4 Moms air dirty laundry

The other 3 Moms:

Welcome back!  This time, we’re going to air our dirty laundry, literally.  You have questions, we have laundry.

Oh, you were hoping for answers?  Sorry.  I have more laundry than answers.  Maybe you can sympathize?  I thought so.

I have to admit that we might have less laundry than you would expect.  All told, we wash 12-15 loads/week.  Cloth diapers added 3 loads/week, but we’re taking a break from those.  At the Baby Conference, I mistakenly told the audience I did 3 loads/week instead of 3 loads/day.  I’d like to know what they thought about that.

We ditched the electric dryer nearly 2 years ago, opting for the solar powered one instead.  This saves not only on the electric bill, but also makes clothes last longer and is surprisingly quick in warm weather.

With our huge and very cool drying rack from IKEA, we can hang up to 3 loads in just a few square feet.

The breeze and heat outdoors dry the laundry almost faster than we can wash it if we keep on top of things.  In cold or rainy weather, we dry the laundry inside with a fan blowing on it.  This takes longer, of course, but it’s still not hard to keep up.

Question:  If you line dry your laundry, how do you prevent lint build-up, especially on dark items?

This is one problem that has plagued us.  We sort colors carefully and wash towels and rags separately, but somehow we still get enough lint to cause problems.

Speaking of sorting laundry, I do love my stacking bins from The Container Store.  They weren’t cheap, but they are super sturdy and just the right size.  We have 4 of these, labelled white, light, dark and towels.

Each bin holds one load when it’s full, and the laundry is already sorted and ready to toss into the washer.  They can easily be rearranged or moved, and can also serve multiple uses – we find them very handy in the van on road trips.

For detergent, we briefly made our own.  It was fun and cheap, but unfortunately it’s not a good choice for extremely hard water like ours.  Nothing really works well in our water, but for the time we have settled on Charlie’s Soap.  It’s as effective as anything I’ve tried.  I love that it doesn’t have fillers so it’s very concentrated: we’re a year into our bucket and it looks like it will last for several more months.  Not only is it inexpensive, it’s also one less thing I have to remember to buy.

Right now, dry laundry is sorted in the living room, either on the sofa or the coffee table, and people are called to come put away their laundry RIGHT NOW.  Stalling or forgetting is a third degree misdemeanor, punishable by forced nudity.  OK.  Maybe not, but it sounded good, didn’t it?  Anyway, they’ll do it right away if they know what’s good for them.

I still look back with fondness on the days when all the kids were little and I sorted their laundry on the dining room table.  Each child’s pile was at her place, so she couldn’t eat until her laundry was put away.  I just might go back to that system.  I didn’t have to issue threats and reminders then. Food is a mighty effective incentive.  Maybe better than clothes, at least for some people.

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  • September 16th: Storage Solutions
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  1. On your advice, I asked for and got the Antonius drying rack for Christmas. Now that the tree is (finally) down, we have room to put it up. We assembled it last night, and I promptly put wet clothing on it. Thank you for the recommendation! It’s about a zillion times better than the standard wooden collapsible drying rack, which I’ve had for…19 years! Yikes!

  2. We have very hard water too and I also make detergent. I found that it works best for us by skipping the glycerin and making a powdered soap by grating the soap (I use Zote) and using equal parts of the other ingredients. Also, a splash of vinegar for softness while the water fills up. You have lots of good tips for a large family in a small house. Thanks for sharing!

  3. My first daughter in cloth diapers got terrible rashes too, but my second seems to be fine. There’s hope if you want to try again. I’m thinking of taking a break with cloth too because she fills them up much more often than my other one did. The idea of rolling all that stinky, sticky mess up and throwing it in the garbage is quite appealing. But then, my first daughter potty trained so quickly and I think being in cloth might have had something to do with that.

  4. I love your drying rack! If I had a cool rack like that, I’d hang my laundry up.

  5. It is a great thing when we discover systems that work for our family’s needs…thanks for sharing what works for yours.

    As for the lint build up…we line dry when possible, then toss our dried clothes into the dryer on the “dewrinkle” cycle. This helps soften them and remove lint without the expense of using the dryer ALL the time.

    Blessings ~

  6. I second the Tide tip. We have really hard water too and it’s the only thing that worked. We recently moved to a new house where my dryer doesn’t work (it’s gas and the new house us electric) so I’m new to hanging laundry out. But I must say I’m really liking it. I haven’t had any issues with lint but those crunchy towels are hard to get used to. No one else seems to mind but me though. So that’s good 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing your laundry tips. I LOVE the Ikea drying rack. I totally need one of those. The stacking bins for sorting would be really awesome too. Now I just need an actual laundry room rather than a closet.

  8. I like the crispy towels, too- a whole body exfoliating system.=)

    If you really can’t adjust to them, you can fluff them in the dryer for five to ten minutes and they will soften up again.

    Softeners added to the rinse water actually hinder the towel’s ability to absorb moisture.

  9. Thank you for sharing your laundry system. I am very impressed with the way your house runs. Great work! I linked above to how we do our laundry. Thank you for giving an opportunity for us to share with one another.

  10. Hi, Kim! I don’t think we met at the Baby Conference but I sat next to you on the first night…it took me forever to get the courage to say hi to Kelli/Generation Cedar! Anyways, I enjoy reading your blog and wanted to let you know that I too had issues with cloth diapers and our hard water. If you are interested you can check out my cloth diaper blog http://allaboutclothdiapers.com to read of how I fixed the problem. I tried all the formulas for hard water and nothing worked. I ended up just using Tide, which was a big step for me as we use natural products. But, the problem was solved 🙂

    I’ve really enjoyed this series you and the other moms are doing. It’s allowed me to get to know you without actually knowing you…maybe someday we’ll meet.

    Oh, and yes I heard you say 3 loads/ week at the conference and I told my 8yo daughter I needed your washer! Your tip on the towels completely changed our bathroom towel problem though! Now each kid has their own towel and I do waaaay less towel laundry, so much less that I’m donating half my towels to my mom!

    • Autumn, I wish you had said hi! I noticed when you first started commenting that you live nearby and I would love to get together sometime! Thanks for the Tide tip. I just might bite the bullet and try it. It would still be far cheaper than disposable diapers, and maybe cheaper than Calgon – which didn’t seem to help anyway.

  11. Love the stacking bins!! great idea for sorting and not using a lot of space (one reason I don’t like the normal color sorter). But I really like stacking their laundry on the table at their seats:) Too funny…. and I”m sure it gets put away !

  12. how do you keep the towels from getting hard? I have tried to use the outdoors to dry my clothes because my electric bill is outrages. My family hates using the hard towels. I use liquid softner, and even vinegar. any hints would be appreciated.

    • I like the crispy towels. They feel invigorating to me. Weird? Maybe. The rest of the family adjusted very quickly. I guess we’re easy to please. 🙂

  13. The rainy weather is closing in here and I am going to miss my clothes line. I would love to have a rack like that but I don’t know where we would put it…

    Laundry is just so never ending around here. I don’t know how you get by on three loads a day. I think I do more like 5.

  14. Your question about the dark load and lint is exactly my question. Other then that, line drying is a breeze! Pun intended. My conclusion is that that is why lint brushes were such a household staple and now they are not considered necessities. Getting a front loader dryer is not an option so I guess I’ll just gather some more lint brushes….

  15. We ‘line’ dry fairly regularly as our dryer has a bad habit of quitting on us. ( I should actually say ‘deck’ dry because we hand the clothes over the deck rail, deck chairs, etc. However, we have very little sun in our yard, so things tend to take quite a while to dry, so we don’t do it unless it’s forced upon us.

  16. Sorry… that shouldn’t have read milk panic, but MILD panic. See – even my fingers are hyperventilating!

  17. I don’t really have anything to add (except some milk panic at the fact that my washer is in the shop until the END OF SEPTEMBER!!!)


    Anyway- there seem to be three entries which are spam… Gestational diabetes diet, bad headache, and another one… you might want to delete them.

  18. Interested in your comment about lint and line drying and also in Kimarie’s comment. We have a front loader, and so does almost everyone in the UK, and have not heard of lint being a comment with line drying.
    Our problem is the rain! I’ve had almost dry loads soaked in a few minutes in the last week.
    Very impressed with the airer. Will see if IKEA here does the same one-thank you.

  19. Actually that was suppose to say one load of pink/red stuff a week.

  20. I like the idea of the stacking bins, but I am curious….with so many girls, don’t you have reds to do also? We only have one girl (at least until sometime this fall when our 2nd little girl joins us), and I always have at least one load of pink/red stuff a year.

  21. When we lived in Colorado, I could hang a load on the line, and it would be completely dry by the time the next load of clothes was out of the washer.
    Here in the midwest, not so much. Takes about half the day before clothes on the line are dry.
    In Washington, I am pretty sure they grew moss while drying.

  22. Wow – I need to check out IKEA again – that clothes dryer is just what we need in the screen porch for our swim clothes. Right now they hang all over the railings, benches, floor… And I’ll have to check out those bins! Dh and I have 3 laundry baskets in our bathroom – light, dark, and dh’s uniforms – that take up more space than I’d like.

    For the lint – it may be your washing machine. if you have a top loader, because they are very rough on clothes. I always had top loaders and dried clothes on the line for YEARS and had the same problem – didn’t think much of it. Then my washer died and we got brand-new front-loader – lint problem is gone. There is probably 1/4 the amount of lint in the dryer now. AND the laundry is spun so well that a sheet can easily dry in 10 minutes on a hot windy day.

    (Hmm, I think I’ll go back and rework my post a bit – didn’t realize it was about HOW we do laundry – thought it was just WHERE.)

    I had hard water for years, and also made my own laundry soap. I was seriously doubting my ability to clean anything. During our remodel we added a water softener system – wow! Before that I used Calgon, or baking soda. Now because we have a few chemical sensitivities I’m using Biokleen laundry soap and really like it. I buy it in bulk on sale from drugstore.com, tweak the order to get free shipping, and I think it’s even cheaper than Charlie’s that way.

    Also used cloth diapers for years, then would use disposables when we were out, then just switched over completely. We figured it cost the same with our hard water and how hard we had to work to get the cloth diapers clean. For a while I used to scrape poopy diapers into the toilet, soax in a borax and vinegar solution, then used a hand-turned tumbling bucket from Lehmans to get the rest of the rinsing done.

  23. I love the drying rack from IKEA. I’m going to check it out!

  24. Oh, I forgot to mention that Rockin’ Green is rated one of the best detergents for washing cloth diapers. It rinses completely clean and doesn’t build up in the diapers. And when you’re washing a load of cloth diapers, you actually use half the amount of the Rockin’ Green than you do for a regular load of laundry. So that’s even less than 13 cents per load!

  25. Have you tried Rockin’ Green laundry detergent? They have 3 different formulas, 1 for soft water, 1 for moderate water, and 1 for hard water. We have really soft water, so I’ve obviously never tried the hard water formula, but the reviews for it are great. If you buy the double pack, I think it comes out to something like 13 cents per load (not sure how that compares to Charlie’s)., and it comes in fantastic scents! Just thought I’d mention it since you said that you had hard water, and I’ve heard people swear by it for getting laundry really clean in hard water!

  26. I like to hang my laundry out as well. I throw some things in the dryer for a couple minutes first. I think this makes it less wrinkly, and also helps with the lint problem as well. But if one doesn’t ahve a dryer, then I’m not sure what to say about the lint problem besides using a lint roller!

  27. My Boaz’s Ruth,

    We’re currently taking a break from cloth diapering too. We’ve used cloth diapers now for 7 1/2 years (except at night and on outings and with newborns). But, back in April, we moved in with family and thought it best not to mess with it there. Then, we moved in our own house in late July, but were busy unpacking and everything for a few weeks. And now, I’m due with baby #6 literally anyday. We’ll use disposable while my mom’s here helping, but after that will be happy to get back to cloth again. Much cheaper and less wasteful!


    I’m sure a lot of people are surprised about “only” 12-15 loads a week. I’m surprised how much laundry some people do. Our children are 9, 7, 5, 3, 19 mths, and baby due any day. With wearing our day clothes a couple days and our night clothes several days and sheets every 2 weeks etc, we do about 5-6 loads of laundry a week, plus 3 loads of cloth diapers once we get back into those.

  28. Hiya! We live in the UK (dh is US military) and we have extremely hard water. We use Calgon Water Softener (found in the grocery – in th eletergent aisle) to soften each load — and it helps remove stains as well. We use half of the recommended amount and have found it to be the perfect solution! Here, Calgon costs around $4.25/quart and we use a quart about every 10 days. (approximately 3-4 loads per day) Hope this helps! Every blessing!!

  29. Thank you for the idea of using stacking bins as a laundry hamper. Do you know if The Container Store still offers the same product? I’m having trouble finding it on their web site. I’ve been using nylon mesh laundry hampers, but I’ve become concerned that I can’t clean/sanitize them effectively.

    Thanks also for the info on the IKEA drying rack and the laundry detergents.

    • Lora,
      I couldn’t find the bins online but they might still have them. I’ve actually been thinking the ones with holes all over them might be better. If we have particularly wet laundry (i.e. towels) in warm weather, they sometimes start to smell moldy very quickly. It makes a good incentive to stay on top of the laundry, but I still don’t like it!

  30. (sorry if the previous question is nosy, I’m just seeing a pattern of cloth diapers that people buy their stash, get very excited about all the benefits of cloth diapers, use them for a few months (4-6) and then decide to take a break and often don’t get back to them. Trying to figure out why.

    I know in our case it was leaking problems that started at about that time that we could never get on top of.)

  31. I am curious that you are taking a break from cloth diaper. Is there something going on in your life or is it just the new baby?

    • My Boaz’s Ruth,
      For us, the biggest reason was Bethany’s persistent rashes. I think our hard water was leaving some residue that irritated her and no matter how many times I washed/rinsed/stripped the problem didn’t seem to go away. When Parker is a little bigger I hope to try them out on him, maybe with a new detergent. It could be that Bethany just has extra sensitive skin, so I’m still hoping we can make cloth diapers work for us. I have to admit, though, that we never got used to rinsing poopy diapers. It’s nice to take a break from *that* chore and might be hard to go back.


  1. […] from 4 Moms and 35 kids who are inviting you into their laundry areas too.  Don’t miss it!  Kim [email protected] In A Shoe, Smockity Frocks, Raising Olives, and The Common Room .  I couldn’t link to the laundry post […]

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