I’ll be the first to admit that though I feel skilled at “making a home,” I am terribly deficient at cleaning one. In fact, one of the major reasons we used to host our weekly church homegroup was so that we’re forced to clean our house. We honestly don’t do this in an attempt to impress people (we swallowed our pride on that a long time ago), but so that our friends don’t break their ankle slipping on tiny blocks, get queasy seeing pre-chewed crumbs ground into the couch, or have to sit on a toilet decorated with toddler pee.
People have been kind in trying to excuse my uncleanliness because of the Tasmanian Devil-esque mess that comes with this season of life. But as my mother and college roommates can attest, I’ve just never cared to spend my time on cleaning. Plus, horizontal surfaces in particular tend to get dirty a few milliseconds after you’ve cleaned it, so why all the fuss?
But despite my impurity impairment, I do feel like I am unusually underwhelmed by laundry. I do about 2 -3 loads a week (including cloth diapers) and manage to get it folded and put away in a reasonable amount of time. So I feel I must share a few nuggets of wisdom with the rest of the world, in the hopes that launderers everywhere will feel a new-found sense of lint-free liberty.
Mel’s Laundry Tips:
1. OWN LESS CLOTHING – This alone can save you a load or two a week. Those of us with young kids can testify that their clothing seems to multiply at night like gremlins. I am constantly weeding through clothes, passing them along, or storing a few special items for the future. I, myself, have really simplified my wardrobe to a few drawers full. I don’t tend to shop much, nor am I a fashionista, but when I do end up with more clothes (often hand-me-downs from snazzier friends or great thrift store finds), I get rid of the same amount of old ones so that they don’t multiply. I’m still trying, however, to de-sentimentalize the hubby from his rather large sports t-shirt collection…
2. WEAR CLOTHES LONGER – Why do we wash our clothes anyway? Because they smell and/or get stained. So, follow me here, if it doesn’t smell or isn’t terribly dirty, toss your civilized hyper-sterile American standards and (gasp!) wear it again.
And if anyone can get away with wearing the same clothes three days in a row (except for my sweet, dirt-magnet of a boy), it’s kids. So live in the freedom of being caught dead in the same outfit and if anyone scoffs, just imagine them up to their armpits in piles of unnecessary laundry.
3. RECRUIT LAUNDRY LABOR – I don’t consider it a coincidence that the washer and dryer doors are at kid level (a.k.a. back-breaking level for adults) – and I use this to my benefit. The kids love to toss clothes in, slam doors shut, push buttons, etc. When the laundry is done, I’ve managed to make sorting it all into piles seem fun (most of the time).
And they all have labeled drawers where they put their clothes away. The whole process takes a little longer, but it’s worth it for them to have responsibility around the house. And as a self-admitted sub-par house cleaner, I’ll take all the help I can get. So that’s it. You can look into every other issue of Real Simple for the rest of your typical laundry tips: like detailed comparisons of the top 5 fabric softeners on the market, which over-priced Container Store laundry sorter is a must-have, and how to get the wine stain out of your plum-colored pashmina. But until then, go with the above truly simple tips and let me know what you did with your new-found free time.
Mount Washmore, be gone!
What are your best laundry quandary solutions?