Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Laundry

I love doing laundry, which is probably a good thing considering how much of it my family can generate. I consider myself a stain removal expert - and there is a very short list of things that I can't get out of clothes. So far the only things that I absolutely cannot get out (unless the stain has been run through the dryer of course) are gel ink and dry-erase marker. Pretty much anything else, I know what to do.

I have an arsenal of stain removers. Of course, I have the stain sticks and sprays. But those don't work for everything. There are specialty stain removers for blood, milk and mustard. I have used vinegar, rubbing alcohol, peroxide, salt, dishsoap, nail polish remover, bleach and hairspray. Depending on the stain, I know what I need to use. Some things need to be soaked, others need to be washed immediately. Some things can sit and wait to be washed, others are like ticking time bombs - take too long and the clothes are ruined forever.

I did not get good at laundry until I had 3 kids. Before that, I could let it go for a few days, wait until all the baskets were full or someone ran out of underwear. Once you get up in the number of people though, the necessity of daily laundry becomes evident. I have to do laundry continuously. On average, I probably do 3 or 4 loads a day. Yes, a day.

I tried an experiment a few weeks ago. I waited a week. Took 6 glorious days off from the laundry, trying not to cringe at the ever-growing piles. I was not going to give in and throw a load in the washer. Finally, a day shy of my weeklong goal, I had to do it. I couldn't take it anymore. The dirty clothes were swallowing up the house. The pile of clothes was easily 5 ft by 5 ft, 3 ft high And I am not overstating. It took me 4 DAYS to do all that laundry, and as a result I learned that the experiment was a miserable failure. If it took me 4 days to do 6 days of laundry, what is the point of waiting? I'm back to every day now.

The laundry varies seasonally too. Welcome to Colorado. Winter and Summer are the worst. Spring and Fall, not as bad. In Winter, things get wet, snowy, dirty and cold. In summer, they mostly just get wet. And muddy. My kids are drawn to mud like a moth to a flame. They play hard and can easily go through 5 or more changes of clothes a day in the summer. So, while you would think that there should be fewer dirty clothes in the summer, because they are smaller, the exact opposite is true.

We don't have a distinction between good clothes and play clothes. I figure that clothes are meant to be worn, and if the girls want to wear their fancy dresses to dig in the sandbox, fine. Of course, there are a few exceptions, but not as many as you might think. If they want to change over and over again, I let them. If it's dirty, put it in the pile. If it's clean (which is rare!), please fold it and put it away.

The kids are well aware of my obsession. They know they have to take something off if it gets stained. They don't even flinch if I tell them to take something off before they eat spaghetti. Ashley is so aware of it that she told a friend's mom that she needed to change her shirt while she was at a playdate after she spilled chocolate on it.

I love to do laundry. I love the challenge of a good stain. I love the satisfaction of conquering mystery spots. But I hate putting the clothes away - that is my downfall. And I hate folding socks. I need to be better about it, I know.

I love to do laundry so much that I totally have OCD about it. There is no way that anyone else could understand the method to my madness. That they could know which stain remover is necessary. What can go in the dryer and what must never touch the inside of it. What loads need fabric softener, stain boosters, fabric softeners, and which ones don't. How much detergent needs to go with each load. How I want particular things to be folded. Which shirts belong to Ashley and which belong to Ally - don't want to mix them up! Tom learned long ago not to touch it. He knows better. :)

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