Laundry Solutions for a Large Family

I know a lot of families struggle with how to get the mountains of laundry done in their house. We’ve done many different things through the years. Some have worked for a season, and some have been utter failures. Below are some of the things we have done.

The Laundry Room: As a Realtor® I get to see a lot of laundry rooms. Unfortunately most of them are afterthoughts added on to the back of the house. I certainly don’t understand this at all considering that the average family (not my family) does at least 4 loads a week. Shouldn’t that give it more credence than being relegated to the walk way between the garage and the house? And why are they often tucked as far away from the bedrooms as possible? I know in the midwest, many laundry facilities ended up in the basement. I remember when I was little my grandma had a wringer machine in the basement. Oh my! We sure have it easy now with our computerized talking machines. (I don’t have one – but I’ve seen them)

I’ve had laundry rooms every where from the basement, garage, garage pass thru, large mud room, to a room off the kitchen. I’ve never had one like I really wanted which would have been upstairs in a room large enough for dressers and hanging bars. If I could design my own house, I would have had two laundry rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls. They would have had all their dressers and hanging places in that room. Basically they would have been all purpose laundry and dressing rooms. Ahhh  one can dream. So, we make do.

You can all hate me now, but my kids do all their own laundry now. That’s what you have to look forward to when you train them how to do it when they are younger. Even toddlers can fold washclothes. Encourage them to help. When my kids were younger they had one laundry basket in their rooms. When the basket got full (or on a certain day if I was in the season of organized) they would take it to the laundry room and sort it into the bins. I had four LARGE rubber maid type bins – with lids removed. They learned to sort as soon as they could walk. Whites, Darks, Mediums, and towels/sheets. One child was the designated laundry person. I had a laminated sheet of how to wash what kind of clothes. This hung on the wall beside the washer. Each bin was coded so the kids could easily see what went into that bin. The designated laundry person would do two loads every single day. If the bin was full, that was two loads. The child would wash, dry and fold the clothes. Each child would then be responsible for putting away their own clothes after each load. This worked very well for years. The kids would rotate and everyone learned how to do laundry. It was never “done” but it was always being done.

Now that all the children can do laundry, they have cloth laundry bags in their rooms.

These stand up but are made of cloth. They have handles and collapse when not needed (like that would ever happen). Each room does their own laundry. For the most part we don’t have fights for the washer. Saturday night is often the busy night for the washer. David likes to put his clothes in at 3:00 in the morning though. Since the washer is directly beneath my room, that’s a bit obnoxious to hear when I’m trying to go to sleep. One child is still assigned to laundry, but they mostly do towels and keep the laundry room clean. It’s a pretty easy job now. It usually follows having been on kitchen duty.

I have a Neptune front loader that I got when Bryan was born. I wouldn’t say I’m 100% satisfied with it, but it works perfectly well. There have been a few times it’s needed repairs, but they weren’t horribly expensive. My dryer is just a high capacity dryer from Sears. They don’t match. And I don’t really care. I’m kind of brand loyal when it comes to laundry. I love Tide and have used it for years. I try other cheaper products, but – well, I just like Tide. I don’t use a fabric softener, but I do use Bounce sheets for some of the clothes.

To make laundry not all-consuming

  • Have your kids do most of it
  • Do a little every day – marathon laundry days are no fun
  • Put it away! – As soon as it’s folded – take the final step and put it away. (I know what to do – I don’t always do what I know what to do) Funny how this step trips up most people. We end up with piles on the couch, on our beds, on the kitchen table, or on the floor. Then we just work around the piles. It really only takes a few minutes more to put it all away. – I say this, and right now (I could show you a picture) I have three laundry baskets with clothes in them in my bedroom. I look at it all the time and think, I should put those away. And they still sit. In my defense – my closet rod broke. (that’s all I’m going to say) I’m pretty sure, I’ll get those clothes put away as soon as I post this. There’s nothing like guilting yourself into action by typing up a post on how to get something done. 🙂

I would love to hear what you do for laundry and what kind of a laundry room you have.

Update: I found this great post on building your own laundry storage solution. Definitely check it out! http://ana-white.com/2010/11/laundry-basket-dresser.html

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4 thoughts on “Laundry Solutions for a Large Family

  1. I’ve gone from the sorted piles on the floor to sorting into a collection of broken laundry baskets to now having plastic baskets that are in a frame so they slide in and out. The frames have tops so they’re like little cabinets. I have a tall one between my washer & dryer and all my detergents & whatnot sit on top. I have a smaller one between the washer and utility sink so I have a small counter. I have 5 baskets in all to sort laundry. With 4 children I do laundry daily if not more often! I do fold it right out of the dryer and I have a metal shelving unit on wheels next to the dryer. The older kids each have a basket and are responsible for bringing their laundry upstairs to their rooms, I no longer do that for them. But you’re right, if I don’t fold it right away it just never seems to get done! My laundry is in the basement, but it is a multipurpose room and I’m trying to keep it as organized as possible. I like your idea of laminated laundry directions – I think I’m going borrow your idea so my older kids can help with the laundry more.

  2. When I had 8 kids at home everyone was doing their own laundry by the time they were 9 to 10. I did the babies laundry with my own, because if I didn’t things always seemed to get lost. However, each child had their own bath towel, so it did cut down on some of the household laundry for me. I even had a bedwetter that learned to strip her own bed linens and wash them.

    I have in the last couple of years or so started making my own laundry detergent. It’s very easy! The recipe I used is on the Duggar’s website http://www.duggarfamily.com/recipes.html . We like it! After the success I had making my own laundry detergent, I was confident enough to make my own hand soap. (Shhh, I’m giving them away as Christmas presents this year…..) If you want to see the simple recipe I used, go to http://littlehouseinthesuburbs.com/2008/10/if-youre-saying-to-yourself-ivory-i.html . If you’re anything like our family, you will have plenty of grease saved from your everyday cooking to make your own hand soap too! The neat thing about this hand soap is you can use it as a pre-wash stain treater, just wet the stained area and rub the soap onto the stain.

    Another thing I use with my laundry is vinegar. Have you ever left a batch of clothes in the washer too long and they get a bit smelly? Run them thru a rinse cycle with a cup of vinegar added and the smell will be gone! This is also useful to use in your whites if anyone in your family has athlete’s foot or jock itch, just add it to the rinse cycle instead of fabric softener.

    I’ve often wanted to have the laundry room be full of dressers and hanging poles too Terri! I’m redoing the basement in my 6 bedroom house and I’m making the laundry room bigger. Unfortunately I can’t put it up on the first floor, which is where I would rather it be. For some odd reason, whoever walled in my laundry room made it the size of a postage stamp, barely big enough for the side by side washer and dryer and the door. I didn’t have room for a utility sink by my washer, which I’ve always wanted, so I’ve made the room bigger and now have room to put in that sink!

    My children have learned the fine art of wearing an item more than once before washing it. If something isn’t visibly dirty or smelly, don’t throw it in the hamper, hang it back up. Not only does it save on time and money from using the water and electricity to wash and dry, but but it saves on wear and tear on the clothes themselves in the washing and drying cycles.

    My next project is to replace my clothesline poles. I love the smell of fresh laundered clothes that have been hung out on the line. It’s almost like you’re bringing the sunshine back in the house with you! Until I get mine replaced, I’m not going to have that smell anymore. It’s rather hard to hang clothes up when the pole is bent at a 45 degree angle! One day soon, however, one day soon!

  3. I like the idea of plastic baskets in a frame, or cubical-type unit where several baskets can be stored. I’m trying to work that into the room I have to work with. I also have one child in charge of the laundry room – he’s 10. He does a great job. Since folding all those t-shirts is a big responsibility and I’m a little anal about how mine get folded, he gets the foldable stuff where wrinkling isn’t an issue into baskets and gets some assistance with folding and putting away. The pants get folded or hung, depending on how dressy they are, right away. The dressier shirts get hung on hangers and the rest of the shirts get laid out flat onto a pile that I go down to fold every few days. He folds and puts away all his own stuff right away, sets the older siblings’ stuff aside for them to take care of and I do mine, hubbies and the younger ones. The rest are all able and expected to do their own if they have something special they want. But it works best to have the one in charge of keeping things moving forward on a daily basis. Still dreaming of the perfect laundry room. I had your dressing area idea in mind, but never thought of the girl/boy thing. LOL! I figured I’d be lucky to get one room, two seems a little too much to dream for! Thanks for keeping us inspired and positive!

  4. Doing laundry for a large family could be quite a chore. But hopefully they help you out with other chores around the house. Thank you for posting your experience.