Monday, October 1, 2018

How to Do Laundry for a Family of 8 Without Completely Losing Your Mind

Everyone hates laundry.

You probably hate it because it never ends, because there's always a mountain of it, because they're always behind, and because it's so utterly tedious.

While I could and would say all those things about dishes or sweeping, laundry is honestly one of the household chores I feel I've managed to make... manageable.

All the laundry hacks for big families you could hope for, from start to finish.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Add a toddler in rain boots playing a kazoo jumping on top of this pile and you have our house.

There are 8 people in my family, including a toddler and preschooler, so make no mistake, we do a lot of laundry.

It averages out to 1-2 loads per day in our house, and for those wondering how I maintain sanity amidst all that, here are my best large family laundry hacks.

Location, Location, Location

I'd be lying if I said having our washer and dryer in a closet right off the kitchen didn't make all the difference.

I can easily throw in a load, hear when it's finished, and switch it to the dryer while I'm making lunch and it doesn't seem like a big deal.

If I had to go down do the dark recesses of the basement, or even upstairs near the bedrooms, I would probably hate laundry for all the above mentioned reasons.

I know you can't exactly choose where your washer and dryer hook-ups are, but if you're remodeling or buying a new house you should definitely pay attention to it. A central location matters.

Utilize Slave Labor (i.e.: Your Children)

In our house, the kids have to pitch in and we're not at all apologetic about it. If you still wear diapers you get a pass, but everyone older than that has to do their part.

Two-year-olds can match socks and put their underwear in a pile. Four-year-olds can crudely fold shirts and pants with a little help. Six-year-olds can fold everything and put it all away in their drawers.

When you're eight, you learn how to use the washer/dryer and receive your own laundry hamper (we use laundry bags on a hook because they're easier for the kids to carry down the stairs.) From that point on, you're completely responsible for doing your own clothes from start to finish.

We give kids who do their own laundry an assigned day of the week until they're 11 or so, and after that we just tell them to wash their clothes as needed. They'll learn.

Sort by Room, Not by Color

Each kid has their own laundry bag/hamper in their room, with the exception of the 4- and 6-year-olds who share a hamper since I still wash both of their clothes.

With every kid's laundry in its own hamper, it's easy to put away. When a load comes out of the dryer, it can be brought straight to the room where it's supposed to go.

In the master bedroom I do separate mine and Phillip's whites from our colors  but that's as fancy as I get, sorting-wise. I've never had a problem washing our mediums and darks together, or, for that matter, mixing the kids' whites with their colors.

All the laundry hacks for big families you could hope for, from start to finish.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Just kidding, I never iron.

Get Out of Laundry Basket Purgatory

Some people don't mind folding 10 loads all at once over the weekend, but to me that sounds only slightly more appealing than Chinese water torture. I avoid letting clean laundry pile up at all costs, which is why I don't own any laundry baskets.

Our only laundry basket lives on top of the dryer to collect unmatched socks and random pieces that somehow got in the wrong load.

Over the course of the week it fills up and on the weekend, I call the kids to go through it and put away anything that belongs to them (it takes 5 minutes and I supervise to make sure everything gets claimed.)

When a child's laundry comes out of the dryer, anything that doesn't belong to him goes in the basket on top, and the rest of it goes back into the hamper to be returned to his room where he's supposed to fold and put it away that same day.

Does that really happen? Well, the kids aren't allowed screen time until it's done, so yeah, they're pretty motivated.

As for me, I timed myself and it takes less than 10 minutes to fold a load of laundry. I can handle 10 minutes once or twice a day, but I would curl up and die if I had to fold two hours of laundry over the weekend. So I guess you could say I'm pretty motivated, too.

Random Odds and Ends

Of course, there are always things that just need to be thrown in the wash to be done ASAP instead of languishing for a week in a hamper somewhere: stinky pee clothes, sweaty soccer socks, wet kitchen washcloths, and the like. So we have a signal.

If the lid of the washer is open, it means you can throw in dirty laundry. I just keep an eye on it (again, our washer is centrally located, so I walk past it 50 times a day) and run the machine whenever it gets full.

A closed lid means the washer's full of clean clothes, so whenever I see it closed that's my reminder to move the load into the dryer.

Because everyone in the house knows the lid up/lid down signal, dirty clothes don't accumulate in piles on or around the washer waiting to go in, or even worse, get thrown in on top of clean clothes and then put in the dryer. *retching noises*

I've spilled secrets of doing laundry for my 8-person family in hopes that it helps you. I see you, you know, wondering how to conquer the mountain of linens and clothes piling up beside your washing machine.

Comment below with any questions, or feel free to share what works in your family. If having many children has taught me anything, it's that very few things in life are one-size-fits-all.

Ever wonder how large families ever get their laundry done? These laundry tips work for our big family of 8, and I’m sharing my favorite laundry hacks including organization, a laundry schedule, folding, sorting, and how old kids should be to do their own laundry. This is a must-read for families with kids! #laundryhacks #largefamilies

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Moderate Mum said...

Damn girl you still separate! You're a queen. I am not worthy. I have myself and my child and I'm still snowed under. Can't wait til he's old enough to help, I actually tried to get him involved yesterday and he tried to climb in the machine :)

Mom of 8 said...

Having to clean a washer from pens,crayons and other assorted items I changed and did do the sorting thing.
10 cloth hampers hanging from pvc pipe
All color coordinated ( white hamper for whites, blue for jeans, lights, mediums, heavy weights ( rugs, bedding, sheets, towels) 2 washers n 2 or 3 dryers ( in the cold climates with snow we needed 3)
Everyone had a bin, everyone had to sort socks while they watched TV. At 12 you did your own laundry with a person helping you ( absolutely no pants were washed unless the pockets were inside out!!!!)
It was a pretty sweet set up. I got up went downstairs flipped a load , exercised,flipped another load and went in the day. Some days I had to do many loads ( sickness, seasonal clothes being put away) but mostly it was a morning and evening for me. 8 kids and as adults they still sort socks when they watch TV!

Diana Dye said...

Yes on kids doing their own laundry!

I don't mind laundry day since that's my time to watch BBC miniseries on the couch during the day while I fold--guilt free! (Sometimes I watch on non laundry days. Shhh.)

AnneMarie said...

This is so interesting! I am with you on not liking to have huge mountains to fold. When laundry just piles and piles, there is less of a chance that I will ever want to fold it. As much as I'd love to watch shows and listen to podcasts while folding, I'm never folding long enough to do that! With our little family of 4 (2 adults, a toddler and a newborn) we have 1 laundry day a week and it honestly doesn't take that long-and I feel so accomplished at the end of that day. I love that I don't have to think about laundry any other day, except for diaper laundry and that's so routine I barely even think about it.

I recently found that it's a nice way to teach my toddler life lessons-last week he put some of his favorite shorts (which weren't even very dirty, we could have spot-cleaned them) in the laundry basket with really dirty clothes. He has asked for them nearly every single day, but I've explained that they are in the basket and will be washed on Laundry Day, and he needs to find something else to wear-so now he knows that he can't always get what he wants, and that if he has clothes he loves but aren't that dirty, he can take the time to spot-clean them with me.

Chaun said...

I'd love to hear how you sort little kid clothes! Right now I've got small two-drawer dressers for the kids for their tops and bottoms. But then their socks and underwear just get shoved in the "bottoms" drawer and gets messy. And I have no idea what to do with little ties and accessory church clothes!