Lifting the Burden of Laundry
by Marianne Giullian
It is easy for laundry to feel overwhelming. Between toddlers who enjoy changing clothes several times a day and teenagers who try something on and then throw it in the laundry basket if they decide against wearing it, the laundry just seems to pile up. There are some things that can be done to save you time, money, and as a bonus, your sanity.
First of all, buy laundry supplies at a discount store. I buy Tide, Clorox bleach, stain remover and dryer sheets. I always stock up on Tide when it goes on sale for about the same price you would pay for a cheaper brand. I think it cleans my clothes better, but you need to use whatever you feel most comfortable with. I also use 1/4 to 1/2 less soap than instructed. That idea came when I went to a laundry mat to wash a comforter and saw signs all over saying that you should wash your clothes at least once a month with no soap to get rid of the soap residue in your clothes. My clothes still get very clean and the soap lasts two to four times longer, so I save money there. I also rip the dryer sheets in half, so they last twice as long. This also saves money.
I have found that if you have less clothes to wash, it is a lot more manageable. Most people who read this article probably shop sales or garage sales. You can get good buys, but does someone really need thirty shirts even if they are 25 cents each? I try to keep a running total of about ten to fourteen shirts (in season) and five to eight pants (or shorts depending on the weather), and enough underclothing to last seven to ten days. For every new or nicer piece of clothing that comes in, one older one goes out. I have found that if you have more than that, you usually aren't wearing it all and it really just makes more work. The more things you have, the more things you have to take care of. So, declutter your clothing. Go through your closets with your family members and find their favorites and then get rid of clothing that doesn't fit or they do not like. You can sell them at a consignment store and let someone else enjoy washing them instead of you! You can also make some money and feel better since you have less to take care of.
Have everyone bring their laundry to the laundry room. If they want clean clothes, they can put forth some effort to begin the process by bringing them up. Teenagers can do their own laundry and it would be good for them to learn this skill before they are on their own. Sometimes, they are very busy and I am very willing to help at those times if they make the effort to bring it to the laundry room. Little kids can also take their laundry to the laundry room. I prefer to sort laundry myself. Once others have been taught correctly to read labels, sort properly and empty pockets, then I let them help me.
Get a full load of clothes before you wash. This will save you time and money in the long run. If you like, you can make a schedule so you don't feel like you are doing laundry every minute of the day. I average about a load per day for our family of 6 people. I also do a load of towels and a load of sheets each week. Towels often get thrown into the laundry basket after one use. We have given everyone his or her own color of towel to use. If they don't hang it up, then they get a damp towel the next day. I always know whose towel is on the floor by whatever color it is. Since bodies are clean after each shower, I don't think they need to be washed more than once a week. Depending on how many beds you have, you could wash sheets once a week or once every two weeks. One load of sheets per week is plenty for me! You can stick a load of laundry in each day after the kids leave for school or do it once a week. You choose what is best for you.
After the laundry is done and folded, you can have everyone put their laundry away after they eat their after-school snack. Or, you can give them their snack after the laundry is put away. If your kids want to earn money, you could pay them a dollar a load to fold and put away all of the laundry in that load. Since you end up shelling out some money for their things anyway, why not let them do something to earn it?
If you follow some of these basic guidelines, you should be able to feel less stressed and save money at the same time.
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