Friday, January 03, 2014

Laundry Day

Moving in to a new house always takes some adjusting. New organizational systems for pantry items, toiletries, pots and pans, are all the norm. This time, in additional to the normal upheaval that is part of moving, I have also had to get used to sharing a laundry facility again. We share it with 3 other apartments; 12 other people. To try to ease the pain of sharing, with the help of the landlord, we have negotiated Mondays and Fridays as our wash days.

In some ways it is great that I get assigned days. I don't ever have to worry about people using the machines when I need them. I don't ever have to worry that I am hogging the machines when others need them. I don't have to worry about my loads getting mixed up with others.

In other ways it really sucks to have assigned days. If something is wet and stinky and needs to be washed I have to wash it out by hand, find a place to hang it out and store it until it is my day hoping that the stains won't set. With 6 people in the house laundry stacks up pretty high in a few days time so I have to find places to store dirty laundry. Dirty laundry stinks. Worst of all though is it takes me a full day to get through all those loads of laundry so on days when I get called into work and can't start laundry until 3pm, I am doing laundry late into the night.

Since moving laundry has been my biggest, no, my only complaint about the new place. Having assigned days is cramping my style. I am annoyed that the dryer is coin operated and doesn't stop spinning when I open the door. I'm a little grossed out that the washer is only hooked up to cold water (I have started bleaching a lot more). It drives me nuts that I can't adjust the time and the capacity is smaller than I'm used to. I hate being tied to the washer and dryer two days a week.

But where there is a problem there is always a solution. My disgust for hours of laundry has encouraged me to make my laundry days more efficient. I started the streamlining a few weeks ago by taking a new approach.

First change: First thing on laundry day I gather ALL the laundry in a huge pile in the hall. I then sort through it all and divide it up by color, material and washing needs. Anything that is not in these piles won't get washed so I make sure the kids help and get their stuff into the appropriate piles: jeans, towels, whites, dress clothes, etc. When the sorting is done I know exactly how many loads I will have and can plan my day accordingly. Each load takes about an hour except jeans and towels which take about a half dryer cycle more per load.

Second change: I now set a timer for when the dryer is done. My dryer goes for 45 minutes so I set my timer for 41 minutes. That gives me time to turn off the timer, walk down the stairs toting the next load of laundry, take the wet clothes out of the washer, start the next load into the washer, and then walk around the corner and transfer stuff out of and into the dryer. By the time I get back upstairs I start the timer again and then fold the dry clothes. Having the timer keeps the loads moving with very little, if any down time.

Third change: On the same property that we live on there is another house with another group of 10 tenants with their own washer and coin-op dryer. I got permission to use that dryer so I can keep my loads moving. This is especially helpful for the jeans and towels that take twice as long to dry as a wash load takes to wash. Using that second dryer cuts a good hour or more out of my wash schedule.

The fourth change was put into play just this past week. Last week, even after making all those efficiency changes, I was doing laundry for almost 14 hours! The Friday after Christmas I had 13 loads of laundry to do. That was not the way I wanted to spend my Friday. I was not happy and I let everyone know about it. I spent my time between loads that day, doing computations.
Monday-Friday=4 days of laundry
4 days*6 people=24 outfits
24 outfits=24 jeans + 24 tops + 24 pairs of underwear
4 nights of PJ's, can wear PJ's 2 days in a row= 2 PJ's *6 people = 12 PJ's
each person can use their bath towel for 4 days if hung up properly
each person can use their beach towel for 7 days if hung up properly

12 pairs of jeans per load = 2 loads of jeans, heavy shorts and sweatshirts
24 tops and 12 pairs of PJ's = 1 load of colors (some of these go into the whites load)
6 bath towels + kitchen towels and table cloths = 1 load of towels (usually bleached)
underwear, workout clothes and whites that can be bleached = 1 load of whites (always bleached)
Nice clothes like my work clothes and Dave's work clothes and the kids church clothes = 1 load of delicates

This equals 6 loads of wash. Once a week I will need to do sheets and beach towels which will make up to 8 loads of laundry. This is WAY off of THIRTEEN loads. I had a good talk with the kids we discussed clean clothes going back through the wash because they weren't put away. We talked about clothes that could be worn more than once before being washed--such as sweatshirts. We talked about MOM IS GOING TO TAKE AWAY ALL BUT 7 SHIRTS, 4 PANTS AND 5 PAIRS OF UNDERWEAR IF YOU DON'T MANAGE YOUR WARDROBE BETTER!! We then went through all their drawers and closets and got rid of a lot of clothes that the kids didn't want, didn't fit, but I was still seeing in the laundry regularly. They still had a plethora of garments to choose from.

Today I happily washed 6 loads of laundry in 5 hours time. The figuring, work, and threats worked. I can manage that. We'll see if it holds.


  1. Good luck. That is pretty much the system I have had for years. I do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays even if it is a holiday. I usually do 4 loads. Whites, brights, darks (jeans), and towels. Five, if I do sheets, which I will admit that I do way less than I should... And I rarely have any delicates to wash.

  2. I have the same problem with clean clothes going through the wash again. It's so frustrating but by the time I catch it I have to wash it anyway because it's been sitting in a basket with dirty clothes for a couple days already. I literally find socks still folded and shirts still on hangers in the kids baskets. One day I will start charging them 25 cents for each of these items.


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