Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Laundry Tips from Mama - (Print & Post)

“Excess can cause troubles.” – Mama
“Lazy today causes stress tomorrow.” - Mama

(Written to share with my girls.)
Over the years I have come up with short cuts and tips for doing laundry; I wanted to share them with you. As you begin your family you will find what works now that they will be keeping their own home. best for your household and will be able to amend, add or cut out some of the below.

Here are some suggestions:

Minimize Your Clean Clothes
When you inventory your clothing you allow yourself time saving in the laundry department and add time for more valued events. Pack off season clothing in clear plastic tubs or in extra dresser drawers. Donate or give unused current seasonal clothing to same size friends and family or others in need. You know the saying: “If you haven’t worn it in a year…”. As for socks; minimize your socks to only 2 weeks worth including dress socks and athletic socks.

Minimize Your Linens
It’s tempting to have lots of towels and several sets of sheets but this will cause more laundry in the long run. Keep 2 towels per person available (one hanging for use and the other in the linen closet) and only one set of sheets per bed (exception: crib). If you must have 2 sets of sheets per bed try to not get the other sheet out unless there has been an illness or accident and an immediate change is needed. Kitchen towels, dish clothes and bathroom hand towels and washcloths take up very little laundry space and due to the need for a fresh, clean one each day it is nice to have 2 weeks worth in your linen closet.

From Clean to Dirty

Taking off Dirty Clothes
When you take off your dirty clothes it’s a good opportunity to save time when it comes to doing laundry by cuffing your socks together, empty pockets, take underwear out of pants, turn darks inside out (to avoid excessive fading). Take to the laundry room or place in hamper immediately.

If your jeans are not truly dirty and you have only worn them one time there is no sin in folding them nicely and placing them in an “only worn once” pile in your closet. If your pants are dirty whether soiled or with odor; don’t risk it – laundry them.

Dirty Bath Towel
When you are finished with your bath towel (which can easily last 2 days without laundering) take it to the laundry room and lay it over a basket or the washer so it doesn’t get other clothes wet. Get out a fresh towel right away and put it on your bathroom hook so you won’t drip after tomorrow’s shower looking for a towel.

Bed Linens and Bath Rugs & Shower Curtains
Plan each week to do one of the following: Wash all sheets or wash all rugs and bathroom shower curtains. Don’t try to do them both on the same week or you may run out of time and find they will pile up in the laundry room and the old cycle continues; you pull out your emergency linens and use those.

Laundry Room Prep
You laundry room should not be hated. Create a working and efficient room by keeping it well stocked and clean. Always have detergent, bleach, stain remover, grease remover, fabric softener, delicate bags, plastic hangers and laundry baskets (no more than 1 per person) on hand and easy to reach.

Sorting & Loading
The most efficient way to do laundry is to sort as when you have dirtied your laundry. Take your clothes in to the laundry room right away daily and place in the appropriate laundry basket. If this is not possible, or just too much to start out with, you can take a little extra time and sort as you do laundry. When you sort your clothes you can begin to see the priority needed for cleaning; this considering you have followed the recommendations of limiting your clean clothes and linens.

Stain & Grease Removal
For stains, wet the area that has the stain and spray or gently rub the mild stain remover on the area. Let the clothing item sit while the wash tub fills with water. I wouldn’t let the piece of clothing sit long enough for the stain remover to dry on the item.

For removal of greasy work clothes; fill the wash tub with warm water on the rinse cycle and add 1 cup of Pine-sol. Place greasy clothing in washer and let the clothes run through the rinse mixture cycle. Once washer stops wash and rinse the clothing as normal using cold water.

Loading Clothes
Start the washer and put the appropriate amount of recommended laundry detergent in washer. Place washer settings on the correct load size and water temperature for the amount and type of clothing. Do not over load the washer for the following reasons: 1) Clothing will not get completely clean (hazardous if you are trying to kill bacteria); 2) Clothing can mildew or sour if left too long in washer; 3) You may damage your washer’s balance mechanism.

There should be a ‘gentle’ cycle on your washer; if not set your regular wash cycle to a few minutes of wash (usually 6-8 minutes). Place gentle garments in a nylon zip bag. Small delicate items can share a bag although bras should have their own bag so they don’t snag other delicates with their clasps. Always secure bra clasps before washing to avoid tangling, stretching and snagging.

If bleach is necessary follow both your washer’s instructions and the bleach instructions to avoid yellowing and bleach-out spots on fabric. Most often, bleach is added to the last 5 minutes of your wash cycle.

Cloth Baby Diapers
Some prep work may be helpful. Fill a rubber/plastic trashcan or solid hamper with water and 1 ½ cups of bleach; after you have rinsed the cloth diaper out in the toilet, place the soiled diaper in the bleach-water hamper and cover. Once the hamper is full of dirty diapers (or ever other day which ever comes first); pour entire contents into the washer. Place the washer on the rinse cycle and hot water; let the dirty diapers run through the rinse mixture cycle. Once washer stops, wash and rinse the diapers as normal using cold water and your baby detergent. I recommend not adding bleach to the wash cycle but if you must, then you’ll want to rinse diapers twice after the wash cycle to avoid irritation to baby’s skin (bleach and baby made ammonia don’t mix).

Drying Clothing
Line drying is always recommended for the care of your clothing as well as the energy efficiency. Place clothing in the dryer as soon as possible after the wash cycle ends to avoid spoiling or run-on colors. Always check to ensure the dryer filter is clean and empty; the left over lint may be able to cause a fire. Set clothing on the shortest dry time for the amount and weight of clothing necessary; this will save energy. Add a dryer sheet to avoid static. Finish the dry time with a cool down to avoid unnecessary wrinkles. Hang or fold clothing right away to ensure the least amount of wrinkles. Put clothing away immediately. By putting your clothes away immediately you free up room to do more laundry effectively and avoid clean clothes getting mixed up with dirty clothes (this happens a lot with socks) or the overwhelming feeling of too much when you enter your laundry room.

Ahhh Washed and Dried

Hanging Clothing
Hang all shirts facing left; this allows you to view the front of each shirt at a glance.
Hang pants without a crease; this helps avoid shifting creases and helps to eliminate ironing. If you must hang pants with a crease, begin by holding the pants from the bottom cuff to create the crease then fold by laying the pants on the dryer, once you have the crease where and how you like it, simply slide the pant legs through a plastic hanger or clip the pant cuffs with the clips on a pant-hanger.

For sweaters, its best to fold and place on a shelf or in a drawer however, if you must hang this is the best way to avoid stretching or hanger pulls. Place sweater flat on the dryer, fold lengthwise lining up shoulders and arms; fold (long) arms so the hem of the arm is lying on the hem of the sweater, fold sweater down in half, slide hanger through final fold. Another hanging method for sweaters is to place sweater flat on the dryer, fold lengthwise lining up shoulders and arms, place the hanger hook in the underarm of the sweater and wrap the body of the sweater on the one side of the hanger (where a shirt shoulder would hang) and the arms around the other side of the hanger.

Folding Clothes & Linens
Fold clothes with the least amount of folds to avoid excessive wrinkles. For t-shirts grab the shirt at the seam just under the armpit, shake the shirt so it falls straight. Fold the shirt in half horizontal across the chest of the shirt. Front facing down, fold one side of the shirt in so there is only 2-3 inches from the neck to the fold, tuck under the sleeve and do the same to the other side of the shirt, now fold the bottom up. Flip the shirt over and ensure the folds are centered and symmetric; this guarantees a crisp look when you get it out of your drawer for wear.

Small items, like underwear and baby items may be better laid flat. Always fold your bras so the cup is full; invert one cup to the other and fold the sides and straps behind to fill in. This keeps your bra from getting creased and disfigured.

Sheets and blankets are best folded corner to corner horizontal first then vertical the rest of the folds until it is a manageable size; once small enough finish with a horizontal fold. For fitted sheets do the same type folding but always place one corner into the other corner until flat then corner to corner placing boxed sides towards the inside of all folds. A demonstration may be in order.

Baby blankets and burp towels should be folded so it can be easily opened by one hand with a quick whipping motion. This way when you need one of these items you won’t have to put the baby down to access use.

Hopefully, these tips will help get you out of the laundry room and enjoying life quicker!
With Love,


Esther said...

Hi, I popped over from your sisters blog. Wonderful tips. May I suggest one though. For nappies (dipers) rather than water and bleach in the bucket leave it dry and put a few drops of tea-tree oil in the bottom. It really works at stopping them being smelly, and they are easier to put in the washing machine. I did the water way with my eldest and the tea-tree with my current son and I much prefer the tea-tree oil.

Jennifer said...

Oh Ester, what a great suggestion. I will pass along to my girls. Thank you!

Nancy said...

Love your suggestions. Around here Monday is sheet changing day. I wash, dry and remake the bed... I don't own ANY laundry baskets. I fold on my kitchen table and have to put them away to serve dinner. Also have taught my 16 yo son to do his own laundry (although I will run it through the washer/dryer if he brings it to the laundry room). If he doesn't have clean clothes it's his fault. And it's only happened once...YEA!!

I've been a reader since before your sister pointed you out....

madison house designs said...

Wow, I've never felt so inspired about laundry practices before! All very good and practical ideas. I'm also here from your sister's blog, but I'm sure I will be back often. It's a very nice read. :)

Chris said...

I love these great guidelines and suggestions - in fact I'm going to print it out to save.

My addition has to do with sorting - each bedroom has it's own set of light and dark baskets. So the clothes come downstairs to the laundry room presorted. And, if I do the laundry by basket, then it's easier to not confuse Husband's socks with Sons' socks.

Love the domestic posts!

--Vicki K.

TidyMom said...

You ROCK! Just like your wonderful sister!!

Wonderful post!!


Colleen said...

Jenn, I just nominated your blog for a SPLASH AWARD!

You can check it out at

Keep up the great work!