The very 1st time I ever used a dishwasher, at my 1st apartment in college, it ended in disaster. I used Dawn Dish Soap instead of proper dishwasher detergent. I just filled the dispenser up with liquid soap, and I came back a few hours later to find our entire kitchen and dining room flooded with giant soap bubbles. A few days later, after pulling up the carpet and using lots of box fans, the apartment floors were dry again, but I learned a value lesson through that experience:
When it comes to housework, no one ever taught me how to do things the right way.
I love my parents, and they taught me a great deal about life. They taught me about God, morals, work ethic, the importance of academics, how to treat people, camping, sports, and the list goes on and on as it would for any good parents. However, my parents in all their goodness did not prepare me for being a stay-at-home dad who lives daily under a mountain of dishes and laundry. While I learned how to wash dishes after that incident in college, I have still struggled with laundry.
I NEVER ONCE DID LAUNDRY TILL MY SENIOR YEAR OF COLLEGE.
In college I was so adamantly opposed to doing laundry that I would save up my laundry for weeks and then pack my old Nissan Pathfinder full of dirty clothes for a weekend trip from Nashville to Memphis, where my Mom would wash all my clothes. I once ran out of clean shirts, so I went to the thrift store and bought (for $0.50 each) 20 “I’m with dumber” t-shirts (from the movie Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd) with an arrow pointing up toward my face. The t-shirts were printed inside out with the Gildan tag hanging out in the back, and I wore these everyday to class for 2-weeks till I could get my dirty laundry home to Mommy.
As you can imagine, for someone who was once that desperate to avoid washing clothes, I have had to come a very long ways to now keep up with the laundry of a whole family of 5. When I got thrown into the fire of being a stay-at-home dad, I accidentally spent my 1st week washing clothes with fabric softener instead of laundry detergent. (Read more about that transition here…) Once I figured out different types of detergents, fabric softener and dryer sheets, laundry was a breeze. Getting all the clothes washed and dried is no problem at all, but getting them all put away is another story.
I used to wonder why Jennifer would struggle to get the clothes put away every week when she was the stay-at-home parent, and then I spent the last 7 months in those same shoes. I now truly despise, not the dirty clothes, but the clean clothes that need to be put away. The last few months I have run countless extra dryer cycles de-wrinkling clothes that I had washed 2-3 days earlier but never put away. Sometimes I de-wrinkle the same clothes 2-3 times because I still just do not get around to folding and hanging-up these clothes.
The root of the problem is that I just get overwhelmed with huge piles of laundry, so I have had to figure out how to break things down into smaller loads. The traditional way of washing clothes is to wash whites together and brights/colors in another load. If there are pinks and reds, then those can be washed on their own to avoid accidentally turning anything white into pink. This whole process makes sense, but it did not help me to get laundry washed and put away in a timely fashion without having to de-wrinkle clothes. I needed to re-think the whole process.
PRE-SORTING CLOTHES TO PREVENT DE-WRINKLING
Dividing laundry by color just left me with 2 smaller wrinkled piles instead of 1 huge wrinkled pile of clothes. I kept finding that I would get the clothes washed but then be in a hurry to get pick up the kids from school or do some other errand. I could not just pull the clothes out of the dryer and quickly put them on hangers because I had to sort through so much underwear and so many pairs of socks just to get to the clothes that were waiting to go onto the hangers before they get wrinkled just from sitting too long. So in reality the problem was having to sort the clean clothes before they got wrinkled, so I decided to pre-sort clothes before washing.
No longer do I pre-sort clothes based on color, but I pre-sort them based on whether the clothes will need to be de-wrinkled later.
There are certain types of clothes in our house that we are ok wearing wrinkled, mainly underwear or clothes that we do not wear in public, but none of us want to wear wrinkled clothes to school, work or church. By separating the laundry based on this criteria, I can wash the clothes on the left and leaving them sitting clean in the basket for a day or two without feeling stressed. Then with the clothes on the right that will need to be de-wrinkled if they sit too long, I can wash/dry these clothes at a time of day when I know I have time to hang and fold the clothes.
It is less stressful because I know when I pull them out of the dryer, not only do I have a smaller pile of clothes to deal with, but I know I do not have to sort through all the socks and underwear to get to the “important clothes.” With mixed loads of laundry, it is like a ticking-time-bomb of wrinkledness, and the socks and underwear are like a tangled mess of wires that confuse the process of defusing the bomb. By pre-sorting based on the importance of being wrinkle-free, it is like untangling the wires in the bomb before the clock starts ticking, so that the bomb tech can come in and immediately know which wires to clip. By separating clothes before they are washed, I can get important clothes on hangers more quickly and easily before they have time to get wrinkled. Even if I do get called away to other tasks and let these clothes wrinkle, they are already sorted for a quick, easy de-wrinkle load.
You laundry traditionalists might be wondering how I can possibly wash whites and colors together without turning everything pink. To this point, I have not turned a single piece of clothing pink, and I simply pay attention when anyone gets brand new clothes. When anyone gets new clothes, I wash them separately the first couple times, especially if they have pink or red.
On a side note, I also have a special laundry basket just for workout clothes, which fills up pretty quickly since I run almost everyday, and Jennifer works out some too. With moisture-wicking polyester fabric on running clothes, it always says, “Do not use fabric softener.” So I wash workout clothes on their own using laundry detergent that is free of all dyes. I use no fabric softener or dryer sheets with these loads. I also do not care if my workout clothes get a bit wrinkled, but they are mostly fairly wrinkle-resistant clothes anyway.