Monday, March 14, 2011

A Laundry System that Works!

Laundry overwhelms me.  I love the little farmhands, but they sure go through a lot of clothes!  One time I counted that in only 3 days, Little Messy Farmboy went through 48 different items of clothes (pants, shirts and underwear).  And that’s just one child.  There never seems to be an end to it… No hope in sight…  Poor me… Poor me… All this laundry… This is my life… Poor me…  Ever felt like that?  Then I met my friend Pam.  She has 6 children.  SIX.  Count them:  1 – 2- 3- 4- 5- 6!  The amazing thing is, there is never any dirty laundry at her house.  It turns out, she has a great laundry system that actually works!  She has even learned to enjoy her laundry time!  Someone who enjoys doing laundry for a family of 8?  I’m pretty sure I can learn something from someone like that, so I asked her to share her system.  If you’ve been looking for a way to organize your laundry, this post is for you!  Even if you don’t have 6 children, this post is definitely worth taking the time to read!  Here it is, in her own words:


“The system is pretty simple, but like most things it requires consistency and discipline. I'm a pretty organized and neat person by nature, but I used to have a major laundry problem. Very simply, I hated it!!
My first step was to weed out clothes and really keep only the things we really loved/enjoyed. I was blessed with lots of hand-me-downs, and a great thrift store. I realized that having so many items for each child was allowing me to use them as a crutch. I had a hamper in each closet and they were always full & overflowing and it didn't matter. There were plenty of other clothes! So, I got rid of all the hampers in the house. Now we use the washer as a hamper:

washer as hamper

In the evening when everybody changes into pjs we all bring our clothes down and put them in a clean, dry washing machine. First thing in the morning I open my washer and it is full of the previous day’s dirty clothes.

sorting laundry

I sort the clothes into basic darks, colors and lights, then and begin the wash. This is a pretty light day, but I usually do 3-4 loads a day. Sometimes not so much.   Then, as soon as the laundry is dry, I fold it right there:

folding laundry

Any ironing gets hung up until Monday.  That’s when I do ironing and sheets and towels.  I do sheets on rotation:  Mine one week, Girls’ the next week and Boys’ the following week.

ironing hanging up

By the washer & dryer I have a small wicker basket for each child. When the clothes come out of the dryer, they are immediately folded and put into the appropriate basket:

laundry in baskets

My goal is for all laundry to be done by 4. When I say “done” it must be put away, too. The final step is that all my happy helpers scamper off to put their fresh, clean laundry away.  Now my washer is empty and dry and it’s ready for them to put their dirty clothes in in the evening.

putting laundry away 


I said the first thing I did was weed out clothes, but actually the first thing that I had to do was change my attitude. I have actually come to love laundry. I'm thankful for my houseful that requires all these duds! I pray over the items as I'm washing/drying/folding. It's actually become a ministry for me. It's the first thing I offer to someone who's going through a rough patch, new baby, etc. If you'd have told me that years ago I would have laughed like a crazy woman! Learn to love it and it changes things. Hope this helps!”




I have implemented Pam’s system in my home and I love it!  The one minor change I have made is instead of using the washing machine as a hamper, we have 2 hampers side-by-side in the bathroom.  One is for colors and one is for whites.  Everyone is trained to put their laundry in the correct hamper, so it is like the laundry automatically sorts itself!  I also have one lingerie bag for each member of the family.  Everyone puts their socks into their own bag and then the entire bag gets thrown into the washing machine.  This makes matching up socks so much easier!

Picture 157

For me, the keys to making this system work have been:  1 – weeding out the clothes so that we have just what fits and what we like, 2 – changing my attitude and praying for the people whose clothes I am folding.  If I have a lot of laundry to put away, I will put a ladies retreat CD on to listen to while I work.  Then, my body is folding laundry but my mind is communing with God!

Are you inspired by Pam’s Laundry system?  Ready to make some changes at your house?  To help you get started, we are hosting a laundry-related giveaway:  Dryerballs!  Click here to be taken to the Dryerball giveaway!



A big thank you to Pam Graham for sharing her laundry system (complete with her photos!) with us!

34 comments:

  1. We are also blessed with too many clothes. I used to worry that if I weeded things out we would need more. As I built my faith in God that He would provide for us, all of that worry went away. Do we still have too many clothes? Yes, probably. But we're getting better.

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  2. Great system! Beautiful pictures! I also LIKE laundry and praying for those who wear it! You gave me quite a few tips in there I could use, thanks!
    -Beka =)

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  3. I have learned so much from Pam, too! One thing is that there is no shortage of clothes in the world... especially children's clothes! And it all belongs to God and He doesn't want my little Farmhands to be naked, so my job is to be a good steward and trust Him to provide. =)

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  4. I love reading about how other people do laundry! I don't enjoy laundry, but try to stay on top of it as we have four children. :) My husband built me a laundry stacker from Knock Off Wood website for Christmas, and it has been a HUGE help this year in containing all our laundry!

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  5. I LOVE the knock-off wood laundry stacker too! I have often thought that it would work perfectly with Pam's system if you continue to use the washer as your hamper and then fold the clothes directly into the laundry stacker. For anyone who missed it, here's a link to the free DIY plans:
    http://ana-white.com/2010/11/laundry-basket-dresser.html

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  6. The sock bag is a great idea -- I've been doing this since I had baby socks which seem to disappear in the wash!
    Cheers

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  7. I like her sheet rotation. I just started doing that a couple of weeks ago. It makes the whole sheet changing process seem less overwhelming. I like the idea of having all the days laundry done by 4. It seems like a pretty good system. Another friend gave me the idea of praying for the person whose laundry I'm folding. I've tried that, but my prayers are often interupted by the little person I'm praying for! Thanks for posting the system.

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  8. I like the ironing system. I never seem to find the time. I think assigning a certain day to do it will make it happen.

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  9. I like this system...and with 7 kids laundry is certainly an issue :-). Since I have several younger kids I have an older child "buddy" put their younger buddy's clothes away. Thanks for the pics and info!

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  10. This has been very helpful! I already have clothes somewhat sorted before washing, but in the bathroom floor (we have a large bathroom)or baskets. I'm hoping to one day have a little extra cash to buy enough baskets/ hampers for each type. I divide by darks (blues, blacks, and greens), reds (red, pink, purple), lights has two - the tshirts and the dress clothes piles, and then the towels/ washclothes/ underwear pile. Now with summer one the way and a large yard, I'm finding that a new pile has come up - the mud soaked pile! LOL

    As our family grows, I can see how there would be enough clothes to do a full load of each pile every day - I love that she's never behind.

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  11. My favorite thing about this system was how she explained that she changed her attitude and by seeing it as a blessing instead of something she just had to do. As a single mom of 5 kids I really found the whole system useful but the most important key I believe is changing your attitude and giving thanks to God as I am doing the laundry. Thanks for this post as I really needed it!

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  12. My favorite part of this system is definitely the "change your attitude" part. Everything in life is much more enjoyable if I just have a positive attitude. My husband put up some wire shelves in my laundry room so as clothes come out of the dryer the hang up clothes are automatically put on hangers then they just have to be carried upstairs. I have baskets by my dryer, the boys's goes in one and mine and my husband's in another. I use a laundry sorter for dirty laundry.

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  13. I liked how Pam weeded out. As soon as I read that I knew that was the problem in my house. Too many clothes. When all five of my kiddos were home (and younger) I was particular about not overdoing the amount of clothing for anyone for this very purpose...too much laundry. ugh. I need to go back and weed out!

    Thank you for this wonderful post on laundry.

    Kristin A.

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  14. I'm so glad that everyone was as blessed as I was by Pam's Laundry System! =) I recognize some of the details in her system from Kim Brenneman's book "Large Family Logistics." Great book! If you all haven't read it yet you should... no matter what size of family you have! Lots of practical tips! =)

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  15. I love this system, especially the rotating of the sheets. When we change sheets there is so much laundry I don't do it again for a whole month. We are paring down our clothes too and it makes it so much easier to put things away and find something to wear.

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  16. I loved this! Learning from others on how we all tackle a 'universal' job is so helpful, especially when the loads seem to overwhelm the family routine. Less is best! We use the basket system too, but I ESPECIALLY appreciated the time frame when you plan for everything to be complete, which means put away as well.

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  17. As a mother of 7, I can relate to the too many clothes syndrome. We get hand me downs, and have a problem with replacing the "old" clothes with the "new". It is a constant struggle. I think I will have to implement a system like this. Thanks for the idea!

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  18. Wow!! I needed that! I have been fighting laundry for the past 2 months because I have a newborn!! and I got behind. I will definately be trying this as I spring clean closets!

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  19. Great system! We also have six children, and some of the things she does we also do, but other points she mentioned I have yet to implement. Thank you!

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  20. Is the picture at the top of your blog your home? OH , it's so pretty!

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  21. We weeded out just like y'all and I love the idea of praying over the person whose laundry you are doing!!!

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  22. Sounds like a good system, it would actually solve a couple of space issues for us. I actually have my children do their own laundry. Except bedding, I take care of that. Oh and ironing, I'm afraid I need to admit that I rarely do ironing unless I'm sewing. After that, it has to be a special occation.

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  23. Also, give yourself grace. On those days that you don't get everything done by 4, it's okay. Tomorrow is another day! That's the beauty of actually having a system. You'll always be relatively caught up, and if you do skip a day or only get one load done one day, you will not be overwhelmed needing to do 20 loads to get caught up!
    I'm so glad this has been a blessing. I've been doing this for about six years now, after the birth of my 4th child, and it has been a huge blessing for my family.
    ~Pam Graham

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  24. Y'all listen to Pam Graham now =) ... In case you missed the fine print, Pam Graham is the "Pam" of this post. This is HER system, HER photos, HER happy helpers... =)

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  26. I love that you pray for those that wear the clothes while you're folding them. I used to do that but got away from it. I'm going to start again tomorrow morning! Thanks so much!!

    Helen
    aunthoney at frontiernet dot net

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  27. Oh I would love to not always be behind in laundry. I love the baskets and how she folds the clothes right there at the washer and dryer. Oh and I love how she has turened the whole chore into a ministry for her family love it! Im changing the way i do laundry!

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  28. That is a great system! I used to stay on top of our laundry and did such a great job. We're in a new house now, and I hate where our laundry is located--right between the two doors we use to go outside, so I feel like if someone comes to the door, the laundry is right there for all to see. I think that is why I'm doing such a lousy job of keeping up with it now. I just need to stop pouting and get a system that works for this home! Thanks for the inspiration!

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  29. I love the baskets and how Pam folds the clothes right there at the washer and dryer.
    I also love how she has a basket for each family member.

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  30. I think the key to not being behind is the initial step of sorting through the clothes and keeping only what people really like. An excess of clothes leads to an excess of laundry! I have been so inspired by this system!

    By the way, it's actually one basket per bedroom. Some of the littlest children share a room, putting both children's clothes into the same basket makes it easy!

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  31. I love this system! However, I have 3 floors and the laundry is in the basement so I put one hamper on each floor to contain all of the laundry - since I have 3 under 3 years old, that would mean a lot of trips for me! :0)

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  32. My friend Pam (whose laundry system this is) is a domestic genius! =) The beauty of the system is that we can tweak it any way we want to fit our needs. I think the key points of the system are weeding the clothes down to just the basics and being consistent. Sounds to me like you need a laundry chute! I read something recently about a family who inexpensively installed a wide PVC pipe in their wall with an opening on each floor. I wonder if that would work for you... Sure sounds like it would save a lot of trips up and down the stairs! =) Let me know how the system works for you!

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  33. This is an excellent system Pam! I will definitly be implementing this in our home as well, we are a family of four so definitly a smaller family than your own.

    What I found most daunting like you said was the amount of clothes, and the bedsheets. With your rotation that should help immensely with bedsheets, and with weeding out what is too small for my kids more regularly that will help also.

    One idea, I would like to add, that came from my daughter is as follows.

    She is 3 years old and often wants to "help", so as to encourage her in chores (she already puts her own clothes in her dresser) but when I sort into the baskets, she sits beside me and after I fold each item, I ask her who the item belongs to (correcting her if necessary as her and her sister are getting very close in size), and have a picture (in a picture sleeve ripped out of a photo album to protect the picture), of each family member tied to their respective basket.

    My three year old is able to take the item that I have folded, and looking at the photo match it to the owner's basket. On top of all that, she loves it!!! (And it makes it easier to do the laundry while shes awake vs. cowaring away and waiting till all kids are asleep).

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  34. easyline laundry chutes
    Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.

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