I'm lucky to have a pretty functional laundry room space--thanks largely to Mark and his Dad. Skip installed the shallow shelf above the washer and dryer. Mark added the big counter top that gives me work space and--more important--prevents stuff from falling down into the abyss between machines. Mark also installed the hanging rod across the room so I can hang his work shirts straight out of the dryer (and use that as an excuse to never iron them).
Here's how I run our laundry system:
- Marathon style. Laundry for a largish family is a marathon, not a sprint. I do laundry every day. Even if I do only one load (and the kids do one, see below), we'll never get too far behind.
|The chalkboard ovals to label the bins seemed like such a fun idea but ended up being ridiculously hard to execute.|
- Buckets. Oh, it's all about the storage containers. On one side of my little laundry room are six dirty-clothes buckets for whites, towels, jeans, colors, lights, and kitchen (this is for damp rags and cloth napkins, which we use a lot of). On the other side, above the washer and dryer are ten clean-laundry buckets, one for each kid, one for Mark and I, one for kitchen laundry, one for clothes to give away, and one for outgrown things that need to be stored in their proper container.
- Fold it. In my experience, caching dry laundry leads only to sadness. And children rooting through piles like feral pigs. I stand in the laundry room and fold laundry straight out of the dryer and into the kids' clean buckets.
- Enlist the kids. My kids are responsible for bringing the contents of their bedroom hampers to the laundry room and sorting them into the proper dirty buckets. And then for taking the contents of their clean buckets back up to their rooms. In addition, the kid with basement as their zone is in charge of "shuffling" the laundry once a day. That entails folding the contents of the dryer, drying what's in the washer, and starting a new load. This has been a big help in keeping up on top of the laundry situation.
(I have a friend who made a point of never putting her husband's clean laundry away for him. She'd wash, dry, and fold it, then leave the little stack on his bed for him. She felt it was important to leave that bit of the cycle in his hands. Not a bad idea, I think.)