Friday, November 03, 2006

Laundry help

There is one single thing that has helped me the most in the area of laundry control and expense. As a family of five, we produce a lot of laundry. Every day we wear five shirts, five pairs of pants or skirts, five pairs of socks, and five sets of underthings. This adds up fast, both finacially as well as in terms of time.

Washing clothes is one of the main sources of non-negotiable expense in our house. You can't eliminate it from the budget, but you can seriously cut down on the actual amount of expense.

So here's the tip: Make sure clothing is truly dirty before you wash it. Wear dresses, dress pants, work pants and shirts, and even play clothes twice or more before throwing them into the dirty clothes hamper. Lest you think I am crazy (or am a 'dirty' person) for saying this, I am not the only advocate of this method. Its proponents include Martha Stewart, Elisabeth Elliot, and most importantly to me, my mother.

When we lived with my mother, she would often help me catch up on the laundry pile. One life-changing day, she said, "Tami, your family has more laundry than any family I've ever seen. You wash more clothes than I've ever seen. Your children can wear their clothes- even play clothes- more than once!" My mother faithfully raised four children, so her words hold a lot of weight for me. This stopped me in my tracks. That night, I told the boys to lay their clothes that they had worn that day out for the next morning, instead of putting them in the hamper.

I've never gone back to my old habits.

This saves money in at least three ways:

-Your clothes will last much longer- too frequent washings causes fading, wearing, and misshapenness (not sure that's a word, but if it is, it means loss of shape). This is Martha Stewart's main point.

-You will save money in detergent, fabric softener, and dryer sheets.

-You will save electricity. The washer and dryer are our main energy outputs after the air conditioner/heater.

I don't have to convince any mother of the mental help cutting even one load will produce.

By the way, I hope it goes without saying that there are days that my kids get too dirty to re-wear their clothes. When we go out, I try to make sure they look nice and fresh. And Sophie, at twenty months, usually makes enough of a mess at meal time to earn a clean shirt. If the clothes get stained, wash them right away! If they smell, in the wash they go. And OF COURSE, this rule does not apply to underclothes!


Lady Why said...

Excellent post!! As a mother of five children, this has always been our 'laundry philosophy' as well!

Meagan said...

This revelation just struck me lately! With two children and one on the way, I am always thinking of ways to stream-line our chores (or elimate them), and laundry is always there. Two other things I've found to cheapen laundry costs: Make your own detergent (very cheap and easy) and use liquid fabric softener, which you water down at least 50%. Dryer sheets are not good for your dryer in that the lint/particles they produce can clog the dryer tubes in such a way that it is very difficult to clean and makes the dryer less efficient. When I did use dryer sheets, I cut them in half. Keep the good tips coming!

Stacey said...

I don't think your dity! I wear my clothes at least two times also. Who wants to be doing laundry all the time?

Tami said...

Great tips! I am a homeschooling mamma of 6, and laundry is one of our biggest chores. My name is Tami also, and I live in NC. I noticed your name on Crystal's blog and thought I would check your post out.

Have a blessed day!

Tami said...

Thank you for your comments, ladies! Hope your weekend is great and that you don't spend the whole time washing clothes! :)

TulipGirl said...

When we lived in Ukraine, we were very blessed to have a washer. But it was teeny-tiny, and we had no dryer. Lemme tell ya, we learned to cut down on the amount of laundry we did!

(Then again, the boys weren't playing outside as much as they do here, so clothes weren't getting as dirty--I'd rather have them play outside than have less laundry!)

TaraK said...

I'm reading this late, so I don't know if you'll even get this comment or not! I'm planning on taking your laundry advice to heart. I have three boys now and a girl on the way. I'm planning on letting it go. Let it go. Let it go. I have to tell myself that over and over!!!

On Fire For Him said...

I have been starting to do this one too lately! But what I like the best about this one is that you actually said it out loud.