How to do less laundry

I grew up watching (and reading!) Little House on the Prairie. I loved that time period and thought how awesome it would’ve been to live in that era.

Of course,now that I am a grown,married mother,I now know how much work poor Caroline Ingalls and her girls REALLY would have had to do. While I long for the simplicity of that way of living,I do not miss my modern appliances that make my job a WHOLE lot easier.

Take laundry day for example. To do laundry in the mid-1800s,you would’ve had to have boiled water,scrubbed by hand,wrung out and hung to dry all your family’s clothes and bedding. Thank God for Kenmore and GE and Maytag! However…

Easier laundry=MORE laundry

A problem came along with the modernization of the laundry process as well. Since it became so much easier to wash clothes,people began only wearing an outfit one time before washing it. If I am not mistaken,Caroline Ingalls had the same dress on all the time! Except for Sunday’s of course!

And as manufacturing clothing,as opposed to homemade,has become the norm,we have PLENTY of clothes (I am speaking of those in the US and most modern countries). Since we HAVE more clothes and we usually only wear an item once before washing it,the amount of laundry that a household goes through is unbelievable.

What I propose is that you consider setting a standard where,for the most part,clothes are worn more than once before going into the dirty clothes.

*Obviously I am not talking about underwear and socks,or really dirty work clothes or toddler’s clothes.

Below are a few areas where you can get away with washing LESS:

1. Blue jeans are rarely dirty with one wear. Unless they are worn by a 5 year old playing outside in the dirt. Or husbands who are mechanics. But otherwise,denim and corduroys and even canvas pants can be work several times before washing.

And if you want to preserve the darker wash on your jeans? Wash even LESS often. I splurged 2 years ago on a pair of Not Your Daughter’s Jeans, after seeing on Oprah,which I LOVE, as they have Lift and Tuck techhnology. I don’t don’t about you,but I can use all the lifting and tucking I can get! (without plastic surgery,lol!). Since I paid $100 bucks for a pair of jeans, I want to make them last as long as possible. I wash probably once a month and wash inside out. I dry for about 10 minutes and then hang to dry the rest of the way.

2. When you or your children wear layered outfits,it is possible that both layers are not necessarily dirty and would need washing. Depending on the age of the child (do they perspire yet or still play in the dirt?) the inner layer or the outer layer may be worn again without washing.

With cooler weather come hoodies and sweaters,and they typically won’t need washing after one wear either. Teach your children as they grow,what needs to go in the hamper (that is a whole other post!) and what can go back in the drawer.

3. Many,many homes use a towel once and throw it in the dirty clothes (or more likely on the floor,if it is your kids). If you are drying off a clean body,how can a towel be soiled after one use? Put hooks on the back of bathroom door,or in the kids’rooms to hang their towels after bathing. That way they can dry and won’t be stinky.

When I had 4 kids and young teens sharing a bathroom,we bought them each a bath sheet in a different color. They were responsible for keeping it hung up,and for getting it in the dirty clothes once a week. This was our process for YEARS at our house and worked wonderfully. I didn’t have to own,nor wash,4,682 towels each week!

One big key to making this work is to air out anything you might want to wear or use again. I have a hook in my closet for hanging my jeans or sweaters that I can wear again. You could also do the same for your older children and teens. Then again,they typically use the floor!

4. Believe it or not,here is a good reason for not making your bed! It is good to air your sheets each morning,for a little while at least. You can then make your bed if you feel so inclined. By airing your sheets each day,you can also prolong the washing of the linens. How long will depend on you,your family,and your tolerance for a little dirt. ;)

What things have you done to help with the abundance of laundry in your home?

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4 comments to How to do less laundry

  • Everything you say is true. I try to get at least 2 days wear out of tops and 3 days out of jeans or slacks. Husband is pretty good about doing the same. I taught my kids to do their own laundry when they were about 10–it was amazing how their attitudes changed about what was dirty and what could be worn again when they were in charge of their own laundry!
    Eva Gallant recently posted..Winner,Winner,Chicken Dinner!My Profile

  • How true! I’ve been trying to talk my husband into this idea,but to no avail. Maybe if he sees that it’s not just me,he’ll change his mind ~ one can only hope.

  • Excellent points. We have noticed that our European friends wear their clothes longer and do much less laundry. What they DO do is spot-clean their clothes promptly if they drip something on themselves or whatever.

    Another difference between them and most Americans is that they shower/bathe every two or three days instead of every day. They “have a wash”—sponge bathe —on the non-shower days.

    Food for thought on both counts.
    Lori recently posted..Pretty,Happy,Funny,RealMy Profile

  • I don’t mind doing laundry,I feel very domestic when I do it (since I can’t cook!) But my husband and I do everything you mentioned and I enjoy the benefits!!

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