Sean blessed me so much with a new front load set to mark the passing of the third dryer. I can fit so much more laundry into the washer, it comes out less wet, and the dryer dries it quicker so less energy is being used, which saves us money. I've also noticed the laundry is coming out CLEANER! A washer and dryer may not sound like a romantic gift but they spoke volumes of loving serenades to my soul because eight people and cloth diapering makes for a lot of laundry.
Our washer and dryer are in a nook at the top of our stairs, open for eyes to see. Our old washer and dryer were behind bi fold doors in the same spot, but the new washer and dryer are slightly bigger so we took the doors off. That has been great motivation for me to keep them tidy.
My routine now is this. At night before bed, I start a load of laundry. This is everyone's clothing from the day, a pile of kitchen towels and washcloths, and cloth diapers. It all goes in together and it all gets washed hot. If there is a big variety in the colors, like a pile of blue jeans and white t-shirts, I'll throw in a color catcher sheet.
If it isn't too late when that load is done, I'll sort a dryer pile and a rack pile. Some of my flannel cloth diapers I hang on the rack to dry in front of the wood stove because they are so thick and this dries them overnight quickly. Heavy items like jeans and sweatshirts get hung in front of the wood stove also. Small items like sock and underwear go into the dryer. I also put my flannel nursing pads into the dryer too because I like the high heat to kill anything that may have survived the washing machine. If I am in bed when this load is done, I sort it the same in the morning.
In the morning I wait for everyone to get dressed, chores to be done and start another load of laundry. Usually this is more diapers, washcloths, pajamas, sheet sets if needed, and any clothing that was soiled during chores or breakfast.
Two loads a day usually does it. If I'm good, I sort it as it comes out of the dryer. I sort the oldest four kids laundry and they fold it and put it away. I'll usually assign Ella to towels and Chase loves to carry his papa's laundry and put it on the bed. Mismatched socks go into a laundry basket (which is currently half full...grr....).
Speaking of socks, if you have a genius idea for avoiding the abyss of mismatched ones, please, please share. My current train of thought is to go spend $25 and buy everyone their own unique pack of socks so we easily know who's is whose. In the past I've just bought whatever packages of socks that have been on sale and it is a big confused mess, especially with boys that wear the same size socks.
Sean and I share a teeny, oh so tiny closet in our room. Really teeny, like less than two feet wide. We each have a dresser also.
I was hanging all of our children's clothing in the same place, but recently took out the girl's dresses and moved them to their own closet because space was getting too tight on the one bar.
Each child has their own color hanger. I love this and it works great.
Their clothing is kept on shelves, where I can quickly and easily check it for neatness. Socks, pajamas, and underwear each have their own plastic bin, which I purchased at our dollar store.
This method works a thousand times better for me than dressers ever did and takes up less space. Altogether the shelves housing the clothes for six kids takes up about five feet in width, floor to ceiling. I also have fabric and some books stored on the same shelving so there is room to spare.
One final laundry tip is to go through your clothing and your children's clothing with a critical eye. I noticed that whenever we went out into public, I'd have to have the boys change their stained shirts and so I tossed a pile of them or repurposed them and kept maybe one or two dingy ones for outside play. Any items that would take serious time to repair, were faded or ill fitting I donated. Wool socks I have darned in the past because they are worth the extra life. My current mode of thought is to pare down how many outfits of clothing we each have. Less clothes = less laundry.
Finally, we make our own laundry detergent. It is so inexpensive, smells great and I know exactly what I am putting on my children's skin and into our ground water. I use the Duggar's recipe, which you can find on this page, but I use an all natural bar soap instead of the Fels Naptha, which is very smelly and strong. Any castille bar soap makes a great substitute. I also add in essential oils for a great smell.
Toss me your ideas now. What works for your family. Do you have a separate laundry room? A marvelous sock idea?
Edited to add: I completely forgot to mention that Annaliese does her own laundry, and whatever laundry Ella has left lying around their bedroom. Her laundry day is Tuesday and she can do it all on her own.