When one woman I know ran into a common problem -- her kids wouldn't put their laundered clothes away -- she found an uncommon solution. She moved their dressers right into the laundry room and hung a clothing rod there. Then, once clothes were washed and folded, she could put them away instantly. Not only that, when kids dressed in the laundry room rather than the bedroom, their dirty, discarded clothes were more likely to land in the hamper than on the floor.
Here are some more conventional solutions to being more efficient in the laundry room.
- Attach a stain stick to the inside top of the bathroom hamper, and as you undress the kids or yourself, rub the stick on any stains. If clothes don't get washed for a day or two, they're pretreated.
- Put everything that can't be machine-dried into a large mesh sweater bag. You won't have to sort through wet clothes when you transfer everything to the dryer, and you won't mistakenly include an item that can't take the heat.
- Many clothes won't need ironing if they're dried properly. If drying space is tight, hang a Hula Hoop from the ceiling and you can hang double the clothes in less space. Or install a second shower rod parallel to the first but positioned right over the tub so that clothes can drip dry and water goes down the drain.
- Another way to cut down on ironing: Before you machine-wash shirts and blouses, button alternate buttons starting with the third one from the top. Arms won't tangle in the wash, and damp shirts can be slipped right onto hangers. Or, if you machine-dry a shirt, hang it immediately and give it a shot of spray starch on the collar and cuffs. That may be all it needs to look presentable.
- If you have a damp load to be machine-dried, add a dry bath towel. It will dry faster.
- A leftover tissue has gone through the laundry and left everything in the load covered with lint? Put everything back in the dryer with a couple of fabric softener sheets and spin for 20 minutes or so on "air only."
- If you've forgotten a load in the dryer and the wrinkles are set in, you don't need to haul out the iron. Throw a damp towel in with the load and put it through a cycle again, setting the machine to warm rather than hot. (If that doesn't do the job, use a pressing cloth dampened with white distilled diluted vinegar).
- To keep track of all the different methods to maintain the various "miracle" fabrics in the family wardrobe, put up a bulletin board with the washing instructions posted. (Also stick in a few threaded needles and tack on small plastic bags of buttons.)
- Really great timesaver: Build a chute that leads from the hamper into the laundry. Better yet: Create a laundry room on the same level as the bedrooms.