Monday, 22 February 2016

Keeping Laundry "Up to Date"

When I ask people what they think defines a domestic goddess, one of the things that comes up again and again is "up to date laundry." I can definitely relate to that one, nothing seems to suck the life out of you like a whole mountain of dirty clothes and nothing left to wear!

Laundry can seem never ending. In fact, it is never ending. If your definition of being up to date is an empty laundry basket then I hate to tell you this but you are doomed to failure. Even if you have done every scrap of laundry your family are still wearing clothes. Those clothes are not clean and at the end of the day at least some of them will go in the laundry basket. That is just inescapable, unless you become full time nudists. And even then there will be bedsheets and towels.

When I finally realised that fact I changed my definition of "up to date." Now I fully expect there to be some dirty laundry in the house. That's absolutely fine, it's meant to be there. The question is how much there should be, and that depends on the system that works for you. Some people like to have a laundry day once a week. They get it all done and then forget about it for six days. I suspect that works best if you are at home during the week and have a separate tumble drier. That way you can spend a day transferring loads from one machine to the other every few hours and get a lot done. After that you are up to date, no matter how full the basket is, it gets done on laundry day.

That system doesn't work for me. I don't have room for a separate tumble drier for a start and I really can't picture a whole week's worth of laundry draped over clothes horses! For a long time I tried to do a load a day, or whenever I thought it needed doing, and hang it up to dry. That tended to go astray since I would come home after a long day at work and forget to hang things up. So, in an attempt to save electricity by not tumble drying I would actually end up washing the same load three times! Not very effective.

My next system was to do a load each day and set it to automatically wash and tumble, since I have a machine that does both. I would put the laundry in before I went to work and set it on a delay so that it would finish in the evening. That way if there was a leak or other problem it wouldn't be running all day in an empty house, but I also wouldn't forget to turn it on. All I had to do was put the clean clothes away. This system worked! Clearly I need the laziest option.

The final puzzle piece is my new laundry basket. I'm so pleased with it, which is a little ridiculous since it is only a laundry basket after all! The problem I found was that I often couldn't really see how much dirty laundry there was, or I didn't have time to sort it out in the morning. My pet hate was those times I thought there wasn't much only to discover that someone had put things straight into the machine, or even worse on the floor in front of it. Suddenly when I thought I had one load to do it turned out there were three! I tried different baskets but they never really got used the way I had intended. This one, on the other hand, is perfect.

See the three baskets, each marked by a different colour? I needed three. One for lights, one for darks and one for things needing special care. If it's woollen or can't be tumble dried it goes in the third basket. Luckily we don't usually have too many of those! Each section holds one load of laundry, so you don't have to judge if their is enough or not, if it's getting full it's ready to go. Then you just lift that section out and take it straight to the machine. No sorting or transferring between baskets needed. First thing in the morning, when I'm in the bathroom anyway, I just glance at the baskets and grab whichever one is looking full, tip it straight into the machine and come back later to find it all clean and dry. Couldn't be easier. If none of them are very full, which happens more and more often now that I'm keeping up, I might grab the towels or dressing gowns instead.

So, right now I'd say that I am up to date with the laundry even if it isn't all clean. I have:
  • Clean clothes for everyone to wear
  • No toppling piles anywhere
  • Less than a load in each basket
  • One load done today
That, for me, is a win!

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