10 Ways to Simplify Summer Laundry

by Ivory Soap

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Summer is a great time to simplify your closet since there’s less requirement to wear something different all the time and the temperature isn’t hopping around on you. So, here’s my favorite 10 ways to simplify summer laundry.

1. Resolve to do laundry once a week.

This eliminates the need for 17 pairs of undies and 12 pairs of shorts. That right there changes EVERYTHING.

2.  Remove out of season clothing.

My kids hate to re-hang clothes. I can’t tell you how many winter sweaters I find in summer laundry because someone accidentally pulled it off the hanger and didn’t want to put it back. Put hat out of season stuff up in the attic and it won’t end up in your laundry so often.

3.  Mark 8 complete sets of t-shirts, shorts, and undies for each child.

Match and mark them in the back by day.  I do M,T,W,TH,F,S, a set of crosses for Sunday, and X for Xtra set.  Sunday is the only weird set. No shirt.  There are shorts for after church, undies, a pair of khakis and they choose one of four polos hanging in the closet.

*I found that this exercise taught me a lot about my children’s clothing needs. Who has tons of shorts? Who is naked? Who is short on shirts or comfortable undies? Who has tons of clothes that don’t match ANYTHING?

4. Banish socks for the season.

Each kid has one pair of play flops, crocks, and “dress” flops for church. No socks! But, for those times that we NEED sneakers, I have a small stash of sneakers and socks hiding in my bedroom.

5.  Keep extra in-season clothing out of reach for them, but in reach for you.

All the rest of the clothes that work for this season are in a basket at the very top of the closet.  This is what I pull from when something gets torn or irreparably stained.

6. Organize the drawers by DAY, not type of clothing.

Top drawer is Xtra set and Sunday. Next drawers are M-T, W-TH, F-S respectively. I started out using marked clothes pins to keep the clothes together on the right day, but that died almost immediately. It’s easier to label the drawer itself.

7. Check their tags.

When a kid comes out, for the first few days you may need to check the tags to make sure they aren’t mixing and matching. But most importantly, check tags to know if they remembered to change undies lately.

8.  If you need to buy, go for dark shirts, especially for baby.

I’m not big on bibs, so every baby outfit needs to be able to stand up to spillage and that under the neck snack-storage wrinkle. Less white, means less stains, means less stain-fighting and losing and having to dip into the “extras” basket at the top of the closet for new sets.

9. Color-code the grown-up towels

My kids go through towels like toilet paper in the summer. Dirty feet from not wearing our shoes, mostly. Then, Jeff or I end up towel-less after showers because the kids used them all. I tried giving each kid a color coded towel, but unless I did laundry every day, that wouldn’t work. So, Jeff came up with a great idea. He colored coded OUR towels. The kids can use any towel in the house for baths or quick clean-up, except the Burgundy one or the BRIGHT blue one. These are for Mama and Papa’s baths.

10. Cast an eye on your own closet.

I don’t mark my clothes, but I do ask myself, “Would this be in my weekly rotation, if I did?” Again, Sunday is the exception. I have a choice of two pairs of pants and five dressier shirts, so I don’t look the same at mass each week. But, WOW, a lot of clothing gets donated. I didn’t realize how many shirts and shorts and holey yoga pants I was keeping for the “I don’t feel like doing laundry days” and the stacks of clothes that will only fit “When I lose some weight.” It was just clutter! And who needs TEN sleep shirts? Seriously, Deanna.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

looloolooweez June 4, 2012 at 7:24 am

Great advice! I especially like #3 and #4… I wonder if this would work on my husband too?

Allison June 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm

I also love to banish the socks for the summer! We live in Portland, where it rains for the better part of the fall, winter, and spring, so I look forward to the dry summer as a chance to hang my laundry out on the clothesline. I do a small load (with lots of bathing suits & towels) almost every day and let it dry in the sunshine. Then by fall, I’m ready to get back to the once-a-week routine cycling many loads through the dryer. Changing the chores helps me enjoy the change of seasons all the more.

Elizabeth June 7, 2012 at 7:06 am

Laundry is my Nemesis. We haven’t eaten together as a family in months because there is so much dang laundry piled on top of the table. 🙁 This system is genius and I’m implementing it This. Weekend. My girls will cry and wail and gnash teeth, but until they start doing their own laundry start-to-finish, I just don’t care.

Jane June 7, 2012 at 10:55 am

I think it’s hilarious that you match your kids’ outfits for them! Once my kids were big enough to dress themselves, they were on their own for picking out outfits unless we’re talking a wedding or family portrait or something like that. Even for Sundays, my kids knew/know what clothing was appropriate for church vs what clothing was everyday wear and what outfits were set aside for extremely messy play because I had taught them the differences.

I completely agree about swapping stuff out for the seasons (while keeping one or two cold weather outfits accessible for camping, etc.) but for me it made more sense to teach my kids what an appropriate outfit was so they understood how to dress themselves for the weather and the occasion rather than investing my time in managing their wardrobes (rotating seasons and culling sizes is a big enough job, no?). Mine are tweens now and just last week we had several graduation events and the boy said something along the lines of “Is this a church outfit type thing or a casual type thing or something in between?” He came downstairs looking completely appropriate.

If you’re having trouble keeping up with laundry, my trick is to wash one load every day. I know people think that is insane but honestly, if you wash daily your laundry pile stays small, you almost never run out of socks/underwear/etc, and stains don’t have much time to set in. My whole family finds it a lot less overwhelming to work on one load versus 5 or 6 (or more!). No one minds stopping to play to put away 3 things or to help fold a single basket. One load a day completely changed my life! LOL!

Elizabeth June 14, 2012 at 8:19 am

So we went through all the girls’ clothes yesterday and they thought it was great fun to pick out one outfit per day for a week. 🙂 I filled a large rubbermaid tub with excess summer clothes and told them if they wanted to make a change in the rotation they had to wait at least 3 weeks. I’m hoping they’ll forget the “other” box exists. I’m working on the other ideas, but so far this one thing was a winner. No fighting or stress about getting ready to leave this morning, except they couldn’t remember where I wrote the “Th” … LOL

Oh, and my dining table has been cleared of laundry for 5 days now! I’m embarrassed that that’s a record for us, but it is what it is. My dh works nights during the week, but the kids and I have THOROUGHLY enjoyed having sit-down dinners together this week.

Nicole June 29, 2012 at 7:43 am

Hello, I’m a recent subscriber. Found you via a search for clipping chicken’s wings or something like that. Or maybe goat fencing. I can’t remember. Love your sense of humor, can relate on so many fronts, and looking forward to updates in my inbox. 🙂 -A fellow mass-going, kind-of-homesteading, suburban living mother of littles

Beth July 31, 2012 at 3:26 pm

Thanks for the advice! Is the photo from your laundry room? I would love to know where to get a table on wheels like that.

I also find it helpful to have each child have their own color for underwear and socks, it makes it easier for them to find them in the basket and put them away themselves.

I don’t fold their shirts, I just put them on hangars straight out of the dryer. They each have their own hanger colors, so they can grab their hangars out of the laundry room closet and put them away. Since our kids share rooms we only have one dresser per room for them to share, so we use the drawers for pants, pjs, socks and undies.

Ivory Soap August 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

that’s Daisy’s homemade laundry table/grow light.

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