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Remember those pre-kids days, when laundry was just so…easy? You know, when you would come home from work one night, casually do the laundry over the next day or so, and you were done for the week?
Enter the laundry monsters…THE BABIES!
You know…those cute, chubby, innocent little people who have these magical powers to destroy anything they wear with spit up, poop, pureed carrots, and more.
And anyone who tells you it gets easier as they get older is flat out lying…at least when it comes to laundry (after all…those cute little spit-upped-on onesies eventually get replaced with stinky, sweaty sports clothes)!
With that, let me give you six real-life, practical family laundry management tips when you have kids.
1-) Forget “laundry day”
Alright, who decided that the concept of “laundry day” was a good idea? Really, people. When you have kids spills and stains happen every day. And I know I’m not the only mom whose kid got ketchup all over their shirt and so I just decided to start a whole load of laundry right then and there…
So, if you have a system that revolves around a single day but you a-) find yourself doing laundry more than that day because there’s too many clothes or b-) aren’t getting stains out/clothes clean because they’ve been sitting around for a week, it’s time to change your system.
Exception: If you don’t have your own washer and dryer, having a set laundry day makes sense because running back and forth to the laundromat is time-consuming!
Personally, I do at least a load every day. Trust me, it sounds worse than it is. Read the next tip to find out why..
2-) Use the delay setting
Almost everyone I know will run their dishwasher overnight, but almost no one I know takes advantage of the delay setting on their washer to do laundry overnight.
Unless you got loads of time (pun intended) on your hands, you should be using that setting! Put a load of laundry in and delay start it so the clothes are done washing within a few hours of you waking up. Then while your morning coffee is brewing throw them in the dryer. Poof! One load of laundry done for the day!
3-) Make the kids help
OK, any kiddo under the age of one is exempt from this rule. But beyond that, kids contribute dirty clothes so they should help with clean laundry.
Adjust their laundry responsibility based on their age. For example, I just make Little Grasshopper practice putting his laundry away by giving him one article of clothing at a time and asking him to put it in his dresser. But a teen boy who has to wash his football uniform regularly is completely capable of learning how to wash the uniform himself (with your guidance, of course!)
4-) Keep the machine clean
Here’s the thing…if your washing machine is dirty your clothes can’t get 100% clean. At least once a month make sure you clean your washer according to the manufacturer’s directions (Affresh works great if you have a whirlpool or newer Maytag). This is especially important if you have an HE machine because they use less water! A clean machine means you’re less likely to feel the need to wash your kids clothes a second (or third…) time because they didn’t come out looking clean the first time!
5-) Don’t let stains set
Back in the days when Little Grasshopper was an infant we lived in a one-bedroom apartment and didn’t have our own washer and dryer. As a result I struggled getting stains out of his clothes because I didn’t want to pay to wash loads of laundry that weren’t full. But eventually I got smart…
You see, stains are a MUCH bigger pain to get out if you let them dry. In fact, probably 95% of the stain removal “tricks” aren’t even necessary if we deal with them right away.
What should you do then? As soon as your kids stain an article of clothing, rinse it and put it in a bucket of warm water with a small amount of detergent. Simply leave the stained clothing in the bucket until you’re ready to do the wash. Keeping the stain wet helps prevent it from setting into the clothes, which makes removing it a whole lot easier!
6-) Keep a “special care” list handy
We all have those few articles of clothing (or handmade blankets, scarves, etc.) that need special care when it comes to laundry. But when you have a whole family’s worth of laundry to deal with remembering all those little details can get overwhelming.
Save yourself the time and hassle of looking at the care tags over and over by making a list of laundry items that need special care and write what that care is. You can tape the list in your laundry room and use it to separate your “special care” items accordingly, and with ease.
There you have my 6 practical family laundry management tips when you have kids! For more cleaning and laundry tips, check out how to remove almost any stain with two ingredients you already have on hand and home management tasks you can do in fifteen minutes or less!