I have this love/hate relationship with laundry. When I was in junior high school, my mom threw my soaking-in-bleach-so-they-would-be-perfectly-white Keds in the washing machine with my entirely-black-my-dad-always-asked-me-if-I-was-the-VietKong load of clothes. (My family is, um, interesting. You'll see.)
Sometimes I think she did it on purpose. You know, screw it up, then no one will want you to do it again?
After that I always did all of my own laundry. (See how smart my mom is?)
Then I wanted money, so I started doing laundry for our entire family of seven. My mom paid me so ridiculously cheaply. If I'd known then the burden I was taking from her, I could have demanded, and gotten, more. But what did I know?
I did put to use all the spreadsheet-keeping skills I was learning in high school accounting, however. Mom was notorious for not actually paying up unless you presented her with a detailed invoice. I learned about invoicing from my dad who would have me clean his company car or type up his illegible letters and then tell me if I wanted to be paid I had to invoice him. (This is really true!) I wonder if he kept the invoice and wrote it off?
What was my point? Oh yes, the laundry. I love clean laundry. I love doing laundry perfectly. I am not really a perfectionist anymore, but I do love me some well-done laundry. Mmmm…laundry.
I have all kinds of secrets:
Want whiter whites? Soak them overnight with detergent and color-safe bleach, then finish the load in the morning. Rinse (or wash all the way through) again with no more soap, and dry. You'll be bedazzled!
Want your darks to stay dark? KEEP THEM OUT OF THE DRYER. Or, if you must, air dry only just enough to fluff the wrinkles out, and then hang everything up to dry. And by hang, I don't mean drape shirts over shower rods or clotheslines. I mean, hang on hangers, exactly the way you want to put them away. They will dry perfectly pressed, and putting away is a snap. JUST HANG!
I hang anything I can get away with hanging, including socks and underwear. (Though those are not hung to be put away, just making sure that is clear.) It seems the only things that don't like being hung are towels, just because they go a little crunchy. But if you can hang them outside and they dry with that clean sunshine smell, it's worth any amount of crunchiness. I'd rather have a clean, absorbent, crunchy towel than a fake-smell-soaked non-absorbing towel any day. You can also half dry towels and then hang them outside to disinfect in the sun and clean air, or you can hang them outside from the beginning and then fluff them in the dryer after.
This reminds me, fabric softeners are the devil. Just walking by them in the store gives me the hives, I think. They are just nasty chemicals that can attract dirt faster and make towels less absorbent. AVOID. I do love dryer balls, and admit I think there are at least six of them in my dryer right now. It seems with dryer balls the truth is, the more the merrier.
Speaking of hives, less is more when it comes to detergent and the scents and stuff in them. If you suffer from dry, itchy, irritated skin, or your kids do, consider to switching to some kind of free-and-clear detergent or double rinse your clothes. You may be surprised at the difference. If my sheets or pajamas are washed in itchy detergent I will scratch my legs in my sleep to the point of, well, pain. But I'm asleep, so what do I know? It's just a bad thing. Also avoid!
One more thing, towels? Don't wash them with anything except towels. Your clothes will wear out faster with towels agitating with them and the difference in texture just does nasty things to the look of your clothes. That and it seems that people who mix towels with clothes also seem to not sort by color (don't go insane, just darks, lights, whites if you have enough, and reds/pinks if you have enough. With two girls, I really do have a pink/red load.) Oh, you are allowed to wash towels with sheets.
And finally, the cardinal rule of laundry: do not let your clothes sit in the washing machine overnight or longer. They will mildew and smell disgusting. Sometimes just rewashing won't get the smell out and you'll have to resort to adding baking soda, tea tree oil, lavender oil, or something I had to do to a wash of super-light clothes I accidentally let sit all weekend: soak and wash again with a teensy bit of *gasp* bleach! Rewashing them didn't get That Smell out. I had to take measures. Don't be me. I don't want to admit how many times I've had to re-wash laundry because I've let it mildew in the machine.
At this point I have two questions for you:
1. Aren't you glad I'm not policing your laundry washing?
2. Don't you wish I was washing for you?
So what is my problem? Why am I having a laundry problem right now? I think I don't have enough hangers. And I'm lazy when it comes to folding and putting away. Most of my laundry is clean, at least the laundry the kids have brought me is clean. (That is another entry entirely.) And I seem to not be here all the time. I guess really the answer is, I'm not in a routine. Routine is king. Routine and hangers.
See, I am full of awesome laundry tips. I do need me a better routine. And until then, a laundry party. Wanna come help?
Or I could do what one of my friends did. She has a dozen children. Literally. A dozen. She's amazing. But one day the laundry was so bad, and she was so sick of everything the way we all get sometimes. You know what she did?
She got a bunch of big black garbage bags.
And she threw it all away.