Friday, January 4, 2013


Who wants to read about how we do laundry?

We have a big family and in a big family, things need to be organized and run smoothly in order for chaos to be absent.

I didn't say our system is absent of chaos!

But it does work for us.

I instituted this system many years ago, when Russell and Hannah were small, because our present system was NOT working at all.

Now, let me just warn you beforehand: my laundry area is ugly.  It will NEVER find itself modeling in Better Homes magazine.  It is sadly in need of improvement.  It is no picnic to do laundry out there.  It is frigid in winter and hot in summer.  The flourescent tube lighting is broken and out of date and affords little to no light in there. By "in there" I refer to the garage.  It is dark and cold and anyway, we do laundry in there, to the tune of 8 or so loads a day.  Please, don't send me comments on how we ought to improve the space for safety reasons and this and that, because the simple truth is we are unable to improve that space, or any other space in our home, for the simple fact that there is not one penny for those purposes.

So we do laundry in there and we are so glad to be able to have our own washer and dryer!

When I noticed my old laundry sorting system wasn't working, I went to my local store and bought three tall laundry hampers with patterns cut out of the sides, pictured below.

Our laundry baskets

It's hard to see them, but these are the baskets that we use to sort our laundry.  Each basket is labeled.  There's a basket for sheets, towels and burp rags, one for dark colors, and one for lights and whites. I used a large Sharpie marker to write on them. Each basket has pictures that I cut out of a catalog of what goes in the basket, for my children who aren't able to read yet. I taped those pictures on with regular packing tape. The baskets are at least 10 years old and the pictures are still holding fast.  We start our children doing chores very early.  For example, Lucie, at 3, is already sweeping and trying to fold clean clothes. So the pictures help the non-readers know in which basket things go. We also have a basket in the hallway, outside of the bedrooms, into which we throw our dirty clothes.  

Each week we have one person do laundry.  The schedule starts on Monday and goes through Sunday.  Whoever is in charge of laundry takes the basket out of the hallway and into the garage and sorts the clothes into their respective baskets.  The laundry person then brings in any clothes that are in the dryer and folds them, then goes out and puts a load in the washer.  This continues throughout the day. Each child gets a turn doing laundry each week, as we rotate chores each week.

Here's a picture of our washer and dryer:

These are high efficiency machines.  However, there are only two settings on the washer which are high efficiency settings.  High efficiency means they use less water in order to conserve more water, but if there are only two settings and I don't use those settings hardly at all, how is that saving me money?? And let me tell you, I went through each of the 20 or so settings on this washer, and there are really only two settings that save any water at all.  And each month when my $360.00 water bill comes in, I'm not super happy with this washer! My advice to anyone out there looking for a new washer: get an old one!

There is a shelf above the washer and dryer and that's where we keep our detergent and our OxyClean, plus our dryer sheets.  

My new favorite detergent is Wisk.  I love it.  Of course I use the HE formula.  It is not very expensive and it is a wonder and a joy! I had been using Kirkland brand Environmentally friendly formula for years, but recently I noticed my clothes appearing very faded and worn looking, and stains were not coming out.  So, I tried Arm and Hammer.....ewwww. Worse! I hadn't been buying 
OxyClean for quite some time, like maybe a few months, and believe me, I noticed the difference.  OxyClean is absolutely necessary for us for our laundry!

When I saw how gross Arm and Hammer left my clothes looking, I set out to find a new detergent to love that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg.  Now let me tell you, I am snooty! When it comes to things like detergent or sponges for dishes, or things like that, I'm pretty loyal and I think I know what I'm talking about, as I've tried many, many things out there! So I've come by my wisdom by trial and error!

In the past I had used Tide for many, many years.  That's the best detergent, but the price leaves me cold! Before that I had used Cheer for years.

Recently I saw that Costco had Wisk detergent in their coupon book, and I did some online research on the stuff.  I liked what I saw so I decided to take the plunge and when I was laid up last month I had Russell and Hannah go to Costco to shop for me, and they picked up some Wisk, as per my request.  It wasn't ridiculously priced to start with, and it was in the coupon book, which made it an even sweeter deal!

To make a long story short, I have found a new favorite.  I LOVE Wisk. A bottle of Wisk for 120 loads lasts us about 3 weeks or so around here, and I think it was $15.  It's also available at Target in case Costco decides not to carry it anymore down the road.  Also, we use Arm and Hammer Mountain Rain dryer sheets and we're happy with them.  They eliminate static and don't leave behind a very cloying, strong perfume.

So, now you know how we do laundry and where we do laundry.  

What is your favorite detergent? Do you use liquid fabric softener or sheets? I think it's fun to catch a glimpse of how you all do things!


Erin said...

Just commented on your snow post, and then this one popped up--yay! I, too, enjoy seeing how others do life, and your large family intrigues me. Such a smart system!! Can you send your Laundry Person to my house every once and awhile?! ;). Might have to give Whisk a try--you're right about Tide: expensive!

Theresa said...

I like your system. I have one of those sorters that has three compartments next to the washer and dryer but to be honest I usually dump the hamper and make piles on the floor- LOL.
I like All Free & Clear which we get at Costco but you have made me curious to try Wisk. I stopped using liquid fabric softener because I thought it might be leaving spots on our clothes. I use whatever sheets are on sale ;) I just remembered I have laundry to switch from earlier today :)

Breaking from the Pack said...

I made my own laundry detergent last year and LOVE IT! Cost about $30 for an entire year's worth. It includes a stain remover & OxyClean. I haven't noticed any problems with it - it has cleaned the clothes, removed stains, smells great, and those of us with sensitive skin haven't had a problem. And $360/mo for water?! Yikes!

Breaking from the Pack said...

This is Jennifer, btw! ;)