Thursday, February 16, 2012

Making Less Laundry

When I taught school a few years ago, I felt the need to immediately get out of my work clothes when I got back home each afternoon. After being snuffled and sneezed on, wheedled and wheezed on, I just needed to shed the germs and the stress before I could move on with my day. Unless we had somewhere to go late in the day, I usually just changed into pajamas at 3 or 4 in the afternoon, to avoid dirtying another entire outfit. Still, that created a lot of laundry. Add a cloth-diapered baby to the mix, a baby that we allowed to serve himself table food when he started asking for it around 6 months old, and we had quite a pile to wash every day or two.

I like doing laundry (even though I know that it uses up energy and clean water and expensive eco-detergents). I do NOT like folding and sorting and putting away laundry. So here are a few things my family does to reduce our laundry load, at least a little –

1. Rewear pants and pajamas and sweaters and the like more than once.

2. Use a moist washcloth to spot clean obvious problems areas in clothes that don’t need an all-over clean.

3. Air out anything that has a slight smell but isn’t really dirty.

4. Potty train early.

5. Keep a set of dirty playclothes by the back door, and only wash them once a week or so.

6. Encourage your child to wear washable bibs to keep outfits clean longer. (Mine refuses.)

7. Hang towels to dry after each use.

8. Wear loungewear that can be worn as daytime attire and pajamas.

Well, I totally failed today. I am still wearing the same outfit I put on this morning, but that is not the case with my son.

-Outfit 1 – covered in frosting and paint from preschool party

-Outfit 2 and shoes – just missed the potty

-Outfit 3 and sheets– Mama forgot to put on a diaper before naptime

-Outfit 4 – had an accident at the park while having fun with a friend

-Outfit 5 and shoes and coat and towel – splashed and bathed in mud puddles at the park

-Outfit 6 – caked with spaghetti sauce

-Outfit 7 – flecked with globs of homemade play dough

All of these are important little boy experiences that I wouldn’t want to take away for the sake of doing less laundry – especially the mud puddles. But this is an entire load of laundry from today that I can hear spinning in my front-loading washer. Well, maybe tomorrow the Kelly Green Giant will at least remember the diaper at naptime!

How do you lighten your laundry load?


Michelle | Green Earth Bazaar said...

We wear our clothes more than once (unless they're funky), hang our towels to air dry, only wash full loads of laundry, and I make our laundry soap from scratch - it's easy, inexpensive, and non-toxic.

Peace. ;)

Laura said...

The outfit changes made me laugh. My son is 2 and in the stage where not only does he refuse a bib, he also refuses to change clothes. I think we do pretty well with laundry. Even though I cloth diaper, the most laundry I do is 7 loads a week. I have an outfit that is stereotypical SAHM, but I wear it all week unless I'm leaving the house. So other than workout clothes, there isn't much laundry from me. Looking forward to the warmer weather when I can line dry outside again, though!

Mitty said...

One of Mom's or Dad's old flannel shirts can be used as a smock for messy crafts. That would eliminate one outfit change--or two, if your son's teacher would require each child to bring one in to keep at school for "messy days". This used to be standard operating procedure at preschools and kindergartens. It can't hurt to ask about it.

Betsy (Eco-Novice) said...

Hey, I have a post about this in my draft queue, almost ready to publish! But I'll give you a little preview: we also use "outdoor clothes." Everyone at my house wears clothes repeatedly. You might consider investing in a toddler apron! My kids get their sleeved bibs totally dirty when eating yogurt and things with sauce. I only wash them about once a week. Or just use an old button-up shirt of dads as another commenter suggested. That's what we used when I was in kindergarten! But I understand it can be hard to get the toddler to cooperate in these matters. Best of luck with the potty training.

Eco Yogini said...

i think it's hilarious how reading this reminds me that so many little things in my life will change if Andrew and I have children! :)

SharleneT said...

It's interesting to watch how this generation is returning to my generation's way of doing things. We used up, wore out, or renewed our things. BUT, laundry day was a JOB! We rewore dresses but always wore aprons over top. Had 'work day' clothes and 'Sunday church outfits.' We aired out our clothes before putting them away. Checked for stains and spot-cleaned them with Renuzit (a dry-cleaning fluid). I have my at home 'work' clothes and wear them fairly often before cleaning. You seem to be doing as much as you can and so I wouldn't worry about it. Thanks for sharing.


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