Large Family Laundry Solutions

Several months ago, I asked on my Facebook page what one thing my readers found extremely difficult about homemaking. Laundry made the top 3.  Not surprising.

In a large family, laundry is mega-sized.  The typical organization advice to do laundry once or twice a week, or even to do one load of laundry a day is laughable (and slightly maddening) to the large family mom.  That’s why I put together this mega post on large family laundry solutions with systems I’ve used and systems other large family bloggers have written about on their blogs.

Time to tackle Mt. Washmore!

Large Family Laundry Solutions {mega post} |

1.  Teaching Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry – This is the system we currently use.  It keeps me from doing all the laundry by myself.  In a large family, it isn’t ALL the kids doing their own laundry, but older children assigned to do certain “groups” of laundry.  Read the post, it will make more sense. 😉

2.  Room-by-Room Laundry System – This is how I managed the laundry when the washer and dryer were located in the hallway.  It is a good system to have in play when you don’t have the luxury of a laundry room.

3.  Shelf & Basket Laundry System – This was the system we used when there were a few less children in the house and the laundry room was in the basement.

4. Individual Laundry Bags – This system uses no sorting and a pop-up laundry bag for each child.

5.  A Larger Shelf & Basket System – This large family mom still uses a shelf & basket system effectively.  She also mentions how having large capacity machines save her time.  I agree with this (you can read about our large family washer here).

6.  Mega-Family Laundry System – This post has tons of great tips from a mom of 15, including how to only wash towels once a week, and the idea of creating a sock station.

7.  Large Family, Small Laundry Room – This post is a detailed explanation of how a family of 11 manages to keep up with the laundry.

8.  Simplified Large Family Laundry Routine – Don’t miss the link to her Family Closet post!

9.  Laundry Closet – This is a different take on the “Family Closet” idea – a wooden shelved closet with baskets to keep things organized.

10.  Laundry Hacks for the Large family – including color-coded laundry baskets and a community sock drawer!

11. Laundry Tubs –  Really great post that gives a lot of ideas, including the use of tubs to sort.  I’d also encourage you to read about her “dot system”.

Large Family Laundry Solutions {mega post} |

12.  Using the Washer as Your Hamper – This post has a lot of neat ideas for your laundry room too!

13.  Large Family Laundry Tips from Huffington Post – Great list of large family laundry hacks aggregated by Huff Post.

14.  Large Family Laundry at the Laundry Mat – This post is focused on how to catch up with the laundry when it has grown beyond your control, but I know there are large families who have to use the laundry mat on a regular basis.

15.  Laundry as a Timer – This mom of 4 does her laundry at night and cleans while she waits on the dryer.  She got the idea from another mom who does the same thing at 5 in the morning.

16.  Five Laundry Hacks from a Large-ish Family – includes how she reduced the number of clothing the children own to help out with the amount of laundry she has to do.

17.  Grand Laundry Station – Tour of one large family mom’s laundry room and system.

18.  Laundry Tips from a Household of 12 – This post has some good suggestions for getting it all done, including finding a place to fold that works for you and teaching all ages and abilities to put away their own laundry.

19.  Video Tour of Family Closet – Stephanie from Keeper of the Home transformed the master bedroom closet into a Family Closet.

20.  Simplifying the Laundry Process with Simplified Sorting – This mom brought her sorting to a super simple level – rags, items that need to be washed separately, and everything else!

21.  Mama’s Laundry Talk Pinterest Board for Laundry Routines

Large Family Laundry Solutions {mega post} |

22.  Detailed Laundry Routine – Every day of the week has a specific purpose for the laundry.

23.  2 Washers, 2 Dryers & a Laundry Counter – What a blessing!

24.  Duggar Family Laundry Room Video Tour – Had to throw it in – a girl can dream, can’t she?

Large Family Hacks - learn the little things that make their homes run smoother! |

Click here to read more Large Family Hacks!

Upgrading to a Large Family Washer

Having the right tools for the job is such a blessing!  I love this washer and the work it can do! |

Our washer died shortly before our move in November.  Ty decided we would buy a new washer this time – a big step for us!

Our first washer/dryer set was purchased used from my great uncle’s appliance shop about 15 years ago.  When it cratered, we bought a set from my mom’s elderly neighbor lady who was moving to assisted living.  She probably washed a load every 2 weeks.  We used to joke about how that poor old washer and dryer never saw the likes of us!  It lasted us about 10 years.  In fact, the dryer is still going strong (my understanding is dryers can almost always be fixed fairly inexpensively…washers, not so much).

The washer Ty came home with that day has been such a blessing, I wanted to share with you my experiences upgrading to a true large family washer!

Upgrading to a Large Family Washer |

We purchased a Fisher & Paykel WashSmart top-load washer.  Fisher & Paykel wasn’t a brand we were familiar with, but the gentleman who owned the appliance store explained that for the money, this brand was good quality and would do well for our size of family.

The selling point for Ty was the fact that it spins out the clothes at 1100 RPM, leaving less work for our dryer.  When the clothes come out of the washer, they are markedly less damp.  We’ve cut our drying time by about 20 minutes.  Many large families will invest in a second dryer to keep up with the rate of washing; however, there is no need to do that when you’re clothes don’t need as much time to dry.  (You can adjust how fast the clothes spin out if you do not want them to go that fast.)

Upgrading to a Large Family Washer |

The selling point for me was the size of the wash basin – a 22 pound capacity!  The basin is HUGE!  Every time I go to do laundry, I am amazed at just how much I can fit in there!

It is also super easy to add the detergent.  You fill the basin to the line on the agitator and add the detergent to the hole in the center.  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Oh, and if you don’t have a super mega load of laundry in there, you can always ask the machine to determine how much is in there and automatically adjust the water height.

The entire console is digital and very easy to use.  Nearly every load only requires me to push 2 buttons – Power and Start.

We love this machine so much, you are probably going to get to see it if you drop by the house for a visit!  We are weird like that.

One reason I’ve had laundry on the brain lately is because our laundry schedule has been all out of whack since the move.  Remember, I told you I had the kids doing their own laundry.  Well, somehow the chaos of moving caused me to go into survival mode and *I* ended up doing ALL the laundry every single day.  Thankfully, the new washer made this a fairly painless event.  (Except the putting away!  Will I ever learn to enjoy that part?)  But, frankly, this isn’t an ideal situation when you have 10 people to cook, clean, and wash for.  This past weekend, I printed off a new laundry sheet and we got back to our old way of washing.  Yay!

Do you have a large family friendly washer and/or dryer?  Please share your experiences!

Teaching Your Kids to Do Their Own Laundry

Teaching Kids to Do Their Own Laundry |

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! }