Caring for Kids’ Clothes: a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

[really_simple_share]

The following post is by editor Kara Fleck.

During the month of April on Simple Kids, one of the topics we’re covering is caring for kids’ things and kids’ spaces.  I thought that I would start with the area that seems to occupy the bulk of my homekeeping:  the laundry.

Now, I am not an expert on laundry, by any means.  But, I will confess that of all the household chores, doing the laundry is one that I actually don’t mind very much.  There’s something to be said about the sense of accomplishment from treating a stain successfully or empty laundry baskets and dresser drawers full of clean clothing at the end of the day.

My laundry process has evolved over the years.  I thought I would share how I care for my family’s clothes and then open up the comments to ask about your family’s laundry.  Yes, I’m inviting you to air your dirty laundry on Simple Kids today!


Clothing

One of the main areas where I’ve simplified the laundry process is with the amount and type of clothing that we own to begin with. Kids really don’t need that much.  And, my kids certainly didn’t need as many clothes as I was filling their closets with when I started out on this parenting journey.

The Colors of the Day

I’ve mentioned before how we have a color of the day at our house.  This makes sorting the laundry to clean pretty simple.  My kids each have clothes – shirts and dresses –  in the colors we use. We also have some wardrobe staples like jeans and khaki pants that go with everything.  Add in a dressy outfit for each season, and I feel like we’re covered (literally, ha!).

Now, I’m not foolish enough to think that my kids are always going to go for this color of the day idea.  But, I figure by the time they are old enough not to want to participate they will be old enough to be doing their own laundry – and that will be even simpler for me!

The Clothes We Wear

Most of our clothing is either second-hand or handmade.  I do buy the occasional new item, but only when I know it will be an investment:  something of high quality that I will be able to be pass down to more than one child (either through my daughters or my nephews).

I tend to stay away from logos and cartoon characters, sticking with simple patterns and solid colors. I do this because characters can date clothing, losing their appeal for the child I intend to hand them down to, and also because I’m not really crazy about the idea of my children being walking commercials for TV shows or companies.

I also strive to make sure the clothes we own are easy to care for.  Unless it is a hand-made wool piece, I don’t want to spend a lot of time on hand-washing.  Dry cleaning isn’t an option for us.  So, easy-care fabrics are key.

In the book Heaven on Earth: A Handbook for Parents of Young Childrenby Sharifa Oppenheimer, she talks about what her dream children’s clothing line would be like:

“washable all cotton, wool, and silk blended knits, in a rainbow palette of gorgeous solid colors, so everything matched with everything.”

Keeping clothing choices basic makes makes it easier to get the children dressed each day.  It also makes it simple for my oldest child to get herself dressed.

Laundry Soap: My Evolution

When I was first on my own, I purchased the laundry soap that my mom always used when I was growing up.  Later, as a wife on a strict budget, I purchased whatever I could buy for the cheapest with coupons and sales.

Making Laundry Soap

Eventually, as my family became more convicted about becoming debt-free, thanks to Soulemama’s how-to I started making my own laundry soap to save money.  I still do this during months our budget is extra tight or when we run out of our current laundry soap (more on that in a bit).

Now, I realize that this one is perhaps baffling at first glance.  After all, what could be simpler than just picking up a bottle of detergent at the store, right?  Well, yes, that is simpler. Unless …

Unless your life situation resembles what mine did at the time:  with 2 kids in cloth diapers, running out of detergent after realizing that the very last clean prefold had just been used was a major cause of stress.

It was much simpler to keep the ingredients on hand to make our own laundry soap rather than risk having to tackle the logistics of an emergency trip to the store to pick up detergent with 3 small children in tow (2 of whom are wearing their only clean diapers).

Soap Nuts

One day while surfing the internet, I came across the blog of this woman named Tsh* who talked about using soap nuts.  I did a little research and was intrigued and eventually placed an order, feeling just a little bit skeptical.

To my surprise and delight, soap nuts were a gentle and effective way to get the laundry done.  We’ve been using them ever since and I’ve been pleased with how they work.

What are soap nuts? They are a natural dried fruit (not actually a nut) that have natural cleaning properties. Soap nuts are now my main laundry soap.  They are organic and free of harsh chemicals, something that is becoming more and more important to me on my simple living journey.  Soap nuts are simple, but effective.

*Please note:  that Simple Mom link is from an old blog entry and that contest ended in 2009.  However, come back to Simple Kids tomorrow and I just might have a surprise for you from our friends at Laundry Tree.


Treating Stains: Vinegar, this Mother’s Little Laundry Helper

My favorite treatment for stains on kids’ clothing is also pretty simple:  I just keep a spray bottle of vinegar in my laundry room and spray it directly on any stains.  Most of the stains my kids end up with are food related and I find that vinegar does a great job with this and doesn’t damage the clothes.

Now, it isn’t 100% effective on certain types of stains:  I’ve not had much luck using it with grass stains, for example.  But, for the majority of the stains my family’s clothing ends up with, vinegar is my go-to laundry room helper.

My Laundry Kit

The top photo is my laundry room.  It is a humble space, and a working space, for sure.   It is also a lot less cluttered than it used to be.  Years ago I had all kinds of bottles and solutions for doing the laundry.

Today, I have a simple laundry kit that contains:

  • a small amount of  homemade detergent (for emergencies)
  • Soap nuts
  • a spray bottle of vinegar
  • a small nail brush, in case I need to do some light scrubbing on a stain
  • wool wash for hand-washing wool
  • bags for the soap nuts
  • scented oils (One of the things I missed about detergent was the scent.  Scented oils are the cure for that).
  • a tub of baking soda, used for cloth diapers (stored in a recycled plastic bucket)

Laundry is one of those areas where I do think that one family’s simple solution might very well be another family’s complication. This system is what works for me, but I’d love to hear about what works for you!

Can you believe I shared pictures of my family’s dirty laundry? Now it is your turn. Let’s talk: what is in your laundry kit? What is your favorite stain treatment? How do you care for your kids’ clothing?

Note: I’m not an expert, remember, so I am not confident in giving advice on using homemade laundry soaps or soap nuts with different types of washing machines and water.  I only know it works with our machine and our type of water.  I would definitely encourage you to do your own research.

[really_simple_share]
About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at KElizabethFleck.com.

Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler's Guide to Unshakable Peace

Comments

  1. This is awesome! If I could take just half of the ease you have put into Laundry & incorporate it into mine I would be so blessed on a daily level! Thanks for sharing! I unfortunately have not got a handle on laundry AT ALL, with 3 kids myself ages 6 to 2 I can never find enough hours in the day to get it all done & stains are a night mare. So I will be trying your vinegar solution, as I have only used vinegar to get the mildew smell out of clothes before.
    Katrina´s latest post: Thoughtful Thursdays

    • Katrina, it has definitely been a journey for me. I’m tweaking our laundry system here and there all the time. It can feel like a sysyphean task, for sure. “Didn’t I just do laundry yesterday?!” :-)

      And, you know, there are times that it stacks up around here, too. Some days you just don’t feel like dealing w/ dirty socks and undies, you know?

      The main thing that helps me keep the piles from getting too bad is that I finish the load that I wash: meaning, wash to dry to folded and put away. It is really tempting to just wash/dry and then let it lay around in the basket, but once I start doing that, usually it isn’t long before what was once a mountain of dirty clothes is now a mountain of clean clothes, you know. Sometimes there are seasons of life that is easier said than done, of course ;-)

  2. Laundry is one of the things I struggle with. I think it’s because no matter how much or how often I do laundry, there is always more to do. Like you, my laundry practices have sort of evolved through the years. I still have a long way to go though. My biggest consumer vice is buying clothes for the kids. I’ve cut WAY back, but still tend to buy new (although always and VERY DEEP discounts).

    I’m not very good at treating the stains since we usually undress upstairs and our laundry is downstairs (goes down the chute, so it gets overlooked). I’ve noticed lately stains that I’m not sure about – when clean they sort of look like a wet spot on the clothes. I don’t know if it’s an oil based stain or a reaction to my detergent or what. Any ideas?
    Angela´s latest post: The time is NOW!!!

    • Well, I certainly won’t say I have my system 100% perfect, but it is much improved over how things used to be in the laundry room around here ;-)

      I used to keep a spray bottle of vinegar downstairs, too to quickly pre-treat stains. As I mentioned, food stains are our biggest culprit around here. Lucy especially was one of those babies who could always manage to get food UNDER the bib. Pre-treating quickly seems to help me w/ stains.

      A website I really like for laundry questions is Mama’s Laundry Talk: http://www.mamaslaundrytalk.com/ Perhaps she might have some tips on your oily stains? I’m afraid I can’t be much help there.

      And, thank you, my friend, for being a mentor to me in finding good bargains on kids clothes, too!

    • Hi Angie, yep, that wet spot type stain is an oil stain. They’re a toughie to get out~ particularly if they’ve been heat dried. Vinegar should help (degreaser) and I also keep a bar of this on hand http://www.rockymountainsoap.com/productDetails/1024660/1019838/1000144

      and or some Dr Bronner’s (but careful with it as it will bleach the fabric if left on too long before washing…I know!!)

      I’m with you on the neverending cycle of laundry…sometimes it can feel *
      *almost* pointless. My kids now help with portions of the laundry though as part of their paid chores which really helps me get going on it :)
      Tanya´s latest post: mid march daybook

    • (Thanks for the shout out, Kara!)

      Angela,
      What you describe sounds a lot like those pesky grease stains from dryer sheets. If it turns out NOT to be grease stains from dryer sheets, let me know and I’ll help you troubleshoot ;)

      http://www.mamaslaundrytalk.com/2010/09/01/grease-stains-on-clothes-from-dryer-sheets/

      -Lauren

    • A friend of mine has a laundry chute which lead to the non treatment of stains problem. She found an old side table and put a little wicker chest on top and placed this next to the laundry chute. In the chest she had little spray bottles with a few different stain removers, vinegar, dish soap with water and gall soap with water and a couple of little brushes. Know she pre treats stains before they go down the chute.
      Since I have a communal laundry the laundry stays upstairs until I am carrying it down to the communal laundry so I pre treat as I am throwing stuff in the hamper.
      Kitty´s latest post: Einföldu súkkulaðibita smákökurnar

  3. I use soap nuts too but have lost my little washer bag for them. I need to sew up a new one I suppose, but I am not really a sewer. :) How many drops of EO do you use in your laundry and how do you add them? I really like that idea!
    Magic and Mayhem´s latest post: 19 Foods to naturally detox radiation

    • I know, I feel a little silly sometimes that I like scented laundry because I know some people go the more natural laundry soap or soap nuts route because they don’t want scented laundry :-)

      What I do when I use soap nuts is just shake (maybe a dozen or so?) drops of the oil onto the bag the nuts are in and then toss that into the washer. When I add scent to the homemade powder we make sometimes, I give a much more generous shake of the oil bottle to the ingredients as I’m mixing it up. Not sure exactly how much, but much more than a dozen drops.

      Some of my bags were in pretty sad shape, but I recently got some more soap nuts and there were new bags in there. I suppose I could have sewn some up though – great idea! :-)

      • If you lose your soapnut wash bag (or use it so much that it falls apart), just send LaundryTree an email and ask for a new one:
        http://bit.ly/e216JN

        You can also drop the soapnuts into an old sock. Just tie the top, and you’re in business. =D

        Kara — thanks for sharing your laundry secrets (and soap nuts) with your readers! I’m particularly inspired by your “one load, start-to-finish rule” — and plan to adopt it with my very next load. BRILLIANT!

  4. Kara, one of the reasons I bought almost all my kids clothes secondhand when they were younger (and still do a lot despite pre-teens) is that it wasn’t much of a problem if they got stained or ripped. We live on a farm and spend a lot of time romping around outdoors. Spending $1-2 for a pair of pants or a sweater makes it much easier for me not to grumble too much about tough stains.

    However, we also have established a rule where our kids change into “home” clothes or “work” clothes when they come home from school. These are older clothes that are not presentable for school but fine for yardwork or just relaxing around the house. It also cuts down on the germ imports from school during flu season. School clothes get put away and then can be worn several days before they need washing.

    Also, when it comes to laundry sorting, I do a week’s laundry and then sort it all into a basket for each person – no folding, no matching socks. Then each of us (including the kids) has to fold and put away their own laundry. With today’s fabrics, there aren’t too many problems with wrinkles (and who really cares in most situations!)

    These days my kids (11, 14) do more of this – loading the washer, hanging on the line, taking off and sorting. But I keep it a collective endeavor to save on energy.

    • Exactly, Sarah! I don’t worry so much that the vinegar isn’t 100% effective on everything because it isn’t a major heart break (or wallet strain) when something that I paid a dollar for ends up in the rag bag.

      My nine year old helps more and more with her laundry, but I have to admit I am looking forward to the day when the kids are a bit bigger and can wash their own laundry. I still remember my mother giving me laundry lessons and handing over the basket to me :-)

      Best Wishes!
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  5. I’ve never heard of soap nuts, but I definitely plan to look into them (and I’ll be back tomorrow to check out this surprise you’ve hinted at). A question for you about the vinegar spray bottle – do you use straight vinegar or do you mix it with water? If so, how many parts water to parts vinegar do you use? I get the same oily stains that Angela does and I usually rewash the clothes with some store bought stain treatment (natural when I can find it or conventional when I can’t) and have success with that. I look forward to trying the vinegar spray with them.

    • Brittany, your mileage may vary, but I just use straight vinegar in the spray bottle. I have a friend who uses 50/50 vinegar and distilled water and she says it works for her at that strength.

      Now, as I said, the vinegar isn’t 100% effective. Grass stains I’ve found it doesn’t help with and there are some things it lightens but doesn’t completely remove. However, at my house it seems like most of our stains are food related (fruit stains seem to be a big culprit, especially berries, tomato juice, etc) and I find vinegar is good for that. And the sooner after the stain happens that I get the vinegar on them, the better.

      I should also point out that, as Sarah mentioned, since the majority of our clothes are second hand I haven’t paid much for them and so if I can’t get a stain out, it isn’t such a big deal to me to put something in the rag bag that cost me a dollar or so.

      Lemon juice and sunshine is a good combo for bleaching out stains, but not if it is something you’d mind lightening (I use that combo for cloth diapers somethings and white baby onesies that end up stained)

      I haven’t found anything that is totally 100% percent effective against all stains but I like the peace of mind of using something natural like vinegar, so the trade off is okay with me, all things considered.

      It works for me :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  6. I currently make my own laundry soap to save money. My son and I both have very sensitive skin so it works well for us to not have any fragrance or strong chemicals in our detergent. I have seen soap nuts around but I was wondering how you use them.. if they are more cost effective than making your own soap, etc. I use to do all my laundry in one day.. it was great to not have to do it every day.. however I think I need to work on doing a load each day… I found that I dreaded laundry day and would sometimes put it off then making it impossible to do in one day!

    • Lindsay, I use the soap nuts by putting maybe 5 or 6 into a cloth bag and then I just toss the bag into the washer. After so many loads, some of the nuts might need to go (they do break down after so many uses) and then I add in some new ones to the bag.

      I dry out the bag by hanging it up on a hanger in between washes and I usually have two bags in rotation at a time.

      We go through seasons of life where I’m doing laundry all the time (uh, new baby anyone?). Usually right now it is a load of cloth diapers every other day and then I have a towels/sheets day and clothes washing day. In the summer, when the kids seems to be mostly wearing swim suits I feel like I do a lot less laundry and in the winter it seems like I do more as we are wearing more layers of clothing, too.

      As far as cost effective, I haven’t actually priced it out per load. That would be a good thing for me to do some research on :-)

      It does seem like the soap nuts are more of an upfront expense and there are some months when the budget doesn’t allow for that so I make our own. I am not buying nearly as often – whether making our own or with the soap nuts – as I was when I was buying bottled detergent, I know that for sure.

      It also isn’t always convenient to have to wait on soap nut delivery if I haven’t been on top of things and ordered more before we run out (I don’t know of a local source to purchase them. Pam? HJ? Any Indiana mamas know?) and I can get the ingredients for homemade soap locally, so there are times that plays a factor, too.

      Does that help answer your questions? :-)
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  7. Our laundry system looks similar to yours Kara and a local store just started carrying soap nuts (and they’re OK in my HE washer!!) so I’m def. picking up a bag or two and trying them out! I’ll have to try the spray bottle of vinegar on stains. Right now I use the laundry bar I linked above in Angie’s comment and/or Dr Bronner’s soap straight on the stain. Think I’ll also add that if you are a bleach user (i’m not personally), don’t ever ever mix bleach and vinegar in your laundry. (don’t want any dangerous science experiments going on inside your washer!)

    I personally love the simplicity of using non chemical laundry stuff. I don’t miss the conventional sprays and sticks at all (or the asthma they caused). Thanks for highlighting this today!

    • Good point, Tanya!

      I don’t use bleach so I didn’t mention that. But, yes, friends do use caution in the laundry room!

      Dr. Bronner’s soap straight on a stain … hmmmmm, wonder if that would work on grass stains? (are you all catching on to the fact that grass stains are my enemy? LOL)
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

      • The Dr Bronner’s soap does a pretty good job getting out lots of tough stains in my laundry pile filled w/ the clothes of two active boys (and one little sister who doesn’t want to be left behind!). I just put it straight on the stained area, working from outside to middle, and give it a gentle scrub. Then it goes *immediately* into the washer to be washed. Friend, I caution you. Do not under any circumstances, place it aside and wash it after the soap has dried!! (this is particularly important w/ the peppermint soap!)
        You will have an area of fabric much lighter than the rest of the garment. (and yes, i speak from experience and one of Steve’s $50 dress shirts ruined! yikes) I don’t know if it would get out the grass stain completely the first time, but it is def. worth a try :)
        Tanya´s latest post: mid march daybook

  8. For oil stains add baby powder on top of the stain (talcumpowder? not sure what its called in English) leave it overnight and shake it out before washing should do the trick :)

  9. You must be a mind reader because I was just saying how I needed some kind of laundry 101. I’m totally going to be trying the vinegar on our stains. Stains are where I just can’t get it right. So crossing my fingers vinegar will work.

    I currently use Charlie’s Soap and wondering how I would incorporate the scented oils into our wash. We, too, miss the sweet hint of scent on our clothes. And what about a natural, non-irritating option for the dryer, a dryer sheet alternative?

    Thanks so much for this!

    ps. We need to know what’s up with those weird spots, too. And ours aren’t from grease. They just appear after being washed. So bizarre.
    Carla´s latest post: Monday Morsels 1

    • Yeah, I know some might find it silly, but scented laundry is one of those things that makes me feel a little pampered and I missed it when we first switched out laundry soaps.

      As for the dryer, I used to use watered down fabric softner in a spray bottle that I would spritz on a washcloth before I put it into the dryer. Not exactly natural, but it was cost effective. I don’t do this now that we don’t use fabric softner any more and we hang up a lot of our clothes and just “fluff” on the dryer for softness (things like jeans and cloth diapers)

      I know some who use a downy ball filled w/ vinegar in the wash for softness.

      What I’m actually hoping to make and try really soon is wool dryer balls:
      http://goodmama.typepad.com/goodmama/2008/05/make-your-own-wool-dryer-balls.html

      I’ve had that bookmarked for a while, but haven’t tried it yet.

      Best wishes!
      Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  10. Laundry is my life too! (what mother can say differently?)
    One thing I’m trying to work on right now is a better laundry basket/hamper system so that I don’t have so much dirty laundry hanging out in open view all of the time. You read my mind with this post becaue I just blogged about the topic myself earlier this week:
    http://cleansmartsimple.blogspot.com/2011/04/doing-laundry-like-its-my-jobbecause-i.html

  11. Vinegar gets stains out too??? It really is a miracle potion! My husband in going to laugh at me when I tell him I found another great use for vinegar today : ) Thanks for sharing!
    Sarah Gainey´s latest post: 5 fun things about having a boy

  12. I have never used bleach on a regular basis in my wash, using borax instead if needed. However, having raised 4 children and helped with 7 grandkids which included 3 of them living with me for 2 years, I have done a lot of laundry! One thing, when passing clothes down, or getting haqnd-me-downs or preparing clothing for consignment sales is stains that may have set in. Obviously on brightly colored clothing, any type of belach product would fade, but I found that many prints or *painted* stripes are not affected by bleach products. What worked best for me was this, a bathroom spray that includes bleach for mildew treatment. This should be saved for clothes that would basically be ruined or relegated to the play in the dirt pile. Spray some of the bathroom spray on the stain and let it sit for 20-30 minute and then launder. As I was wrtitng this I also remembered this would work really well on mildew stains on clothing.
    Even though I don’t use bleach on a regular basis, this technique saved quite a few pieces of clothing that I would’ve just thrown out.
    Bernice
    Living the Balanced Life´s latest post: Letting go of the hard stuff so the real me can emerge

  13. Rochelle says:

    I am excited to try out the vinegar on my stains! I just pulled out a few NEW shirts from the dryer that were still stained. Dumb that I put them in the dryer before checking the stains were gone. Erg. I always say I have a laundry deficiency. Even if I pre-treated a stain immediately, did everything perfectly it would still come out looking like I let it sit on there for weeks and just rinsed it under water.

    I am interested in knowing really what you mean by your kids have just a few clothes. I just bought a few clothes for the coming summer months, but have been trying to figure out just how little I can get by with. Can you break it down by numbers for me? Like 5 shirts, 1 pants, 1 shorts, etc?

    • Further down I put up a list of what clothes I have for my kids, this list has been worked on for years until it is the exact amount of clothes we need. But this list works for our climate (Iceland) and therefore might not work in other climates.
      Kitty´s latest post: Einföldu súkkulaðibita smákökurnar

      • Yes, once something is heat dried, there isn’t too much that I know you can do. And, again, vinegar works on a lot of things but I’ve found that stains like grass stains, ink stains, etc. it isn’t really effective for. I am going to try Tanya’s suggestion re: Dr. Bronner’s bar soap, though.

        As far as amount of clothing, Kitty’s list is pretty close to ours. My younger kids have approx. a shirt (or play dress) for each day of the week, 4 -5 pairs of pants, a dressy outfit, and a few special items (like a Colts jersey) but not much more than that. We also follow the don’t wash it unless it is dirty rule and sometimes things get worn more than once (jeans, especially) before they are washed.

        I used to be the mama who would be finding clothes with the tags still on them (!!) that her kids outgrew before they could wear them, I stuffed their closets so full and never passed up a sale at my favorites kids’ clothing store. So, I feel good about my progress in this area :-)

        But, I do think every family has different needs/lifestyle so that will play a big factor in the “right” amount of clothing for them.

        Best wishes!
        Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  14. Heather says:

    I actually use vinegar in place of fabric softener during the rinse cycle. Treats stains and prevents static all in one!

  15. You know that I LOVE this post! I always enjoy taking a glimpse into someone else’s laundry routine! And you’ve done a beautiful job outlining yours.

    And I couldn’t agree more with your careful selection of clothes that you allow to come into your home. They can make your laundry routine easier or harder…and I always choose easier. :)

    I’d love to link to this post in my laundry round-up at the end of the month.

    -Lauren
    MamaLaundry´s latest post: How to Remove Mildew from Clothes

  16. Jennifer says:

    LOL, I agree that one person’s simplicity is another’s complication. I am intrigued by the idea of soapnuts but I’ll grab my bottle of detergent. HOWEVER, I will definitely try vinegar on stains because I do seem to have a problem removing stains from laundry. And I want to add my laundry solution for managing it and getting it done. First, I bought divided laundry hampers that have three separate spaces for my room and one of my children’s room (the kids’ rooms are back to back so I just put all the kids’laundry in one room-may not work for other people). In my son’s room, we sort colors, whites and sheets/towels. In my room, I sort colors, handwashing and sheets/towels (I don’t have many whites). Every morning, I wake up 15 minutes early than I would normally need to and put a load in the laundry. Before I leave for work, I put it in the dryer. At night, I reheat it in the dryer and then fold it. The next morning, after I put my load in to wash, I put away the clothes. It is relatively easy to keep the laundry rolling and caught up and I only have to find a few minutes a couple of times a day to do it.

  17. just reading about laundry exhausts me! :) i have two children — a 4 year old & a 2.5 year old — and a baby due in june that i plan to cloth diaper. laundry BREEDS at my house! seriously!

    the only thing i can figure out as far as keeping up with laundry is to do at least a load a day. it seems like i constantly have piles and piles to do. my daughter (the 4-year-old) is in this phase where she likes to pull out her clothes and wear multiple things a day and layer lots of pieces in crazy combinations. while i don’t want to stifle this creative outlet, it has gotten a bit out of hand, especially since she isn’t the greatest about putting her clothes back after trying them all on. we are trying to establish a rule on that activity, but let’s just say she’s a little stubborn…

    anyone have a kid that does this? ideas?
    Sarah´s latest post: a little boys night stand

  18. I’ve always put vinegar into the fabric softener dispenser when washing my diapers (and sometimes regular laundry…trying to wean myself off of fabric softener). It helps get all the detergent rinsed out of the diapers and makes them a little softer, I think.

    What do you use the baking soda for? Soaking? Or instead of detergent?

  19. For us laundry is something that must be kept on top of at all times.
    At the moment I think my younger kids (boy 9 yr) closet contains 5 pairs of pants, 5 longsleeve T-shirts, 4 short sleeve T shirts, 4 sweaters and hoodies, 2 fleeces, 2 long johns, 2 sets Pjs, 2 shorts, socks and underwear, swimsuit, Gi for Karate and a belt. 1 dress shirt. Then of course outdoor clothes. But thats about it for both kids, add a skirt and dress for the elder (girl 13). This is even an all year wardrobe, we switch the long Johns for shorts in summer and the heavy winter coats and snow pants for lighter jackets and rain/wind pants and snowboots for trainers.
    Most clothes are in colours that can be washed together and I just seperate into heavy (jeans and such), medium (sweaters and some tops) and delicate. My husband and I own a little more but that has built up over the last 10 years or so but not that much more. 2 sets of towels per person and 2 sets of sheets per person and thats about it.
    For stains I use vinegar, baking soda paste or dishsoap (for grease stains) along with washing with soap nuts. However when I cant get soap nuts I buy the most environmentally friendly detergent I can find and only use a single teaspoon per wash, I use vinegar as a fabric softener (vinegar gets so much use here in all aspects of homekeeping that I actually bought a barrel of vinegar once),
    An added benefit of having few clothes and not using a dryer (have never owned one) is that it cuts back on folding, I often just leave everything hanging and our laundry is basically the communal closet. Socks and underwear get thrown into baskets in the laundry room and every family member has one type of underwear and one type of socks so no matching up stray socks. Underwear is the one thing I dont buy used and I have never seen socks in the second hand stores here, Also clothes get checked every night and nothing is washed unless it is dirty which means less washing. With so few clothes you dont just chuck them in a basket to be washed because then I would always be stressing if clothes would be washed and dry before the kids ran out.

  20. Thanks for the vinegar tip! I’ve always wondered about something natural that would work. I currently use Shout.

    I too, have those grease stains that magically appear after doing laundry and we do not use dryer sheets. I have found that usually some Shout and liquid laundry detergent rubbed into the stains(let sit a little bit) will take it out.

    Also, I just changed up my laundry routine when I moved. I have found that it’s so much easier for me(and it actually gets done completely) if I do it all at once. Usually I have one load I have to do Wed evening and the rest gets done on Thursday…and it’s usually completely put away by Friday(it’s taking me longer the farther along I get in this pregnancy-34 weeks currently and have 3 other kids 6 and under). Before I got this far along I could get it all done by Thursday evening. My only exception is diapers and so I usually do those 2 times in between Thursdays plus on Thursday as well. I feel so much better knowing that I have a day set to do laundry and that there isn’t a load always in the washing machine/dryer. I tried the daily load thing and it just never worked, somehow I would never manage to wash/dry and put away the load.

  21. I have been debating soap nuts for a few weeks now but I have read all over blog land about how great they are. I think when we run out of detergent (or are close), I will place an order :) Thanks for this post, it was great!
    RaisingZ´s latest post: Feed Play Love

  22. Is the baking soda, for the cloth diapers, just to control the odor until wash day?
    Do you keep it in the container with the diapers?

    Katie

  23. I will be trying the vinegar! As for grass stains and chocolate stains (yes, I have a problem) I use a bar of Fels-Naptha. It costs around a buck per bar and lasts forever. I’m not sure how natural it is, but it’s what my mom used on all of my brother’s football uniforms – it works that well!

    No idea about getting soap nuts locally, but you’ve convinced me to buy some on-line to try. I’ve been using a homemade liquid laundry detergent, but I’m not thrilled with it. I also miss the “fresh” smell of clean laundry.
    Pam´s latest post: Yarn Along

  24. Quick comment re: soap nuts and cloth diapers – I’ve gotten a few emails about this since yesterday, folks who have heard that soap nuts cause a build up and you have to strip your diapers.

    I can only answer to MY experience, but over the years we’ve been cloth diapering and trying (many) different ways to clean them, I have always had to strip my diapers from time to time, no matter what I’ve used to clean them. I’m sure there are many factors there – type of water, my machine, human error as far as amount of soap used, water used, etc.

    Soaps and detergents can be a cause of diaper residue. I’ve actually heard recently that urine can cause residue, as well as the protein in waste. Now, I’ve done NO research on that, so take it for what it is worth. :-)

    Some info on how to strip cloth diapers here:
    http://www.mamaslaundrytalk.com/2010/04/06/how-to-strip-cloth-diapers-part-1/
    Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  25. Kinda giggling today re: how many of us are plagued by grass stains and mystery grease spots :-)

    You guys have a lot of laundry knowledge – thanks for chiming in!
    Kara @SimpleKids´s latest post: Caring for Kids’ Clothes- a Peek Inside My Laundry Room

  26. Rochelle says:

    I love everyone’s comments, lots to try! Thanks Kitty and Kara for info on your kids’ closets!

    When I have ink stains I use a cheap bottle of hairspray (the old school pump kind) and spray it all over the ink mark and it comes right out. I have only used this for pen marks not full on ink puddles. I don’t know if it’s toxic though, but it works beautifully!

  27. Thanks for the laundry ideas! :-) I wanted to give you a little tip for those grass stains – peroxide. If used too much though, it does fade the area a little bit.
    Annie´s latest post: New Theme- The Morning After

  28. Quick question to you soapnut users: If you wash in cold do you really do the the soapnut soak and use the liquid or can you just chuck them in?

  29. I use soapnuts, but for work clothes or especially dirty play clothes, I add Borax to the wash as a booster. I like Oxyclean for grass stains. It is on the expensive side, but a bottle will last me for months and months. My favorite trick for tough stains are sewing on appliques! It is quick and easy, covers any stain or little hole, and the shirt becomes a cute custom clothing piece! :)

  30. I used to make my own laundry detergent but it wasn’t cleaning well enough. We have very hard water, which affected the cleaning. After a couple of months, the clothes just weren’t getting clean anymore. Stains that would normally wash out were lingering and everything was dingy and gray (even with adding in vinegar and other things as a boost). So I went back to my regular Tide. It’s the only one I’ve tried that does not irritate my kids’ skin and cleans our grime. I may try the soapnuts, though. I really want a natural laundry solution!

    We get TONS of grass stains – three boys who come home from school with grass covered blue jeans and who play baseball year-round will create quite a mountain of laundry! The only thing that works for me is Shout. No, it’s not natural. Yes, it’s all chemicals, but it’s the best I’ve found. If you spray it on and let it soak (even for days), the grass and dirt will come right off. We have a pair of white baseball pants that have been used (and abused) for 4 full years now and they have one small dirt/grass stain. That stain got set in when I tried oxi-clean instead of Shout. Other than that one spot, they are still as white as the day I bought them.
    Rachel´s latest post: Project- Simplify week 5

  31. I need to figure out a better system for our laundry too. I’m guilty of turning a mountain of dirty clothes into a mountain of clean clothes. I was better at it when I didn’t have a laundry room, but now I can just close the door.
    I guess my strategy is that if we have a pile of clean clothes we can go through and find what we are looking for, versus a pile of dirty clothes that we can’t wear.
    Typically I put a load in the washer 2-3 evenings a week and put it in the dryer either when going to bed or early the next morning. Then I get around to folding it at least one evening a week after I put my daughter to bed.
    The further along I get in this pregnancy, the shorter time period I am comfortable to stand, bend, and fold laundry so less is getting done on each folding evening. I should probably add another folding evening to the routine. I’m just too tired at 31 weeks pregnant to want to fold laundry 2 evenings per week :)

  32. foxbrooken says:

    Ecover Stain Remover fades grass stains enough for our household.

  33. These are great tips. I’m so excited to look into soap nuts. We try to stay away from perfumes and chemicals as much as we can plus it sounds like an environmentally option as well.
    Kimberly´s latest post: Why Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution Doesn’t Always Work

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