Of Orphan Socks and Mt. Washmore

by Kimba on April 20, 2011

in Cleaning Stuff,Laundry Room,Organizing

Some days I think that the laundry in our house self-generates. Just when I think I have it under control, there are 5 more loads, no one has clean underwear and my hubby is out of dark socks. Again. Are you feeling me here?

If we’re friends on Facebook, then you may have heard me commit to conquering Mt. Washmore once and for all. I desperately need to find a system that works for our family and I begged all of you beautiful, brilliant people to share your laundry wisdom with me. And considering that it was, by far, the most active discussion I’ve ever had on Facebook, I think I hit a nerve.

Apparently, I’m not alone in my laundry struggles. Some of you were quick to share some sage advice and the strategies that work for you.

I do laundry catch up and sheets on Monday. I try to do a load a day at least folded on other days. Monday usually ends up being the great put away, but I’m trying to break that habit and carry a load up when I walk up the stairs.” Heather ~ Home Ec 101

I do sheets and bed making on Saturday, clothes laundry on Sunday for the coming week and then Wednesday evenings (I work full time outside the home) I analyze the laundry situation to see if I might have to do a load or two to hold us over.” ~ Jill

I used to do everything at once, which I think was a habit leftover from my college coin wash days, but a few months ago I switched to the load a day method. Changed my life.” ~ Audra

I wash one load every day, except for Fridays & Saturdays. I start the load at night, put it in the dryer in the morning & fold. The boys’ clothes go into their baskets (they stay in the laundry room) & they put away the entire basket on Fri. morning. I put away our clothes every day.” ~ Christi

I have three bins that stack on top of each other/reds, darks, and whites. Then two laundry baskets/one for undergarments and socks the other for clean clothes. Every morning and every night I call for dirty laundry and it gets sorted ASAP…….then the next day I do all the laundry and most of the time I can go a couple of days without having to do any…the key is ORGANIZING it all.” ~ Amy Jo

And will someone please tell me that I’m not alone in needing to start an orphanage for all of the single socks? That picture was taken after I had finished washing all of the dirty laundry in my house!!!

You all had some advice there too:

I put orphan socks in the owners drawer. Then about once a month after I do whites I go thru and match. If I still have orphans, they get thrown out.” ~ Fay

I have a basket where they all end up then every now and again, I dump it and make the kids sort and match them!” Krissie ~ Always Alleluia

I have those zippered lingerie bags for each member of the fam. I hang them on their closet door and at the end of each day, they remove their sock and place them in the bag. When I go to do laundry, the bag gets zipped up, washed, dried, and handed back the owner. They are responsible for putting their socks away-and they always have a match!” Ashley ~ Our Daily Chocolate

And some of you just made me laugh!

Laundry is my kryptonite. When we were shopping for a sofa, my husband asked the sales lady if we could bring in a basket of clean clothes to toss on the sofa so that we could know for sure if it was the right one for us.” Nicki

We live out of laundry baskets most of the time unless i have a fleeting moment of insanity and put it all away.” Emily ~ Remodeling This Life

Save the WORLD, Kimba. I so needed you to get this answered for me!” Jen ~ 4tunate (Jen has quadruplets, bless her heart)

I don’t know that I’m saving the world here, but I would love to hear from YOU! What’s your best laundry tip or trick? How do you keep from being buried under Mt. Washmore?

This post is part of a series sponsored by Electrolux as part of Homebuzz. I received an Electrolux washer and dryer in exchange for my participation. The opinions stated in this post are my own. The piles of laundry are also my own.

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1 Jessica April 21, 2011 at 10:41 pm

One thing I do is that I never ever ever ever remove the clothes from the dryer unless I am ready to fold them and put them away. That way there may be a mountain of dirty clothes, but I don’t have two mountains (one clean and one dirty).

I try to do some laundry every day. Some days it is just one load, but at least it is something.

2 Deborah April 21, 2011 at 11:21 pm

My MIL likes to tell me over and over again that if I simply fold the laundry as I pull it out of the dryer and put it away right then, my laundry woes would be gone. Great advice for someone with two available arms at all times. I, on the other hand, have always have (up until the last year or so) had at least one, if not two babies in my arms all day, for the last 10 years. And in the last year that I have been babes-in-arm free, I am simply more interested in my freedom to be stuck folding laundry.
I do, however, have my own system of sorting everyone’s clothing into their own labeled baskets and putting that on their beds for them to take care of (or not). All except for the youngest one’s and the linens.
Deborah┬┤s last blog post ..Easter Egg Packets

3 Gina April 22, 2011 at 12:06 am

Number 1: I buy purposefully mismatched socks for the girls, no orphans, no sorting!

Number 2: I don’t fold my husbands clothes, because I just don’t do it right. (His words, not mine) Glory, hallelujah, that means less work for me!

Number 3: Unless it’s visibly dirty or really stinky it gets put away after being worn (yes, I do tell my kids to sniff the bottoms of their pants-just to check).

And number 4: Wash every other day or so, save one day for sheets and then I make the kids sort and put stuff away with me.

It’s not rocket science, it sure isn’t organized but it works for us! (and incidentally, I’m okay with a pile here and there-I know some folks aren’t down with that at their houses, but it’s all about what works for us!)

4 Melissa April 22, 2011 at 1:51 am

We instituted a family laundry day back in Sept and it has worked out really well. We have 4 kids, the oldest are 7 and 8. Our son (8) has Mondays. So, every Monday he brings down his pop up mesh hamper from his room, throws in a purex 3in1 laundry sheet and starts his laundry after breakfast. When the cycle is done he puts in the dryer. After dinner he is responsible to take his clothes up the stairs and fold and hang and put away. Tuesdays if for our daughter, 7. Who does the same thing. Wednesdays is baby laundry and the kids switch off weeks for whomever is in charge of that. They have to seperate it until baby boy or baby girl piles and put in their room and I put away. Thursdays is my day, Friday is Hubs (he does his own after work) and Saturdays is sheets and towels. Sunday we abstain from any laundry activity. Seriously I was drowning in laundry and the overwhelming, never ending-ness of it before we did that. Now I only have to think about Thursdays and make sure either Hubs or I throw the dirty towels and linens in on Saturday and get them put away. Our kids have proven they are more than capable for putting away and cleaning their own clothes… praise GOD!

5 christi {Jealous Hands} April 22, 2011 at 6:52 am

Hey! I’m famous! My last night’s load is almost finished drying now, and & I’ll have it folded in the baskets (and mine & hubby’s put away) long before the boys even wake up. I’m telling you, one load a day is the way to go! ­čÖé

6 Jess April 22, 2011 at 8:02 am

I am not one to talk since I am sitting on the couch with a pile of clean laundry taller than I am. (It will be gone today since Easter is @ my house) But one thing that a wise woman told me was to sort by person and not laundry type. This way at least when I do get something folded I know that it all goes in the same bedroom.
I am going to institute the mesh bag for the socks. I hate orphan socks.

7 Heather April 22, 2011 at 9:28 am

I’ve suffered with laundry woes more often than I care to admit! It’s never been my favorite job, but I do it in service to my family, grateful for the tools I need to keep my family clean! I keep up with the washing by doing one dark and one light load every day but Sunday. We strip all the beds (even the dog’s) every Saturday and put on different fresh sheets and I do 3 loads on sanitize to keep the dust mites at bay.
We hang our clothes up to dry because they are all natural fibers ( I am allergic to polyester), but that means ironing – that’s my biggest problem! Mount Ironmore frequently grows to overwhelming proportions! I’ve just recently hired my 13 year old to iron her brother’s clothes – she’s been doing her own for a couple of years. That’s relieved the burden greatly and she’s saving up for a new piano, so every bit helps!
After my 3 loads Saturday morning, the kids fold and put away the sheets straight off the clothesline, or if it is rainy, from the dryer. If someone gets distracted and a pile of clean wash lands where it ought not to I put out the ‘call’ for ‘Speedy’s Delivery Service’ and they race around the house taking all of washing to appropriate room/closets/drawers.
Saturday night is shoe night! Sunday dress shoes get polished and put by the door. All of the running shoes and the mat at the door get thrown in the washer since we will wear dress shoes on Sunday. I don’t EVER put our shoes in the dryer but put them in a warm place to dry. By afternoon play time their runners are dry.
I struggle with chronic illness, so keeping up with anything is hard at times – having a system that works for us is important, and we keep ‘tweaking’ it as needed to meet our needs – I don’t think every family will do it the same way. Families go through seasons of business, illness or family changes during which well established routines are either the glue that holds everything together organizationally, or they have to be revamped or even abandoned to better suit the needs of the time.

8 Lisa April 23, 2011 at 9:09 pm

I understand the need to have a system. I suffer from a chronic condition too. I need to keep up so it does not become a mountain. Being organized has helped me significantly. I am lucky enough to have helpers who are able to pitch in. Our method is remarkably similar to yours. Two loads a day and sheets on Saturday. Line dry when weather permits. I wish you the best with your chronic condition.
Lisa┬┤s last blog post ..In my Garden

9 Sara Tetreault {at} Go Gingham dot com April 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm

I have 4 dirty laundry baskets that are labeled. This helps with the sorting of dirty clothes. My kids (ages 12 and 14) buy their own socks (and most other items) so they’re really good about not having orphan socks – imagine! They also do their own laundry which makes my job tons easier! They each have their own dirty laundry basket. The exception is whites. I wash the whites because our family has only 1 load of those a week.
Sara Tetreault {at} Go Gingham dot com┬┤s last blog post ..Turn Artwork Into Wall Decor

10 Taryn April 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm

Laundry has, after 14 years or so, settled into a nice routine. Each morning as part of their chores, one of the boys sorts the dirty laundry into the four large wheeled baskets in the laundry room. I then throw a load in the washer and move it to the dryer when I put the little one down for his nap. The following morning, one boy removes the laundry from the dryer (while the other is sorting) and folds and sorts it into piles for each person. Each boy then takes his pile and puts his clothes away. I even have the little one’s closet set up so he can hang up his own clothes. I have him bring me his empty hangers and I put the clothes on them and he hangs them up. It actually works really well, and probably only takes 5-10 minutes of effort a day. My oldest is almost ready to learn how to do the wash himself, but the two oldest boys are color blind, so I have to figure out a way to check the sorting before things that shouldn’t, go into the wash together!

11 Terria April 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Well I think I have the load a day system but the along thing is I have tons of clothes to fold. I wash a load a day but I have to force myself to fold them . I hate folding, but I think once I get that down the load a day system will work perfectly for the family. Everyone basket has a day except for Friday and Saturday I take those days for myself;)

12 Kelly April 23, 2011 at 7:06 am

Simple: everyone does their down laundry (ncluding folding and putting ’em away) in my house and that includes my husband. My youngest is not tall enough to do his own laundry (I do his for now) just yet but as soon as he grows to be able to touch the buttons, he will do it all by himself. It has really saved my sanitity!!!!!

I do towels every Tuesday and sheets every two weeks on a weekend.
Works for my family beautifully!

13 Brown Eyed Girl April 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Kimba…this is such a constant battle here too…4 kiddos make for a lot of laundry! My orphan sock pile is actually a basket, as someone else posted…about once every month (or when it is piled so high I can’t add anymore) I sit on my bed, pop a chick flick into my DVD player, and sort socks till kingdom come! My only additional laundry tip was passed along to me by 2 other friends, also with larger families, who swear by the 2-day rule. They do ALL of their laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. They start early and end late, and plan it around work, kids activities, errands, etc…but it all gets done! I can attest that once you catch up and make it your habit, this DOES WORK! and is blissful when you stick to it, but so far I am only able to really pull it off in the summertime, when the loads are lighter. Usually during the 2 major season changes I have too many clothes out, since it might be 30 degrees one day, and 72 and sunny the next… this always throws my system into a tizzy, and I am back on the constant-loads-of-laundry wheel. But I am hopeful for next fall, because my youngest will be in school all day, and I am crossing my fingers for larger chunks of time to clean out the excess in closets and drawers, so that I can maybe make the 2-day rule a year-round reality here, too!

14 MaryC in VA April 23, 2011 at 8:13 pm

I don’t know about the whole laundry process, but I have found one trick that helps with the folding and putting away part: when I take a load out of the dryer I set it in the chair at my computer desk so that I have to deal with it before I can sit down again. Works everytime!

15 Lisa April 23, 2011 at 9:17 pm

In order to keep up with my laundry I have found I have to do two loads a day. I do one in the morning and one overnight. I hang up laundry outside when possible. Beds are stripped once a week. Usually on Saturday. We have 2 sets of sheets for each bed, so the bed can be remade right away. As for socks they all go in a sock basket and once a week I or one of the children will mate up the socks. I pay the kids for matching socks for each pair. I also leave any loose change in the washing machine for the laundry helper to find.
Lisa┬┤s last blog post ..In my Garden

16 Penny April 23, 2011 at 11:14 pm

I have a laundry chute. The laundry stays in there until I am ready to wash it. I love that it is hidden in the walls of the house and not in piles all over! I start wash in the evening on Monday while I sew, then flip the last load in the dryer before I go to bed. As I take clothes out of the dryer I always lay the shirts flat, fold the pants and put the socks and undies on the bottom of the basket. Tuesday morning I get help to fold it all then the baskets go in the hall outside each persons room for them to put away (my kids are 10 and 12… big enough to help). I’ll just say, you best have checked your basket before you holler “Ma…where’s my__________??!!”
Penny┬┤s last blog post ..I thought it was spring!

17 Laura April 24, 2011 at 7:02 am

I’ve had mylaundry system down for the last 5 years and it works well for me. 3 kids, 2 adults. The kids have one decorative wicker hamper [more like a chest size] in the upstairs hallway. My husband and I have our own which has two slots, lights/darks. About every 4-5 days I go through the kids and sort: darks, lights and underwear/pjs/socks. In the winter, I usually separate the darks into pants and shirts separately b/e of size of the pants. I hang just about everything up, we all have generous closets. This makes it easier, but also easier when I know I have shirts to hang, I have all the hangers in the mudroom with me. My husband and I have enough socks/underwear to last a good 2 weeks. I do the kids’ laundry more often to keep on top of it. I do our laundry after I’ve finished with kids’ stuff. Folded things go into a laundry basket, carried upstairs, laid out on our bed and the kids are expected to come and put things away.
Laura┬┤s last blog post ..Military wife is new to couponing

18 Marcie April 24, 2011 at 10:42 am

The schedule I aspire to, but doesn’t always happen, has for many years been clothes laundry on Mondays and bedding/towels on Thursdays which is also the day I do bedroom cleaning. We did cloth diapers with our kids so of course there was diaper washing several times a week then as well. Now it’s just the hubby and I and I don’t always stick to the schedule since there is less laundry. In the summer I hang most of the laundry outdoors on the line so it is also dependent on the weather. The only problem with that is I hate to iron with a passion, and line dried clothes need it more than dryer clothes. Therefore my ironing basket becomes a mountain that sits for weeks sometimes.

19 The Lovely One April 24, 2011 at 12:59 pm

The love the comment about putting a pile of clean laundry on the sofa before buying it! That’s my family to a tee!
The Lovely One┬┤s last blog post ..Fatabulous Friday

20 Quiltrobin April 24, 2011 at 9:49 pm

What a great question. I loved reading all the comments. I like the load a day system, it works great for me. We are a small family, just the two of us, so I even get to skip a day occassionally. I like how the FlyLady says it: reboot the laundry every day. I had to learn a few new things in order to do this successfully:
1. it is not a crime to run a small load! the washing machine even knows how to do this effectively and efficiently.
2. the world will not end if you mix lights and darks! I’m careful with new dark, red, or hand dyed stuff on the first load or two, after that anything goes.
3. no one will die if you wash a towel with your clothes! i used to segregate everything so carefully, but I’m much looser about this now. Lingerie bags really help with this.
I am also a stickler about folding laundry while it’s still warm because it virtually eliminates wrinkles and ironing. Putting it away is my down fall – we seem to have more clothes than drawer and closet space.

21 Lari April 25, 2011 at 11:47 am

It’s a constant battle around here too. I have 4 boys ages 2-14. There’s always laundry to do! One thing that works well that I started when my older 2 wear little was to have them sort their own laundry. I had a dual hamper in their bathroom and they would sort when they got undressed for their baths. Another thing I do to combat the “orphan” sock issue (although at my house it’s usually a holey sock issue LOL!) is to buy the same socks, it doesn’t really matter if they’re the “original” pair, they all match. Sorting them now is easy too because Hanes makes each size w/ a different color stitching, no more guessing what pairs go together or who they belong too. My older 3 also fold and put away their own laundry…it’s not perfect but they need to learn how to do it and it helps me a lot.

22 lisa April 25, 2011 at 9:33 pm

I tend to keep up on laundry, but I decided last year to just buy my hubby and kids double the amount of underwear and socks that I usually would, that way if I am behind a few days no one pays the price, but the laundry basket. When they start complaining again, it’s time to buy more again.

23 Megan April 26, 2011 at 10:21 am

I’ve just accepted that laundry is an irregular thing around here and I don’t stress about it anymore. I do a few loads every couple of days and sometimes they get folded right away and sometimes they don’t. Then I have a burst of energy and motivation and get it all put away one day and I’m caught up…for about 12 hours. I have 2 year old twins and a 7 month old, so I just don’t worry about the laundry getting perfectly organized anymore, because it’s just nearly impossible right now.

24 Megan April 26, 2011 at 2:41 pm

PS I also quit folding the kid’s clothes. I simply fling them in their drawers for a faster job. It’s pointless at their age because they somehow manage to pull all their clothes out when I’m not looking then it really made it pointless. So I decided at this point that’s a waste of time and so is folding my underwear.

25 Brittany April 26, 2011 at 10:37 pm

I do my two girls’ clothes on Monday, my husband’s dress clothes and any ironing on Tuesday, sheets and towels on Wednesday, and my and my husbands’ whites and colors (non-dress clothes) on Thursday. It would be nice to get it all done in one day so I don’t have to look at the washer or dryer for the rest of the week, but my attention span is too short so I can’t remember that I need to change the laundry over ­čÖé

26 Rachel Brosnahan April 27, 2011 at 3:44 pm

Right now, I do all the laundry on Saturdays since I work full time during the week. That makes for a crappy catch-up day weekend, but right now, it’s working OK.

And as for the orphan socks, all my husband’s socks look pretty much alike and even if they didn’t, when I met him, he rarely wore matching socks, so I just put all the clean socks into a bin and don’t worry about matching them up. And I’ve been doing that with mine too lately, though I try to find matching ones to wear!
Rachel Brosnahan┬┤s last blog post ..Caught in a Whirlwind

27 Melissa May 8, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Like others who commented, I do certain laundry on certain days of the week. The thing about this that is so helpful for me, besides the fact that I don’t have to dedicate enormous amounts of time in a day to laundry, is the fact that I have stopped seeing laundry as ever being “caught up” or “done.” It’s a _process,_ and if I achieve what I was supposed to in a given day, I’m on track. That has helped tremendously with my attitude. I’m a project completion kind of girl, and when I do all of the laundry and then watch it start accumulating again, I get discouraged. When I focus on getting a single load accomplished and staying on track, I feel more in control, and I let myself off the hook instead of feeling like I need to keep plowing through the piles. Plus, my family knows when to expect for things to get done so they can make requests if something is an emergency.
Melissa┬┤s last blog post ..19 Months and 5 Years Old

28 Gloria @ White Wicker Hamper May 12, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Any watery works is a big no-no for me. I really dont like my hands getting wet especially handling wet clothes. LoL! My husband does the laundry for us, but at times when he is not available, i need to step up. I used these gloves but it after quite some time in those, gets me a discomforting feeling.
Gloria @ White Wicker Hamper┬┤s last blog post ..White Wicker Laundry Hampers ÔÇô Offering a Convenient and Gorgeous Way to Organize Your Laundry

29 Apron Appeal May 18, 2011 at 6:07 am

I stopped separating my kids laundry (unless it’s a fancy dress or new jeans/red shirt). Their clothes go from the floor to the laundry basket, directly into the wash, transfered to the dryer and then back into their laundry basket. They (ages 6 & 8) then fold and put away their own clothes. It has cut my laundry stress in 1/2 and I longer walk around petitioning other to embrace the nudist movement (that was my previous solution).
Apron Appeal┬┤s last blog post ..Orange Rolls

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