Saturday, January 08, 2011

Ye Olde Laundry Cycle

Completely and totally boring post today. As anyone who runs a household knows, finally gaining control of a persistent problem can be unreasonably thrilling, even when the topic itself is pretty dull.

I never used to have much problem with laundry. When I lived at home, Mom did it. Then when I got married, we each did our own. I had enough clothes and could wear them enough times between washings that I rarely had to wash.

Well, now I'm Mom, and I work part time and Mr. Knitty works full time, so guess what I get to do. Everyone's laundry, including the household laundry. Joy. I don't particularly care for doing laundry. It seems like way too many steps for a mostly automated process. I mean, it's not like I have to boil water over a fire or beat my towels on rocks. I'm fine through filling the machine and then running it. But then I tend to forget stuff. Because the laundry cycle is long enough that you can go do something else, but not SO long that you can just go off and get involved in something. Even if I do remember to put it in the dryer, I forget to take it out of there, because the dryer cycle is also too long/not long enough. Then everything's wrinkled....blah blah blah.

I also really hated doing laundry because someone "ran out" of something; clean underwear, shirts, etc.

Ironically enough my solution came with a friend's suggestion of line-drying my laundry in order to save on energy. Fresh airy scent and environmental good aren't really enough to convince me, but lower bills are! However, I only had enough line space and clothespins to hang one big load at a time. My usual laundry day involved 4 loads, and not enough time in between to dry. Meaning I could line dry one load, and the rest had to go in the dryer. Not only did this mean that I had my old dryer problem still in force, but the savings for line drying only 25% of the laundry are pretty minimal.

I had an idea. I work three days a week. Two days off and two days on the weekend. Usually on my days "off" when I'm taking care of the kid, I'm looking for things to do! So I let one problem solve the other. I decided to do one load of laundry on each of my days off.

Whatever is in the laundry basket goes in in the morning. This is typically one very full load. I wash everything in cold and I wash everything with the same detergent so I don't really separate laundry, I just pitch it all in. I have my coffee and watch a movie with Maggie. This is my usual ease-into-the-morning routine; I'm paying attention to her but nothing too intense. It also serves as a good timer---once the movie is over the wash cycle is done and I can hang up my stuff.

I put Mr. Knitty's underwear, jeans, tshirts, and our towels into the dryer. I hang everything else. Towels just don't dry nicely on the line, and Mr. Knitty's things take too long to dry on the line. I'd rather leave room for the things that dry nice and quick. I hang sheets too because our dryer wads them up into a bundle that leaves the inside damp even when the outside is dry.

In the winter, I have a line hung in my laundry room, plus a round hoop with pins on it to hang small items like my and Maggie's socks and undies. I let Mr. Knitty's dress shirts tumble for one minute in the dryer while I'm hanging the other things, then I hang them up. The steam releases the wrinkles and they look like they've been ironed!

Now the things can dry at their leisure. The things in the dryer are not things that need to be immediately folded---no one cares if their towels are wrinkled! So if I don't remember them for a couple of days, no harm done. The things on the line aren't going anywhere either. I take them down when I have the time. This effectively cuts my laundry time in half, because I'm not "on the hook" for a folding appointment.

On the weekend, I usually do two loads, making a total of 4 loads a week. It's the same amount as before, but now it is spread out. 1 hour every few days is much better than doing laundry ALL day. Because there is only one or two loads at a time, the basket is easier to carry, the folding doesn't take as long, and putting everything away takes less than 10 minutes. Plus it's not the horrible dreaded job it used to be, which is often the problem with unpleasant household tasks. We put them off until they become even WORSE.

So now I have my laundry cycle in place, and no one is running out of clothes, and I don't have to spend my entire Sunday washing. I also am saving a lot of energy, which is good for my wallet and the environment. I'm also rarely rewashing loads that got left in the washer and got stinky (I think this has happened twice in the last 6 months).

I find this system more convenient than putting it off, and how often does something MORE convenient save money?