Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sorting Laundry

Folding laundry has grown into almost a full time job in our house as our kids grow. Everyone pitches in to get it all washed and put away each day.

Blake, 11, puts it in the washer, moves it to the dryer, and then brings it back for sorting. Paige, Faith, and Brooke help me fold and everyone puts their own clothes away, even Nathan (3).

A couple methods that make this run more smoothly, aside from assigned tasks, involve marking the clothing and sorting as we fold.

When clothing first arrives in our home we try it on to make sure it fits, and then it gets marked to designate who it belongs to. In our house, the boys are not really an issue because with 8 years between them we don't ever mix up their clothing.

The girls are another story. All two years apart and sometimes barely a size apart, I found myself spending a lot of time looking at clothing sizes while folding and sorting. I started to lose appreciation for matching outfits.

Then we wrote initials on the tags. The 'P' somehow morphed into an 'F' and then we rounded that into a 'B' as the article of clothing made its way through the girls.

Another homeschool mom suggested a more efficient method of marking that we have switched to and it has sped up our laundry folding. We put a small dot corresponding to which girl wears the clothing (oldest - one, second- two, third- three, etc.) Paige's clothing gets one simple dot with the permanent marker near the top of the tag, Faith's has two, and Brooke's three. New clothing is marked accordingly, and as clothing is grown out of we simply add a dot to the tag and it gets put away for the next child.

The dot is clearly visible without having to search or unfold tags to read a size:

Clothing without tags (even underwear and socks) can be subtly marked for easy sorting also:

Then, while folding laundry we stay in one central area, usually my bed, but in this case, the couch. Each child's clothing goes in a row together. Then they can come and carry their laundry to their room and into the proper drawers.

It only takes about 10 minutes to fold a large load of laundry and with everyone having their own job, I don't feel like I have a laundry monster to worry about any more.

I forgot that this was supposed to be a backwards edition of Works for Me Wednesday, but going along with the laundry theme . . . two issues we face with laundry are items left in pockets and remembering to pre-treat stains.

Does anyone have any reminder tools, habits or routines that help take care of these dilemmas? Cleaning gum and crayon out of the dryer are no fun! And, that blueberry smoothie hardly ever comes out after the heat sets it in. Any tips (on preventing these scenarios, rather than dealing with the fallout)?


Brianna @ Heart(h) Management said...

One thing I've done to *try* to help me remember with pretreating is putting the items that need special attention in their own section. (Like not in the laundry basket with all the other laundry.) I have a little pile just for those clothes.

But I've missed this stuff PLENTY of times. Usually, in fact.

Joelle said...

I've learned the hard way to always go through pockets before starting a load of laundry. (If I forget, I'm always sorry! Skipping that doesn't pay off! We've gotten pen stains all over a load, kleenex fuzzies everywhere, etc.) You might have your son learn to take stuff out of pockets before starting the load of laundry. You could give him an incentive (and everybody a reverse incentive to get their stuff out of pockets before he gets to go through it) that if he finds anything in their pockets, he can "keep" it. (Coins, for example. What kid wouldn't like finding a dollar... or other coins.)

Condo Blues said...

My mom used to mark our clothing too but with thread on the tag.

for stains, I keep a small spray bottle of stain cleaner in the closet next to the laundry baskets. That way I can spray a stain before I put it in the dirty clothes and not forget that I have to treat a stain. I usually just pour some of the liquid from a new bottle into an old bottle and keep that in the closet. That way I have a bottle with the laundry baskets and a bottle in the laundry room.

Kelly B said...

I love the dot idea. I have 5, one kid every 2 years. Although there is 4 years between the boys (there are 3) the two oldest like to wear the same clothes. It is so hard to figure out who's is who's without checking the tag. I am so glad I found this idea. As for stains, I try to pretreat them on the way to the laundry room. My laundry room is so tiny if I didn't, they would never get pretreated.

caroline said...

I swear by Shout for pretreating stains. There's a spray bottle of it in each of my girls' rooms and one in mine. When we are helping the girls get ready for bed, we check over their clothes to see if they need treated and do it right when they take it off.

I also have a bottle of shout by the washer in case the clohes never make it to their rooms and the hamper.

I buy it by the gallon at Sams Club and just refill the bottles as needed.

Denise said...

For things in the pockets, I've found it helpful to set aside all the pants & to be put in their own load...as I put them into the washer, I make sure each pair has nothing in the pockets, the zipper is zipped or the buttons or done & the legs are not all bunched up...this takes a little extra time, but keeps from having to rewash, plus everything actually gets clean.

For the pretreating, when the kids get an obvious stain, I have them put that item on top of the washer rather than in the hamper....I pretreat whatever is on the washer first thing in the morning before starting laundry & then sort the things into the appropriate loads. I've also bought some of the shout wipes & have had pretty good sucess using them as soon as a stain happens when we are out.

Melissa D at DropTheBabyWeight.com said...

Leaving a bottle of Shout on top of the washer means you have to pick it up to put anything in... sometimes that's a good reminder. Or I'll put all the clothes that need treating in a special pile.