cleaning, time management

Laundry Lessons: My Routine Today


With baby #2 on the way, knowing we were going to use cloth diapers, I couldn’t handle three or more extra loads each week.  I would go insane…

After bargain hunting for a few months, we got a great deal on a new HE washer/dryer set.      It’s HUGE!  I’m down to about 6 loads a week (including diapers!) when I used to 12 or more.


I only gather dirty clothes once or twice a week.  Because the washer is bigger, I can wash a lot more at a time and we need to go longer between washes.  If I see the hamper overflowing, I’ll empty it.  Clothes still get sorted into three compartments:  darks, lights, and whites.  I keep cloth diapers in a small basket on the dryer and I keep socks in another basket beside the dryer.


I try to wash load every day.  When there aren’t enough dirty clothes to wash a load (said no one, ever), I was rugs or sheets. My washer has this awesome feature that warms the water, even on a cold cycle, to dissolve powdered detergent.  I got so used to skipping fabric softener and bleach with the old machine that I still don’t use either.  Someday I’m going to try to make my own fabric softener.


I use my clothesline only in the summer.  I haven’t exploded any pens in my new dryer, yet, so I use it when it’s too cold (or I’m too lazy) to hang the clothes outside.  I do love drying the cloth diapers in the sun.


This is where I fail.  The dryer is on the floor, so I put a basket in front of it, open the door, and pull all of the clothes out into the basket.  Then they need folded, but I have other things to do, so I walk away.  I have to force myself to stand there and fold the clothes before I move onto something else.

Putting Away:

The loads are larger with this new set.  Which means, the baskets are fuller and heavier.  I fold the clothes, but I let the basket sit for my manly man husband to carry up the stairs for me to put away.

What tips and tricks have helped you find a laundry routine that works for your family?


cleaning, time management

Laundry Lessons: Starting Small – How to Keep up


Our house came with a stacked washer/dryer set.  It was small, but it worked well and we were blessed to have it.  I exploded a blue pen in the dryer once…  It was a good starter set.

With three people and a small apartment-sized washer/dryer, I eventually got into a routine… because I had to.

Sorting Laundry:

Each morning, I gathered the dirty clothes from each bedroom and bathroom.  I sorted the clothes into whites-darks-and-delicates.

Washing Laundry:

I washed a load of whatever was fullest.  I had to do our sheets in two separate loads, so I did that on Saturdays.  I put a tablespoon of homemade detergent in the washer and turned it on to fill.  When the detergent dissolved, I loaded the clothes.  There was no fabric softener or bleach dispensers in the machine, so I just didn’t use either product.

Drying Laundry:

When I got home from work, I switched the clothes to the dryer.  If I got it in early, sometimes I hung the clothes outside to dry all day.

Folding Laundry:

My favorite part of that washer/dryer set was that the dryer was above my head.  So as I pulled clothes out of the dryer, I folded them and put them in the basket.  I didn’t have to bend up and down and up and down.

Putting Laundry Away:

The loads were small, so I carried the basket upstairs and put away all the clothes.

Washing a load every day may seem like a lot of work, but it keeps the workload small.  I find it overwhelming to wash every thing on one day, because of the mountain of clothes that needs put away.

Next week, I’ll share what I do now that we have a bigger family and a bigger machine!



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.




Two out of Four Ain’t Bad

The dining room is the biggest project that I need to tackle before Christmas.  Mail gets piled up.  School papers go there to die.  We have piles of things for Scouts, magazines, boxes that need to go to the attic…

I worked in the dining room on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Looking at it now, I barely made a dent.  Slow and steady wins the race, I guess.

Today, however, Hubby was home.  We got up early, brewed some coffee, ate breakfast together, and started cleaning.  Chris worked on the living room and office.  I worked on the kitchen.  We took turns entertaining the baby.  I’m pretty impressed with what we did!!  I even hung my new pot rack!



I love that the dog stood in the same shot both times.  Chris is going to keep working on the office tonight.  And, I’m leaving the dining room for another day.  Now… a little family snuggle time before I head off to work for the night…

Baby, cleaning, time management

Going Back to Work

I start back to my day job in one week.  That’s one week left to hug and snuggle my baby all day long.

It’s actually not that dramatic.  I’m starting out on a two-day schedule and eventually going to a three-day schedule.  I’ll still be home for the majority of the week.  But, going back to work is a big deal to me, because it means major routine changes.

I’m a morning person.  No-doubt-about-it, I get more done in the morning than I do the rest of the day combined.  Morning is when I do dishes and laundry.  If we have time, I even tidy-up and sometimes squeeze in a vacuum run before we leave for the bus stop.  When I’m home, I have all morning to be productive, blog, clean, work on projects, etc.  By lunchtime, I’m tired and it’s Raegan’s naptime, so I nap, too.  Then I’m happy, rested, and prepared for to take care of the rest of the family when they get home.

That’s going to change.

I have a long commute to work, especially when there is traffic– I feel like it eats away my hours.  My work day ends at 5 pm, but that’s just the beginning of my trip home.  I have to pick-up Raegan at daycare — feed her (still breastfeeding) — drive — pick-up Landon at my grandparents — I end up talking to my grandmother while Landon finishes what he’s doing — drive — bring everyone and everything into the house (honestly, stuff gets left in the car every day).  By then, it’s time to put them to bed!  Homework gets pushed aside until morning.  We woof down supper and I’m lucky if I get the dishes washed.  After the rushed bedtime routines, I’m exhausted and usually put on a movie or read a book… then I fall asleep faster than the kids!

So what get’s forgotten when we’re rushing around like maniacs all evening?  It’s the cleaning.  My “productive” morning time is spent making up for the night before.  But, I can’t live in a cluttered house.  It stresses me out and I can’t be a good wife or mother if I’m stressed.  Home is a haven, where we relax.  I can relax in my home right now.  Now — while I’m not working.  That’s why I’m dreading going back to work.

So, this last week before I go back and the week or two after that, I won’t be writing as much.  I’m doing a little “spring cleaning” to get myself a little ahead, because soon I will start to fall behind.  You might say, cleaning doesn’t take all day… and it doesn’t.  But I’m also going to spend extra time rocking my baby, because soon she won’t want to be rocked.

This poem has played over-and-over again in my mind since Raegan was born.  Her tiny fingers and tiny toes just make Landon’s look so much bigger, more grown-up.  The seven years since his birth have gone by so quickly, so I’m holding on a little more tightly to the next seven years.  And while I still can, I’m going to hold them in my rocking chair.

Song for a Fifth Child
by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

cleaning, DIY

Homemade Powdered Laundry Detergent

When I first started using coupons, I ended up spending a lot of money on a lot of laundry detergent.  That was before I figured out that coupons don’t always make products a “good buy” — even when the blogs say it’s “rock bottom price”.  If “rock bottom” Tide is more expensive that what you would be using anyway, don’t buy it!!
Then, I noticed all the recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  I read a lot of mixed reviews and different combinations before I decided to try it for myself.  There are different brands of soap, ways to scent the detergent, the choice between liquid detergent or powder detergent… and many, many more options for you to consider.
Here is what I do:
1 cup Borax
1 cup Washing Soda
1 bar Fels-Naptha Soap
Step One:  Chop the soap up into cubes.  This soap is pretty easy to cut – I was expecting it to be harder, but I didn’t have to put a lot of effort into cutting it.
Step Two:  Add 1 cup of Borax, 1 cup of Washing Soda, and the soap cubes to a food processor.  I use my Ninja blender because it’s big enough to hold everything and mix it up really well.
Step Three:  I give the Ninja a few quick bursts (3 or 4?) and then I turn it on a let it go until all of the soap is chopped into very fine bits.

See how tiny the soap gets chopped up!!!  I store the powder in a Tide box and I use a measuring spoon to measure 1 tablespoon for each load.

I’ve been using this detergent for months and have made it several different times.  Here is what I’ve learned:
  • Powdered detergent:  I grew up using liquid Era.  That’s what I was using for my first year of homemaking.  However, I “stocked up” on some powdered Tide using my coupons and I was just as satisfied with the results.  The powdered detergent seemed a little easy to make and store.
  • Fels-Naptha soap:  I read a lot of recipes suggesting to use Ivory soap.  I also read a lot of reviews that said the Ivory soap left the clothes dingy but smelling good.  Ivory is a body soap.  Fels-Naptha is a stain-remover.  I’d rather have the stain remover in my detergent.
  • Chopping the soap:  Another hesitation I read about was how to break the soap down so that it dissolves in the wash.  A lot of commenters seemed to think that if they used a grater or food processor to chop up soap, they couldn’t use it for food anymore because everything would taste like soap.  Do we worry that washing our plates with soap will make our food taste like soap?  I don’t.  I’ve used a cheese grater and a food processor to chop up the soap and both have worked just fine afterwards.
  • Grater or Food Processor:  I have used both and found that the food processor is just so much easier to use and takes far less time.  Grating worked, but it took forever.
  • HE Washer:  I used this detergent in my old apartment sized washer.  I would start the load on “warm” for a few seconds to dissolve the soap.  When I got my new HE washer, I was worried about using this detergent.  I read that it’s fine to use in an HE  washer because it really doesn’t make any suds at all.  I was worried, however, about the soap dissolving.  Then, I learned that my new washer has this nifty feature where I can tell it to wash in cold water, but it will heat the water up at first if it’s too cold to dissolve a powdered detergent.  Very nifty.
  • Are the clothes clean?  Yes!!  And, we discovered that my husband actually loves the clean-smell that the Fels-Naptha soap gives to the detergent.  It doesn’t smell like flowers or a beach, but it does smell clean!!
  • Baby Clothes:  There are no dyes or fragrances in any of these ingredients so the detergent works great for baby clothes!


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31 Days to Clean, cleaning

31 Days to Clean REBOOT (Days 1-5)

Sarah Mae’s “31 Days to Clean Reboot” has come at the perfect time for me :o) It plays right into my nesting instincts.  This first week, we worked on our bedrooms.  Starting with the closet, we worked through our clothes in the dresser, the top of the dresser, under the bed, and the nightstands.

Martha Challenge #1:

We have two closets — a very small one in our room (so small the door won’t close when there are hangers on the rail) and a normal sized closet in the nursery.  The closet in our room is the go-to closet.  The nursery closet is for things that need hung but not worn regularly.  I sorted through my clothes in the nursery closet first and ended up with half of what was there before!  I had recently “decluttered” my clothes because I needed room for maternity sizes — but I still found things that I was hanging on to but not wearing.  I filled a small box with things to add to the yardsale pile. 
Nursery Closet BEFORE
Nursery Closet AFTER

Then I moved to our room.  I had barely anything hung in our room because I’m only wearing maternity clothes right now.  I switched sides with DH (moved my clothes from the right to the left) so I could hang my dresses in our room.  I hope my dresses will fit again soon!

Our Closet BEFORE
Our Closet AFTER

Martha Challenge #2:
I recruited DH to help with the dresser (since most of it was his) and I am so happy with the finished product!  Chances are, if it doesn’t take an hour to clean off, I will actually dust it now!
Dresser BEFORE
Dresser AFTER

Martha Challenge #3:

We have drawers under our bed, so I sorted through my clothes and reorganized them.  DH vacuumed along the edge of the bed.  
Martha Challenge #4:  
And finally the night stand… These are my favorite before-after photos….

{drumroll please}
Night Stand BEFORE
Night Stand AFTER!!!!!

That’s right… it’s GONE!  That’s my “oh-no-I’m-in-labor-rushing-to-the-hospital” bag, so that will be gone in the next few weeks, too!  The stand was full of textbooks that I had for sale online… but we also had an empty bookshelf in the office so out they went.  I actually couldn’t open one of my under-bed-drawers because the night stand was in the way, so I am so thankful that it’s gone.

Martha Challenge #5:
I’m trying to help DH tidy-up and organize his nightstand, too.  Other than that, our bedroom is clean!!

As for the Mary challenges:  I’m hearing the echoing message to set aside quiet time, every day, to listen for God’s direction.  I’m really struggling with waiting on God’s will and surrendering the “planning” to him.  One of my goals from the Good Morning Girls study was to memorize several verses.  I picked my first verse to memorize – Psalm 119:29 “Keep me from lying to myself.  Give me the privilege of knowing your instructions.”  It’s a verse that has become a prayer – Stop me from making the plans and convincing myself that I know best.  Show me your will and tell me what you want me to do.

I’m so glad the challenge started in our bedrooms.  This newly decluttered space is so relaxing and will be so much more welcoming to our newest roommate next week!!
Have you joined the Reboot Challenge?  How is your bedroom looking?  

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