26 November 2006

Favorite laundry basket brand and laundry strategy? Talk amongst yourselves.

All of the talk about laundry baskets prompted Rookie Mom Heather to ask a two-parter:

Part I: Laundry baskets -- this one is driving me nuts. I decided that I want to have 5 matching laundry baskets (one for each member of the family plus one) and decided that the little square size would be nice (but I'm not picky) so I bought a matching set of Sterilite hard-plastic square baskets at Target (this was especially nice because we have 4 mismatched-broken-in-different ways baskets at home) and before the week was out, 2 of them literally shattered. I returned them and looked for the rubbery Rubbermaid kind.  Couldn't find any.  Went to bed, bath and beyond... couldn't find any.  The question: what brands and models of laundry basket do people/parents use and have success with?!

After much laundry basket frustration (believe it or not), I got the hip-hugger kind pictured here and I've been very happy with it. I think the rolled edges make a big difference -- they hold up a lot better than the thin-handled ones. I have another regular rectangular basket, and it, too, has taken plenty of wear and tear, including heavy children who use it as a pretend boat or "kitty bed."

Part II: And are there any good laundry strategies out there?

Yeah! Because I want to know, too. Despite poring over Flylady's laundry tips, I still struggle with keeping up.

Help us, Parent Hackers! You're our only hope (for clean underwear)!

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I use those cheap little pop up laundry baskets precisely because they store so small. We don't have a laundry room, so I have no good place to put regular laundry baskets when they are not in use. The only problem I can see with them is if you fold a lot of laundry and then transport it in a laundry basket, these aren't the best since they are taller than they are wide.

I use them as hampers in the kids' rooms and then when they're full, I can just haul the whole thing to the washer.

I use those big square blue plastic/tyvek shopping bags from Ikea they only cost a buck hold twice as much as the average laundry basket and last forever as far as I can tell. They are also hand for packing for a car trip...

My strategy: Our clothes hampers are rolling carts that each have 3 hanging cloth bags. Clothes are sorted at the time of insertion. To launder, I just pick up one of the full bags and carry it to the washer.

I store several square laundry baskets on top of the dryer. More often than not, when a load of clothes is dry, I dump them into a basket and dump the basket's contents onto the person's bed, forcing the person to put the clothes away by the end of the day. (If you want your clothes folded and wrinkle-free, better wash them yourself!)

I avoid rectangular baskets because they are a squeeze through doorways.

Many brands of the rolling carts are junk, requiring their joints to be tightened every month if you actually roll the cart through your house. Costco sells a sturdy model. The giveaway is in the wheels. Junky models usually have plastic casters. Good models have rubber wheels.

I have that brand of laundry basket. I have two of them actually. They are WONDERFUL! I wish I had 2 more to be honest. I used laundry baskets for everything. Anytime we have extra toys, clothes, shoes, they go in a laundry basket to be taken upstairs and put away.

Now, if I could just get my 7-year-old son to fold his laundry and put it away, I'd be in good shape

I keep a three basket sorter (all one piece) and sort darks/med/white in my laundry room. I do kid laundry one day, adult stuff another and then linens so my laundry room doesn't pile up. (Space for me, washer/dryer and the sorter and that's it!)

I also use the Sterlite baskets. I have 4 or 5 of the square ones and three of the rectangular ones. They have lasted me forever. I have even started dropping them over the railing to the downstairs since I am now too pregnant to carry them downstairs (99% of the laundry is generated upstairs and the machines are downstairs - who designed this place?). As long as I dump out the dirty clothes first and drop the basket right on top, it is never damaged.

How terrible is it for me to admit I do that?

Jumping off what Amie said - I visited a newer house not too long ago and their laundry room was actually part of their master bedroom closet. I thought that was one of the smartest things I had ever seen. Of course, this is hard to retro-fit into an existing house, but if you are building new, it's something to consider.

Laundry strategies: I have a few so I am probably going to split them up into more than one comment.

If you have older children (say, 4 and up) they can sort their own laundry. When my nephews lived with us I put two baskets in their closet - one light, one dark - and that would be their main guide. Then I made signs with words for the older one and pictures for the younger one. The "whites" sign included underwear, socks, and pajamas. The "darks" sign included pants, shirts, and shorts. It was pretty rare that I had to toss something into the other basket. They were very proud that they could help with this chore, and I made sure to praise them and thank them for their help a lot.

I also taught them to take their clothes off right side out when they took them off (a skill my husband has yet to master). This saves a ton of time when you have to put stuff away.

Another strategy I use has to do with what clothes you buy in the first place:

-Everyone in our family wears mainly white athletic socks. My nephews were only one size apart (hard to tell apart) so one wore plain white and one wore the kind with the grey on the toe and heel. You don't even have to pair up socks if you don't want - just shove them in a drawer and they are guaranteed to pull out a matching set. My husband also has several packages' worth of the same kind of black sock for work.

-Underwear for kids: again, my nephews were only one size apart, and it was hard to tell the difference without looking in the tags all the time. So one wore white briefs and one wore colored boxer-briefs.

(Going along with my last comment, both kids could also help put their own laundry away. They could always tell whose socks and underwear were whose).

I know this is pretty basic stuff but I have given several friends "aha" moments when I described this.

My only effective strategy is to try to do at least one load every day, no matter what. If I don't let it build up, it never feels like a daunting task (which makes me put it off more, which makes it more daunting, etc.).

We have three baskets upstairs, one per bedroom, and it's my husband's job to take them down to the basement when they're full. When I see that a big load has arrived down there, I try to sort it right away, even if I can't start the laundry right then. That way when I get a second, I can throw in a load.

It's not perfect, but it's the best system we've devised yet.

Grrr. Laundry. I just finished mine for the week. I hate laundry. But, I make it a one (or sometimes two) day job and then don't do it again until Sat. or Sunday. Yes, that can make for a long day and a lot of loads, but for me it is so much better than the feeling that I am always doing laundry.

Everyone in my house has their own hamper of various sorts. On laundry day I have the older two (12 & 7) find all the laundry in their rooms, including all the socks and such that didn't make it into the hamper. Then they help me sort it into piles upstairs. I bring down one load at a time and fold it as it comes out of the dryer. As I fold I sort them back into their owener's baskets. I still put everyone's laundry away except for my oldest, but sorting it at least helps me get it done room by room ending with mine. Whew. Now I need a nap.

I also wait until the end of the week to do all of our laundry at once...of course there are only three of us and my son is one and a half so three of his outfits equals one of ours...but anyway, if I don't do it this way and set my alarm to warn me, I will forget about my laundry that is way down in the basement and I have had loads get very musty!!! I HATE THAT! So I pick a day I have off and dedicate the morning to laundry.
I know this sounds aweful, but when the day comes. I collect all of the laundry from our room and our son's and toss it all down the stairs the night before. I sort them and put in my first load. I have a front loading washer with a delay of up to 9 hours, so I put my first load on delay which means they will be ready for the dryer about the time my son wakes up...then I set the timer and keep the rotation going. I can have five loads done before noon this way and the laundry is done for the week...no more muss, no more fuss. I know that when more children come along this system will definitely have to be altered...I know when my son was a newborn we were doing a load a day for the first few months, but eventually I think I'll be able to return to my system as long as we don't get surprised with more than one or two more.
I also have just one of those baskets and I lay it at an angle on the stairs and just slide it down after I've folded the clothes that have just come out. I know it's sad, but it's a habit I got into when I was pregnant and have just kept doing it because I don't have the time usually to run it back down and if I leave it upstairs my son inevitably finds a way to hurt himself on it...so I send it on it's way and it's waiting for me when the timer goes off next time.

We use a very complicated method for our laundry at my house. We have 2 tall hampers that stay up stairs that dirty laundry goes into. When they are full we take them down stairs and sort them into 4 small round baskets. Then we fold clothes and put them into 2 small rectangle baskets. This way, we know that hampers and round baskets are always dirty clothes and the rectangle ones are always clean ones. It help when we trade off laundry duty (finishing off a load my spouse started and visa versa). It means we have a few more baskets then we might need but it helps keep things organized.

Chris! I really like the shapes thing. My husband is always asking, "Are these clean or dirty?" Currently we sort our clothes (us parents I mean) into different baskets (white, dark, delicate/gentle cycle, towels), then it gets thrown downstairs, washed and dried, and put back into the same basket when done. It does save on the up-and-down with the baskets.

As for WHEN the laundry gets done...

I have so much laundry that if I did it all at once it would take the whole day (or maybe two). I also tried Flylady's method of doing it whenever the basket is full. It drove me crazy. I need to be on a schedule!

This is my method:
Sun-darks (2 or 3 loads)
Mon-whites and towels (2 loads total)
Tues-delicate/gentles (2-4 loads)
Wed-kid clothes and bedding (usually two loads)
Thurs-our bedding
Fri-off
Sat-other (things like bath mats, stuff that can't have fabric softener, the loose blankets that live in the living room, etc.)

I make sure that we have enough of everything to get through a whole week. If I stay on top of it then I really do get one whole day off (two, if I have nothing for Saturday).

I also do a load of cloth diapers every 2-3 days. Once the new baby is here that will probably change to daily. I will probably have to go back to washing baby clothes almost daily too. You know how it is. They are so little but generate so much laundry!

Wow. Our washer has recently gained a hunger for cotton. For the past 2 years it's been nipping at the clothes leaving little cuts, but last week it tore an eight inch gash in one my husband's work shirts. Ugh.

Nothing makes you think about laundry like an inability to do it at home.

I've tried lots of approaches to laundry and lots of hamper/basket styles in the 20+ years I've been doing laundry (my parents were big believers in household chore self-sufficiency so I started doing laundry young).

We're big fans of the tall Rubbermaid Flex N' Carry hampers. We have a casual system that really works for us; it took us about a decade to figure out what works for our household.

It takes some description, so I posted a summary of our family's laundry practices to my blog at:
http://babytoolkit.blogspot.com/2006/11/washing-up-laundry-survival-strategies.html

The only drawback of the big hamper was during pregnancy I had to have someone else carry the laundry downstairs. The laundry-dropping tip seems quite sensible, but never struck me.

"The laundry-dropping tip seems quite sensible, but never struck me."

It didn't really occur to me either. I was inspired by a toddler.

My kids are finally old enough (13 and 15) to do their own laundry. yay! The washing machine runs nearly every night, though, but that eliminates the huge piles of laundry we used to wade thru ea weekend. My family loves Gain joyful expressions

That idea about collapsable laundry baskets is brilliant! My laundry room is actually a closet in our kitchen. I have no room for standard laundry baskets, so they just collect in odd places.

One of my biggest challenges was where to keep dirty kitchen towels until I had enough for a load. I found the solution in an Ikea toy storage thingie. It has a hoop and a mesh bag that fits in the hoop. I mounted it inside the wall of my laundry closet and dump the towels there. I also switched to cloth napkins so I'd get a load faster.

I never fold underwear and I don't fold or sort socks. I wear basic white socks. My husband wears ones with grey toes, and my daughter wears either cream or white. Every time she grows I buy 12 pair in the same color.

I'm not sure they still make these but when I was living in an apartment, I found a laundry basket with a handle and wheels. I loved it! I could fit 3 loads plus detergent in there and just wheel it down to the laundry room.

I cant believe the extent of a laundry basket discussion. I love the square ones because they are the easiest to carry and have collected different colors for adults and kids. I fold the clothes right out of the dryer into seperate baskets for each family member.

The best laundry tip I have is from my mom and grandmom. I have 3 stinky boys in my house (well, actually 4 if you count my husband). I put about 1 cup of ammonia in the washer with the underwear and socks. It brightens the whites and kills whatever stinkiness that they picked up. WARNING: NEVER do this when you are using bleach.

I also buy differant type/brand of socks for each boy, that way it's easier to sort them out of the dryer.

Wow! Thanks for all these great suggestions... I'll be sure to update y'all when I pick a winner. :-)

Glad to read I'm not the only one struggling with the laundry. Our system has been working well for about 6 years.

I started writing a reply, and when I ran off the page I realized I should just post it
here: http://miekec.livejournal.com/62291.html

walmart sells a short, wide, square pop up laundry basket that I absolutely love. It's great for clean folded laundry, and folds flat for storage. I also have the tall skinny ones for dirty clothes. Using the different baskets for clean and dirty really cuts down on confusion when everything doesn't get put away immediately (which happens here a lot since I have a 2yro and one on the way) and since they all fold there isn't a storage problem. Also, I have never had one of these break.

We keep a 3 compartment rolling laundry cart in the master bedroom closet. My husband and I sort clothes into whites, darks, or light colors as they get dirty. When there is enough for at least one full load, I roll the whole cart into the laundry room (located upstairs) and run a cycle.

For the kids, I keep a soaking bucket in the laundry room sink filled with water and OxiClean. Soiled laundry gets tossed in the bucket and dirty laundry gets tossed in the kids hamper in the laundry room. I usually wash one or two kids loads every Tuesday. If I don't have enough to make a full load, I add towels or my clothes.

For more laundry tips, go to http://marloelaine.com/2006/05/25/top-10-laundry-tips-for-childrens-clothes/

Eventually I plan on having the laundry on the same floor as the bedrooms so this all becomes easier, but meanwhile I have stiffened canvas bags with a hard rim around the top and cloth handles. They are collapsible, but stand up nicely on their flat bottoms. I have two large ones in different colours, one for lights and one for darks, and then another two small ones for the delicates and the tiny toddler clothes. Easy to drag around, hold a ton (one = a load in our supersized washer), washable, and so far, unbreakable (it's been a couple of years).

Collapsible baskets are great for small spaces. I don't keep hampers or baskets in the rooms now, clothes get thrown on the floor and look so awful I don't allow pile-up, so they go straight to the sorter in the laundry room. This has been a great solution because the sorting gets done little by little, and I can just put a load in the washer sooner than if I have to start sorting through ALL the laundry. Towels get changed every monday, and also go straight to the washer, never (well, almost) in a hamper, so they're ready by the time next monday comes. Linens get same treatment, and I do my best to put them back on the beds as soon as they're out of the dryer.

i also use the hanging sorter. but for ease of socks, we safety pin them together before putting them in the dirty basket- no matching after the dryer!

Best laundry strategy for homes with small children, in my opinion, is to do one load of laundry, or more, per day. You will need to keep the clothes cycling through the system for all the messes, etc., your children get into and you won't have time to do a marathon session of washing, so daily laundry scheduling is key.

I'm horrible and don't sort my laundry. We keep a laundry basket in every bedroom. When there's enough between them for a load, I do one. I use one of those Shout color catcher sheets if needed. Sometimes I'll save the towels for a few days and do a load of only them. This way, at the end of the day, i do a quick run through the kitchen and living room and pick up socks, towels and any other laundry on the floor and just drop it into the washing machine on the way to bed. And because my son got to sleep better with some white noise, i typically start the laundry just before putting him to bed so the sound of the washer and dryer knock him out. When it's dry, I pile it back in the basket I brought in and bring it into my bedroom. I fold it and sort it on the bed. All of the socks go in a pile and I pair them if I have time, and if not they go in a little crate to be paired when I *do* have time. Items to be ironed go in a separate laundry basket located by the over-the-door ironing board on my closet door and those get done when my hubby is home to watch over everything else. Since my husband works 3 days on, 3 days off, I iron 3 sets of clothing for him at a time and then don't have to worry about it for a little while.

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