Monday, September 16, 2013

Laundry For A Family Of Seven In Less Than One Hour Per Week!

First off let me start by saying that I truly believe that there are a TON of different ways to do laundry. It is going to vary so much based on your home, available space, laundry room, personality, family size, kids ages, etc.

From the moment that I started this blog I knew that I wanted to someday share our laundry system with all of you! Why? Because it was in finding something that worked for our family in something as mundane as laundry that gave me the drive to tackle all of the other things that we face as moms. 

In our situation, I really had to wrap my mind around what adopting three kids at once would look like. You may think that there are bigger questions that go through your head when considering adopting. Like, what is life with two moms going to look like? That was a question I knew we would just have to get to one day at a time.

It was things like...how do you do laundry for SEVEN people that had me wondering how in the world this was going to work.

Maybe for you the question is how am I going to do laundry for our family with a newborn at home...or when I am working full-time...or taking classes...or when I am taking classes AND working AND have children at home!

To me, finding a laundry system that worked for our family in this season was about so much more than clothes. It was about the determination to make things work and not be discouraged, hopeless or even depressed by something as small (but what feels sometimes so BIG) as laundry.

I hope that in sharing our system with you it will get you thinking as to what works best for YOU! Maybe it will spark an idea that you could implement in your home, or maybe it will simply give you the confidence that what you are doing already is the way to go. Either way...receive the grace to know this; you are going to tackle this little ol' thing called laundry and score one for the team!

My current laundry stats...
  • Our family consists of five kids (ages 2,4,4,7 & 9), my husband and myself. 
  • I wash about 7-8 loads of clothes per week.
  • I usually take a full day (*To clarify: I begin the first load in the morning and then the kids usually take their baskets up in the evening...the process spans a day but I'm only spending a few minutes here and there actually doing laundry) to get our laundry done about every 3 days or so.
  • In our home I am so grateful for a laundry chute that brings all of the clothes directly down to our basement laundry room. (Without it I would probably have our kids throw all of their dirty clothes in the stacked baskets and I would carry them down one by one instead of all at once. While we do have our kids start carrying their baskets up the stairs, beginning at age 3, I wouldn't feel comfortable with my little ones carrying full baskets down our stairs on their own.)
  • I don't fold my kids' laundry. (Here are my 6 reasons why.)
  • I carry two baskets up two flights of stairs on laundry day. One is full of our youngest son's clothes (who is 2) and towels. The other basket is full of my clothes and my husband's. Once upstairs I fold :-) the towels and put them away. I put our youngest son's clothes away and I fold and put away my clothes and my husband's. 
  • I would estimate that I personally spend less than an hour per week TOTAL doing laundry for our family of seven using the system below.

less than 1 hour per week total to do laundry for a family of 7

Our Laundry System...

I carry down six baskets from our second story floor down to the basement. The baskets are perfect for the kids to carry one at a time and stack together great for me to carry down all at once. 

doing laundry for a big family

Once down to the basement I spread out the six empty baskets in our laundry room (aka our utility room, pantry, freezer area, and amazing-retro-Sam's-grandmothers-very-first-refrigerator-that-stores-all-of-our-extra-milk room!)

lots of laundry baskets

Next I take the clothes out of the laundry chute and sort them into colors and whites. 

sorting laundry into colors

I'll be honest, I usually only sort the clothes about 1/3rd of the time when I need to separate out the whites to get them really clean. 

sorting laundry bins

I have a basket that always sits outside of my dryer. This is where the first clean load of laundry goes. If I have time I will sort it right then, if not I will do it later when I come back to change the next load.

clothes out of dryer to sort

When I am ready, I take a few minutes to sort a load. I pick up each piece and turn it right side out if needed. Some items I still have to check the sizes on the tags to figure out which shirt belongs to which kid (life with three small boys.)

turning clothes right side out

The baskets are predetermined to go from youngest to oldest, left to right. I begin tossing each item into the correct basket.

sorting kids clothes

A lot of times I will leave the socks at the bottom of my main sorting basket until all of the laundry is done that day. After that any that still don't have a pair get tossed into the sock basket. (I recently spruced up this part of the room.)

organizing the laundry room

Once I've done all of the laundry that day (and the chute is empty), then I sort the last load and the baskets are ready to go. (By only doing 3-4 loads in one day it keeps the baskets at a manageable weight for the kids to carry.)

laundry is sorted and ready to go

We announce to the kids that the baskets are ready to be taken upstairs.

kids putting their laundry away

Within about five minutes they have grabbed their baskets to head upstairs...

child carrying his laundry

down the hall...

child carrying her laundry

and have their clothes put away in the correct drawers!

Simply because of the way our family grew we had to buy all new dressers. We purchased some inexpensive dressers from Ikea and the kids drawers are all set up the same way. It makes finding clothes when others are helping super easy...and ok, it is super easy for mom and dad to find things too. :-)

organizing drawers by types of clothes

After the kids get done putting their clothes away they stack their basket back in the hall. 

baskets in the hall ready for laundry day

That is our system...simple & efficient!

Wouldn't it be great to start a revolution of moms who found ways to make their laundry process simpler even if it meant not folding their kids' clothes and being ok with a few more wrinkles.

Would you join the revolution? :-)

Want to stay connected? Check out these great ways!

   



209 comments:

  1. i think it would be cool it there was a chute that brought the cloths up the stairs too lol.

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    1. Wouldn't that be fantastic! Ya know, if someone invented something like that it would be like winning the lottery. :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. right but it think there would have to be a pully sytum or maybe a remote controle buldozer that pushes it up lol, i have many good ideas but never no how i can achieve it lol ~chantal~

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    3. LOL
      It's called a dumb waiter...you can get manual or electric ones...they also come in different sizes so you could make sure your baskets would fit inside!!!

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    4. That's why everyone (who can) should have the laundry room on the second story or near wherever the bedrooms are - that is where 90% of your laundry is generated.

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    5. I've got an idea to add......my kids always had their own mess laundry bag that they put their socks into. The bags were thrown into the washer, thrown into the dryer, then thrown into their clean baskets. They never lost socks, I never had to separate them. Life is good.

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    6. You could use something similar to a dumbwaiter. Build it beside your laundry chute..

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    7. Perhaps, install a dumbwaiter.

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    8. Or maybe a dumbwaiter could be installed?

      ��

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    9. A dumbwaiter still requires work. You need some sort of a vacuum system to pull the laundry up.

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  2. I recently found your page, we have two adults and 6 children. I read this article and just have to say that I LOVE IT! I'm kicking myself for not thinking of this before, I guess I get so stuck in the rut of "this is how your taught to do things" that I don't even realize there are more time saving ways. Thank you so much!

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    1. Michaela,

      That is so true that sometimes we just get stuck in a rut. I am so excited about what you said! Thank you for sharing! :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. I almost never sort the laundry. I throw all of our dirty clothes in 1 basket in the laundry room, then turn all clothes right side out, put in washer, then dryer, then hang/fold. The only things that are ever washed separately are blankets and new clothes. New clothes are washed by color so they don't bleed on other clothes. After new clothes are washed separately for the first time, I don't ever have a problem with them. I only have 1 child so I fold/hang. If I had a larger family, then I would totally not even fold! Lol, I think it's a great idea!

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  3. I have 5 kids as well...19,11,10,9,9. I had my last 4 in a 27 month period. I work full time outside of be home and my husband owns his own business, so works 65-75 hours per week. My kids are ultra involved in athletics. However I still feel folding laundry is important. I do not want my kids to look like a disheveled mess...just because there are 5 of them! I know what you will say..." But your kids are older than mine". Now they are. They weren't always this age, but folding laundry is a fact of life. I am not knocking your idea. I'm just simply saying that it most definitely CAN be done! I think it's important that kids learn early how to be neat and organized, and to me, shoving clothes in a drawer isn't that. Is that how they will treat their desks at school?

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing from other moms! Hmmm, as I think about this...I don't think that our kids would connect our laundry system to not being neat and organized. It is simply the way that we do laundry and we've always done it that way. We teach them on a daily basis about being responsible, cleaning their rooms, cleaning out their backpacks, etc. (The things that you find in those backpacks are unreal!) :-) I think sometimes as a mom I've personally gotten caught up in the things that I "should" be doing. I simply enjoy all of the extra time that I get to spend with my kids because I'm not in the laundry room for a long period, so for me that is enough.

      ~Sarah

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    2. Yea, I'm not so sure kids can separate those things...oh it's ok to be messy here, but not here. And please don't imply that I don't spend time with my kids. Laundry can be folded when kids are asleep and it takes limited time to put away. Honestly it's just as easy for kids to put folded clothes in a drawer vs unfolded.

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    3. Please forgive me if it sounded like I was implying that. That was not my intention. I think it is wonderful that your family is able to do all that you mentioned as well as fold laundry with joy. I believe that is what is most important in sharing all of this.

      ~Sarah

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    4. Hey "Anonymous", how are you going to sit there and imply that her kids are a disheveled mess, then turn around and get defensive when she responds the way she did? Stop being rude. Good for you for folding your family's laundry. It works for you. Awesome. Sarah shared HER method, it works, and judging by the pictures, her kids don't look a mess at all.

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    5. Sarah, thanks for sharing your system - which also happens to be my system as well :-) I sometimes fold as I separate if I do it in the evenings, but not always. I'm pleased to report that against all odds my children's clothes manage to refrain from being wrinkled despite not always being folded. Looks like you've noticed the same thing. Maybe it's because by washing their clothes every few days they don't need to own that many clothes to begin with, and therefore their drawers aren't overfull? That's my theory. Saves us money too, right, not having to buy them so many outfits? Win-win. I love that you're willing to let go of the perfectionism and be happy with "some things I do REALLY well, other things I do WELL ENOUGH". It's an attitude I have to consciously work on to keep from being overwhelmed. :-)

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    6. Heather,

      Yes, you are so right! We try to only have as many clothes as we need and it keeps the drawers from being too stuffed...saving time and money on all accounts. Thank you for your encouragement...I'm still working on the not being overwhelmed piece and this system has definitely been helping. :-) I'm glad to hear that it works for your family too!

      ~Sarah

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    7. Great Idea! We have a similar system in that my 4 boys do their own laundry, including their sheets and towels--it keeps them in line about using too many towels and they all have their own towel color. We don't separate by color and have never had an issue. About 1x/mo I run a "bleach" load.
      We solved the WRINKLE problem by having all of their shirts on hangers including t-shirts. This way they can easily fold the pants and the rest need no folding. We also have drawers that are separated by pant type-sweat/athletic and jeans, which also minimizes wrinkles. All dress pants are on hangers. Having double rods made it so we have enough room for everyone's clothes.

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    8. On The Not Folding Vs Spending Time With Kids- All The Clean Laundry Gets Dumped In One Massive Pile On The Living Room Floor AndWhenEveryone Needs A Break From Cleaning House MomAnd All TheKids SitOnThe Living Room Floor And FoldTheLaundry Onto Sorted Piles. SpendingQuality Time Working Together :)

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    9. I have a family of 9 now that several are teens they have chosen to do their own laundry, easier than bringing it in daily or when they are asked I guess. Before my oldest turned 15 I still did all laundry, now 6 of our 7 live at home so our washer gets a huge workout. I admit I cannot give up folding, I did find that I was able to save a ton of time by folding without turning clothes right-side out however. I figure if it isn't that important to my kids to fix this when they take clothes off it's not that important to me, that cut my folding time in half. I understand that feeling about checkin tags I have 2 girls that are only 1 size apart & another pair that was the same for several years. I have found it helpful to do 2 things with laundry, 1 is to set a timer for the time my washer takes to clean a load, that keeps me focused, 2 I found it helpful to hang clothes as I remove them from the dryer & put right on the kids hangers (color coded hangers). I fold & sort right away too, so much easier than tackling a huge mountain of laundry. I do have loads I will dry & let sit though, sheets, towels, bleached socks, & jeans are all things I don't worry about wrinkling. Funny thing I've noticed, my 7 year old especially likes to come in & fold things with me, she will actually take over folding towels & gets bugged if I don't let her fold the entire load, kids are fun! Thanks for sharing, now if we could install a laundry shoot....

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    10. If it's that big a deal to "Anonymous" I don't see why the kids can't be taught to fold (or hang, which is what I prefer for shirts/tops) and neatly put away their own clothes.

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  4. I wish i could do it this way, but i am stuck on the not folding part too. I guess if they just stacked all of their shirts flat, they would still be orderly.without being folded exactly. My kids are 7, 5, 3, 1 and i am due with #5 in 7 weeks. I also homeschool, so my kids are always here. Laundry is life and i have a huge pile consuming my couch right now. I do the basket system like you and make it a game for the kids to toss the clothes into the right basket(i like your square baskets better though. I have cheap round ones) . Maybe if people can't handle not folding, once their kids are 7 or 8 they.could give the kids the baskets and they fold and put it away too. I like this idea you've shared. I am going to find a way to make it work for me. Thank you!

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    1. Sarah,

      Congratulations on baby #5 who is just around the corner...so exciting! :-) I know that this idea won't be for everyone. I think you are right, that as the kids get older teaching them how to fold their own clothes is a good idea. Some of them have already learned that the clothes fit better in the drawers when they are folded and with growing kids comes growing clothes. Oh, and I love the square baskets because they are super sturdy. It sounds like you have a great game going for your kids! :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. That's what we do. We do one load at a time (meaning that we fold as soon as it comes out of the dryer---If I wait, I get overwhelmed by laundry piles, so I like to get it over with quickly and it also helps with wrinkles).

      As soon as it comes out, we have a "laundry party." I turn up the music and we all get it done really quickly. I start my kiddos folding little things as early as two (stacking or sorting panties, folding washcloths, simple things) and then slowly teach them one thing at a time as they get older (usually start with socks, then t-shirts, etc...). Anything is more fun when it's a group project, even cleaning the kitchen. ha!
      I guess I am too anal to let go of the folding, but I am all about less stress and more family time. We do fold differently, so it actually does stay organized which helps us. : )
      Sometimes a little organization helps my scattered brain feel a little less scattered. : )

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    3. Hi, mom of six here. Seven if you count the hubby. ;) I have been an avid clothes folder for their entire life and guess what? When I go to put up a new load or take out a shirt, most are NOT folded anymore! And i have removed perfectly folded clothes with wrinkles. So this idea intrigues me! I spend hours washing and folding, and forbid I miss a day! Thanks for the honest tip! Don't know if I can break the habit, but I've often felt as if the folding was defeated before I made the first crease!

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    4. You are so right! I'm a homeschooling mom of 5 and given any day of the week have at least a load in my bedroom (I don't have a laundry room with any room for a laundry basket or two of clothing). Some days I have three or more. Washing/ drying is no problem. For me, it's the folding part that keeps me attached to these darn clothes. They sit in my room until I get the courage to fold them or until we have a "folding clothes party." I am LIBERATED!!! Folding clothes will be no more. Thanks for the wonderful tips!

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  5. I just came across your blog on Pinterest and I love this article. I don't have nearly as many children as you (and apparently many of your readers!) but laundry is still a constant issue. Thanks so much for sharing your routine - you've given me some ideas! Also, your children are beautiful!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed this and that it gave you some ideas! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  6. I think laundry is an issue for all families. What an organized system you have come up with. I love that it only takes you an hour or less per week. Somehow with less people I spend more time. Gonna have to work on that.
    Take care,
    KC

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  7. This is so smart! I'm wondering, though...how do you let go of the fact that the kids folding/putting away their clothes will likely be less organized than if you did it yourself? My SIL has a similar method to this for her family, but for the life of me, I can't let go of the neurosis of the neat/messy clothes!

    In nearly all areas of our lives, I strive for perfect for us, rather than 'perfect', but in this one area, I get hung up (please forgive the pun!)

    What am I doing wrong, here?

    :-)
    Rach

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    1. Rachel,

      I think that each person has their own "thing". For me it is dishes. I have a hard time leaving dishes in the sink and cleaning them takes precedent to me over going on to do pretty much anything else. When it comes to the kids clothes I will totally fix their drawers if I see clothes hanging out but as long as I know the clothes inside are clean and in the right drawer (pants in the pants drawer) then I am totally ok that they aren't folded. It might just be that for you folding is a must have. To which I would say don't ever stop folding or feel bad about it. :-) If it brings you more joy to fold than to not then keep doing things the way you enjoy!

      ~Sarah

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    2. Thanks for putting it that way! No family has time for everything-no matter the size. We all cut corners somewhere, whether we acknowledge it or not! Laundry is definitely my "thing"-so not folding would never work for me. However, it doesn't make me cringe to leave dishes in the sink overnight. Although, I wish someone would come up with a system for not having to put dishes away-that would make me super happy!;)

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    3. Clare,

      Not having to put dishes away would be great! :-)

      ~Sarah

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    4. I'm a firm believer in picking your battles with kiddos. As long as it's clean I'm good with that..lol.. Loved reading your post and look forward to reading more!

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    5. I've found that once the clothes are in the proper place and the drawers are closed, no one could tell if the clothes were folded or not and as long as my kids knew where there own stuff was we were all happier.
      Martha Stewart will never come over and shame me for the cluster of unrolled bras and panties in my chiffonier. Ironically my daughter (now 15) has begun to sort, fold and color coordinate her clothes in her drawers and closet of her own accord. My son however is still content to root around in the confines of his bureau and meander through the random garments hanging in his wardrobe, and to my amazement can always find what he's looking for. We are clean, orderly and happ.. Find something that works for everyone in your unique, one of a kind family.

      Carmen

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  8. I love your system! I do it kind of similar to you, except I fold it. I do all of the laundry for our family of 6 on Monday- folded and put away, and I don't even think about laundry for the next 6 days! The little guys help me sort into colors, and the big guys help put it away. Our boys are 8, 6, 2, and 1. I LOVE being able to NOT spend time on laundry all week! :)

    Cute blog! I just found you on Tatertots & Jello.
    xoxo,
    Laurie @ Gallamore West

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    1. Laurie,

      That is great that your boys each help with special jobs. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  9. Looks like a great system and what a great way to get everyone involved. I am confused though. because you say you do "laundry for a family of 7 in less than 1 hour per week", but in another place you say you "usually take a full day to get our laundry done about every 3 days or so". Am I missing something?

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    1. Great question! I guess that does sounds confusing...sorry about that. I come and go throughout the day switching loads and taking a few minutes to sort clothes when I am near the laundry room. Then in the evening is usually when the kids will grab their baskets to take them upstairs. The process spans a day period but when I add up the time that I am actually working on laundry then it is less than one hour total per week.

      ~Sarah

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    2. Thanks flowerlover for asking, I was so confused too!

      I think it's funny that everyone is so focused on the laundry not being folded. My mom had us fold all the laundry and now that I'm an adult my drawers are a mess, but I know where everything is and I do fold my husbands clothes, as a former Marine he still folds like he is ready for inspection. If I don't want my clothes wrinkled I hang it up.

      I had my kids fold with me when they were young and now as teens my daughter folds my son just throws them in and I'm ok with that. I do go and fold everything in his drawers about once a year when he has taken my baskets hostage and I can't find anymore. I do it to bless him and help him see that its easier to fit and find things but i'm not gong to worry myself about it.

      Loving the ideas I'm finding on your blog =)

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    3. Mimi,

      It sounds like you have a good mix of both preferences. :-) I also added a sentence above to hopefully help clarify the confusion for anyone else. Thanks for coming by!

      ~Sarah

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  10. I love this idea! I have 4 children and often have laundry backed up in the hampers waiting for me to have a day to sort, wash, dry, fold, sort again & put away. Thanks for posting!!

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    1. Kimberly,

      You are so welcome. Here is to empty hampers and lots of clean clothes! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  11. (Found you at tatertotsandjello. Thank you so much for those tips. I really like your "Fix Me,please" bin. I need to do that..maybe more will get fixed regularly!

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    1. Janell,

      Thank you so much for stopping by! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  12. Hi, I love your idea. Starting in 1988 I was so ocd about everyone's clothes being neat. Both my children started folding their clothes and putting them away at the age of 3. I was so ocd that the outfits had to match. Now that I am Retired from the military, I only worry about mine; no wrinkles, color coded, jeans, shirts, dress clothes together. My adult children and husband are happy with that. My 24 and 23 yr olds clothes go in their baskets and I hang up my husband's clothes. However, they must get mine done right. I have to say I like your idea and when we transfer, I might have the adult children start doing that. Just to let you know that everyone does pitch in with the laundry. Thanks for your ideas. Keep them coming.

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    1. Sandra,

      That is great that everyone in your family knows what each person prefers and helps out...super! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  13. Such great tips! You get a chance, please link up to the Suburbsmama Sunday Linky Party: http://suburbsmama.blogspot.com/2013/09/sunday-linky-26.html

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  14. Just found your blog, via 'Living Well Spending Less'. Wow - love what I've read so far! Love your streamlined approach to laundry! Also, am very touched nad humbled by your family journey.

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    1. Belinda,

      Thank you so very much, we feel so blessed to have the family that God has given us.

      ~Sarah

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  15. Sarah, I love this idea! Great post!

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  16. I have a question... I have 5 kiddos too (3 boys, 2 girls), but I struggle with HOW MUCH clothes they need. Do you have a limit? or guideline? Aren't the clothes incredibly wrinkled?

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    1. Brenda,

      We have 3 boys and 2 girls too. :-) I use a system to store clothes that the kids haven't grown into yet. You can read more about that here: http://www.aninvitinghome.com/2013/05/what-you-grew-again.html Each size has its own tub. I usually limit shirts, pants, shorts, sweaters to all having to fit into one of those tubs...otherwise our home would look like a clothing store! :-) Once those clothes get put in their drawers they seem to fit in the dressers great. I would guess that it is about 6-8 pants, 6-8 shirts, 3 sweaters, a hoodie, etc. Because most of their shirts are cotton the wrinkles really aren't that bad. I do hang the boy's dress shirts as well as the girl's dresses to utilize their closet space. I hope that helps!

      ~Sarah

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  17. Kudos to you! But there is no way I could do that! Seriously I am way too OCD! Actually most of my kids clothes are hung up,and I don't fold them I just hang them. I have decided in the past year that I spend way too much time turning clothing right side out for everyone in my family, so I just don't do it anymore. It killed me at first, but now I feel liberated. I announced to the family that if they want their clothing right side out to place it in the hamper that way. If they don't, it gets put away wrong side out. It saves me a lot of time!

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    1. Nicki,

      That is so great that you have found a way to save time in your family's laundry process! :-) Isn't it funny that we each have our own thing...like how my brain says that the clothes MUST be right side out but don't have to be folded. Yeah, that sounds crazy to me too. :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. Wish I had known all of these tips when I was raising my children. My daughter has four and she does not fold their clothes (underwear, p.j.'s sock's etc.) because when she does and they put them away, they come unfolded. A lot of their clothes are hung up too and as the children get older they can do more of those things. She has the kids help fold napkins, towels, wash cloths and things of that sort, so she is training them, and reducing her stress with the laundry.

      Glad to know that there are other mom's out there that are finding ways to get things done, without adding to the stress of their caring for their families.

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  18. Regardless of whether you fold or not, this is a great system to start with. If you want to fold, just have your kids do it when they take the baskets. I think the timesaver is getting it all organized and doing it over and over again the same way. I will definitely glean some tips from your post! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I totally agree! :-) Thank you for sharing.

      ~Sarah

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  19. Thank you for posting this! I only have 1 daughter who is almost 5, but I work over 45 hours per week in a very high paced, supervisor job. When I get home, I have no energy for laundry so I tackle it all on the weekend. Laundry and I have not been friends. When I read your post, I immediately stopped folding my daughters clothes and a handful of my clothes like tank tops that I wear under clothes. This has been a lifesaver!!! It saves so much time and makes laundry less daunting.

    I love reading your blog!

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    1. Thank you so much for sharing this Erin...you totally made my day! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  20. I just found this last night. I also have 5 children. 15,13,10,7&5. I am going to give this a go today. I will attempt to casually fold as I toss. Hoping that helps give me less wrinkles :)excited to see if I can make it as easy as it seems for you. Thanks for posting. I'll let you know how it goes.

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    1. Sara,

      That is great! I can't wait to hear how it goes. :-)

      ~Sarah

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  21. No. Way. Laundry is something that both my husband and I despise, so even with the two of is it's a chore. Thanks so much for sharing. I'm hosting a giveaway for two great pillow covers that you should enter. http://homecomingmn.blogspot.com/2013/11/pillow-covers-giveaway.html

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  22. love it! Thanks for sharing. In my experience I fold it and have my kids put their laundry away, but somehow by the time it makes it into the drawer it is half unfolded anyways. Seems to make sense!

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  23. Love your ideas. I've struggled with the laundry for years. It would be nice to get it under control.

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  24. I've got 5 kiddos, too! Mine are 14,12,10,8, and 5...2 boys and 3 fashion diva girls. Oh, do we have laundry! I can't say that it is my "favorite" thing to do, but my laundry system is one that I have down!
    - Laundry days are Monday and Thursday.
    - The kids are responsible to gather and sort all the dirty clothes in to the coordinating colored baskets (green for towels, white for whites/socks/undies/stuff that needs sanitized occasionally, blue for colors, pink for reds/pinks----Basically, NO excuses for the "I don't know where it goes!").
    - I have shelves available to put all folded clothes and a small basket for each person for socks and undies. Another basket for single socks. (These baskets alone are REMARKABLY helpful for them getting all their stuff put away. Best $7 I've spent!)
    - When laundry is done, each child is responsible to collect their baskets (clothes and sock/undies), put it away, and return my baskets. No returned basket = big trouble!

    It works us. ;)

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    1. Jess,

      That sounds like a great system! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  25. I used to fold kids' clothes once upon a time. I soon realized that those neatly folded stacks get stirred and tossed and messed up as soon as they start looking for the favorite shirt and each of the five times my four year old changes her clothes each day. How liberating it is to stop caring whether the t shirts & hoodies are perfectly wrinkle free. Actually, my kid sometimes wears two pairs of pants, backwards, with a mismatched top and two different socks and I couldn't care less.

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    Replies
    1. LOL, my kids are the same exact way! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  26. A little tip you could add to your routine...
    Everyone has a mesh laundry bag hanging from a hook on the back of their door. All socks are put in the bag instead of down the chute. On laundry day, the bag is zipped up and thrown down the chute.
    Since you wash them right in the bag, there is NO sorting everyone's socks!!! Just throw their bag back in their basket...you could color code them in some way too!
    Come to think if it, that's another idea...
    Color code each kid!!!
    Even with just the three of us, we are semi color coded.
    Pink for me, blue for hubby, and yellow for the kiddo!
    Towels, wash clothes, cups, and toothbrushes (or, at least, toothbrush covers)...we only do it with our bathroom and travel (travel mugs, etcetera) stuff but, you could do it with everything!

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    Replies
    1. The bag idea is brilliant! :-)

      We do color coding with our kids which comes in really handy for cups, toothbrushes, etc. Perhaps I should give my husband a color so that he stops stealing my favorite travel mug. :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. Awesome idea about the sock bag!! I am doing this! Thanks!

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  27. Sarah, what adorable helpers you have there. I think I would have thrown my hands up a long time ago but this plan looks like it works awesome! Thanks for sharing!!

    Mandy @ The Hankful House Blog

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  28. Hi Sarah! Thank you for submitting your laundry system to Organize and Inspire! I am sharing it on the blog today.
    :)
    Blessings!

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  29. We have five kids and I changed the way I do laundry years ago. For me, it's even simpler than what you do because I never have to sort anything. We never play the 'Whose is this?" game in our house any more.

    Each person has two baskets: lights and darks. When anyone has a full basket they put it in the washer, I wash it, dry it, and maybe I hang/fold or maybe they do. Our laundry room in our new house is upstairs with five of the bedrooms. It makes it even easier! Only one person ever has to carry laundry up and down stairs.

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  30. my 9 year old, 6 year old and 3 year old can fold their own laundry and then put it in their drawers...this gives them a feeling of purpose, responsibility and teaches them order... and it's a chore. It's good for children to have chores... I like your laundry system! thanks for sharing!

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  31. I have 6 kids and this was great to read. I love your idea of not folding the clothes. I am totally implementing that!!

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  32. I love that you are teaching your children to be independent and prepare themselves as they grow older and be responsible!! Great system!

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  33. Good grief, thank you so much for giving me the permission to skip what I so hate! I only have 2 kids and feel like I spend all weekend doing laundry!! They come take their piles on Sunday night and proclaim "baskets are for losers!" as they tromp up the stairs making a mess of my nicely folded clothes. Then they shove them in their drawers (sometimes). I've never noticed their clothes being wrinkled once they're on their bodies so from now on, I'm totally skipping the folding step! They are 12 and 14 years old and can decide for themselves if they want to fold their clothing. I'm giddy thinking about the time this just freed up of my weekends. Thanks!

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  34. Your article left me smiling - I didn't learn much because I do almost the same thing except I bring the baskets upstairs and sort on our spare bedroom bed. My children even have the same IKEA dressers! They are older and fold their clothes. I just wish I had a cool laundry shoot like you!

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  35. I've read thru most comments and haven't read anything similar to my system so I wanted to add it: we keep our clothes in the laundry room and the closet outside the laundry room door. We don't use dressers. We use industrial shelving and keep our pants, skirts, pjs (things that get folded) in hampers on the shelves. All shirts get hung up. We have 1 tall hamper we all put our clothes into and when it gets full we wash...we don't seperate clothes! Wash in cold and you don't have to. And I use my own homemade laundry soap. My oldest is usually the one who put clothes in the wash, the younger one takes it out of the dryer. We each grab what's ours and start putting it away (usually what's left is my youngest and I help her put her things away). Hangers make it really fast. We get dressed there and in the bathroom close by. We really went 'out of the box' with our system but its the easiest possible way for my family to do laundry.

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  36. Have you seen these? http://www.buyecowash.com/

    I have one and LOVE it. Saves time, money and gets your clothes clean without chemicals.

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  37. I didn't read through all of the comments but I loved your thoughts on laundry. I have 4 kids, ages 7, 5, 2, and a babe and the laundry is crazy! The kids sort dirty laundry ideally (read- most of the time it's on their floor and they do it when they clean their room) as they take it off into three baskets in their room that they share: shirts, pants, socks/undies. Then I wash those loads and they fold them and put them away. I don't mind how well they fold them because they pretty much always rifle through their drawers everyday anyway. I have found that asking a 5 year old to fold a mixed basket is overwhelming, but asking them to fold a basket of only pants or only shirts is very doable. I fold socks for them as well as do the little boys who are too young. This way they learn how to sort, fold, and put away their own laundry. Wish I had a laundry chute!

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  38. I love this idea! I didn't fold my children's laundry tonight.
    I think this will help me not only save time but frustration. I don't mind to fold, but when I went into their drawers and they were a mess I'd get upset because it wasted my time. I would try not to take it personally but it is hard. :) No folding = one happier momma.

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  39. Great way to teach your kids to be neat and organized. When they get bigger, they can do your task. I like it very much. Pretty kids to, lol

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  40. How do you not fold? I guess this part confuses me. Do you not bother folding the kids clothes for simplicity's sake?

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    1. Great question Amanda! This post explains the main reasons why I decided not to fold my kids clothes.

      http://www.aninvitinghome.com/2013/09/6-reasons-why-i-dont-fold-my-kids.html

      ~Sarah

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  41. I love reading about your system! I only have one little (so far) but I hope to remember this for when I have more. A tip I read years ago that might help with the sorting/sizes... the mom put one dot (sharpie) on the tag of her oldest's shirts. When they got passed down to the second child they added a dot. So for yours, if your 4 year olds wear the same size, you could do 1 dot oldest, 2 dots seven year old, 3 dots four year olds, and 4 dots two year old. Less to remember as far as who wears what size!

    Thanks for taking the time to share your awesome system!

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  42. Have you talked yet about ironing? That's were I always get behind. Do you do it in big batches or just what everyone is wearing that day? Thanks for the laundry inspiration!

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    1. Wendy,

      I don't do much ironing. My husband and I like to hang most of our clothes and fold the rest to be put in our drawers...like t-shirts, etc. The kids all hang up their dresses, and dress shirts in their closets. All of the play clothes go into their dressers. Sorry I can't help more when it comes to ironing tips.

      ~Sarah

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  43. thanks for sharing your great system! I have always folded my kids laundry and now that they are older...they help (sometimes), but I let them put it away. (I have one who likes to help, and one who say laundry makes her "sad"!) What I am realizing when I go in to their rooms..is the way they put it away looks like it wasn't even folded most times! (Or its shoved in all sorts of places!) Makes me think giving them a basket of their own laundry to fold would be a great idea! (We did just do over their closets today...and cleaned out their drawers to only keep those clothes they LOVE..so maybe all of this is happening at a perfect time!) thanks...I might just give this a shot :)

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  44. I do like the way your children help out!!!:) I fold my laundry right away because I hate wrinkles. One thing I started doing years ago with so much laundry that I folded, was when I lacked space in the drawers for all their shirts and shorts and pants, I began filing them sideways like papers in a filing cabinet to use up all the space in the drawers. Plus when you file them, you can see every shirt, color etc... File from left to right. You will fit more clothes in their drawers and do not have to worry when they flip the clothes upside down to get something from the bottom.

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  45. I'm with Wendy M.... when do you iron?

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  46. Dear Sarah,thank-you for sharing your wonderful tips i am looking at a mountain of washing at the moment so i need to implent your ideas before my sofa disappears forever.take care regards Stacey

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    Replies
    1. Stacey,

      This made me smile...good luck! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  47. So we are a family of 10. I have 4 bio, 2 adopted and 2 fosters. Ages are 17, 15, 15, 12, 6, 4, 19 mo and 12 mo. Can I say that I LOVE your idea....I never have time for laundry. I do once a mo. cooking to save on cost and time but with a medically fragile baby who is always at dr's apts and with after school activities laundry gets done when its needed! I love the idea that I will no longer be washing and drying and sorting and folding everyone's clothes. I also wash whites, darks, jeans, towels, sheets and Nice clothes that are air dry only so too many loads and all separately. You mentioned 6-8 pairs of pants, shirts... etc so how many pj's? Oh and thanks for sharing. It's funny a few mo. ago I decided to stop folding their underwear and to just stack them and I like it better and as far as the little one's, they mess up my folded laundry when looking for a particular shirt so I'm always having to re-fold them. I will now do this and still fold my laundry, but teenagers can fold their own if they want to and kids can just throw in their drawers unless they want to fold them.

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    1. Anika,

      It sounds like you have a fun house! :-) I would guess that the kids each have about 3-4 sets of pj's .

      ~Sarah

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  48. Living in Australia I rarely use a clothes dryer, but dry all the washing for our family of 6 on the clothesline. I take 7 baskets to the line and sort and fold (minimally) as I take the clothes off the line: one basket per person and one for towels/sheets etc. All shirts and t-shirts get hung on hangers as they come off the line. This minimises need for ironing. Then straight in to cupboards. All my kids have learned to iron and iron their own clothes when needed (not very often). I have smaller than normal baskets with handles that make them easy to carry - they look like plastic shopping baskets. And that's what makes laundry bearable in our house!

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  49. We have ten children. I love your system! We have five baskets (one for each bedroom of the house) and as I fold the laundry I put the item into the basket where it belongs (whichever room that kid is in) Every week the kids rotate chores, and there is someone assigned to "put away laundry" and so that kid will take the baskets to each bedroom, empty the basket by putting the folded clothing onto the beds, and then will return the baskets to the laundry room. I have tried all kinds of variations on laundry duty throughout the years, and this system works the best for us :)

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  50. I did this same thing but used milk crates in a shelf in the laundry room. I trained myself years ago to fold from the dryer. I never take a loaf out all at once. I sorted directly from the dryer into the milk crates and each child put away their clothes from the milk crate.

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  51. I like this idea all but the folding part. I fold all the clothes as they come out of the dryer because there are just too many wrinkles if clothes sit in a basket unfolded. Many get embedded in and even a steam iron won't get them out completely. I do however, put their folded clothes in piles which they put away themselves. Even my 4 year old has been putting away his own clothes since he was 2. With help back then of course :)

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  52. I really really love this system. We have 4 children and 2 adults in our home. I've been a homemaker for the past 8 years and just started working outside the home a few months ago... I'm still adjusting, and I feel like I'm dropping balls left & right. I'm really excited to try out your ideas with my family, thank you for sharing this creative & genius laundry system!

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  53. I am a grandma, so I am SO past this stage of life and I wonder about our "things" that we learned from our mothers. I am proud that I got over the IRONING thing. My mother ironed SHEETS and BRAS and EVERYTHING. Then I ponder my friends who's kids had to get their clean clothes from the basket where it would be folded.....later.....that is no different than getting it from a drawer in their room...except it is in their room in a drawer where they will find it quickly and not push everyone else's clothes on the floor from said basket. If you are lucky enough to have a place to place 7 baskets twice a week and blessed to have all those kids to carry them upstairs and DON'T BUY COTTON (ugh, the ironing' you know).....it's all good. ;)

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  54. Love it! We have 6 kids, and 1 on the way...but the oldest two are out on their own now. I thought I was doing great, just keeping one sock basket in the house, and all the socks go in there. No sorting of socks, no matching...everyone just digs their own socks out every morning and puts them on. I'm loving the idea of not folding the clothes anymore now too! My system has been that the kids bring their clothes to the laundry room every day, and I run at least 1 load every day. The two oldest who are still at home (11 and 10) have been taught how to run the washer/dryer, and they run loads every once in awhile too. I've been planning to put hampers in their rooms, as the laundry room is being converted into a nursery. I think I'll assign a day to our oldest two, having them do their clothes that day...and then reserve the youngest soon to be three for me. Cutting out the folding will be huge though! LOL

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  55. A friend just posted this on my FB page. We are in the process of adopting 3 kids at once! We already have 3. So my kids are 10, 7, 7, 6, 5, and 7 weeks. I wish I could attach what my laundry area looks like right now. We are remodeling our 2nd bathroom just outside the laundry area so there is a sink, vanity, toilet, and tools all over my washer and dryer. (And yes, we only have 1 bathroom right now.) So after reading this and your post about why you don't fold laundry, I do feel liberated! Not going to fold laundry any more! And may take up your idea about the dressers. I just hired my friend to do laundry for me several hours a week but this would be huge for us!! (I work 1/2 time.) So much of our time is spent folding. And why?? Just need to organize dressers and get a better system. Eight is a lot of people for laundry! Thank you!

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    1. Anne-Marie,

      Congratulations on your new crew...how wonderful! I'm so glad you could find some helpful tips from these posts! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  56. We are a family of seven and I love our system. We bring all the clean laundry upstairs to my bed. We dump it out and fold it. (Sometimes all the kids are folding, sometimes me and some of the kids, sometimes kids without me.) We fold and put things in piles on the bed of where they go. The kids like to fold their own things first but also help with other peoples, wash cloths, etc. When we've folded, the kids put their things away and anything else and then bring laundry baskets back down. For years (probably about six or seven years) I have kept a couple of kids clothes in my room. So right now my two year old has her clothes in her room, my two oldest have their in their room, and child #3 and #4 have their clothes in my room. So when it is time to put away, there are only three people's clothes that go somewhere else. Right now it works really well for us and has for a while, but as the kids get older I'm sure it will shift to their clothes all being in their own room. If I ever decide to change this, I love your method.

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  57. I just wanted to share with everyone how to resolve the wrinkle problem and still not have to fold. We use our homemade version of wrinkle spray for those who want to look nearly pressed. Neither of my teenagers like to fold laundry, but they do want to look smooth and pressed. We fill an empty spray bottle with mostly water and a couple of teaspoons of liquid fabric softener. Shake well, and spray lightly onto wrinkled garment. Then use hands to pull and lightly stretch out the wrinkles. Repeat for whole garment, taking care not to saturate garment. This works well because it gives you a wrinkle free option but you don't have to do it all the time, and it only costs pennies per bottle.

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  58. I don't fold/hang my kid's laundry either. He made the mistake of showing an interest in folding our washcloths at the age of 2. DONE! From there, I got him hanging and "folding" his clothes. We, as moms, have already done enough - we washed and dried them for you. Thanks for sharing!

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  59. I love your system as well. I have three children, ages 5,4, and 2 with a baby on the way. Our problem is we only have a laundry "closet". That means that laundry piles line the halls before being washed and the master bedroom after being washed. I haven't figured out a system that works very well for us yet. My son, age 5, has to bring me his hamper and then put some of his clothes away. My daughter, age 4, is autistic and is not quite at the level where she can independently do tasks. My other daughter, age 2, also requires help. However as my children get older and I have an actual laundry ROOM i think your system sounds fabulous. I mean really, do kids clothes stay perfectly sorted in their drawers? I fold my sons shirts nicely and he messes them all up while rummaging through. I'm all for your system!

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  60. I have a laundry room on the second floor where all the bedrooms are and everyone has their own clean basket right in the laundry room. We have three hampers in the laundry room for dirty laundry. The hampers are marked Darks, Mediums, Lights. Dirty laundry is not allowed in anyone's rooms! I do all the laundry on Mondays, and sometimes 1 load on a Sunday night since my children wear uniforms to school and need clean clothes for Monday morning! :) I fold pretty minimally, just the stuff that would get super wrinkled. I don't match socks, just put them in the correct clean basket. My kids don't have dressers! They have Church and uniform clothing hanging up in their closets, and I will go to the trouble of hanging those things back up, but everything else is found in their clean basket in the laundry room. So, the kids never have to put anything away. They just go get dressed in the mornings in the laundry room. :) It also keeps me from buying too much clothing for them, so it doesn't cause their clean basket to overflow.

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  61. So you don't fold the kids clothes and they just shove them in the drawers? Don't they look wrinkled?
    I keep everyone's laundry seperate and they are responsilbe for getting it in the washer and dryer then putting it all away themselves. I used to fold and hang for them and leave in piles according to their drawers to put away. Started that at 2 1/2 yrs old with each of them. If I mixed everything together it would take forever to sort them out again. Looking at tags is not my idea of fun. And now I have one kid that is a men's M and the other a boys M...so that wouldn't help. It takes me about 5 minutes to right side out everything and fold. It takes them 45 minutes and me screaming at them to get it done. Sometimes I let them take the 45 minutes...it is only cutting into their play time, not mine.
    I broke my wrist in October 2013 and I was sure glad I had taught them how to do laundry before that. With no family or friends nearby (we just moved to a new state) I would have had piles and piles and no one would have had clean underwear. ;-)

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    1. Janice,

      It definitely sounds like a plus that you were able to teach your kids how to do their own laundry! :-) I'm so sorry about your wrist. We know what it is like to live far away from family. :-(

      To answer your question...correct, we don't fold our kids clothes however we also try to limit the amount of clothes that they have so that drawers aren't stuffed. Given their ages and small sized clothes it works really well for us, but I know it isn't a system that will work for everyone.

      ~Sarah

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  62. I love your system of doing laundry! The reason why I always got behind was the socks!! I HATE MATCHING SOCKS!! I have 4 kids....10, 8, 5, 2...and they have a lot of socks. I recently purchased lingerie bags and have them hanging on a hook in my boys' room. They put the socks inside and when its full, I zip up the bag and throw it in the washer. When its done, I hand the bag to the child and they sort their own socks!! It's genius and make laundry so much better for me! Thanks again for sharing your successes!! :)

    Sarah :)

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    Replies
    1. I love the lingerie bag idea...so smart!

      ~Sarah

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  63. Hi Janice. Sounds like your kids are older, so in their case their clothing probably would get wrinkled in the drawers if unfolded. My kids are 0-8 years old so the clothes are smaller. They don't wrinkle. I like to think that when they're older they'll no longer UNFOLD all the clothes as they put away/rummage through the drawers too. In that case the folding won't have been a waste of anybody's time. Please tell me there's hope there. Oh please! ;-) Lol

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  64. Thanks for sharing your system. I am excited and a little leary to try out your system. Baby number 7 was born last October and laundry has officially taken over my life. I am only leary because I am also a type A personality and struggle with the idea of not folding the kids clothes. Everyone in the family will cheer when I say no more folding. Ikknow of others who don't fold and they also say it makes a big difference. I just need to die to myself and give it a try :-) I am excited because I need a big change. Right now laundry takes me all week to do and I am not getting anything else done all week. Thanks again for sharing!

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    1. Anonymous, I have six young kids, and it's overwhelming! My school age kids hang their shirts only and the rest gets sorted and stuffed in drawers (socks get matched). The younger kids just stuff. The exception is church clothes, those are hung. We haven't noticed excessive wrinkles. Not folding has made the difference between "giant pile needing to be folded" and "clothing actually put away"! My house doesn't have room for "giant pile" and there's a more peaceful feeling when laundry is in it's place... so much easier to find things! Not so much yelling in the morning "the bus is here!" "MOM, WHERE'S MY SOCKS?" Teaching kids neatness and responsibility is important, but I don't think perfection is needed, and certainly not at the expense of precious time with children ;) Give "not folding" a shot, I don't think you will be disappointed. And congrats on baby #7! Hooray for big families!

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  65. Am I the only one who makes their kids wash their own clothes? Obviously, the younger ones can't do it on their own, but starting around age 7 or 8, I always started training my kids to do their own laundry (when they are tall enough to load the washer). The older two now have their own laundry days. My three year old can't do it on her own yet, of course, but she helps me sort it by colors, and she helps fold what she is able to. This is a great area that you can teach your child to be responsible and independent, with the added benefit of it lessening your own load.

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    Replies
    1. I think teaching your kids to wash their own clothes is a great option! As well as a great solution to helping ease the load of laundry off of one person. Thanks for sharing your system! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  66. You have challenged me to be more organized, thank you! Involving the children gives them ownership and value. All homes should do this.

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  67. I used to do something similar with my 5 kids. I would wash the clothes, bring all the clean clothes into the family room and put them in a big pile on the coach or carpet, then I would have the kids all come and sit in a big circle around me with their own laundry baskets. I would sort the clothes right there with them, tossing them the clothes that belonged to them. They would fold them (as best they could) and put them in their basket, then put them away. It worked very well.

    By the time my each kid turned about 10 I started having them do their own laundry on a specific day. They washed, dried, folded and put away their own. It was so much stress off of me!

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  68. Do you have more than 1 day a week that you do laundry? Does it change every week?

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    Replies
    1. I usually do laundry two days a week and the days vary slightly. Usually it works out to running laundry about every three days or so.

      ~Sarah

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  69. I love your blog, I think I'm bookmarking it. We're parents of 6 kids, 2 to 12, and are always looking for home organization. We have a laundry system that is very similar to this and I don't fold my children's laundry either. A few wrinkles don't scare us near as much as my possible laundry-folding-induced-mental-breakdown does (you know, that "didn't I just fold this pile of toddler clothes?" blood pressure thing?) A few things that we have added to this system, maybe they'll help someone. We have made our laundry room into a family closet, and IT. IS. AWESOME!! Google it, there are many ideas! Another thing we've done is every child has one towel. Yes that's right, ONE. We do have spare towels, and beach towels, and junk towels, and guest towels, but the kids have one bath towel each. They are extra nice ones (they last longer) and have their own color and their name embroidered on them. These DO NOT leave the house (camping, pool, beach, etc.). That way, when there is a towel on the floor there is no mystery who's it is. Makes accountability easier. I just wash them, dry them, and hang them back on the hook. Another thing we do is mark their clothes with dots. a clothing marker by my sorting area makes this easy. One dot for daughter number 1, two for number 2 etc. This way handing down is a cinch (just add a dot) and I don't have to think while sorting, like when I'm exhausted, like... always. Three daughters in a row 2 years apart made this a necessity, and besides, how the heck am I supposed to know who's shirt is who's if the sizes vary from brand to brand. and what about the underwear that the size tag has washed off? I looked at the family closet ideas online, and a lot of them have a large laundry room. ours is teeny and holds six kids' clothes, has six lockers for their school bags, has all the snow clothes, a changing table and washer and dryer. it's the size of a small bedroom. I'm here to testify that you might have to be creative, but small space can be dealt with. Hope this helps someone!

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    1. Jennifer,

      I've heard a couple of times online about the family closet idea...such a great solution for big families! Thanks for sharing all of the great tips! :-)

      ~Sarah

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    2. Thank you both Jennifer and Sarah!! We are a family of 6 kids ages 1.5-15 years plus hubby and I. I dread washing! I don't mind sorting it out to wash, but the rest from there is dreaded for me. Mostof it is my attitude:( but a system that works would be awesome! ! I'll be looking into the family closet and also trying your system Sarah! My 3 older children should already be washing, hanging and folding their own by now. But they do alot of other things around our home to help! Thank you both again xx
      Karen

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    3. I've been trying to work out a way to label clothes for my two boys that will enable me to label things that are passed down. The dot.idea is great! That's my job for this weekend! Thanks for the idea x

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  70. I am a mom of FIVE kids aged 15, 13, 11, 8 and 5. With the middle three being BOYS I have my owns system for telling whose is whose. Oldest boy gets ONE DOT on all of his clothes labels. 2nd boy-- TWO DOTS. Boy #3 gets THREE DOTS. When I pass from one down to the next I just add a dot!!!

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  71. Laundry and I have an unpleasant relationship. Mostly because I am a disorganized soul and because laundry likes to multiply so quickly in my family. Thank you for this. I am now going to try this and see if it helps get me moving in a more organized fashion.

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  72. so your clothes go from washer to dryer to basket?
    i rarely use our dryer as it is a waste of electricity for us, so the hanging on the line and getting it off again takes time (even more time when i have the "can you give me another push on the swing" request over and over while trying to get the washing out or in!)
    in the winter we nearly constantly have clothes airers near our fire to dry the washing.
    so great that you've found a very time efficient way to do your laundry. :)

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    1. Caroline,

      I would love to live in a place where I could hang dry our clothes. Minnesota is probably the worst state for that since it is cold here 8 months out of the year. :-( What special memories you are making with those "extra pushes on the swing" while hanging laundry. :-)

      ~Sarah

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  73. I love this. LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT. I have seriously been thinking "why do I waste my time doing this" for the entire last year with 4 kids. 4 Children has thrown me into a completely different mind set and so many things just seem silly that I would let them take up so much of my time and mind energy. Your post helped me make up my mind and guess what. THERE IS NO PILE OF LAUNDRY on my bed or floor anymore. My kids clothes are in their drawers organized just not "folded". We even bought more hangers for tops etc. They actually are starting to fold their clothes themselves. THANK YOU. You deserve and award. Just ignore all the snotty pants comments from others because they are the type of people who probably get upset that the toilet paper roll is hung wrong.

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    1. Thanks Leisa! Reading this totally made my night! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  74. Great system! I am going to try this with my 2 boys. Thanks for the ideas:)

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  75. This is great! I am so glad my boys are finally at the age that they can fold their own clothes. It certainly does help even if its not as neat as I woukd..but they have plenty of years to practice :)

    I hope you will link this up with my Small Victories Sunday linky that's open all week! I pin the posts and share on social media. I bet my readers would love this too! http://momssmallvictories.com/small-victories-sunday-linky-8-bust-good-mother-myth/

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  76. I purchased a hanging closet divider that divides the top and bottom halves to hang clothes on, all of my kids current clothes go on the bottom half and the out of season ones that will actually get use next time get put on the top half. The kids hang up the clothes themselves, almost no wrinkles. My kids only have drawers for pj's, underwear, socks, accessories and costumes. Other than that our systems are the same. Isn't it wonderful?

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  77. I thought I would give you an idea about the socks.....My DNL has a unique way to folding socks. She hates folding socks.....so she just throws them all into a basket as she takes them out of the dryer. Then when they have "movie/game" night....They set a timer, and everyone matches socks for 15, 20, or 30 minutes (depends on the amount of socks and other time issues) and then when the timer goes off, whoever folded the most gets to pick what movie or game the family will do that night. It gets everybody involved and makes the chore go fast.

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    1. Fun game and such a great motivator to get it done quickly!

      ~Sarah

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  78. Something I did was teach my boys (I had all boys) to do their own laundry....their wives now think that was a great idea....from the time they were about 12. We're raising adults not children....too many kids are not being taught to do things and take responsibility. Kids can cook, clean, and do laundry. Let them learn while it's still fun.

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    1. That is great Ida...such a valuable lesson! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  79. Love this idea...but..wondering how they fit in the drawers? I've always thought that the reason I fold is so that they can fit in there. Any ideas there?

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    1. Shantelle,

      Great question! I think that the amount of clothes that one has as well as the size of clothes determine how well they are going to fit into drawers. For my husband and I folding works best but for our younger kids we try to limit their wardrobe so that they don't have packed drawers and their clothes are a lot smaller so everything fits. I hope that helps!

      ~Sarah

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  80. You ROCK!!!! That is so awesome!! I have a family of 7 as well and it definitely is a family project each week! But, it feels so amazing when all the laundry is done. Right now, we have to use public laundry facilities but I am so looking forward to my own washer and dryer very soon!!

    I saw you on Works For Me Wednesday! I'm over at http://www.HomeGrownMommy.com - come on over and say hi!

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  81. We have a very similar system -- except all my sorting happens in the living room, because the "laundry room" is really a closet!

    I wanted to share one tip that I use to keep the similar sized clothes easy to sort (for me and any other helping hands -- namely dad and grandma). I have twin boys, who sometimes wear the same size and sometimes don't. We have a few sets of identical shirts (they both want the green dino) and some sets of shirts that are different (I don't want the yellow surfboard!). And I can never remember which shirt goes with which boy. And when one boy gets both of an identical set, I accuse them of never changing thier clothes! So we use name bubbles. (http://www.namebubbles.com/Clothing-Labels/Tag-Clothing-Labels/Product.aspx?ProductID=11&DeptID=2&&) I put just the first name, and each son has a different color label. No more wondering who that shirt belongs to! The labels are easy to remove when the clothes are outgrown and go into the hand me down box! Makes my life SO much easier.

    Thanks for sharing your system.

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    1. Great tip! Thanks for sharing Jodi! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  82. Good for you, busy mama! Laundry is my nemesis.

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  83. OH.MY.GOODNESS! You are an inspiration and Laundry Goddess!!! I have already told my husband about your system, and we will be modifying it to work in our home. He was totally on board with the 'No Folding Kids Clothes' logic & I'm super excited to get started! Gunna make pictures to put on their bins instead of words (because they are only 2 & 4) Looking forward to more great advice from you!

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    1. Heather,

      Using picture labels for your little ones sound like a great idea! Thanks for following along. :-)

      ~Sarah

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  84. Why have I been folding my kids' laundry all this time?? They mess it up in the first dig-through to find an outfit anyway!! Going to have to try this an the sock bag idea. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Shauna,

      I love the sock bag idea...so many incredible ideas out there!

      ~Sarah

      Delete
  85. I hate folding clothes! I would rather clean toilets. I will definitely have to try your method

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  86. Haha! We are in the homestudy process to foster to adopt, and I was just telling some friends that the biggest intimidation for me is how I will keep up with the laundry for another little person in our home! Love the separate baskets in your system; this has helped me think through some changes that will help me! Thanks for sharing!

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  87. Where was Pinterest and this awesome article about 18 years ago? With 4 children, I started hanging everything on little hangers straight out of the dryer because it was such a waste of time folding their clothes. I attempted the folding, but it never failed...the outfit they wanted was the one on the very bottom...even pajamas...the ones on the bottom. My youngest is now 12. Top drawers are used for boxers and socks....the rest used for off-season clothes. I know this isn't for everyone, but it worked well for us. I wish I could have been a little less fussy about the clothes because you're right...your time with them is precious! Bravo Mom!

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  88. I like some of the aspects of this and not others. My three boys fold their own clothes - they're 11, 8 and 4, and they do a pretty good job!

    Secondly, this is very American. In Australia we wouldn't dream of wasting electricity and drying clothes year round, in fact where I live, I use the drier for probably 10 days a year, when we have consistent rain day in and day out. We hang them outside on, gasp, a clothes line which adds significantly to laundry time.

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  89. Sarah- I love your system. I have done laundry this way for years! I have a suggestion for finding out whose clothes are whose. I have 4 boys (ages 6, 8, 11, 13). On all of my first son's clothes he gets one sharpie dot on the tag. When he out grows them, or I buy something new for son #2, it gets 2 dots. Son #3 gets 3 dots, and son #4 gets 4 dots. Whenever they put on something that has grown too small, they put a sharpie dot on the tag and it gets passed down to the next brother. It works great! For socks they each have a color. Their color is sharpied onto the seam across the toe and sorted into their baskets as I go.

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    1. Awesome idea! A few people have mentioned this...it sounds like a great system.

      ~Sarah

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  90. do your kids have any clothes that are hung up?

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    1. Maggie,

      Yes! Our girls hang up their dresses and our boys hang up their dress clothes. Most of what is in their drawers are play clothes and sweat shirts.

      ~Sarah

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  91. I am a college student and I really don't like folding clothes but I have to say that I am very glad my mom taught me it wasn't an option because I wouldn't fold them ever. That would be a bad thing in the work place where I will not be able to survive wearing only jeans and t-shirts. Although you stated that you enjoy folding so I'm sure you would explain that when the time comes. Just wanted the comments section to have a different point of view

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  92. Elizabeth BeshearsApril 11, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    I have been doing those for a while except no shoot...no stairs either! Oh and i have a family of 9!!!!!

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  93. I am wondering how often you wash your sheets? I wash mine every two weeks, but I heard someone on TV saying you "should" wash them every week. Now I wonder if I am being totally gross :/

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    1. We wash our sheets every two weeks too. :-) I talked a little bit more about sheets in this post http://www.aninvitinghome.com/2013/11/a-sheet-for-keeping-track-of-clean.html

      ~Sarah

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  94. Do you keep all the kid's clothes in drawers or do you hang any of it? I currently have my kids clothes in drawers and I only hang the girl's dresses but they always have a hard time finding things that match because it's just all thrown in drawers and never stays organized in there. How do you go about keeping their clothes organized?

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    1. Vanessa,

      The boys dress shirts get hung along with the girl's dresses. It is mainly pants, pjs and play shirts in the kids' drawers. They organize them by type and keep them together in certain drawers. For instance all of the pants in one drawer. For the most part the boys have all neutral pants that go with anything. Our daughters have some coordinating outfits and they have learned what goes with what. When they were younger I would help them with matching outfits up if needed.

      ~Sarah

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  95. I have 5 children, 18,17,16 y.o.girls and 13 and 11 y.o. boys.....i love this system, however my biggest problem is finding time to even start the wsasher! Lol...my boys have baseball...pony league and little leaugue...in the evenings, weights and football in the mornings..one girl haa bowlings and works fulltime, one has student council, jv softball, rec league softball in evenongs and weights and baaketball in the mornings and the last one has varsity softball, weights, basketball and works full time..
    And oh yeah did i mention that me and my husband both work fulltime? Lol...if i could just get the laundry done while at work i could care less about wrinkles! Lol

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  96. I LOVE this! My laundry sits in a heap on my floor for days cause I just hate it so much! My kids have started helping me (I fold/organize and they run the piles up to their rooms), but I love your system of a basket for each. I think I'll still fold pants (my kids have learned how to hang shirts), but then put it all in the basket and the kids can do the rest! Thank you!

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  97. My washer and dryer are in the bathroom adjacent to the bedrooms and most items go straight into the washing machine. (Except for whites, items that might bleed or shed/ pick up excessive lint.) We're only a family of four so usually I did a load every second day. At bedtime when the clothes came off they would go straight into the machine and I would start it. After the bedtime story they were ready to be transferred to the clothes basket. In the morning when we were ready to go out to play or to the school bus I would take the basket outside to the clothesline. In the afternoon before I would go into the house to make supper the clothes would go from clothesline to the basket. In the summer I would fold as I go but in the winter I would fold them indoors.

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  98. Sounds similar to our plan but we do all the loads then dump them into a big pile. My kids are 5,7 and 9. We then make the announcement to come find your clothes. The kids find their own clothing in the pile and put it in their baskets then take them to their room to put away. Once in their room they match the top to the bottom, lay them flat on top of eachother, fold in half, then roll. Easy enough for my 5 year old to do. Then when they need clothes in the morning, they just grab a roll that is already matched and ready to go. I would be fine with the no folding thing, but they can never find the top that matches the bottom etc, so this is how we roll. (literally)

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  99. Did you write on their dressers or was that just written on the digital photo? I'm super impressed with your laundry organization. I'm always behind and my husband and daughter help me too.

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    1. Katharine,

      I digitally added that. However, putting pictures on drawers for little ones would be a great idea until they are old enough to remember what each drawer contains.

      ~Sarah

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  100. SO they do put them in drawers just not folded? Originally I thought maybe they stayed out in baskets? Laundry has always been a huge struggle for me. There are currently probably 5 loads in a basket. In Tennessee it's freezing 1 day then sweaty the next. I gain n lose weight so often, I have boys in sports, i was working and goin to school and living in 3 cities. So anyways it's always been hard for me n I love organization. Maybe the trick is to not have as many clothes for the kids bc every drawer is running over n I have 2 boys in the same size...going to donate some stuff when I get home from vacation I think. My dream is to have an organized home. But there's just so many obstacles!!!

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    Replies
    1. Yep, they go into their drawers unfolded which helps keep them a bit more organized and sorted. Tackle one obstacle at a time...I know it is hard but so, SO worth it! :-)

      ~Sarah

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  101. We use reusable shopping bags instead of laundry baskets. When not in use, they can be folded flat and take up little space. They are easy to carry when full. I use the big ones you can get at Cracker Barrel, but you could use smaller regular sized ones for little kids to haul their own laundry. I often dry some of my laundry on the line outside and it's easier, imo, to carry bags of laundry than to carry bulky baskets.

    Also, I notice you don't appear to sort by weight (I see jeans with shirts in one image). Your dryer will work more efficiently if you keep light-weight things together and heavy-weight things together in the dryer load. Granted, this may not apply to you since little kid jeans are often pretty light-weight these days. I use Shout Color Catcher and don't even worry about sorting by color anymore. Most clothes don't bleed after the first wash these days.

    My loads are more like:
    Dress shirts that get hung up
    Hubby's work pants
    Shirts and skirts
    Socks & undies
    Sweaters
    Jeans

    Also, I have my kids do their own laundry except for socks and undies that all go into one load, but mine are all 9 and older now.

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  102. Love it! We are a family of 9 (soon to be 10) and in the process of moving to a new house, so I am trying to figure out how laundry will work in our new space. This gives me several ideas. :)

    Also, not sure if it's still an issue for you, but I wanted to mention our system of keeping track of which clothes belong to which kid. Each of our kids has an assigned color (totally arbitrary, for many of them it's not their favorite color, it's just their assigned color), and we use their colors for everything. In clothing, every item of clothing has a small dot of fabric paint in their color on the tag. For shirts, this is at the back collar (even if there is no tag), and for pants it's at the back of the waistband. We also put a small dot of fabric paint on one corner of the toe of each sock. My kids have only one type of sock each, and I never pair them. They all just get tossed into each child's sock basket in our mudroom (my kids prefer to go barefoot in the house, so we only use socks when we put shoes on as we leave the house). Even my 3 year old can sort the laundry because she just identifies the color of the dot on the tag and adds it to that pile (or basket).

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  103. I have four kids ages 10, 8, 6, and 4 and work full-time out of the home. They also have a laundry basket of their own. Clothes get put away and I usually bite my tongue at hope messy most drawers look. I struggle with keeping up with all their laundry. Do you try to limit the clothes even when they are hand me downs? If so have you found a "magic" number for pants and shirts each child should have?

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    1. Yep, given their ages and this system we do limit their clothes. I think we've gone with seven for pants and shirts.

      ~Sarah

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  104. I certainly limit clothing, even with hand-me-downs. We usually aim for 10 tops, 5-6 bottoms, 2 Sunday-only outfits, and 4 pairs of pjs. With 7 (almost 8) children, this is still a TON of clothes. If we have extra hand-me-downs that are still in great condition I will occasionally keep them in an off-season box and "shop" from there first if something wears out quickly, or for saving for the next clothing switch.

    I also don't care what the drawers look like (we actually don't even use drawers right now, they have a set of boxes in their closets). I stopped folding things, and even stopped turning things right side out. The kids sort their clothes into their boxes (tops, bottoms, pjs, underwear, "special" (ballet or Karate uniforms), accessories, and hang-ups) and dump them in. The Sunday-only clothes are hung up, and everything else fits into the boxes, even when they're all crumpled and look chaotic. The kids know where to go to find a shirt or pants or something, and don't have to dig through tons of clothes to find what they want. My oldest 3 occasionally fold their own clothes, but I honestly don't care if it happens or not.

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  105. anyone can do laundry in no time if they arent folding, hanging and putting away... all you have to do is add soap and press start... the machine is doing everything... this is not a secret, obviously if youre not doing any work its not gonna take any time

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  106. Thank you! Thank you ! Thank you! This is a turning point in my life! Just wished I had read you sooner! I can't believe I did not think of it before... whenever I open my kids drawers ...It is total chaos... Don't know why I bothered folding for so many years!!!!

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  107. Hi! I really enjoyed your post. I just started a new "system", and so far we love it. We homeschool, so I realize this won't work for everyone, but when we're home we all carry our hampers to the laundry room and sort- that's my thing. When a load's been washed and the dryer buzzes we all run to grab it, like a game. The load is dumped on the couch where we each fold/hang our own clothes- hubby's thing!- and immediately run put them away. The one who gets to the dryer first doesn't have to put the next batch washing. It's made it much better than the previous way of switching clothes around and dumping them all in a huge pile where we'd dig through for what we needed because the clothes never got put away.
    Thanks for sharing your method! Blessings!

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  108. I put my 3 boys dressers in the laundry room. I can fold and slide right in their drawer. Every evening they pick out their clothes for the next day. They dont miss having dressers in their rooms at all.

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  109. What is your story on the baskets on the stair case? do you have a system with this?

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    1. http://www.aninvitinghome.com/2012/12/youve-got-mail.html

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  110. Thank you so much for being a real mom! Yours is the 3rd blog I've read today on laundry, and the only one that was not "perfect". Thank you!

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  111. We do almost the same thing at our house with 7 children...we don't fold anything at our house anymore:) I wanted to add that we color dots the tags of the kid's clothes to speed up figuring out who's shirt is who's instead of looking for the size. My oldest gets 1 dot, the second gets 2, etc. When something gets passed down to the next kid you just add a dot!

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  112. hints for corraling the dirty laundry?

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  113. Love your system for laundry. I have an idea that might be useful for some. When volunteering in a laundry that serves the homeless, I learned that they put each person's clothes all in one or two large sturdy mesh laundry bags. The laundry gets completely washed and dried in the bag. Then emptied on a work table to be folded. This, less the folding, might shave a few additional moments off your sorting and sock routines. I would empty the clean/dry bag contents into each kid's basket and put the bag in the basket for return to the kid. It might be helpful to label or color code the bags. This bag could be hung in the child's room or closet or bathroom to collect all the dirty laundry as it is removed.

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  114. That's great! I have another tip for you to make laundry a little easier. We use safety pins to pin our socks together before putting them into the dirty clothes basket. That way you don't even have to match them when they come out of the dryer. It's been a game changer.

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  115. I babysit my 3 grandkids (13, 11, 10) after school every day and help with housework. Their mom hates to fold/hang, so she gets clothes washed and they sit in the laundry room in baskets. The kids are responsible for putting their own clothes in the washer/dryer and putting them away. She never got caught up with laundry. So, I started spending time every afternoon folding for her. I recently got interested in the KonMari method (look on youtube). I taught the kids how to fold their tshirts and pants, and they not only had not trouble doing it but love having their clothes so that they can easily see what is in their drawers. We only hang dresses, jackets, and dress slacks. I got them canvas bins for their shelves so they have one for panties, one for socks, and one for bras/gymnastics. I still do the majority of the folding while they do homework and other chores, but they put them away and fold their own on the days I'm not there. It has made a world of difference in how clean/messy their rooms are (they don't drag out as many clothes looking for what they want), and the KonMari folding method makes the clothes take up so much less space than before. I would think a child could fold tshirts and pants by this method by age 5.

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Thank you for commenting, I read every single one. Because spam is so prevalent I moderate all comments. I also will delete any that are inappropriate or hurtful. All other comments will be approved and published in between me chasing around my five little tornadoes! For any specific questions feel free to email me at aninvitinghome@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and following along!

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