cleaning, time management

Laundry Lessons: “How Mom Did It” – Learning to Use a Routine



The never-ending chore.

I read somewhere that it’s like shoveling during a snowstorm.  You work and work but the workload never seems to get any lighter.

You think you have everything clean… and it only lasts a few hours before everyone changes into PJs and you have almost a full load waiting for you in the morning.

And, do socks multiply?  Or do they walk off?  Because I think I’ve witnessed both…

It took me a long time to get into a laundry routine that made sense.  Finally, I found something that worked for us.  Then something would change, and I would have to readjust the routine.

Growing up, I only did laundry occasionally.  I learned to use the washer and dryer when I was young — but then Mom got a new washer and a new dryer and it was a lot more complicated than the old set.  The front-loading washing machine was so intimidating!  I avoided the chore for fear I would either ruin the clothes or break the machine.

This is what I remember…

Sorting Laundry:

We sorted our dirty clothes into darks-lights-and-whites upstairs in a three-compartment-hamper that sat in the room next to the bathroom.  It was a central location between all of the bedrooms.  When one compartment was full, it went down to the basement to be washed.

Washing Laundry:

Mom had instructions on the washer for what settings and measurement to use with different types of clothes.  We used Era detergent and a fabulous smelling fabric softener.  Whites got bleached, and I always managed to spill some on myself.

Drying Laundry:

We had a dryer, but we also had a clothesline that we used whenever we could.  Mom always laid sweaters out on the radiators and the dining room table to dry flat.  She also had a rail in the laundry room where she could hang shirts and dress clothes right away to keep them from wrinkling.

Folding Laundry:

Once dry, clothes went up back upstairs to be folded.  Sometimes we dumped them out in a pile on the bed.  Sometimes we folded them while watching TV.  I have fond memories of helping Mom fold… or just sitting on the bed talking to her while she folded alone (oops).

Putting Away Laundry:

While folding, clothes were separated according to owner.  Then, each pile was delivered to it’s owner for that person to put away.  My piles just stacked up all over my bedroom.  Mom finally started delivering clean clothes in a clothes-basket, because my clean-clothes-piles were getting out of control.  The clothes-basket at least kept them in one place instead of being scattered everywhere.


Looking back, that’s probably the worst habit I brought to this marriage… What would you call it?  Never-putting-away-clean-clothes syndrome?  Wearing-clothes-straight-out-of-the-basket syndrome?

Next week I’ll share the routine I finally settled into for our family of three with a very small washing machine.  Don’t miss a post!!  Subscribe to Trial and Error Homemaking.




7 thoughts on “Laundry Lessons: “How Mom Did It” – Learning to Use a Routine”

  1. Bahh! I am just as guilty of not putting away clean clothes. Owen’s clothes get put away as soon as they are done. I hang his shirts and fold his pants. Hubby’s dress shirts also get hung up right away (not that it matters because they wrinkle when he packs them.) But my clothes usually sit in a laundry hamper in our walk in closet.

  2. I love reading about doing the laundry; it means I can avoid doing it for a few minutes 🙂 You did a superb job on this post!!

    I hopped over from Encouraging One Another…you just linked up right after me!! Have a wonderful day!!

  3. With a large family I have found that I need to wash at least one load every day. I do something like this: Monday – Colored, Tuesday – Whites, towels, Wednesday – Jeans, Thursday – Colored, Friday – whites or specialty wash, Saturday – whatever looks like it needs doing. I have trouble getting my own laundry put away, but I have found that I do a better job putting it on a shelf in my closet than in a drawer.

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