Laundry Help: Shrinking Mt. Washmore

Our family produces a lot of laundry. We have the normal amount of clothes, towels, and bedding that any group of 12 people would produce and in addition we use cloth napkins, cloth diapers, cloth wipes, and cloth cleaning rags. This saves money and resources, but produces more laundry.

So how do we keep up with it all? Well, sometimes we don’t, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about how to make it easier and I’ve tried several different systems. I plan to share some ideas and plans that have helped us. I’m pressed for time, so will have to continue this post later, but wanted to give you one quick and easy way that we limit how much laundry we have to wash.

During the winter months, when the children are not getting hot and sweaty playing outside, we allow our children to wear their outfit for more than one day. (We do not allow our children to wear their clothes over and over regardless of the cleanliness.) I’m just saying that when our little girls have spent their day playing with dolls and coloring, their outfit does not necessarily have to be washed that evening. They may wear that same outfit again the next day.

Here are some rules that ensure that this system works:

1. We do not allow a child to put an already worn outfit back into the drawer. (Can you imagine? I would never have to do laundry again if we allowed that.) They must fold it and put it at the end of their bed and wear it the very next day. If they aren’t going to wear it the next day then it goes into the laundry.

2. We have an older person who is responsible to judge whether the outfit is truly fit to wear for another day. (Peanut butter down the front is an automatic disqualification.)

3. We do NOT allow a child to wear an outfit for more than two days. (Once again, if this was not a rule, I would never have to wash another boys item, ever!)

Read my other posts on managing your laundry.

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11 Responses to Laundry Help: Shrinking Mt. Washmore
  1. Nikki
    March 10, 2009 | 2:10 pm

    Great post. I like the rule about letting them wear the same outfit the next day. I need to make that a rule in my home- because my three year old likes to dig through the dirty clothes basket and wear the same filthy shirt. But if I have a rule, it will work much better. My daughter also likes to wear things again. In her defense, she doesn’t get them nearly as messy. Hardly at all really.

    I can’t wait to read more. Love your blog!


  2. Anita
    March 10, 2009 | 5:22 pm

    I only have seven children..six at home so my laundry mountain is not quite as big as yours although some of my children are older and their clothes are bigger. We also use cloth napkins, cloth wipes for baby and cleaning clothes, not to mention table clothes occasionally.
    My dryer just quit working this weekend, so everything is going on the line to dry. I am trying to stay on top of things before the weather turns cool and rainy again and I won’t be able to line dry. This reminds me that I need to get off the computer and call for a repair!


  3. momstarr
    March 10, 2009 | 5:55 pm

    Hear! Hear! I NEVER let my 2 year old little boy of all boys wear his all time favorite basketball jersey shorts more than 4 days in a row. Nope not me!!! What kind of a mother of 7 would lose track of how many days he has been wearing them? Certainly Not me!! Lori S.


  4. Jama
    March 10, 2009 | 6:08 pm

    Hey Lori,

    I’ll tell you what kind of mother…the same kind that didn’t notice her son hadn’t changed underwear for a week!!!



  5. Raising Olives
    March 10, 2009 | 7:05 pm

    I have had the same problem, hence the rule.

    I’m glad that you like the blog, I’m always open to ideas of what you want to hear about.

    Yikes, no dryer. We had our dryer go out a couple of times, but yuck. The only thing worse is the washer going out. Thankfully, we have not had that happen, yet.

    Jama and Lori,
    Been there done that, but actually I usually notice that the child has been wearing the same clothes when 1)they have so much grime on them it finally dawns on me that it could not have possibly accumulated in one day or 2)I’m washing laundry and notice that there are no clothes at all for one of the children. Hmmmm!

    All the same I am laughing at you both and I mean I have not done those things!



  6. Angela
    April 20, 2009 | 11:10 pm

    I so love reading your blogs! I have laughed out loud several times. I could sit here all night… really. I do the same thing with my kids clothes.
    I do have issues with Stephanie wanting to change 2-3 times a day. Many people have assured me it is just a “gurl thing”, but surely there has to be SOMETHING I can do to slow this process down a bit.
    As per your advice I spent all day going through the boys closet. I am ashamed to say that they had so much clothes in there, they did not even know they had some of the stuff I showed them. Sigh. I am working hard to make it better.
    Thank you SO much for all of your helpful tips and advice. I look forward to reading all of your blogs one at a time. Sadly though it is now way way past my bed time, and I must be up with the kids in a few short hours. (or what seems it) Huggz! Thanks!


  7. Elizabeth
    September 9, 2010 | 9:54 am

    Oh man! This post makes me laugh. I never forget to have my kids change clothes until there is a layer of grime on them! Having 5 boys I seem to do that a lot. It’s getting better as they get older though. And I never have to worry about it with the girls. I have to tell them to stop changing clothes! Oh the joys of a large family! Love your blog!


  8. Amanda
    January 19, 2012 | 12:08 pm

    What kind of cloth diapers/inserts do you use? I am thinking of cloth diapering my second baby and I’m trying to make the most economical decision, but quality does matter. I am 8 months pregnant right now and I just purchased one Econobum diaper with 3 inserts included…just wanted to know your recommendation. Thanks so much!


    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    I used simple Chinese pre-fold diapers with homemade wool covers.


  9. Ashley
    February 3, 2012 | 11:16 pm

    I am cloth diapering number four and am happy with the econobum wraps covering most anything but works best over a pre fold and snappi! Love cloth.


  10. Holly murphy
    May 19, 2012 | 3:10 pm

    Love your articles on large family management. We more than doubled our family size when we adoptef a sibling group of seven. Though not our biggest problem, clothes management has been the most persistent. I have recently switched to a family closet. Minimizing clothes was the best thing I ever did. Want to further cut back on laundry and have come to your thinking about wearing clothes…much as I want to let them wear them more than once, the family closet becomed unbearable rather quickly in this tx heat…and it isnt even summer yet!


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