

    Thanks for the encouragement. I think this whole laundry thing will probably be a lesson in patience.

  5. I like the playpen idea; it's what we used. But now that she's walking, is there anyway you can use a baby gate for her bedroom door and leave her there? It works well if someone is in the room to entertain.

    I do my laundry at night when my husband's home, but we live in an apartment so we lug several loads and do them all at once.

  6. I've had this problem, too. My biggest hurdle is I can't carry the laundry basket AND Abigail down the steep concrete stairs!

    So I time it with naps. Somehow it works- our drier takes forever anyway!

    Speaking of...better go put those towels in the drier!

  7. I don't have a set way of tackeling laundry. I REALLY need one. Thanks for the inspiration :)
    I know some who just do a load a day - which doesn't seem too bad. We've got 3 kids so I think we would have a load a day, or every other.
    Why is it that the laundry always wins?!

  8. I'm sorry I'm of no help here since I hire someone to help me with my motherloads.

  9. If it is any help...we have a washer and dryer OUTSIDE in a utility room (we live in a Co-Op builiding).

    Lucikly they have two commercial washers in this room.

    But, still you have to leave the house and walk several feet away--across a little alley.

    My solution. I put the loads in before anyone wakes up.

    And, before my husband leaves for work he brings them back home.

    Or we drop them off when we leave the house!

  10. We had a lot of problems with laundry until quite recently. But I needed a system that woudl work with a 17 month old climber and a new baby on the way and this is what I devised. First off, I cut clothes down to very little. Bare bones basics. I think my boy has four pairs of pants, four shirts, eight t-shirts, that sort of thing. There is a laundry bin in each room. EVERY DAY I 'reboot' the laundry. I run a rinse load for my cloth diapers first, then I add reg. laundry. With diapers, clothes, towels, etc. I do a load a day. Everything is washed before naptime. Then, once the boy is asleep I hang our laundry to dry outside and bring the dry stuff in again. If it's raining I have an indoor line outside on my back porch. When the 17 month old was very little and didn't want to be away from Mom I would either strap him to my backin a carrier or use some sort of 'special' treat. An inexpensive walker, a jolly jumper, or a tree swing. Good luck.

  11. I know you may have gotten past this problem, but in case you haven't and are still having trouble with your dryer needing to be used more than once a load, you need to be aware that this can be a dangerous situation.

    If a dryer is taking longer, or you need to do it twice, you could have a back up of dryer lint in the ductwork to the outside. You need to clean the lint out immediately or you could have a fire. My dryer sometimes does not dry right and as soon as I see that symptom now, I go outside and check the vent and clean it out with my hand. I just pull the lint, which is likely stiff and stuck. I go back in and voila the dryer works fine after that. Now I have a short dryer duct but some people have long ducts and these need a tool I believe to clean it out. If you don't, the heat could catch the lint, which is pretty flammable, on fire. Some hikers take dryer lint with them camping to use as kindling, so I would not fool around.

    Clean out the lint and see it if works for you before you start looking to buy a new dryer. I'm hoping that is all it is. God Bless!