How Laundry Day Helps the Homestead (and My Sanity)


Laundry Day in our home is Monday. It has been for years. The week was always full of office days, kid’s activities, and schooling followed by the weekend with all its homestead projects, ball games, and social outings. Then comes Monday: gloriously calm, time to put home back together, a fresh start.

Until we moved to this farmhouse I was keeping our laundry situation afloat with one big catch up laundry day plus loads here and there throughout the week as it piled up. But I didn’t like the fact that after devoting a day’s attention to this, all throughout the week I still felt pulled towards those piles haunting me, that wet load sitting in the washing machine waiting to be rotated, those never-ending baskets of clean clothes yet to be folded and put away that the kids rummage through finding that “special shirt”. In other words, I had to think about the darn laundry EVERY day.

This rack is home to the sock bin, church bin, donation bag, and more…

Each day my mom brain is split amongst the following duties: make breakfast, tidy house, school, make lunch, tidy house, make dinner, tidy house, change a dozen diapers, bandaid a dozen boo boos, squelch a dozen fights, is everyone loved, happy, content?!…all the while my homestead brain is thinking: read up on natural treatments for scours in cattle, thin the lettuce, make that anti-fungal salve, can the pickles, pick some wild raspberries. I don’t multi task very well and I’m really hyper sensitive to chaos inside my mind and home. People are always asking me how I do what I do. This post highlights one area that allows me to fit in the fun homestead tasks that I so love. Because the things I do as mom and wife don’t change. They’re there every day. But homestead things could get pushed to the margin and not happen.

Our high tech laundry line: 2 nails and some twine

Let me share how a couple 100 year old farmhouse “quirks” revolutionized the way we approach laundry day now and why it’s been great for the homestead in general. Not too long after we moved in, we began having plumbing problems: clogged toilets making weird slurping, gurgling sounds, the dishwasher not coming clean, & the washing machine not draining. We thought there was no way the septic tank needed pumped already but a quick visit from the company revealed that we were in deep doo doo, literally. They broke the news that the septic was beyond backed up AND we didn’t even have a legit septic system in place. We had a 300 gallon drum for a septic. To put that in perspective we now have a 2,000 gallon septic tank. I always said I wanted to live “off grid” so here was my chance! I’ll spare the family of 10 toilet situation and stick to the laundry for this post. We had to load up all our dirty clothes in hampers and trash bags and head to the laundry mat while the problem was being resolved. A month later the washing machine would no longer fill with water. My laundry room has a crawl space underneath it and so we had frozen pipes for the duration of winter. Off to the laundry mat again.

Mike’s gets his own corner for all his weather dependent gear, headlamps, milking rags

What I learned going to the laundry mat with a week’s worth of clothes was that I loved getting it done and out of the way for another whole week. It was one less task on my mental to-do list. I had the rest of the week to let my brain focus on other aspects of family living and homesteading. I still continue this  practice (or should I say discipline) of marathon laundry day. I often refer to my laundry room/mud room as the liver of our home. It filters everything that comes into and goes out of the home. Oftentimes unwanted items go no further into the home and by contrast some items sit in this “holding” zone waiting their final destination. So by the time laundry day comes around it’s due for a good cleansing.

The “liver”

What makes a good laundry day?

• Don’t make any big plans for leaving the homestead.
• Don’t have any high hopes for other projects.
• Make the work space comfortable.  For me it’s Bach Radio on Pandora & diffusing essential oil.
• Recruit help to bring any remaining dirty laundry down to be washed.
• Get 1st load started early! Then rotate, rotate, rotate.
• As I clean the laundry room there are items to add to the donation bag (yay) which is then brought out to my car.
• We store trash cans for recyclables in this room so plastic/glass goes to the car and paper goes to the burn barrel.
• We have a bin for “items that don’t belong in here” so these items get brought to proper home.
• Sweep the floor and take rugs out to kick off the grossness.
• About once every couple months I make homemade laundry detergent.
• Fold laundry.
• Call kids to help put away laundry (my least favorite thing).
• Pass out from exhaustion but thrilled to have clean clothes and laundry room for a whole week.

Coat racks for library bag, purses, jackets, towels

Top 10 things in our laundry room that help us stay organized:

1. Recycling Center– my big family can make a lot of trash so it’s important to me to not be gigantic landfillers. This is the perfect space for 2 30 gallon steel trashcans to house plastic, glass, and paper recycling.
2. Sock bin– other than Mike no one keeps socks in their drawers. All socks get folded and go in the sock bin. It’s so much easier than doling out socks. I can’t imagine what my house would look like without it.
3. Goodwill bag– we have a spot for items to be donated. If I get tired of bending over and picking up the same piece of plastic junk over and over, chances are it’ll get sent to a new home. Also doing laundry is a good way of seeing who has just a few extra clothes or those they’ve outgrown. They also go to a new home.
4. “Items that don’t belong in here” bin– being the “liver” of the home there are so many things brought into this space for example, a crayon, a glove, a baby doll, a glass milk jug, a child’s journal, on and on. Instead of daily putting things away it’s easier to just put this in this bin until laundry day.
5. Library bag– this contains all the books and movies that come home from the library and is a safe place to put them when we’re done. Then it’s all ready to go when we hit up the library.
6. Church bin– my littlest children’s church clothes stay in a laundry hamper in the laundry room so we always know where they are come Sunday. After they get washed they go straight into this bin as opposed to the child’s clothes pile. The fewer clothes my kids have to yank out of their drawers the better.
7. Pool bag– this stays in this room and houses suits, towels, goggles. It’s ready when we are.
8. Laundry line– to hang bed sheets and towels for blocking the eastern sun (ha)
9. Coat racks at various heights- for purses, backpacks, coats in the winter or towels and suits in the summer. It’s nice that kids can reach them (or not).
10. “Command Center”– I have a wall hanging organizer with pockets from the Thirty-One company to hold things such as cards, stamps, & random mail. This way it doesn’t come into the main rooms.

Laundry for 10 no problem!

So there you have it. This is our “large” homesteading family’s way of taking care of laundry (and a potentially scary sneak peek into the inner workings of this mom’s brain). I am so grateful when every Monday rolls around and I know just what the day expects of me.

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