Laundry Tips For Large Families

As a mother of six, I have done countless loads of laundry over more than two decades and can honestly say it causes me no stress. The key is to have a laundry system in place that makes laundry painless and semi-automatic. Step by step, here is a plan to reduce your laundry woes.  While you may customize the plan for your unique family, the basic principles are simple and universal: collect it, do it, and distribute it.

Collect Laundry

Place a hamper, basket or crate in any location where laundry is generated. I use a large hamper in each bathroom, smaller ones in bedrooms, and a basket downstairs for dish towels and stray items found while cleaning. Our family rule is that if it is not in a laundry hamper, it does not get washed.  Children quickly learn that putting clothes in the hamper is preferable to wearing stinky clothes.

Do Laundry

Take an empty basket and collect items from each hamper for your first load, e.g. get all the whites or jeans. Start this load in the washer; then collect your second load so it is ready and waiting. Do something else while the first load washes. Put load one in the dryer and load number two in the washer. Continue for as many loads as needed.

Distribute Laundry

I sit on the floor in front of the dryer to remove dry clothes. As I remove clothes, I fold them and place them in piles for each family member, plus a pile of linens and towels and a basket for anything that needs mending or ironing. Throwing all the dry clothes into a basket for later just gives you more ironing when “later” finally comes. By folding items as I remove them from the dryer, I save ironing and sorting time because I sort as I fold. At one house, I had a delightful closet next to the washer and dryer, so I kept a milk crate for each child in the closet to be filled with their clean clothes. Even if the children never put the clean clothes in their drawers, the clean laundry remained folded in their crates and ready to wear.

The ironing pile goes to my ironing board, of course. I use a Teflon cover for the sole plate of my iron. This cover enables me to use high heat on all my ironing, whatever the fiber, without scorching or melting fabric. These Teflon sole plate covers are available in the notions department of any fabric store. I iron, hang clothes in a nearby doorway, then deliver them to the proper closets. Machine mending is placed by the sewing machine and hand mending goes to a basket by my chair to be done while watching the evening news.

Plan your laundry times so that special laundry needs are met. For example, wash soccer clothes right after soccer practice. Wash work uniforms so that they are ready when needed. Using my time-saving laundry system should take the drudgery out of at least one household task.  Large families are a blessing and their laundry need not be a burden.