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Laundry Ideas
Conquering the Mountain

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Reduce the Mountain
From: Kelly S. Return to the top of this page

Motivate to Minimize
From: No TV Mom

We are now 2 months into my new laundry plan. The child with the LEAST amount of clothes in the wash wins $1. This one dollar a week has transformed my wash. I do wash on only 1 DAY! We are a house of six. I am down to just 3 or 4 loads of laundry a week.

I bought cheapie laundry baskets for each child. As I wash and fold the dry clothes, I just place them in the appropriate basket. Then when the wash is all down, out comes the dollar and dad is the judge as to who has the least amount (not counting underthings and socks).

I don't have many towels to do, since we hang up our used towels after each use and they only get washed once a week. But the children's clothes have been cut WAY down! Even the 3 year old has won a couple times. I thought that the teenagers would be wearing ragged and dirty clothes, but they are now keeping themselves cleaner so that they can wear those clothes longer! ITS A MIRACLE! I AM ALMOST LAUNDRY FREE! Well, not quite, but almost.

We have never given out allowances or anything like that and the children have always been expected to do their part in the upkeep and running of the home. So this dollar is a big boon to them.

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No More Lugging Laundry
From: Diane in VA

To minimize how much we carry laundry around, we've moved many items downstairs. We keep all the shoes in the closet by the front door, and we keep the socks in the laundry room. We usually put these things on/off downstairs anyway, so it saves time. We keep the kids' pajamas in a cabinet in the downstairs bathroom. So after baths they have their pajamas right there, and dirty clothes go into the laundry room right next door.

My next project is to build clothes cubby's in my laundry room. I will take them out of the dryer, fold them, and put them in each child's cubby. My children can either dress in the laundry room or take their piles to their rooms. I'm hoping this will keep the clothes neat and accessible until they get them put away. We also have a rack for hangers in the laundry room.

I wish I had a laundry room with drawers in every wall and lots of hanging space - a dressing room of sorts! It isn't big enough, but I can dream, can't I?

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Teach the Children
From: Cathi in Hawaii

With six children at home, this is how our system works:

All children over six do their own laundry. Each child under six is assigned an older partner who is responsible for the laundry of the younger one, and on the same day. This way loads of two children can be combined, but the age difference is usually such that nothing is accidentally put in the wrong drawer. When you turn six, you begin, under the tutelage of the older partner, to sort and put away your own clothes (sometimes this even happens at four or five) and later that year, to operate the washer and the dryer. By age seven, this is pretty much an independent process but is still supervised by an older child.

My husband does his own laundry, many times adding mine in. One of my daughters is responsible for towels, one for kitchen linens, and I do sheets.

The trick about putting pajamas under the pillow wouldn't work at our house. My children usually eat breakfast in their pj's because I would rather have them dribble milk or cereal on them, than on their school clothes. But since they all prefer to sleep in oversize T-shirts and we have hundreds, this is not a problem.

And to answer the obvious question: Yes, we have occasionally lost an item or two due to a too-hot dryer, improper sorting, mildew, etc. But I consider it a VERY small price to pay for spreading out the work load and building responsibility in the children.

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Every Dirty Has Its Day
From: Betsy

I have 4 boys & 4 girls. Wednesday is Boys' Day and Thursday is Girls' Day.  On their day they bring in their laundry and sort it, and they fold and put away. On these days I have one load of whites, two of play clothes, and two of jeans.

I also have a Towels Day, Sheets & PJ's Day, and Dress Clothes Day. This way I am not going about through the house collecting clothes and sorting every day.

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Whose Socks Are These??
From: Paula H

With a laundry marker, put one dot on all of your oldest child's clothes, to identify what belongs to whom. I'd suggest marking all similar items at the same place; e.g. put one dot above the center toe on each sock. Mark your second child's clothes with two dots, and so forth down the line. That way, when your oldest outgrows his jeans, simply add a second dot, and they are marked for little brother. If you have a large family, you may want to use dots for the boys and dashes for the girls, so your ninth child doesn't start to think that polka dots are in fashion.

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Fold & Told
From: Edie

I once heard a suggestion to read aloud to your children while they fold clothes.  I have been doing this for about a month now and it works!!!!!  If I am too tired and need my nap, they set the timer for 30 minutes and listen to a story tape while they fold.

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Detergent Savings
From: Paula H

You probably know that the detergent measuring cup is too big. There's a dim, hard-to-read line for how much you need for a normal load. The cup holds about three times that amount. The more people who don't notice that line, the more people use too much, and the more detergent they sell.

You know that. But do you always follow it? Does everyone who does laundry in your house follow it? Or do they just fill the cup in a hurry? I cut the cup at the "normal load" line, so it can only hold that amount. Now I just fill this reduced-capacity cup, and no one in my family mistakenly wastes detergent. When I open a new box, I discard the cup in there and use my modified cup instead.

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Clutter-Free House for $5 a Week
From: Tiffany, Cheryl & Tulsa World

We started with a clean house. I posted everyone's name on the refrigerator. Now when anyone finds something that someone else left out they put a tally mark by that person's name. If I leave an item out and my ds puts it away, I get a mark by my name. The person who gets the fewest marks wins $5.

So far it is working great! My dc are putting their own things away and their siblings' things! And mine too sometimes! I figure even if I don't win the $5, I do win a clutter free house!

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Check Laundry Systems Analysis on OrganizedHome.Com, for a thorough approach to managing laundry.
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If you have any ideas to share, e-mail me, Paula H