Thursday, January 24, 2008

Saving Time on Laundry

As I've been carting loads and loads of laundry back and forth to the laundry room (in the absolutely frigid hallway!) I have been thinking a lot about the pioneer gals who had it so much harder than we do. I sure am thankful we don't have to boil pots of water over a stove we have to keep stoking in order to do laundry. I'm thankful we don't have to rig up clotheslines in our tiny home in the winter (though we did do this back when we lived in a farmhouse without a dryer) and I am thankful I don't have to scrub all of the laundry by hand (especially cloth diapers and my husband's filthy work clothes). Thinking about laundry has made me realize how wasteful I can be in this area and how I can cut corners and save both time and resources on this big part of my life as a mom. If I was a pioneer woman, you can bet that one drip of milk on my dress wouldn't cause me to launder the whole thing! My kids would learn quickly to be more careful and put their bibs/aprons on before eating EVERY time! I would do a lot more spot-cleaning instead of full-fledged washing! Let's face it: Today, we Americans live a life of ease and comfort and we are extremely wasteful in so many areas. With another baby on the way who will no doubt contribute stacks to our laundry piles, here are some things I want to consider implementing:

*Wear an apron daily in the kitchen when cooking to preserve my dresses better

*In the winter, as it's not hot and sticky and I don't sweat, wear shirts for two days in a row if possible.

*Teach my daughter to stop changing her shirt every time there is a drip of water on it. Teach her to roll up her sleeves EVERY TIME she washes her hands to prevent wet sleeves!

*Make my skirts stretch 3 days of wearing instead of 2.

*Cut back to using one baby washcloth per day instead of 4-6 (for meal clean-up).

*Cut back on the number of clothes we have. The kids especially, thanks to endless hand-me-downs from folks at church, have way more clothes than they need. If I cut down to the essentials I have less sorting and putting away and less to store and manage.

We already:

*Each have a bath towel which we hang on our hook and use for the whole week

*Launder sheets only about once a month unless someone has an accident

*Try to save pajamas for at least a few night's wearings before washing

*Have certain clothes for certain occasions. Play clothes, work clothes, paint shirts, very fancy church outfits, etc.

Cloth diapers add very little extra laundry for me since I rinse thoroughly and just wash them with the kids' regular clothing. They save so much and save on garbage output too!

My goal for this year is to learn to either make laundry detergent or find a very cost-effective, but more natural, laundry detergent. We don't like the overpowering scents in most laundry detergents and I want to use something that is biodegradable and "green."

Of course with kids, there will always be plenty of laundry. Even my best attempts at re-wearing clothes may fail as I get spit up on, leak milk, get wet on, or get covered in strained baby carrots or throw-up. But if I am consciously trying to conserve in the area of clothing, it will no doubt end up saving me time and money!


Josh & Laura Helweg said...

Hey Lindsey,
I love your thoughts on conserving laundry. One of the ways I help save my laundry time is everyone in our family gets only 1 load per week done. (With the exception of Josh..carpentry is messy!) That way, I know to try and re-wear my clothes, or Leah's to make them last til next week.
I like what you said about getting rid of clothes. I really need to do that, for Leah and myself!
As for messes, I use one-two washcloths per week for clean-up, and one for Leah per week. It keeps the towel load down!
Great thinking on conserving!

the momma said...

great thoughts!

could you please e-mail me ( so I can e-mail you - I need your expertise (again :-)

thanks!!! Tracy

Mrs. Taft said...

I like biokleen laundry detergent. Green, concentrated, and cheap.

I'm with you on the aprons and the wearing shirts more than once! I don't think I could do the one-towel-a-week thing, but we do reuse our towels at least once. :) And we re-wear our pajamas for several nights too. :)

Are you skirts and dresses only?

Mrs. Jo said...

Mrs. Taft,
Where do you buy biokleen? How much does it cost?

Some people must think I'm skirts and dresses only, but I'm not! My husband loves when I wear jeans but I'm sure some people think he "makes me" wear dresses when he really doesn't. I have always loved dresses and feel more feminine in them and so I wear them most of the time. I find dresses and jumpers and skirts to be comfy, easy to sew or find in thrift stores, and I feel a bit more dressed up in them. I also just look better in them too as pants make me look fatter most of the time! So, that's why I wear skirts and dresses but I don't think all women have to and in fact some of my best friends are the types that would almost NEVER wear a dress!

Mrs. Taft said...

I buy mine at a grocery store, although you can buy it online. Most natural food stores or co-ops that I know of carry it, and some of the "higher end" grocery stores do too. I don't know what to recommend specifically as I don't know your area at all.

I like skirts and dresses too, and also feel more feminine. Way comfier in my opinion :D. In the summer I pretty much exclusively wear them to stay cool. My girls prefer to wear skirts and dresses too. :)

Thia said...

What you said about play clothes, church clothing etc is important. On the days that we are just home, I wear some older clothes, so that if something spills on them, I don't have to run off and change immediately, b/c it's okay if it stains a bit. I learned this from my son who tends to bump his nose A LOT and will bleed a bit. One little spot of blood can ruin a shirt, but I am not going to put my hurting baby down to change, so I wear older stuff that I don't need to worry about. If we go out, I change as soon as I come home. Keeps my nice stuff nicer.

Anonymous said...

I completely understand where you're coming from regarding our irresponsible behavior with laundering clothing, having too much clothing, and using products that are harsh on our environment. In my quest to simplify, I have begun simplifying my wardrobe, and that of my 6-year old daughter's, and making my own laundry detergent. Here is my simple recipe for homemade laundry soap and my family has given it the thumbs up!
1 bar of Fels-Naptha soap (grated)
1 C. Borax
1 C. A&H Washing Soda
Just mix these ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Use 1 tablespoon per load as this is a highly concentrated detergent - more for your husband's work clothing or highly stained clothes.
Hope this helps, Carol Ann

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