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Laundry Tips for Large Families

When you have a child, the household chores seem to never end. You have to pick up toys, make beds, and clean dishes. You have to patch pants and wipe dirty hands.

When you have multiple children, the tasks seem to grow exponentially with each child. Instead of a few dishes in the sink, you have a mountain of plates and cups waiting to wash. Instead of a few plush toys on the floor, you have to wade through a river of action figures and Barbie dolls.

And the laundry.

You find underwear stuffed in between couch cushions and shirts hiding behind dressers. Pants pile up in front of the door and dresses drape over desks. And let's not forget those missing socks-you can never seem to find that match when you need it most.

While you love your large family, you can't help but detest the large amounts of laundry you have to wash on a regular basis. To make your life a little easier, here are some secrets to cutting time spent on laundry.

Sort Clothes as They Become Dirty

Does your family have a communal hamper? Does everyone toss their dirty clothing into the same basket? This is probably one of the biggest time wasters when you need to do laundry.

Swap your single baskets for triple sorters. It only takes a few seconds for your child to toss a black shirt into the right section, but it saves you hours of sorting the darks from the whites and the coloured items.

If you want additional sorting suggestions, try these:

  • Keep Individual Clothing Separate. While triple sorters do wonders, you may still spend time sorting clothing for individual family members. You may also have to deliver multiple piles of laundry to multiple bedrooms. To cut time even further, consider putting a laundry sorter in each child's bedroom, then have him or her wash clothing separately.
  • Place Socks in Laundry Mesh Bags. Socks can work their way into the tightest of corners, making them difficult to find and fold. To keep socks together, consider washing them in laundry mesh bags.
  • Colour Code Hangers. If you prefer to wash your family's clothing together, colour coding hangers can help avoid mix-ups. Assign each child a specific colour, so he or she can find shirts in your laundry room with ease.

Wear Clothing Multiple Times

Washing your clothing over and over again wears your clothing out quickly, and if you have multiple family members switching between shirts in the same day, the laundry piles up before you can grab the detergent.

Whenever possible, encourage family members to wear items several times before washing. Some clothing experts assert that you don't have to wash raw denim jeans for at least six months, and some say you never have to wash them at all unless they become particularly dirty or stained. Likewise, if your children only wear their pyjamas at night, they can wear them for at least a week before you should throw them in the wash.

Treat Stains Quickly

Children and stains go hand in hand. Whether they slide in the grass as they play soccer or they scrape their knees as they learn to ride a bike, you're going to have to learn how to deal with stains-and quickly. The longer a stain sits on clothing, the more difficult it will be for you to get the stains out.

If you can, keep stain remover by your laundry sorters. That way when you or a family member takes off dirty clothing, you can spot treat the clothing before it has a chance to set.

If you don't notice a stain in time, don't worry. You can still follow these techniques for fighting tough stains:

  • Grass Stains. If you can afford it, pre-treat the grass stains with an enzyme-based cleaner that's safe for your clothing. If you need a more affordable alternative, rubbing alcohol can help eliminate grass stains. Mix equal parts alcohol with water, then dab at the stain with the solution before washing it. Keep in mind that rubbing alcohol can cause some colours to bleed. Do not use ammonia or a degreaser, as this can permanently set the stain.
  • Blood Stains. Soak blood stains in cold water (hot water can set the blood stains). If the blood has dried, soak clothing in an enzyme-based cleaner. If stain remains, rewash with a bleach safe for fabric.
  • Deodorant Stains. Pre-treat deodorant stains with liquid laundry detergent, then wash as normal. For heavy stains, pre-treat with a stain remover and allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. If necessary, launder with an oxygen bleach safe for fabric.

Upgrade to a Larger Washer and Dryer

While doing multiple smaller loads of laundry can cut back on your sorting time, some days you'll find that you need to wash larger loads all at once. On these days, it helps to upgrade to a larger washer and dryer to cope with the sheer volume of shirts and socks.

Keep these tips in mind as you do your laundry-you'll be amazed at how efficient you can become.