Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Climbing the Laundry Mountain

Mount Washmore.  Mount St. Laundry.  Whatever you call it, I'm guessing that if you have kids at home, more often than not you have a geographical phenomenon that occurs in your laundry area.  A hill of dirty clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, etc, etc so large you can hardly see your washing machine, let alone reach it.

Never fear, it can be conquered!  I have scaled it's heights, managed to not die of lack of oxygen (or toxic fumes or substances contained within the mount), and chiseled it down to a gently rolling field.

Back in the day when all my kids were young, and still at home, I had what I called my DLR.  That stood for Daily Laundry Requirement.  It was two loads a day.  Yes, two.  And yes, every day, seven days a week. (I had a couple of bed wetters, you see. . .)  I washed, dried, and put away two full loads of laundry every day of the week, and this method kept the laundry mountain from making a reappearance very often.

If we went away somewhere, like camping or on vacation, every fourth day was designated as Laundry Day.  On Laundry Day, DH would drop me, a load of quarters, and two very large bags of clothes (think military 'sea bags') off at the nearest laundromat. Usually we timed this for right after lunchtime when the laundromat was pretty empty, and I would proceed to spend the next 2-3 hours using about 4 machines at a time to get our laundry caught up.  He took the kids to a park or other fun spot while I did the laundry.  Lest you think I was getting the short end of the fun stick, I loved Laundry Day.  Because I am naturally an introvert, by the fourth day of our vacation/camping trip a couple hours alone in a laundromat with a book was just what I needed to regain my sanity!

When we moved to this little place here, I was able to gain a bit more space for my laundry area, and also a counter for sorting and folding clean laundry onto.  However, it took me a good two years to realize that under this counter was the perfect spot to put a sorting system for the dirty laundry.  With DS1's help (mainly because DH was busy and he also didn't think my idea would work), I installed a couple pieces of scrap 2x4 across the legs that held up each end of the counter.  On those 2x4's I laid a big wide board (I don't remember exactly what it had been in it's first life, perhaps part of a folding door?).

Now I had an upper and a lower area for laundry baskets.  Each area could accommodate three baskets (yes, I actually did own SIX laundry baskets:  two for our camper, and four for the house.)  With six baskets all stowed neatly under the counter, I could keep everyone's dirty laundry off the floor, thus making easy access to the washer and dryer.  I assigned my baskets like this:
  • upper section: light colored clothes (the 'warms'), white socks ('hots'), and 'delicates' (lingerie, and other hand wash items)
  • lower section: dark colored clothes (the 'colds'), jeans, and towels.
Sheets and blankets unfortunately still went on the floor, but one bed's worth of bedding at a time could fit into the washer, so I tried to always make that my first load of the day.

Each day, I would go to my laundry area, see which basket (or baskets) were full, and wash that particular load of laundry.  Since I have the super sized washer and dryer, it was really easy to open the door of the washer and dump the entire basket in.  No counting, no measuring.  If the basket was full but not overflowing, it was exactly the size of a load.

It has been a few years since those days.  After the first child graduated high school and left home for the military (where he quickly learned to wash his own clothes even though I hear they all came out olive drab in the first few loads, including his tightie whities [tightie drabbies?]), I decided it would be good for his siblings to learn how to wash theirs. I made a chart of how to wash each type of laundry (darks, lights, delicates, knits, towels, jeans, etc.)  I assigned each child a day of their own to wash their clothes, with two "open" days each week for catching up if for some reason they were unable to do laundry on their assigned day. I outfitted each child with a hamper of their own.  Now, dirty clothes stayed in their bedrooms (hopefully in their hampers rather than on the floor) until their laundry day arrived.

So there you go.  Two tried and true methods of conquering the laundry mountain.

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