Getting the Laundry Done

Not very glamorous, but somebody has to do it, right?  And everybody likes clean undies!  Well, most people like clean undies.  My people seem to think clean undies are maybe not quite clean enough?  I don’t know.  I actually find them stuffed behind sofa cushions, tucked between books on the shelf, or jammed into the box with the toy trains.  Do you have that problem?

Anyway, I do laundry.  Lots of laundry.  I have eight children, one of whom wears cloth diapers.  And a farm which sullies countless pairs of blue jeans each day.  Nine beds with nine sets of sheets.  Ten towels.  Kitchen rags and towels.  Barn rags.  Laundry, laundry, laundry!


Even though I do three to four loads a day, I’m usually done with the washing by 9 or 10AM, and it all gets folded and put away before the children go to bed in the evening.  I thought you might like to know how I do it, in case anything about my routine might be helpful to you.

The first thing?  Teach the children to sort their own laundry!  Up until recently, I had a three compartment laundry sorter.  Mine was pretty flimsy and eventually collapsed under the weight of our soiled duds, but this one looks pretty nice.  Actually, it looks very nice.  I’m tempted to give up my large hampers for this one!  It’s easiest if you can put it near where the children undress at night, but keeping it in the laundry room works, too.  And you’ll have to be diligent about teaching them for the first couple of weeks, but they’ll pick it up fast!

In the morning, when I get up, I start my first load.  With the laundry already sorted, it’s no trouble at all!  I like to start with the jeans, because I always hang them to dry, no matter the season or the weather, and sometimes, the children leave their socks and undies tucked inside and I like to make sure they end up in the proper load.  Then I do the lights.  I don’t usually sort out the whites because I don’t have room for a third hamper in my laundry room.  (I just measured and that three compartment hamper I’m liking will fit in the same space as the two I have now.  Temptations….)  If you sort out the whites, you may find you don’t have enough for a full load everyday.  That’s okay.

Once I’ve done my darks and lights, it’s time for the “special load”!  Six days a week, I wash things that don’t have to be done everyday.  Monday and Thursday I do the barn rags, which we use to clean our dairy cows before milking.  Tuesday and Friday, I wash the cloth diapers.  Wednesday, I wash the towels.  (That usually takes two loads, but if my other loads were light, I just add towels to fill ’em up.)  Saturdays, I do sheets.  I wash our sheets most every week, but the children’s go through on rotation.  There are three children’s bedrooms, so I just wash one room’s worth of sheets along with ours each week.  You’ll have different laundry than I have, of course, so you’ll have to make your own schedule.

A curiosity: Some people don’t like to use the same towel twice.  It seems we’re disgusted by our own exfoliated skin cells clinging to the towel?  I argue that you shed skin cells all the time.  Think of how many disgusting bits of you are in your sofa, or on your bedsheets!  And yet, we’re not fanatical about cleaning those.  I believe that, if the towels are hung and allowed to dry between uses, they’re just fine.  We have two towels for each person, so if you feel your towel is need of changing before Wednesday wash day, it’s okay, but it’ll certainly last through more than one use.

I thought you’d like my two cents on the subject. 🙂

Back to getting that laundry done…

I don’t worry about folding in the morning.  I have cows to milk, an infant to tend, breakfast to eat (Delaney cooks breakfast) and a big day to get organized and ready for.  The dry laundry just gets put in baskets and tucked in an out of the way place in the living room till evening.

I used to fold all the laundry myself years ago, but I noticed with displeasure that the children were just kind of stuffing everything into their drawers, either when they put their own clean clothes away or when they were looking for that favorite shirt in the morning.  It seemed silly to spend all that time folding for them when they were just going to wad it up in their drawers later!  So I make them fold all the laundry.  Let them waste their own time.  😉

In the evenings, we gather all the clean, dry laundry together and they fold, which leaves me free to read aloud to them!  It’s really the best of both worlds (though you have to keep an eye out for wandering undies.)  I read them 20 – 25 novels a year this way, and I wouldn’t have time to do this if I had to fold all the laundry myself.  They look forward to this time every night, and if someone has to be out, they do their best to get back in time for our next chapter!

Suggestions?  In the winter, I like to read Little House On The Prairie. (Farmer Boy is my favorite.) One of our favorite read alouds of all time was Alabama Moon, but be prepared to edit out the cuss words on the fly. The movie was excellent, too. Or maybe try Moon Over Manifest and Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool. We just finished up The Reb and the Redcoats and are now reading Ballet Shoes, which you may remember from this movie? (You’ve seen it as often as I have, right? To recognize an obscure book reference? The only movie I’ve seen more times, and only because I’ve had it longer, is Sleepless in Seattle. Love, love, love!)

I could recommend books for you all day!

But you maybe have some laundry to get done?  Yes.  Me, too.  And here’s to finding all the stray undies before anyone stops by for a visit!

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Little Man got new dress shirts for his birthday, so now he's looking dapper every day!
Little Man got new dress shirts for his birthday, so now he’s looking dapper every day!

5 Comment

  1. I have the hamper you linked to, but still have people who don’t get sorting. I just scolded my husband last night — “gray is NOT a color!” And Faith always puts her clothes in colors, even navy blue (and leaves her underwear inside her pants, usually inside out as well). And then there are people who leave pens in pockets (Noah). I think all family members should have to take a week of doing all the washing, but, unfortunately, I can’t afford new clothes after the week is up.

    1. Pens aren’t usually a problem until they get into the dryer. 🙂

      I have a basket in the laundry room for all the stuff that falls out of people pockets. On the first Saturday of the month, I have a “yard” sale. Everything is a quarter! I don’t keep any of the money; it all goes into the family fun jar, so that takes the sting out of it, and it helps people to be more mindful, knowing they’re going to have to pay to get it back. Yard sale day is actually highly anticipated! Davey thinks it’s one of the funniest traditions I’ve invented. 🙂

    2. Sandra Modersohn says:

      What a clever idea! 🙂 And you just totally motivated me to catch up on my laundry … I really really love the yard sale thing. Somehow, I find toys in the dryer at least twice a week. ♥

    3. Well, I’ll have to write a post about the whole plan. 🙂

    4. Yes! Please do! I love any posts when ladies who have been managing homes long enough to get some good routines established share them.

      I still remember your post about allowance and how you teach the kids to divide it three ways to learn about good money management. My kids are finally getting to an age that I can start implementing something similar.

      I love all your posts about running a home!!

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