Laundry For A Large Family
What’s Laundry Day???
When you have a large family, there is no such thing as a designated “laundry day.”
If I were to save just one day a week and try to do all of my family’s laundry, I would
A) not have enough hours in the day for all of those cycles to run,
B) flood my septic system with an over-abundance of gray water, AND
C) still have to send kids places in dirty clothes because of practices, games, etc. that are more than once a week.
So, how do you get it done? As a mom of five and wife to a 6’8″ husband whose clothes are BIG, I’m going to let you in on my laundry strategy.
Tip #1 Do a couple loads each day (or at least most days)
There is no way around this one, logistically. If you can get into the habit of starting a load right when it can become part of your daily routine, then it doesn’t require as much thought or effort on your part.
Throw a load of laundry in when
- you get up in the morning
- you get home from work
- the baby goes down for a nap
- you finish dinner cleanup
- any other time in your daily routine
Spreading the laundry out throughout the week within your daily routine will keep it from becoming overwhelming.
Tip #2 Keep clothing loads separated by family member
(Don’t mix Eli’s laundry with Audrey’s laundry)
No overflowing dirty clothes bins in the laundry room for me, thank you very much. I think all that sorting might kill me.
Instead, I have each person keep a basket or hamper in their own space for just their own dirty laundry. The nice thing about doing it this way is that it stays put out of sight until it is time to do that person’s laundry. It also saves time on the backend, eliminating the need to sort clean laundry before putting it away. And it prevents any disputes about who should be putting the clean laundry away. This leads me to Tip #3.
Tip #3 Do big kids’ laundry on the weekend (or whenever they have time in their schedule to play a large role in it)
Make sure to get the laundry process going for capable big kids when they are home and can help or even take the lead. This allows them to learn and practice an important life skill while you are available to help them if needed. And almost as important, the big kids doing their own laundry will help lighten your…ahem…load.
Tip #4 Purchase towels and bed linens with the laundry in mind
At our house, all of our towels are white. We buy them in bulk from Costco. You may find this to be counter-intuitive since kids have a way of using a clean towel to wipe off their filth rather than using it to dry already clean body parts. Do your kids do this or is it just mine?
But, it turns out that white towels are pretty easy to maintain. OxiClean or hydrogen peroxide every once in a while does the trick to brighten them up.
The takeaway here is that by having them all be the same color, whatever color you choose, it is easy to throw a load of them in all together whenever you notice it is needed instead of having to separate out a rainbow of colors.
Tip #5 Put the laundry away as soon as it is done
This requires discipline on your part, but it is possibly the most important piece of advice here. There was definitely a time early in my marriage when I had the mindset that it made sense to wait until all laundry for the day was done before putting it away. So I’d lay the clean stuff on my bed, or the dining room table, or in a basket. And more often than not, I’d get busy doing other things and not ever get to putting it away. Sometimes, the task had become overwhelming because multiple loads of clothes had accumulated on my pile.
If you just put the laundry away right when it’s done, it only takes a couple minutes since it’s only one load of clothes, you won’t have clean clothes cluttering up your space, and you’ll be able to check one thing off your to-do list! Just do it!
*Bonus Tip* Be Flexible!
Your laundry routine will likely evolve as your family grows and progresses through various stages. Some of my family’s laundry phases have included cloth diapering, potty-training, muddy and painted toddler clothes, rocks and treasures in pockets, constant grass stains, benzoyl peroxide bleached teenage clothes, sweaty athletic uniforms, and the list goes on. In my family’s current season of life, we have a little of everything!
I hope these tips help you shape up your family’s laundry routine to make things a bit easier for you!