Thursday, August 22, 2013

Kids on the Field: Laundry

Ok, my kids don't do the laundry (and it will be many a year before they can), but I am struck today as I stare at loads of it 1.  How much laundry children make 2.  How many stains they make and 3.  How I haven't truly haven't hit on a  good working "system" for our laundry yet.  So, while it's a bit of a divergence from directly talking about kids, as a friend of mine who is living in Honduras said, "Sometimes laundry just needs to be discussed!" 

So, Point Number One: The Sheer Amount of Laundry

What in the world?  I swear I try to keep on top of my kids, not letting them change 6 times a day and all that, but it's like I put the clothes in the drawers and some time in the middle of the night those nicely washes and neatly folded clothes somehow make their way into the dirty clothes baskets.  And I only have 3 kids!  Some of you rock stars with 4 and 5  and on up!  Anybody got a good solution for this clean clothes to dirty clothes migration?

Point Number Two:  Stains
Sigh.  I just folded about three loads of laundry and half of the load still had stains on it!  I think I am bad at catching them before I wash said clothing, but I also don't have a good solution for stains.  I do have the luxury of being able to buy a North American laundry detergent (saves the clothes, some) but these Boy stains...anybody got any great, easily recreated stain solution? 

And Point Number Three: A System
Now, I know that I am blessed beyond measure in that I have a washer and a dryer!!  But there still is the constant stream of laundry and the hanging things on the line like diapers and kitchen linens.  And then there is the folding and getting things to their actually locations where they are suppose to live (not just hanging out in a laundry basket at the base of the stairs.)  I have hit on the idea of each member of the family having their own laundry basket, with their name on it, so they, with help at this point, can start to put their own clothes away.  It also helps my husband know who's is who's because at this point, our two big guys wear almost the same size.  But other than that, I feel like I am still sorta fumbling around.  Anybody got a stellar laundry system?  SHARE!!

Bonus Point:  My Best Tip
I have found that during rainy season, our clothes can start to smell because it can take 4 days on the line to dry.  I discovered last year two things that help kill the smell, tea tree oil (hard to come by I know) and rubbing alcohol! (lots easier to come by!)  Put a couple of tablespoons of rubbing alcohol in your wash and it will help kill that funky smell!

So, what are your best laundry tips?  Anybody got a good solution for this clean clothes to dirty clothes migration?  Anybody got any great, easily recreated stain solution? Anybody got a stellar laundry system?  SHARE!!


  1. I don't havae any stain removing tips, and I'll be reading to see if others do 'cause I need all the help I can get.

    But what works for me is to do one load of laundry a day, it's my daily routine, just aload of whatever's most abundant in the laundry basket. (whites, towels, jeans, etc.) I do it without thinking and it's part of my routine...So I never have "laundry day."

    1. yeah, I've been trying that, but then I still seem to have to take a day and fold you fold the same day or wait?

  2. Hang things out in the sun to bleach stains! Seriously, it works... Sometimes it may take a few days, though. Otherwise I use an oxygen bleach stain remover.

    1. Oh, and it might sound crazy, but it even works on those rainy overcast days. :) As I said, just takes a little longer.

    2. nope, doesn't sound crazy at all!! I do that with the cloth diapers and it's amazing, but I haven't had much luck with coloreds...although I just talked to a Tica friend today and she said leave the on the line for days on maybe...

    3. Yep, I had to leave some of my coloured things in our conservatory on a rainy day. Took about a week or so. :) I imagine the clothes line out in the rain would be the same thing.

  3. My divided hamper is my lifesaver when it comes to laundry. When we put our dirty clothes into the hamper, we put them into one of the three sections: sheets/blankets, darks, or lights. (until recently we didn't have hot water for our washer, so we didn't need to sort according to that). Our dirty towels go in a plastic basket on the back porch so I can throw kitchen cloths and towels in there, too. This way, when I see that one of the hamper sections is full, I grab it and throw it in the wash. I do at least one load of laundry daily if needed, and fold them as soon as they are dry (usually!). This is the system I've used since we got married and I seriously get panicky about laundry when I don't have my divided hamper! (like when I was on furlough!)

    For stains - pretreating and soaking overnight before washing works well. For stubborn ones, asking a local friend for help is great; I'm convinced Ticas know all the tricks for getting stains out!

    1. hahah! I really do thing they do...I did invest the 250 colones (about 50 cents USD) today for that notorious blue bar soap today at Palí...vamos a ver!

  4. I just wanted to add, laundry now seems so much easier after we got an actual automatic washing machine (rather than the "semi-automatic" one we add at first, or after we had to wash everything for hand for a while b/c our new house didn't have a place to hook up a washing machine! It's all about perspective, right!?

    1. oh my word yes!!! And I know I have such blessings in that I have a washer, AND a dryer AND hot water to the washer!!! God is too good :)

  5. we do a lot of laundry around my house... but some tips/things we do?
    1. let 'em run around with as little clothing as is appropriate for your setting.
    2. when they were little, i set our laundry baskets up in an easily accessible place and each one sorted 1) towels and underwear, 2)light colors, 3)dark colors
    3. vinegar works as a fabric softener
    4. lemon juice also helps with stains - but will bleach
    5. another stain strategy - i'd fill some plastic tubs with water, get a bar of hard soap (which is what our african friends used for their laundry). soak the clothes all night the night before and then put the kids to work scrubbing their own stains. sometimes it would soak soapy for another day and then scrub again a second day. that could turn into a great water fight and lots of fun, too.
    6. by the age of two or three, littles could help fold wash cloths, dish cloths, underwear, socks and put that away. they could also help sort people's clothes into piles and carry that to their own beds to put away.
    7. around age 8 (or as soon as they were tall enough to start operating the washing machine), they start learning to do their own laundry. we make a big deal of it as a growing up step, they get their own laundry basket and for a period of time, we did have an assigned laundry day. as more started doing their own laundry, that got a little more complicated and i always left a large basket for towels and wet stuff that i'd take care of.
    8. we kept a stool out by the laundry line to hang clothes so even the littles could help. (of course, i had to accept that sometimes it would be a bit wadded or wrinkled ;-)
    9. i also partnered the kids. once my oldest was doing a good job with his laundry, he became responsible for his little brother's. and when they first started doing their own laundry, they have been partnered with an older sibling.
    10. on crazy busy laundry days, everything would end up dumped on my bed and i'd just leave it there until the littles were in bed. then i'd often fold it lay it outside the appropriate rooms for the kids to put away before school in the morning.
    11. when they were little, i kept play clothes and nicer stuff in separate places.
    12. sometimes, when it comes to clothes, less is more. 6 or 7 things that they wear all the time until it is worn out and then bring more stuff out was a great thing especially when they were really little and then again when they started doing their own laundry.

    i must confess, though - i'm one of those strange ones who LOVES laundry... so i've never found it drudgery or a painful thing. that... and washing dishes. i love both!

  6. I also do a load a day and it is a family chore. When the kids were little and we were overrun with laundry I only washed on cold, that way everything could be washed together. Nowadays our laundry is a little more mild and so I do a load of cold and a load of hot but I don't separate beyond that. Jeans and towels get washed together. Pinks and yellow do as well.

    Anyhow, I put the load in and then anyone can unload into the laundry basket. My husband and I will take the basket to the roof where anyone available will help hang the clothes on the line. My husband or I will take off the clothes and make piles belonging to individual family members. the piles get put on the ends of beds where each person can put them away.

    We do have bouts of rainy times when the system gets out of whack but the main part of the system (laundry every day, and everyone helps) remains intact. As an aside, my kids were putting away their own laundry by the age of 3-4. To make this easier I had clearly labeled drawers and a lower hanging rod. I also made sure that they only had enough clothes that would fit easily inside a dresser drawer. An overstuffed drawer is too hard for an adult to deal with- impossible for a preschooler.