WFMW–Laundry Strike

WFMW It’s that time of the week again – Works for Me Wednesday!! I know, you’ve been waiting in eager anticipation for the latest hint, tip, or clever pointer from the Duckabush Blog. Well, we aim to please so this week’s topic is … laundry.

True, there might be more exciting areas of life, more spiritual and interesting ones but, really, laundry is the core of every home. Without a smooth-running system for laundry, chaos and naked children abound. Laundry is an undeniable aspect of life. What to do when faced with such a substantial burden? Outsource it, of course. Isn’t that why we have children? I have worked hard to train my older three in the sophisticated nuances of laundering and, as long as I don’t look too closely, I am very pleased with their work.

sarah and david

Sarah and David can haul laundry up and down stairs, empty the dryer, sort clothes and even pair (notice I didn’t say ‘match’) socks.

When the kids are hard pressed for cash, I will pay them 50 cents for doing laundry. They are required to 1) empty the dryer and sort the clean clothes; 2) transfer the wet clothes to the dryer; and 3) begin another load. I figure that’s worth some money if only because it allows me to sit down and blog instead of squandering the time washing clothes for the ungrateful masses.

daniel's sleeping bags

Daniel’s latest quest for cash resulted in him washing all the sleeping bags. So he did three WITHOUT any laundry soap, do you really need soap these days? Um. Yes, please.

I have a fairly small laundry room and, with seven people in the family, laundry is a constant, never-ending chore. My husband came up with a brilliant idea for helping me organize and process laundry. He went to IKEA and bought me an Expedit, a backless bookcase with 16 square cubicles.


The idea was to have a shelving system where each person in the family could have their own laundry ‘cubby’. The rest of the shelves could be used for linens, games or misc storage. During the design process we tweaked things further. I have two hampers in the laundry room – one for lights and one for darks. I wanted these two baskets to remain in the room so I needed to find a way to prop the Expedit off the ground. Again the creative team of Tim and Grandad went to work. They came up with the idea of placing the entire shelf on top of two file cabinets. Now we had shelving, hampers, AND filing storage. Brilliant!


And the cubbies always look this neat and tidy. You believe me, right.

As with my whiteboard, an important aspect of the project was ensuring my father was in town and available for some manual labor. Tim was the creative designer and financier behind the entire scheme. My dad served as the general contractor and all around craftsman — what a great team. The kids put on a movie and Grandad assembled shelves and filing cabinets and then secured everything to the wall.

grandad the handy man

It is wonderful to have such a handy father.

Now I have this wonderful laundry organizer. When clothes are dry they go straight from the dryer to the appropriate cubicle (folding, I must admit, is optional). If I’m short on time and washing several loads in quick succession, a basket near the dryer might fill up with clean clothes, but my couch and chairs and family room floor are NEVER covered with piles and piles of laundry. It’s a miracle! The laundry strike can end now.

hampers and filing cabinets

Today, in honor of this post, I made labels for each of the cubbies. Note hampers and filing cabinets underneath shelf. Seriously organized!!

Head on over to Rocks in My Dryer for further Works for Me Wednesday links.

Some other Duckabush WFMW Posts
Giant Whiteboard
Travel Outfits

Join us for our Tuesday Tips for Parenting
Calling Your Child
Creative Use for the Timer
First Time Obedience

Project 365 – Day 233

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32 thoughts on “WFMW–Laundry Strike”

  1. My hat’s off to you! I love your idea and I love Ikea! It’s great that you get the kids involved and that you sweeten the deal with some cash! Although I have been very fortunate the past few times I’ve done laundry for my gang – money in their pockets, in the washer and sometime in the floor. One day I made $3.50 in loose change just from sorting out the stuff they left in the laundry room!

    My kids do all their own laundry (the youngest is 14) and have been for years, but I help out now and then! I used to have 9 laundry hampers downstairs, 2 for whites(white baskets), 2 for colors(red baskets), 2 for darks(black baskets), 2 for sheets and towels (2 tan baskets) and 1 for stuff to go to the cleaners (wicker basket).

    With 4 kids all involved in sports and both my husband and I working in business offices there was laundry up the waa-zoo! If at least 2 loads a day weren’t done, we’d have to spend the whole weekend doing laundry. Sometimes I would just take it all to the laundry-mat because they have those HUGE front loaders!

    (I have my eyes on the new LG front load washer/dryer – I’ve hinted to my husband and kids and just to cover the bases I’ve put out the word to Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Father Time, The Easter Bunny, Cupid, A Leprechaun, Mother Nature, the neighbors and anyone else that will listen (yes I know that most of them are make-believe – but it’s fun to make my family nuts with stuff like this..hehehehe).

    I feel like the kid from The Christmas Story every time I see it on the TV, I tell everyone in the room, I want one in gray, with the middle shelving unit, base stands and the steam clean function and they have it at Lowe’s with 0% financing and if you catch it at the right time, a $200 gift card for future purchases….whew – all in one breath!!! LOL

  2. oh I like the IKEA cubbies on the filing cabinets idea.

    My daughter, just turned 6, is the folding princess at our house. It is her job to sort, fold, and deliver the laundry. I do help her with the big sheets etc., but other than that she can do a great job.

  3. AMAZING! You are my new hero. I’m in awe. That’s the coolest set up I’ve seen in a long time.

    I wonder where I could put one…

  4. {gulp!} A SMALL laundry room?

    I hope you have pity on us British who don’t usually have such luxuries at all! Most people’s washer (drier if they have one, we usually use the outdoor line) is in the kitchen. That’s what comes of living in the country with one of the most expensive land prices on earth.

    Are you feeling lucky yet? {vbg}

    Shelves in a laundry room…{sigh} America truly is the land of opportunity! {VBG}

  5. Dorothy – you’re right, I shouldn’t have called my laundry small. I was afraid someone else would pick up on that adjective and call me on it. :) If it helps any, I did have to assign a child to climb into the sink to get a decent picture of the shelves. ha!

  6. Suzanne – wow your six year old is already doing folding and sorting? That’s wonderful. Did you have to spend very much training? My children are a great help with the laundry in general but I don’t think any of them (sorry) fold their clothes. I’m just so glad to have it cleaned and put away, I don’t really mind the unfolded state. If the drawers start to overflow, however, then I go behind them and do some serious folding (and decluttering). Ha!

  7. Ok, so far I have two of your tips saved! You are a genius! We just got a new Ikea in Portland (which I’m closer to than Seattle) and I just can’t wait to get in there! Great….great….GREAT idea!

  8. You should see my laundry room – it’s too small to put an Ikea cubby in it!! But I really like your idea. Though we have a helper to do the housework, I get my boys to help out in other areas of housework!

  9. WOWOW!! Great tips and photos and working plan!! AHH, the things I DIDN’T teach the Snider boys. Ah my. Sorry, Snider wives.

    I love you. AK

  10. I love your tips! Our kids help with the laundry too – moving from washer to dryer, from dryer to laundry basket, then hauling the basket back to my room for folding. Often they “help” with the folding – hey – it’s a learning process! I try not to start another load until the previous load is completely finished!

  11. I wish we had an IKEA here! I could really use a closet organizer. I guess I’ll have to look online. Our utility room has two cabinets in there which are handy for storing some clothes. There’s no more room for a system like yours, but I do have a different type of system which I should show later. I use stacking baskets to put everyone’s clothes in.. the same as you.. sometimes folded sometimes not, but at least put in each person’s container so they can deal with it and get it out of the laundry room without being spread all about the house.

  12. Wow great use of kids and space. :)
    I love the little cubbies with the labels.
    I’m headed to my “real home” in Washington for a couple weeks on Friday. Anticipating it with joy….

  13. Hi Kathy,
    I want to know about your labels, do you have a label-maker? Mine has 5 different sizes and several fonts but no colors and nothing close to that size. Also, I think you and Tim each need your own cubby:)
    Where did you get your file cabinets? They look much nicer than your average two drawer unit.

  14. What an impressive laundry room! can you send your dad my way? We’ve got a laundry table which serves as a “roof” for the dog bed underneath….ugh! Send your IKEA ideas our way!! I love IKEA but it’s so far away from us….

  15. Ok.. if there is such a thing, I have Laundry Room Envy! That looks fabulous! If it were my house that would be the first place I would show people when they came to visit. LOL.

  16. Pam —

    I agree, I need my own cubby. When I saw the labels, I immediately complained, in my usual mature and restrained manner.

    “I thought I was entitled to my own cubby!” I whined in a high, nasally voice, stomping my feet on the floor.

    “We’re sort of … you know … together in this,” Kathy explained, as she raised her eyebrows and backed away slowly.

    I guess it is time for another marriage seminar, this time with a laundry focus. Who knew that even the basic, inalienable and nearly-constitutional right to an individual laundry cubby would be jettisoned in our quest for ‘one-ness’ in marriage?

    I can see it now — “Love and Laundry: A Road to Intimacy”. Maybe I’ll beat the rush and hit the seminar circuit today.

  17. Okay, I hate to, as they say, air some dirty laundry here, but my beloved husband (the whiner from the preceeding comment) hardly ever takes his laundry upstairs.

    “He doesn’t do it at all.”

    Since one of the main reasons for the laundry cubbies is for the children to have a place for their own laundry and be able to easily PUT IT AWAY, it seems a bit silly for Tim to have his own cubicle.

    Also, again, he’s forcing me to share all of this, Tim doesn’t really put his clothes away (as in drawers, closets, etc) so I’m not sure why he needs his own cubby. I guess he prefers me to have things in two piles so his clothes don’t get Kathy Cooties. :)

    I’m listening and more than willing to compromise as necessary.

    P.S. The labels were done with Publisher. I let each of the children pick their own colors, printed it on cardstock and taped it up with double stick tape.

  18. I really didn’t think I would start a big controversy about this … just trying to be supportive and showing agreement with a very reasonable comment made by one of our loyal readers.

    And I shouldn’t have to point out that the cubbys are designed for clean laundry, not the airing of dirty laundry about who may, or may not, do certain chores around the house.

    But, since these questions were raised, let’s address some of these basic presuppositions:

    Since when were the cubbies designed for laundry to be put away?

    I’ve always subscribed to the “wear clothes right out of the dryer” school of thought, which raised a few eyebrows with shared laundry facilities in college, but has otherwise served me well. Who needs dressers or laundry baskets when you can simply pick your clothes out of the (sometimes still delightfully warm) supply of recently-dried garments in the dryer. As our family expanded, and since we don’t have seven dryers, the cubby solution seemed brilliant. I get up pretty early, so there isn’t even the fear of young psyches being marred by the sight of me prancing around in my boxers. (I seldom prance, anyway, but you can’t be too careful in this day and age.)

    Don’t even get me started about drying and putting away dishes — what a colossal waste of time! No wonder so many moms are overworked — there’s no efficiency to their system! How could a wife, grateful for such dynamic leadership, begrudge such a husband his own cubby?

    I’d write up a few of these handy tips for the edification of moms around the world, but I’m too busy authoring my Love and Laundry marriage curriculum. Here’s my outline so far, pursuing the metaphor:

    Love and Laundry

    • Matching Socks and Finding Common Recreational Pursuits
    • Getting the Stains Out and Dealing with Relational Baggage
    • When the Washer Breaks Down and Other Strategies for Resolving Conflict
    • Checking the Lint Screen and Maintaining Your Marriage

    I’ll bet that’s Gary Smalley on the other line, wanting to co-author a book with me.

  19. Kathy – I remember you telling us about this when you did it – I really should see if I can find any spot in my laundry room for something similar. LOL

  20. Wow, Kath. You must be a phlegmatic personality after all, to be so organized. I am, I must confess, more of the “wear clothes right out of the dryer” kind of person and feel impressed to have finally put a sock basket on top of the dryer, so it doesn’t take so long to dig around for two matching ones. Although actually now, having a little laundry closet right next to all the bedrooms, I somehow actually do wash, fold, and put laundry away. But I haven’t bribed my kids to help on a consistent basis. Hmmm. More to think about.

  21. De’Etta – yes, I also remember you asking for pictures and me wondering how in the world I was going to get any pictures since the room isn’t quite wide enough for me to capture it all on film. Isn’t it so nice to have little ones handy with the camera and small enough to fit on top of washers and into mud room sinks. Ha!

  22. Rachel – I didn’t know being phlegmatic had anything to do with being organized. Interesting. I know you are more of a dryer – wash, dry and wear kind of gal. Tim favors that approach.

    Bribing is very much a part of our parenting around although I prefer to call it “hiring.” :)

  23. What great ideas!

    Keeping yourself organized is a priority for many people. This not only includes the parts of our homes that we can see, it includes the parts that are hidden from the view of the general public. Many people find that, over time, they tend to accumulate a lot of items that really only end up being stored. Where do these items tend to find themselves? In our closets, of course. That is probably why there is such a large market for closet organizer systems.


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