Let's Do Laundry

With eight boys, I've done a lot of laundry. That is one thing that I didn't  make them do, unless they were going away to school. The boys are good about grabbing the laundry buckets and carrying them for me, when I'm carting them back and forth.

What works for me...

  1. Running loads during the night, early morning and late evening (our electricity is more expensive during peak afternoon hours.) I do five loads a day, consistently for a long time. When I no longer had diapers to wash, it seemed I still had wet-bedding to do. When that wasn't an issue, the boys had grown and their clothes were bigger and took up more of a load.
  2. I use buckets purchased from Gardener’s Supply Company. They are heavy-duty, recycled rubber tugs (at or 800-427-3363   B593145, $30). Pricey, but have used the same three for at least 15 years without replacing them, they look the same as when I purchased them. We’ve used them when we butchered for carting the meat to the freezer. Holds enough for one load of laundry, (two if it’s overflowing.)
  3. I put one outside the bathroom where most of the showers take place (in my room). The boys put colors and darks there. We have a separate pile for whites that don’t need a bucket. My husband puts his clothes in a completely separate pile. The other two buckets may either have clean clothes waiting to be folded (within a day of washing) or a bucket in the laundry room, waiting for the clothes to be finished. I do not dump clean clothes to get another bucket—I sort and put them away. When I had cloth diapers, there was a separate bucket with a lid (of course).
  4. Did you know boys’ underwear and socks looks identical regardless of the size? How do I keep them separate? Each boy selects a different “kind” of sock and underwear. (Maybe I’m lucky they like different kinds.)
    When I grew up, my mom marked our clothes with embroidery thread. (I had five sisters.) We each had a different color.
    Today, I don’t take the time to sew threads in the boys’ underwear. I’ve tried marking them with different color Sharpies. It doesn’t always stay. But the different kinds of socks (one likes black, one white, another grey, one has ankle) That works—if I can remember whose is whose. But they know which is theirs. So if I can’t remember, I give it to the neat person and he’ll throw it on the pile of the not-so-neat-person. (otherwise, it may be crammed into a drawer indefinitely before the neat person gets them back)
    I also do no match socks. I put all their socks in their respective piles. They match them, or not.
  5. When I have a spare moment, even if we are almost ready to walk out the door, I can sort a load of laundry. I use my bed. I have separate piles for each boy. I do not put their clothes in their drawers. They do. I do not fold anything special. If they want it hung, they hang it.
    (I wash my husband’s completely separate—washing crayons with his dress shirts can ruin an entire load.)
  6. I do not check pockets. I do not pretreat, unless they tell me they need it and put it on the washing machine. Yes, we have stains. But we have clean. What comes out—Great. What doesn’t…they’re work clothes, for every day. I work for CLEAN not perfect. Stains are ok for me and them. (not so much as they get older)
    Their dress or shopping clothes are kept separate. (I do loads on Sunday to keep Sunday dress clothes separate from work clothes.
  7. When the boys were young, I put all their clothes in buckets (like the kind for washing dishes) on shelves. All four boys’ clothing were in one cupboard without drawers. The buckets slide in and out of the shelf easily. I had two doors so I could shut them and not see the buckets. Each boy had one bucket for underwear and socks, one for shirts, and one for shorts, with a pair of pants in case. When the seasons changed, all those would go into a box for storage for the next child and I’d bring out the winter’s long sleeve shirts and pants. Of course, having only boys worked great. By the time one grew out of something, it could be passed on to the next one. I’m not sure whether it would be worth it to store the clothes for a boy who was younger than 2-3 years.
    This worked until they were twelve years old. Then their pants were too big to fit in buckets. We went to dressers and required them to put them away. Also by then, they each developed their own style. (Because they worked, their clothes were destroyed before they could pass them to the next one.)
  8. I don't use fabric softener. (Maybe those of you who live in colder weather need it for static cling in the winter.) I don’t like their powerful smell.
    (You can take dog-smell from a wet dog by rubbing them with a fabric sheet. We just keep our dogs out of the house.)
  9. Some may ask why I didn’t line dry my clothes (since I do live in 100’ weather.)
    Good question. I did early on. But I wondered if I was bringing fleas into the house on the dried clothes. We also had some ambitious dogs who played with my nicely cleaned and hanging laundry—or was that the boys, blaming the dogs after they did it? I forget. (I found later the boys were bringing the fleas inside on their necks.)
    Some things are worth the effort, some things aren’t. If it’s worth it to you to have fresh smelling clothes, great. Washing a load more than one time to try to hang it outside, wasn’t worth it for me. It didn’t simplify things for me.

The key with laundry is keep up. Sorry, there’s no magic formula that makes the work go away.
I re-read these tips and realized that there’s nothing really great about them. I simply must do the next thing, and in the case of laundry, the next load, fold the next towel...If I have mounds of clothes, dirty or clean, it stares me in the face and depresses me.

It’s the little things that can hinder me from focusing on what God wants from me.

So I diligently take care of the little things … so I can hear His still, small voice.

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