Sometimes when I stare at the huge mountin of laundry waiting to be cleaned in our house I think to myself. You know, what if I just threw it all in the bin and simply bought new clothes?
It is ever so tempting. And it was the first thought that sprung to mind when I started to write this feature. My clothes are dirty - buy me some more! Oh to be that rich. But I'm not. Nor am I really that wastful. It is, but a dream. Sigh.
So what can I do to actually make that mound more managable and save time on laundry? The answer, I suspect with a feeling of doom, is to be more organised. I went online and to our PlayPennies parents in search of top tips for keeping the washing and ironing in hand. Here's the most useful and/or interesting tips I came across.
Getting it sorted
Invest in some laundry baskets that let you sort as you go. You want to have three if you can - whites, lights and darks. I've tried doing this with baskets but they just end up being moved around and everything gets mixed up. I've also tried using those mesh, pop up and put away hampers, using different coloured ones for sorting clothes.
I've found though that they're not that robust. And I don't really save on space because I never get to the bottom of them long enough to need to fold and put the hamper away. I did find a really good use for these though - storing son's mountain of soft toys.
Mind you PlayPennies mum to three teenagers, Jessica, swears by this mesh sorter - the Laundry Sorter with three compartments (£9.95). Sorting their laundry is a job for all the kids. "They can quickly learn to do this and its a job even the youngest can do. And they all hate it as well but that's the point I think. We've all got that one job we hated when we were kids. It's part of growing up!"
It's all in the wash
One handy thing about the mesh hampers is that they have a little pocket on there for putting your smalls in one place. Socks in particular are a pain to keep in pairs. Use a mesh bag in the wash as well to keep them together.
To keep your clothes in tip top condition use cold water. For most of us, we're not going to be subjecting our clothes to too much dirt. Nothing that a cold wash won't clean and it won't damage the fabric as much.
Kirsty uses lemon juice on her whites in the summer. "The lemon juice brightens the whites, and it reacts with sunlight to make them whiter. Or at least that's what my mum says. And anway it smells fabulous. Plus the best smell in the entire universe is sun baked laundry."
Nick makes her own fabric conditioner 'sheets' for the dryer. "I found this recipe online once. It uses one cup of liquid softener mixed with one cup of water, stored in a jar or container with a wide opening. I dip an old flannel in there, twist out the excess liquid and pop it in the dryer. Job done!"
A quick, totally unscientific poll of the office and our PlayPennies parents reveals that nearly all of us loathe ironing. There are of course some (demented) folks who love the stuff. Whatever. For me anything that helps you cut down on ironing is A Good Thing.
So let's start at the beginning. Buy clothes that are crease free, or don't need ironing. I get the iron-free school shirts from Marks & Spencer, for instance. Mind you they still do seem to need a bit of a press but a quick run over with the iron is good enough. And it doesn't matter really if you don't.
One thing I hate, especially if I'm ironing whites, is getting muck off the iron and onto my clothes. Where does that stuff come from and how come it is sticky? Looking up cleaning tips for irons I found this one and I'm definitely going to try it out next time this happens. This is what you do.
Sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of salt over a sheet of brown paper. Then iron over this with the iron on a warm setting. Keep going to clean the iron, and you'll polish it up as well. I'd check online first to see if this is OK to do on your iron, if you've got one with a specially treated surface.
Have you got any top tips to share? Let us in on your laundry secrets.