I'm not sure what it's like for families who don't live on farms, but it seems like keeping up with the laundry around here could be a full-time job for someone.
Part of the problem is that we each have three sets of clothes — good clothes, everyday clothes, and barn clothes. Because it's at the bottom of the clothes-chain, the barn clothes category is the largest. Poop runs downhill, and so do clothes. When good clothes come down with a few too many spots and don't respond to treatment, they become everyday clothes. Likewise, when everyday clothes fall victim to the stain-monster, they get turned into barn clothes. (Where do barn clothes go when their number is called? To the shop. As rags. But barn clothes have to be pretty bad before they're cut up.)
The other part of the laundry situation is that we go through a lot of clothes. Glen and Dan, especially. I've reached the conclusion that there must be some sort of atomic attraction between Y chromosomes and dirt. I swear, it seems like all Dan has to do is step outside and he's covered in something. I mentioned this to Glen once and all he said was, "Yeah, Mom did a lot of laundry when we were little." (He has two brothers and a sister; I can't imagine trying to keep up with three boys' worth of dirty clothes!)
So, with the laundry situation as it is, I'm always on the lookout for ways to make the chore easier. (And, for me, it is a chore. I'd rather pitch manure than sort, wash, dry, fold and put away clothes. The battle with laundry is never-ending; at least with pitching manure you eventually reach a point at which you can say, "There, it's done.")
Here's the list of my favorite laundry life-savers:
1. Black, brown, navy blue and camouflage. For obvious reasons, shirts, pants and shorts in these colors are my favorites. They tend to remain in their original categories longer because they don't come down with stains as easily. Good clothes and everyday clothes in these colors can also survive an accidental trip to the barn.
2. Tide Stain Release. For those clothes that do need stain treatment, this new product is like a miracle elixir. A scoop of this (or one of the little packets) in each load of stain-prone clothes will prevent just about any stain from setting. I do still spray some of the really bad spots with Spray N' Wash, but that's because I'm probably a bit too fanatical about keeping as many clothes in their original categories as possible.
3. Two washing machines. We recently inherited a washing machine from Glen's sister and her husband. It has a slight leak and they have a main floor laundry room, so it had to go. We do our laundry in the basement, right next to the sump hole, so a slight leak isn't a problem for us. We now have one washer for good and everyday clothes and one for barn clothes. My days of load planning are over. With only one washer, I had to manage loads so that good clothes, sheets and towels never followed barn clothes. Plus, now I can wash two loads at once, which is great because we have...
4. A clothesline. Since we go through twice as many clothes in the summer (in the winter clothes are protected by snowsuits, dirt is frozen and the kids just stay cleaner), the clothesline is the only chance I have of keeping up with the piles. And there's nothing like fresh air to make clothes smell really clean. Even barn clothes smell better coming off the clothesline.
What's the laundry situation like for your family? What are your laundry life-savers?