I know laundry is a big issue for many families large and small, so I wanted to post about how I manage laundry for 10 people.
First of all, some of my kids change their clothes much too often and some of them don't change often enough. I know for a fact *someone* didn't change their underwear more than once this week. Yuck!! ;) I'm trying to train my boys that it's good to wear their jeans two days in a row, but bad to wear them more than that. Some of my kids (particularly the same one who didn't change his underwear all week) will wear the same pair of jeans all week, and usually wear holes in the knees by the end of the week. And they can't figure out why that happens! This is the good/bad of homeschooling--the good is that they don't need to wear certain clothes every day, the bad is that mom may not notice if they are running around in very dirty clothes. Case in point: I just sent a child who came up for breakfast back down to change the clothes he has been wearing since after church on Sunday (two days)...and yep, the jeans have a hole in the knee. Argh!
Secondly, I don't deal with stains well. I usually don't notice a stain that needs to be treated until after the clothing item has gone through the washer and dryer, meaning that it will be even harder to get out.
I do the majority of our laundry all on one day. We have a large capacity front-loading washer and a large capacity dryer, so we can get really good-sized loads in each wash. My laundry room is set up with a laundry chute that empties into the deep wash tub. That's usually spilling over by the time I get to sorting (I really should sort more often...but why?). The tub, washer, and dryer are along one side of the laundry room. Along the other wall of the narrow room is a counter that Mitch built for me. Underneath I have 3 laundry sorters that have 3 compartments each.
Yesterday I had 6 loads of laundry: 3 loads of darks, 1 of jeans, 1 of whites, and 1 of reds. That's not too bad for 10 people for a whole week of laundry! Kathi sometimes does some of her own things that she needs done at a different time during the week. There are also delicates and things that I wash as needed and not on laundry day. Diapers, towels, and sheets all get done at a different time too. (I'll admit the sheets get done very rarely).
As each load comes out of the dryer, I fold and sort it like this:
We're short a couple of white baskets and I found out that our Walmart no longer carries them. :( But also see they are available on amazon.com. Hmmm.... I like these because they are inexpensive and sturdy. They stack nicely to put away between laundry days. Anyway, back on subject. For perspective, that church pew is 12 feet long, and I have all 8 kids lined up across there. (And room for a couple more!) Mine and Mitch's are together in the basket on the floor. I did get a couple blankets washed, too, because I needed to round out a load that wasn't quite full.
Ok, so this goes on all day until the laundry is done. Eventually most of the kids' clothes will be hung, but I fold it neatly so that in the meantime it doesn't get wrinkled. Much. Because I don't iron very often. Once it's done, I have each child put their own laundry away. I put Tirzah's away. Micah is Malachi's buddy, so he puts his laundry away too, and Eden helps Josh. This usually works really well, but occasionally I step into the boys' closet and find a huge mess. That typically makes me a very crabby momma, but I get it all organized and set right again and I'm happy.
If something happens in the middle of my day and I need to clean up in a hurry, I just stack the baskets on top of each other and set them out of the way. Now there is no laundry mess lying all over the place!
What I hear from a lot of moms is that laundry is the job that never ends. At my house, at least the bulk of it does end one day a week. It really does help keep me sane. Yes, there are always random loads that need to be washed here and there. I try not to do any regular "clothing" during the week because I don't want to stop kids to put it away. Wash it once, put it away once. It's more efficient! Don't you think?