Doing The Washing, The Folding, The Ironing……..

Doing The Washing

Today’s post was inspired by questions sent in by Fleur who was specifically interested in:

Laundry routines, how do you get washing dry in the middle of winter, how do you keep up with the laundry folding, how to get kids (and husbands) more involved in household chores

When I read these questions I thought that I was probably not the best person to answer them! Sometimes, when we have had one of those incredibly busy weeks, you will see a mountain of washing to be folded and dealt with in our front room. I still manage to get the washing done (out of necessity) but if time is tight, folding tends to be one of the things that I drop the ball on. I am working to improve this, because the flow on effect of not having the washing up to date is never very pretty (Mum where’s my footy shorts??? Mum where’s are my school socks and so on and so on.)

But I thought I would still share what I do, as some parts do work better than others and for some I know what I should be doing, I just haven’t got implementation right yet :) .

Laundry Routines

The school children have two complete uniforms (my daughter only has one pinafore though) and one sports uniform each. They all have sport on Thursday. From this I know that for them to have clean uniforms I MUST wash Tuesdays and Thursdays. Like most mum’s with a large family, I usually do the washing every day, but I like having these days in my head, so I know what my minimum requirement is to get through the week.

Drying The Washing In Winter

As you can see in the photo above, I am pretty creative where I hang my washing to dry. In winter, I find it really difficult to dry things outside, so from June until early September, I basically don’t use our clothes line. In the front room I use the curtain railing to hang things like shirts and dresses, and then we have a clothing horse semi-permanently placed over a ducted heating vent.

I also have to confess to using the dryer for socks and undies. This does make my green credentials look pretty shabby and I try and make myself feel better about it by paying for 25% Green Power, but which is not perfect, but better than nothing. I did this last winter and will do it through this winter as well. With the baby being older and a preschooler in longer hours at preschool next year, I am hoping to move away from this practice.

How Do You Keep Up With The Laundry Folding

As I noted in the intro, I only keep up with the laundry sometimes. What has worked well for me, is making sure that I fold it as soon as I take it off the clothes horse or clothes line. Just got to do it all the time!!!!!

I think I would keep up laundry folding so much more if I didn’t blog quite so much :) . We do have a cool little set up for the ironing that also builds up at our house as well – an ironing trolley.

How To Get Kids (and husbands) More Involved In Household Chores

As I was writing this post, I was thinking, this is the solution. Get the kids back to folding the washing! It sounds great in theory, but in practice I haven’t been able to get it to work. I am a strong believer that kids need time to play and just hang out. With after school activities, reading, homework and other week end commitments, there isn’t too much time left over. At this point in their lives, I have decided to spare them the extra work load of folding the washing.

However, once we have folded the washing it is placed at each child’s door (it is usually folded at night) and the children need to put it away themselves. They do this moderately well, I would like it completed neater, but I have to remember they are kids. There are the occasions when I open a wardrobe to see the pile has simply been shoved in the corner, but I will call them back in to fix it, which annoys them, so they don’t tend to do it that often.

Washing and ironing is an area where my husband is really quite fabulous. He does almost all of the ironing (while watching sport on TV!!) at night and on the weekends, he will do the washing and folding while I am blogging as it is needed.

As I have started to get more serious about blogging and some other online ventures, my husband has really stepped up his support and started doing so much more in this area. It has been a gradual process and I think one of the things that really helped with this was him spending time at home during the school week with the kids and seeing what happens if this part of the household isn’t organised.

So as you can tell, I certainly have no fool proof processes to share with Fleur here! If you have some tips and tricks that have helped you tame the washing beast in your house, I think we would both love to hear them in the comments below.

This post is part of a series where I answer questions from my readers. If you have a question that you would like me to answer, please feel free to leave it in the comments below. Other posts answering reader questions can be found by clicking here: Reader Questions.


  1. says

    Great post, Nicole. When I read your header I did think to myself ‘how does she manage with five kids?’ as I looked at the horror that is my laundry, and I only have two! I have no hints or tips, other than do something every day, but truth be told, I’d much rather make clothing than wash, dry, fold or iron it!

  2. says

    when I started working fulltime at the beginning of this year, I made myself go out and buy extra pairs of pants/shirts/jumpers for my son, because I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up with washing every other day (single mum of a toddler – I just wasn’t able to keep on top of things when working fulltime). This time also coincided with Dardo toilet training, so at least I had plenty of backup pairs of pants etc for accidents.

    I don’t even bother with folding clothes some days … they just get stuffed straight into the drawers. :/ Every couple of weeks I end up going through drawers and folding things. I get stressed when I see mess in my house, so I guess this is just an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ thing for me. I

    • says

      You do have to really take a practical approach don’t you? I recently bought more school socks, because they seemed never to be enough and I was spending too much time hunting them down.

  3. Mr Infrastructure says

    Good post PlanningQueen (or should I say, Mrs Infrastructure)

    Thanks for the kind words. Collingwood for premiers 2010!

    Mr Infrastructure (or should I say Mr PlanningQueen)

  4. says

    This is hilarious, the other day I was hanging out socks and thought, Nicole would be proud of me, because the laundry is the one area I’m actually organised! I almost approach anal.

    We wash throughout the week not all on one day, it gets us outside and helps with our little tiny line. We have a clothes airer but it is for the girls – they love hanging out washing too. I often put a load on as soon as I get up, then it’s ready to go when we’re heading outside. We’re lucky to have a big undercover area for the wet season.

    I don’t iron at all, so everything is hung meticulously even to using coat hangers. This is easier because of where we live, if we had to have ironable clothes it would be a bit more difficult! As I’m hanging socks are sorted over the side of the basket then hung in pairs, so when everything is coming in it is folded straight into the basket, including the socks.

    Putting away is another game, at least for the little one. Or if it builds up, we have a family session on the weekend – Dad sorts into piles, girls run back and forth carrying things, I stay in the bedroom and put things into drawers.

  5. Annie says

    I could say I am far from an expert in this area ( and I am!) but congratulations to all of us that this repetitive never-ending job gets done to any standard at all and let’s talk ourselves up as we struggle through ‘women’s work’ ! I wanted to share that folding the clothes as I take them off the line and sometimes even taking them off according to drawer/room so piles just have to be divided is the most efficient way I’ve found. (The latter happens half the time, the former pretty much always-just a habit) Also I was lucky enough to have central heating installed in the roof recently and had a hanging rod put in under the vent in the laundry. This has CHANGED MY LIFE!

    • says

      Such lovely positive words Annie – thanks so much for writing them! I would love a drying room / hanging rod, they sound completely fabulous for Melbourne.

  6. says

    We used to have the children in child care help us fold the washing, just one or two children at a time with a staff member and it actually provided a nice time to just chat with those children without the distraction of everyone else.

  7. says

    Nicole, it is like you were writing this from my house ~ but I only have two kids! This is pretty much the same routine we have, right down to the undies and socks in the dryer. Again, folding is the one thing I can let slip, and sometimes I just dump it on the couch {where they can’t miss it} and Hubby does it at night while I’m at work. My only stipulation, I try and get it done on Friday so no washing on the weekend!
    ps. and the paragraph about working harder on blogging and the Mr picking up the slack, ditto! Aren’t they great.

  8. says

    Great post!

    A quick tip I have is this:

    When you’re hanging out the washing, hang it in categories that correspond to the various cupboards and wardrobes in the house, eg jumpers together, socks together. That way, you can take it off the line, fold it and it will automatically be placed in the right order to make putting things away quicker.

    I also hang socks in pairs, it seems to make it easier later on.

  9. says

    I hate folding but I have found the most wonderful way to keep on top of this.
    You can see my secret it in my latest post funnily enough that is so out of date – i am a little behind but releent to this.
    I have done away with draws and selves except for undies and socks – Everything else is hung on Coat hangers – In teh girls rooms we put a lower level of hanging as well as their stuff is smaller and everyda item are on lower level and less used are on a higher level.
    Not only does it make it easy for them to choose clothes without pulling everything out of draws but here is the real secret – when its wet I put it on coat hangers to dry – In summer these coat hangers go on the line, in winter on the clothes horse – and when they are dry – straight into the wardrobes – no double handling – no pegs marks – no fold marks – reduced ironing – In winter i fall behind though – just because i cannot dry as easily but it stil works

  10. says

    Laundry will always be the bain of a mom’s existence. It’s just one of the laws of life that you can’t get around. I can’t tell you how often I say to whoever happens to be nearby (or on the phone to my mom) that “I do not understand how I get so behind on laundry when it seems I am always doing it!”

    It just is. We ought not to fight this fact of life. But even as I say that, I know I will still constantly wonder: where did all these dirty clothes come from?

    P.S. During the summer my husband goes through three changes of clothes a day (more or less) because of the heat. Lovely.

  11. Michelle says

    I’m with Steph. I put EVERYTHING on coat hangers from straight out of the washing machine and then put them on a clothes horse over the ducted heating vent. Socks and undies just go on in the usual way but in pairs. Not only can you fit twice as much on your clothes horse, they self iron themselves and are ready to go straight into the cupboard.

    We also put a ducted heating vent in our laundry and installed a fold out clothes line in the laundry so that the front room didn’t look like a dry cleaners!

  12. says

    I used to have set washing days, but that’s no longer practical, so I wash whenever I can – put a load on at night before bed, first thing in the morning etc. I try to fold as I bring things off the line. The kids get involved and put their own things away (with a bit of help and encouragement!) And I don’t iron, unless I really need to. (My kids didn’t know what an ironing board was until I bought a toy one for their cubby a few years ago….!)

  13. Cath says

    This is how I manage it:
    * ducted heating vent in the laundry with a large clothes airer underneath
    * socks and knickers in the dryer
    * no ironing at all
    * I take my husband’s shirts to the local drycleaner – 5 for $12.50
    * when I bring in the washing I sort it into piles on the lounge room floor. Then I play a game with my three year old, timing her to see how long it takes her to put each pile away – she loves it! The 18 month old now joins in the fun too although sometimes the clothes are put in pretty random places :)

  14. says

    Five minutes ago, I just posted a review of four washing line picture books for children! Must be that wet Melbourne weather … My 3yo daughter and I made a washing line picture with tiny clothes and pegs which procrastinated the sorting of ‘real’ washing just a little bit more!
    Last year, we added a cupboard to our laundry over the existing heating duct. There are wooden dowel rods to hang the clothes on, which are also removable to make space for longer clothes. The cupboard doors hide the washing and keep the heat in. This has changed my life! No more clothes horse in the family room!

  15. says

    There’s only 4 of us in our home so I wash on alternate days. Dirty laundry are placed in the machine before I go to bed and set it to be done in the morning. They are hung on the bamboo poles the next morning and I leave it to dry indoor, the warm weather dries the clothes and I only take them down on non washing days and fold them while watching TV. I can only tolerate ironing once a week so I made sure the kids and hubby has enough clothes to last the whole week. Last but not least, I would like to thank the inventor of the washing machine for making my life a little easier :) Cheers!

  16. Fleur says

    Great post Planning Queen & some wonderful comments! My tips are to give up separting colours and whites – other than new clothes having their first wash. Instead, I tend to sort my laundry into like items – kids, grown ups, work shirts (hang on hanger to dry) towels & bedding. I find this makes it easier with the putting away. My other tip is to buy socks in multiples of the same matching types – ie: child 1 = 5 pairs blue, child 2 = 5 pairs grey. It is so much easier when you are pairing them up – they all match! Happy laundering!!

  17. Victoria says

    I have a family of 6 and the four kids are all preschool ages so they naturally go through more than one outfit a day – this is a lot of washing! I have no drier and an aversion to living in a ‘laundry’ so I use my washing lines outside – even when it rains I still get a load of clothes in, dry every day. This is because we put our washing lines on the side of the house in the little area between us and next door. THey are naturally sheltered and the wind goes through the channel and dries them well. Currently Melbourne is having the wetest winter in 15 years – OK officially now it is spring, but still, I have managed all the clothes and washable nappies for the twins, with a lot of work, watching the beureux of meteorology radar web site, and rushing out to get the washing in when a storm is on the horizon.

    The folding is much the same as most people’s though – usually I sit with a pile of it during the evening TV watching and fold into baskets – 1 per room. the clothes then get shuffled into cupboards the following day.

    Other than that, putting a load in the machine as soon as I get up, and another at some point in the day, then finally the nappies once the twins are bathed and PJ’d, and that seems to do the trick.

    My mantra: – empty washing line is wasted washing line – fill, fill, fill.