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Kid in a pile of washing

How good would it be if you never had to worry about your washing again?  I hate being hassled by the kids about items which I “should have” washed by now, lack of school socks and so on. 

By the way, in Australia we say “doing the washing” when we are talking about washing our clothes and linen, rather than cleaning laundry.  “The laundry” is the room where the washing machine goes, which is usually a separate room here.

We hopefully already have a rough idea how to do laundry or washing.  Washing laundry is just something we need to keep up with and keep under control.  Like anything, having a system and a routine is the answer.  You find a way that works, and stick with that, not altering it if possible unless a better way presents itself.

The first thing you need to know is how many loads of washing per week you need to do to keep up with everything, including sheets and towels.  This will tell you whether you need to wash daily, several times a week or weekly.  While you’re thinking about it, do you also have regular hand washing to do and regular dry cleaning?

I need to do 3 loads a day, usually darks, lights, and one of sheets or towels.  I hand wash a few things about twice a week.  That’s for a household of 6 people.

Fortunately for me, I can hear the washing machine beep from my office, telling me it’s time to go and put on the next load.  If you can’t hear it, you might need to set an alarm for yourself to remind you, so it doesn’t sit there until tomorrow, waiting for you, lonely and wet.

If you’re at an advanced level of washing organization, do you also have a system for regularly washing things like curtains and bedspreads?  It’s lovely to have everything clean and dust free.  Kim and Aggie from How Clean Is Your House showed us an easy way to wash lace curtains, leaving them folded.

What about sewing repairs?  Has your pile of missing buttons and undone hems been sitting there for a while?  I’m not suggesting you darn socks!  My mother tried to teach me how to do that, but I just throw them away and buy new ones.  My time is worth more than a pair of socks these days, but that’s a whole other story to do with the industrial revolution and cheap overseas labour.  I do think everyone can learn to sew on a button and put in a few hand stitches here and there though.

My washing gets sorted each morning into piles on the kitchen floor, but if I had the space I would have separate baskets for lights, darks, towels, sheets and delicates, and have everything sorted straight into these, allowing me to see easily which load needs doing first.  My dream laundry would have about 6 large wire basket drawers under a long bench (counter) for folding.  Each drawer would be labeled with my sorting categories.

I have managed to teach my older children to put their own washing in the laundry basket (it’s the only way they’ll get anything washed) but after 17 years as a parent I am still working on getting them to put their socks and tights in the right way round and not inside out or half turned in on themselves, requiring untangling by me as I load them into the machine.

It is a good idea to get whichever family members who are old enough to learn how to use the washing machine.  It is possible to include it in their chores, but even if you prefer to do it yourself and just let them fold, you need others to be able to keep up with things in an emergency or if you are ill.  And of course it is a basic life skill you don’t want them growing up and leaving home without.

Speaking of children and other family members, I don’t fold everyone’s washing; I let them do it themselves.  I put the baskets of clean washing out every day, and everyone who is capable of doing so has to fold and put away their own washing, every day.

Whilst it’s not practical for everyone in a household like this to wash their own clothes separately, and I wouldn’t be able to stand sharing the laundry, I believe in everyone learning to be responsible for their own belongings.

To make sure you never run out of washing powder or liquid, wool wash, stain remover, water softener, bleach, soaking powder or any other bits and pieces you use in the laundry, add all items you like to keep on hand to your master shopping list.  I like to keep a spare laundry detergent in case I use more than usual one week.  When you write your shopping list each week, you’ll check the list for what items you need for the laundry, unless you remembered to write it on the shopping list already when you were getting low.

Are you doing more folding than you need to?  I’ve learned to live happily with unfolded underwear in my drawer, but my eldest daughters still prefer to fold theirs.  If you don’t fold everything, don’t waste time worrying about it.  All that really matters is that you can find everything when you need it.

Ironing is another thing I’ve learned to just do without.  This may shock some people, and I have to admit that I used to iron tea towels, pillow slips, even sheets.  My mother admits to ironing peg marks out of socks.  But unless for some strange reason you really enjoy it, aren’t there other things you could be doing with your time?  I encourage others to give up on or at least cut down on their ironing, and started this facebook group: I don't do ironing any more 

If your collared shirts are hung up to dry straight from the machine, the wrinkles are minimized.  Using the permanent press wash setting can help with this too if you use a lot of collared shirts.  When you put clothes on to wear, your body heat soon absorbs most wrinkles, and the ones that are left are probably no worse than those created by wearing your clothes anyway.  Folding jeans as they come off the line or out of the dryer minimizes creases too, and wearing un-ironed jeans is really ok.  I even wash suit pants and skirts and just hang them up, reducing my dry cleaning, and don’t iron them.

Washing has to be a habit to keep it simple, like anything else.  Like Flylady says, “where’s your laundry?”  Is it waiting to be washed, waiting to go in the dryer or be hung up, or waiting to be folded and put away?  Do you need to go reboot the machine?

Washing and dishes, washing and dishes, washing and dishes.  This is my just keep moving mantra, when I am struggling and just want to keep up with the basics.  If my washing and dishes are done, I don’t feel too out of control. 

Of course the family wants to eat too, but that’s what pizza shops are for.  Well, just for today anyway.  I am cooking regular healthy meals, I promise.  The little ones are even starting to eat vegetables.

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#1 Sonya 2010-09-09 09:27
Dear Yvette,
I like very much the way you write. When I read your writings, I feel you're being sincere and that you really know what you're talking about.I also have a sensation that your writings are the results of your experience in real life.
(REAL! why do I like that word so much!)
I mean, the most important things to me are: I feel that you are a person and not a character, i feel you are someone who is creating something genuine and useful (obviously deserves to be rewarded for it).These feeling are the key for keeping me reading something about self improvement.
I feel growing when I read your articles instead of wasting my time.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, keep writing from the bottom of your heart because I'm sure this is the path to succeed as a writer on the internet. For me you are already a success!
I am Brazilian and my first language is Portuguese.It would be unlikely that I'd read your blog and here I am. I've already read your book and your entire blog.
I hope my english be readable!
I wish you all the best!


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