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Minimizing Laundry

Posted on: May 26, 2016

My four younger siblings and I we’re born after my mom reached Advanced Maternal Age (doctorspeak for over 35). One benefit for me is that I got a glimpse into the mindset of an older generation than that of my peers parents.

One difference is the way my parents viewed clothing. I’ve seen these same views reflected in vintage books that describe wardrobes in detail, like teen novels and domestic stories.

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Previous generations didn’t have easy access to washing machines or even, at times, fabric to make clothes and so they learned to be smart about how they wore them to minimize cost and laundry. Here’s how.

1. Have fewer clothes.

When we we’re small we had only a very few outfits each and two pairs of shoes, one for outdoor play and one pair of school shoes. (Since we we’re home schooled that is funny but we wore them to church.)

We maintained this minimal wardrobe even after my dad moved to an upper management corporate job. Small wardrobes we’re apparently the norm for most of my parents generation, at least the lower and middle classes.

Since leaving our belongings and having to settle for fewer outfits, I’ve found that 4-5 outfits each in addition to a couple church outfits is sufficient form my kids. I always wondered. Now I know.

Its easy to keep up with the laundry when you don’t have too much.

2. Re-wear before washing.

At the end of the day my mom checked our clothes. If they smelled and looked fine, they we’re neatly hung back in the closet to wear again the next day. Not thrown on the floor or chair.

If your clothes pass the look/smell test, I promise that you are the only one in the world who will know. Also, they will last longer. Washing clothes that are still quite clean is not really necessary.

3. Wear an apron.

Maybe it’s just me, but when I don’t wear an apron in the kitchen I am forever wiping my hands on my jeans, especially for those mom emergencies where I have to dry and then grab a toddler quickly.

If you associate aprons with frumpy grandma wear, there are lots of cute, up-to-date options available.

4. Bathe at night.

If you (and especially your kids) go to bed clean, you won’t have to wash pajamas or sheets as often.

5. Get Dressed

I remember the first time I heard a woman talking about how she got up and cooked in her pajamas. My jaw kind of dropped.

At our house (and apparently this was consistently the way things used to be done) we we’re expected to get up at a reasonable time and then immediately dress to the shoes, even on the weekend.

Now there is nothing morally wrong with staying in your pajamas all day. I even cook in my pajamas sometimes. But when you and your kids get dressed right away, pajamas stay clean and you have less laundry.

All of this actually makes life much simpler, but it requires a change in mindset. I don’t believe in the Good Old Days, but in this practical area, the older folks definitely had some good ideas!

What are your best ideas for taming the laundry beast?

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