Teaching Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry

Teaching Kids to Do Their Own Laundry | RaisingArrows.net

Over the years, I’ve had many laundry systems.  With every age, stage, new home, new circumstance, I’ve had to revamp how I did laundry.  This past year, I finally brought my 12 year old daughter on board as a laundry helper, but it seemed that even between the two of us, we were never caught up with the laundry.  The stuff multiplied in corners and on bedroom floors, taunting us.

I also noticed an alarming trend.  The very item of clothing a child (or husband) needed for the next day was the very item of clothing that managed to get buried beneath the pile.  And wet towels somehow always snuck their way to the bottom of the pile, creating a smelly mess.  I was sick and tired of it, but with 9 people in the house, it seemed my lot in life.

And then Kendra from Preschoolers and Peace posted about how she got all 8 of her kids to do their own laundry, and I suddenly saw a ray of hope.  While our family dynamic is different, I felt like I could take what she had done and make it my own, so that very day I started planning and the next week I introduced my plan to the children.
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I did a quick inventory and realized we needed one more large laundry basket so that each room (Parents, Boys, Girls) had a large laundry basket in it for dirty clothes.

Then, I made a Laundry Chart:

laundry chart

I wrote out simplified instructions and laminated the sheet.  I put at the top a space where we could change out whose day it was to do the laundry, and I affixed velcro dots to the chart as well as three laminated tags for Mommy, the Boys, and the Girls.  Then, I attached it to the laundry room wall and gave the children a run through of specifically what I expected when it came to doing laundry.

I divided the children by days of the week.  So, Mommy has Monday and Thursday, the Boys have Tuesday and Friday, and the Girls have Wednesday and Saturday.  That allows for Sunday to be free.

The oldest of each group is ultimately responsible, but they are to enlist the help of their younger siblings.  So, on my day, I wash my clothes as well as Daddy’s and the 6 month old’s clothing.  My 15 year old son is responsible for the boys in his room, but they all pitch in to sort and put away.  The girls are both capable of doing their own laundry, so they switch off and on.  Everyone washes sheets every other week, something that was not getting done prior to implementing this system.

The one issue we came across that was easily solved was that of towels.  We use a lot of towels.  Those towels are often wet and nasty.  Because the laundry room is just off the kitchen, we decided to throw towels and bibs on the floor next to the washer and whosever day it happens to be is the one responsible for that day’s towels.

This system has given me back my laundry room!  No longer do I have to crawl across piles of clothes to get to my pantry.  No longer do I have to stare at the piles, wondering how I could possibly wade through it all that day.  No one ever has more than 3 loads on their day!

I am so thrilled to finally have a handle on the laundry.  But I am even more thrilled that my children are learning to do their own laundry.  This is one of those skills so many leave home without.  My husband tells stories of guys in his college dorm coming back from the laundry room with pink socks and underwear because no one had ever taught them to do laundry.  He was so thankful he knew how!

By the way, if you subscribe to Raising Arrows (see top right hand sidebar), you will receive a Home Management Training Checklist.  Doing laundry is on there. ;)

So, do any of you have your children do their own laundry?  How do you have it set up?

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Gets an Upgrade

My homemade laundry detergent

Two years ago, I posted about making my own laundry detergent.  I mentioned how I had left behind the liquid in favor of the dry.

Fast forward through time and you will find me not using either.  Until recently.

I decided I was going to try again after reading this post from Mooberry Farm.  She had a little different configuration of the same ingredients I was using.  But, the real difference was I no longer had any of our homemade castille soap, so I had to purchase some Fels-Naptha.

For those of you who don’t know what Fels-Naptha is, it is a heavy-duty laundry soap in a bar (often used for stain treatment) that costs about $1.15 per bar.  You can buy it in just about any supermarket in the detergent aisle.

Let me give you the new measurements and directions and then explain a little more (I tweaked the directions a bit from what was on the Mooberry site):

Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent
1/2 bar of Fels-Naptha
1 cup borax
1 cup washing soda
2 gallons of water, divided

Also need:
a grater
a large saucepan (8 cups or larger)
large bucket or container with lid
liquid storage containers for finished product

1. Grate 1/2 a bar of Fels-Naptha into a saucepan (I still use my Bosch grater).

2. Cover shavings with 4 cups of water and heat on low, stirring often, until soap has melted.

3. Remove from heat.  Add the borax and washing soda and stir in another 4 cups of water.  Mixture will resemble pudding.

4. Pour mixture into a bucket or other container with a lid (I used a cooler–see photo below), add another 24 cups (or 1 gallon + 8 cups) and stir well.  In fact, you may want to use a whisk.

5. Let mixture set overnight.

6. The next day, the congealed soap will have settled to the top.  Stir it back in and pour into storage containers if you’d rather not dip your hand into a bucket every time you do the laundry.  I used old laundry detergent bottles.

Use 1/3 – 1/2 cup of detergent per load of laundry.

And yes, you can use it on your cloth diapers too!

A few notes of interest:

*I didn’t have enough old detergent bottles to pour into, so I keep a very hard to open cooler with the remaining amount in my laundry room.  This has proven to be a very good method.

*I don’t add essential oil.  It would take way too much to make a difference in the smell, so if I ever add any, it will be tea tree oil for it’s anti-bacterial properties.  I’d rather use my yummy-smelling essential oils in other ways.

*Speaking of smells, Fels-Naptha does have a distinct, yet not unpleasant, odor.  However, that smell does not transfer to your clothing.

*The reason I think this is doing so much better than my homemade castille soap did, is because Fels-Naptha is intended for laundry.  Additionally, upping the amount of borax and washing soda helped the consistency greatly.

*This does not suds.  It’s ok.

*The mixture ends up looking a bit curdled.  It’s ok.

Now, for the question that will determine if I continue to make my own laundry detergent…

Is it cost effective enough to be worth my time?

First off, the time required to make this is nominal.  It’s easy, folks!

Secondly, I am going to use very general numbers since prices vary regionally.  If you want it exact, use your own region’s prices.

Cost Breakdown:
Fels-Naptha – 1/2 bar = 58¢
Borax – 1 cup =  53¢
Washing Soda – 1 cup = 44¢
Water – 2 gallons from tap = 20¢
Total per batch = $1.75
Total per load = 3¢

For me, each batch fills around 3 of the containers I had on hand.  We only use one kind of detergent and for that size it costs around $3.00 a bottle when on sale (and it goes on sale often).  I do have to use a bit more of the homemade detergent than the store detergent, but not much.  So without factoring that in…

Cost difference = $7.25 in favor of the homemade detergent

And since we taken it this far, let’s figure my savings for a year if I only used homemade detergent…

Let’s say it takes me 2 weeks to go through each 50 fl oz bottle of detergent.  That means every 6 weeks, I am making more at $1.75 or buying more at $9 for 3 bottles.  That’s $15.17 a year for the homemade and $78 a year for the store bought, which equals…

Yearly savings = $62.83

Is the trouble it takes to make my own laundry detergent (again, nominal) worth $62.83?  In some seasons, I’d have to say no, but right now this feels like a significant savings for very little work.

What do you think?

The Official Laundry Checker {LFO Link Up}

Have a tip you’d like to have featured? Email it to me!

Today’s Large Family Organization tip comes from Miranda, Air Force wife (to a deployed hubby) and mama to 4 kiddos, ages 7 and under.  Miranda can be found blogging at His Path ~ My Steps.


Laundry day

Every morning I get all 5 of us up and ready for school. Pajamas get thrown everywhere! Same thing happens after bath time! Towels, clothes, socks, EVERYWHERE! So we started a random “laundry check.”

I pick a child and tell them to go do a laundry check. He/She goes to every room, including bathrooms, and grabs all the laundry and takes it to the laundry room.

I do this once or twice a day. It’s my 3½ year old’s favorite job. He feels like a big boy helping with laundry. (this also works for toys, books, etc. Anything they pull out)



Now, it’s your turn! Your link doesn’t have to be about laundry! And you don’t even need to have a large family!

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Laundry By the Room – New House, New System!

Once upon a time, my laundry room was in my kitchen.  I hated it.  That is, until I moved and my laundry room was in my basement.  I had a terrible time keeping up with the laundry because out of sight-out of mind truly does exist!

This house has the laundry tucked away behind doors in the hallway.  Something I always thought would drive me crazy…after all, where in the world would I pile all my loads of laundry???

I knew I would need to totally revamp my old laundry system in order to accommodate my new laundry “room.”  Here’s what I came up with:

*Each room has a laundry basket. There is a small one in the girls’ room, a medium one in the boys’ room, and a large one in mommy and daddy’s room.  Three total.  All placed where I can quickly walk by the room and tell, at a glance, if that room needs laundry done up.

*Laundry is washed by room “as needed.” Originally, I thought I would have a schedule that went something like this:

Monday = Mom & Dad
Tuesday = Boys
Wednesday = Girls
Thursday = Sheets/Towels
Friday = Any extras

However, I quickly realized there was no way this was going to work.  It worked much better to do the laundry “as needed.”  I also love this system because I know I only have to do the amount of laundry in that particular basket. It is NEVER over 3 loads.  I cannot even remember the last time I ONLY had to do 3 loads (confession: even though I had more than 3 loads to do, I rarely got more than 2 loads done in a single day…again, out of sight, out of mind)

*The same laundry basket is used for dirty and for clean. Yes, I know I just grossed a few of you out, but here’s why I can get by with this…I keep anti-bacterial spray and paper towels on the laundry room shelf!  Once I’ve sorted the laundry out of the basket and onto the hallway floor, I give the basket a quick spray and wipe it out.  It’s ready to go once the first load comes out of the dryer!

*The dryer buzzer is my friend. When the laundry was in the basement, I could not hear the dryer buzzer.  Now I can!  What a difference that makes!  Clothes are taken out immediately, folded (or hung up because all the closets are nearby), and put into the basket and into the right room.

*The children put away their own clothes. Blake (age 12) is in charge of the boys’ clothes and Megan (age 10) is in charge of the girls’.  The younger siblings help, but ultimately the putting away of the laundry is their responsibility.  Micah (age 2) has his hanging clothes in my walk-in closet, and Garin (age 5 months) has all his clothes in my closet.  Blake is responsible for putting these away as well.

And the process starts all over again…

This is very different from my shelf and basket system, but the more we settle into this house, the more acutely aware I am of how very different homes can be and how you must adjust accordingly.  And honestly, it has been kind of fun to revamp our lives!

{And since we are talking laundry, let me point you in the direction of an awesome blog for all things laundry from a dear friend of mine…Lauren at Mama’s Laundry Talk.  She has a post on different methods of sorting laundry, and also WHY you should organize your laundry room – just in case you needed some motivation!  I know I’ve mentioned Mama’s Laundry Talk before, but it deserved being mentioned again because the laundry and the laundry room itself are often difficult for us moms, and Lauren’s posts are just the kind of energy shot we need to stay on top of Mount Washmore! }

Creative Storage Solutions for Children’s Clothes – Guest Post

Today, I have the express pleasure of introducing you to Lauren from Mama’s Laundry Talk. I met Lauren at the Savvy Blogging Summit this summer and was immediately drawn to her sweet spirit and her heart for the Lord.  Lauren runs an amazing site that deals entirely with laundry!  Everything from folding how-to’s to stain removal can be found on her blog.  Truly an awesome resource for moms!  Today, Lauren shares great ways to store clothes when you are lacking space.  As a mommy of *almost* 4 children, you’ll find her solutions creative and easy to implement.

There are many reasons you might have to get creative when it comes to storing folded clothes: not enough dressers, not enough floor space for dressers, small closets, a smaller house and a growing family to name a few.

So what do you do if you don€™t have a designated dresser for each person in your family? Here are a few suggestions to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Have your children share a dresser.When my 2 oldest children started to share a room, it seemed only logical that they also share a dresser.  Thankfully, their clothes are still small enough at 3 and 5 years old that they easily fit in the drawers.  Everything fits fairly well except socks.  To counteract that battle, I purchased one cheap plastic bin for each child where they store their socks.  The bins fit easily on the closet shelf.

  • If you have ample closet space, hang most of their clothes. If you are blessed with tons of hanging room, then by all means skip the folding and go straight to hanging!  If you are able to implement this method, you can easily group clothes together €“ special outfits or matching sets.  This way children know exactly what shirt goes with which pair of pants or skirt.  And the hanging method greatly reduces wrinkles and messy drawers.  All mamas love that, right?
  • Utilize unconventional spaces and think outside the box. Maybe there are a few nightstand drawers that could be emptied and used for clothing storage.  Under-the-bed storage boxes might be acceptable for older children capable of rolling the box in and out.  Do you have an enormous linen closet or laundry room?  Maybe you could assign each child a shelf as their own to store and manage their clothes.  If you feel stuck without storage options, look around your house with a fresh eye. Look specifically for those spots where clothing storage might be an option.  It€™s often helpful to refine our focus to see storage places miraculously appear.

  • Invest in portable storage. Sterilite has a huge selection of portable dressers on wheels.  Also, browse around online at places like The Container Store or Ikea for ideas on portable dressers and storage.  This might be a great solution, especially if the storage is needed for smaller clothes.  Obviously this is not a great idea for a 12 year old boy, as his jeans would never fit into one of those (although his socks and underwear would).  But it can certainly be helpful for the 5 and under crowd.
  • Purge as many clothes as you can.If your children have a lot of clothes to start with, it can make your storage space seem even smaller.  Seriously consider how many outfits each child really needs.  If you have tons of extra, find a family who loves hand-me-downs or give them to Goodwill.  It is freeing to pare down clothes to only what is needed and you won€™t believe how big your closet seems after you€™re finished!

I utilize several of these solutions in my current laundry routine.  Until I am able to implement my biggest laundry dream of creating a family closet, these storage solutions will have to suffice!

What kind of creative storage solutions do you have for children€™s clothes? Share your ideas in the comments!

Lauren Hill is the €˜Mama€™ behind Mama€™s Laundry Talk.  She is blessed with a fantastic husband and three little people with a new one due in November.  Lauren blogs about all things laundry, including finding a laundry routine, weekly detergent deals and how to make your laundry life easier!

Homemade Laundry Detergent

Note to reader:  I have changed how I make my detergent.  That post can be seen here with detailed instructions and a cost breakdown: Homemade Liquid Laundry Detergent Gets and Upgrade


I pretty much love all things homemade!  I love the feeling of industry and resourcefulness that comes from making something myself for cheaper than I could have bought it at the store.

Many years ago, my mom bought me the Reader’s Digest Homemade book (mine is the older version of the one in the link).  That’s where my homemade hand soap recipe came from.  There is a laundry detergent recipe in there as well, but it tells you to use 1/2 a cup per load which just doesn’t seem economical to me.

After searching for a more economical laundry soap, I came across a recipe from TheFamilyHomestead.com. (she has an excellent cost breakdown on there too!) For years this was the recipe I used:
1/3 bar of pure soap
1/2 c. washing soda
1/2 c. borax
(& sometimes I added a few drops of essential oil as well)
1.5 – 2 gallon container with lid (I used a plastic tub)

Grate the soap. (I use my Bosch Slicer/Shredder and do the entire bar or more on a fine shred.)

Put 1/3 of a bar into a saucepan.  Add 6 c. of water and heat on low until soap melts.

Add washing soda & borax.  Stir until dissolved.  Remove from heat.

Add your essential oil here if you like.

Pour 4 c. hot water into the 2 gallon container, add soap mixture, and stir.  Now add 1 gallon + 6 cups (22 cups) of water and stir.

Let sit for 24 hours to gel.  Can be poured into an old liquid detergent container and used the same way you would your usual liquid detergent.

**However, there are some drawbacks to this recipe**

1. It’s not ready right away.
2. It can get messy because it is liquid.
3. I often didn’t feel like my clothes were really getting clean. (not that they weren’t, but I often felt like the soap had too much water in it.)

So, recently via Twitter, I came across the Dugger family’s recipe for powder laundry detergent and decided to give that a go.  So far, I am quite pleased!  Here’s that recipe:

1 bar pure soap (Fels-Naptha, castille, etc)
1 c. washing soda
1/2 c. borax
medium-sized container with lid

Grate soap (as shown in previous recipe).

Place soap in container.  Add washing soda & borax.  Mix well.

Use 1 Tbsp per load or 2 Tbsp per load for heavily soiled clothing.

**Things I like about this recipe**

1. No wait time.  I ran out of soap this morning.  I made some up and could use it right away.
2. No mess.
3. Psychologically, *I* feel as though my clothes are really getting clean. ;)

Looking for more laundry detergent recipes?  Head over to MamasLaundryTalk.com (she’s hosting a link up on Friday…don’t miss it!)

Enjoyed this tutorial?  Perhaps you’d like to make your own Baby Wipes Solution?  Or maybe some Playdough for the kiddos?  Or maybe you just want to know more about Laundry in a larger-than-average family!  Whatever you’re looking for, enjoy your visit!