Of all the chores that the parents of many children dread, laundry may be at the top of the list. It’s never ending, and it can get ugly real fast if the washing machine isn’t fed regularly. We have 6 children, and I get the question of “How do you keep up with all that laundry!?” quite often. While laundry is rarely anyone’s favorite chore, it can be a little less of a burden with these tips.
Have A Laundry Plan
Most people don’t have to think too much about their laundry. But if you’re washing and drying for 7, 8, 10 or more people every day, you had better have a plan of attack! For most large families, doing a few loads of laundry every day, rather than saving it for one day a week, is a necessity.
Consider the plan of your home, the helpers you have and other factors to figure out a system that will work for you. Will everyone take laundry to a central location? Will you utilize a “family closet” to reduce footwork? Will kids be responsible for their own washing? Will they be expected to check a spot daily for their clean clothing, which they will then deliver to their rooms and put away? Different systems work for different families.
Currently, what works for us is daily laundry, with everyone bringing their clothes to the bathroom/laundry room. However, this doesn’t always happen and clothes get “forgotten” under their beds, or in their toybox, and we have to have room cleaning days on top of daily laundry. On the days that they clean their rooms, we end up doing 3-4 loads, instead of the 1-2. Luckily, we are over the cloth diaper washings, with our youngest at 3 years old now, so that cuts down on a load right there. My oldest two, Preston and Owen, like to help with the laundry, because we do things easily. We don’t sort by color, unless it is a new, red item. If it isn’t new, and it isn’t red, everything goes in together! Yep, I said it, we don’t sort! Fill the washer, add the detergent, set it and forget it! They take turns switching the wash to the dryer.
Since pinching pennies is part of life with a larger than average family, here are a few tips on saving money on laundry.
- Wash full loads only. This isn’t usually a problem with a big brood; that’s all we ever have!
- Use cold water. For most laundry, temperature doesn’t matter much, especially if the detergent dissolves fully. If using cold water, like we do; stay away from powdered detergents, they won’t dissolve well in cold water.
- Try making your own detergent to save money. This isn’t hard, and can be a fun project to involve older children in. Not only does it save money to make your own detergent, but you can easily make 10-20 gallons at a time, which saves you from running to the store as much.
- If you buy laundry soap, keep an eye out for deals on our site and combine store deals with coupons.
- Use minimal detergent. You can probably get away with using half of what the manufacturer suggests, we always do!
- Be conscious of what is really “dirty” and needs washing. Teach your children to only put truly dirty items in the laundry hamper – things that both look and smell dirty. Some mothers even fine children small fees for producing too much laundry! This is something that I will put into place at around the age of 10, before that, a fine may not work well. My girls are worse with this than my boys, as the girls tend to want to change their clothes a few times a day, whereas my boys would be content in the same outfit for a week if I let them.
Once you have a system in place, you still don’t want to spend all day in the laundry room. Here are a few time saving tips:
- Make getting clothing to the laundry room easier for each family member. Put a hamper in each bedroom and bathroom.
- Many find that most clothing (as long as it isn’t a new bright or dark colored item) doesn’t need to be “sorted” to get properly clean. Throw everything in together!
- Set a kitchen timer if your laundry room is out of sight. This way you know when the washer and dryer are done with a load so you can “reboot” it asap before wet clothes sour and dried clothes wrinkle.
- Give older children their own stain pre-treating product so they can apply it directly to stains as they put clothing into the hamper. A simple bar of soap works fine for this!