I've had several people write and ask about how we do laundry. I've written a couple of emails to people describing what works for us, and since I've had some comments/emails from our blog about the subject, I thought I'd post about it here as well.
As I've shared, we follow a daily schedule. Laundry is acutally not written in that schedule. That being said, I do laundry every single day. With clothes for 11 children, 2 adults, the cloth diapers, towels, and sometimes wet sheets from little ones still learning to make it to the potty at night, we wash anywhere from 5-8 loads a day. If I don't or am unable to wash for a day or two, I end up a daunting mountain of dirty clothes.
We have a hamper in the children's bathroom, one in our bedroom, and one in the girl's bedroom. All dirty clothes (that aren't wet) go in one of these hampers. In the laundry room, we have the diaper pail for the cloth diapers, another hamper for anything wet (towels, sheets, clothes ect...) and then a 4 section cloth laundry sorter.
In the morning, the children get dressed and bring the hampers into the laundry room. Rebekah and I usually sort the clothes (this just takes a few minutes). We sort pretty simply around here...jeans; darks; whites; baby's clothes; light/pastels.
Then I start the machine. Throughout the day, the washer/dryer/clotheslines are always full until everything is finished. Our machines have buzzers, so when we hear a load is done, whoever is easily available between the older children or I simply take a couple minutes to put in a new load, move the wet load to either the dryer or clothesline, and take the dry clothes to my bed. There, they are immediately sorted into the proper baskets being sure to lay out the shirts, dresses or pants carefully so they don't wrinkle. They are put into one of 3 baskets...girls; boys; mommy/daddy/Eliseo. Sheets are just set on top of the proper bed and towels are folded by a younger child and put right away.
In the afternoon, during chore time, the laundry is usually all clean and the boys put away their clothes, the girls put away their basket, and I put away ours. The little ones put away things like socks/underwear, things that go into the drawers, and the older ones hang up things in the closet. Any beds that got washed get made at that time too.
The key is just for us to wash every day. With so many of us, getting behind on laundry can be a bit overwhelming. Usually, when this does happen (like getting back from a trip or being without power...a somewhat common occurance here), I end up having to dedicate a good part of a day to just working on clothes.
I wash our cloth diapers every other day and the girls or I fold them in the afternoon during chore time.
On Saturdays, the children strip their bedding, I wash their sheets, and they put clean sheets back on. I also try to wash Saturday's clothes that evening after the children are in bed so that I don't have to do laundry on Sunday. :)