Laundry Wars: Why Mine is Never Completely Done


I have a love/hate relationship with laundry.

I love that all I have to get it washed is toss it in the machine. 

It’s just so easy in comparison to everything else I do around the house. At least until I have to sort, fold or hang it. But honestly, I don’t even mind folding it. I don’t fold most of my kids’ laundry anyway because I just sort it into bins. Some people may say this is cheating, but I think it’s a smart idea! My son unfolds every single piece of clothing in a drawer to find the article of clothing he wants, defeating the entire purpose of folding anything. Bins it is! (I’ll save my love of bin systems for another post).

What I hate about laundry is that it is never done.

I am one of those people who does not like to start something and then not finish it. I have FIVE laundry baskets that are usually full, FIVE! Out of the five, the most I remember having empty at one given time is three (at least, since I have had children).

laundry, baskets, dirty, clean, clothes
Three of my five laundry baskets.

My Facebook memories reminded me the other day of a status I’d put up in 2010. Keep in mind, I wasn’t even pregnant with my first child yet:

Husband: “MORE laundry????” 

Me: “Laundry is an unending process. There are only two people I know who can have all their laundry done at the same time: my mother and Chuck Norris.”

This is still true. My mother is the only person I know who has an empty clothes hamper for hours at a time.

I do not remember a day when this was not the case, even when I was young. I have no idea what her secret is. Apparently, I never figured it out. It obviously isn’t something that she passed down genetically. Despite being a stay at home mom currently, like my mom always was, I still cannot manage to have all five laundry baskets free at any given time.

Why is this?

I don’t like to make excuses, but the following are 10 reasons I cannot possibly have all my laundry done at one time.

(Note that this list could also be titled ‘10 Reasons It Was Impossible for Me to Cloth Diaper My Second Child After the Diaper Service Went Out of Business’).

  •  My kids think if they wear something for 0.025 seconds and change their minds and want to wear something else, it automatically goes in the dirty laundry basket.  

    Usually right on top of a wet washcloth or towel. They are apparently part-ninja and manage to do this within the 0.025 seconds I have turned my head.

  • Socks.

    So many issues with socks. I have about 10-15 pair of unmatched socks at any given time. There are several reasons for this. First, my daughter (age 2) likes to take socks out of the laundry baskets (dirty and clean) when I am not looking and carry them around. This leads to me finding the socks not only in different locations but at different times, sometimes separate days. Secondly, my kids don’t really like to wear socks. Even in the winter, it is a struggle. So, they take them off, usually when I’m not in the same room. It happens more often than I realize, I am sure. By the time I notice there are two or four socks spread out around the living room, the washing machine is already beeping that it has finished the load I recently put in. Never fails.

  • The dreaded handwash only items.

    One of my baskets is dedicated to these articles of clothing that have to either be washed in the sink separately or go on the hand wash cycle in the washer. This includes hand-knit items, which I happen to love. The problem is that I don’t do a full wash load on the hand wash cycle unless I have enough to make it worth my while.  Therefore, this basket is rarely ever empty. I also only put like colored items in the washer at once. This means that, often, the basket contains what will be more than one load of laundry after it is sorted.

  • New articles of clothing that look like I might need to hand wash separately the first few times because they’ll probably bleed bright pink or dark blue all over.

    Many of these items eventually move to the regular wash load, but I keep putting them in the hand wash basket until I know they aren’t going to dye my favorite shirt.

  •  My kids’ stuffed animals.

    My kids like to sleep with their beds full of stuffed animals. Lately, I’ve cracked down on how many I allow in their beds because I couldn’t find my children underneath all the fluff. My mother gave me a wonderful hanging net toy holder for Christmas to help keep my kids’ stuffed toys out of the way, so I have put it to good use. However, I wash the animals my kids sleep with every few weeks or so, sticking them all in pillowcases and putting them on my favorite hand wash cycle. It’s just an extra load that needs to get done.

    stuffed animals, clean, laundry, drying rack
    Only a fraction of my children’s stuffed animals on my drying rack.
  • The last couple of winters, my son’s snow pants have become ‘mud pants’.

    We live in Vermont. It is supposed to snow and be cold for long periods of time. Now our weather has this weird pattern where it snows, quickly melts and turns everything into one big mud puddle, freezes, thaws into more mud, and repeats. My son is in preschool and they go outside once or twice per day unless it is ridiculously cold. For a while, I was bringing his mud- I mean snow pants home from preschool three times per week to get washed. Now, I just give up and wash them once at the end of the week.

  • My kids use their clothing like a napkin.

    Especially my two year-old… even if she has a napkin next to her at the table. She refuses to wear bibs. Even when she used to, she’d find some way to get the food under the bib. Anyhow, she often looks like her plate exploded on her shirt after lunch and dinner. As a result, her clothes collect lots of stains. See number 8.

  • My compulsiveness.

    If a stain doesn’t come out of a piece of clothing the first time, I throw it back in the wash right away and try to defeat the stain again. The stain absolutely must come out of my own clothes or I don’t wear that piece of clothing in public. I’m not as picky with my kids’ clothes, as it is not as common for me to put them through more than two rounds of washing if they are still stained. 

  • My washer can’t handle more than a couple of loads a day and I can only fill the tub ¾ of the way.

    My washer isn’t that old. I think I just overfilled it a few times when my daughter was an infant and it doesn’t like me anymore. If I fill it to the top, too much weight throws off the balance of the washer. This causes it to make all sorts of interesting noises and movements. When I wash three loads in one day, the third is always a gentle hand wash and I tend to skip doing any laundry the next day.

  • Germs and illness.

    We have two young children in our house. I do more laundry when the kids have just the slightest of sniffles. Runny noses are commonplace in my household during the winter. Of course, other illnesses also force me to do even more laundry. I actually jinxed myself by writing this post. As of ten minutes ago, my daughter seems to have come down with a stomach bug. Or, at the very least, she ate something that isn’t agreeing with her. There go my attempts at catching up on laundry. All it takes is changing a whole bed once and I’m about four loads behind.

So the quest for clean laundry continues.  Kudos to my mom! I definitely have more of an appreciation for her magical laundry abilities these days.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with doing laundry too? Are there times where you actually have it all done?


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