Making the Most of Your
Chapter 15 "Buying and Washing Clothes"
". . . they were not in want;
Their clothes did not wear out . . . "
Clothes are very expensive to buy and/or replace if they are stained, ruined or in ill repair. It is, therefore, very important to keep your family looking like “children of the King” by keeping their clothes clean and in good repair. Even if you if you are struggling financially, you can usually dress well with so many yard sales and thrift stores available nowadays.
Even if you are a one-income family or are divorced, you have this promise, that “she who remains at home will divide the spoil”! (Ps. 68:12).
Even if you are unable to afford garage sales or thrift stores, there are so many families who are just “looking” for someone who can wear their children’s outgrown clothes—so make your needs known. First make it known to God about your needs through prayer. God tells us that HE will supply all your needs, but He wants you to ask Him.
Secondly, make your need for clothing known by mentioning it to someone who clearly is “through” having children and has children just a bit bigger than your own. A friend of mine told me a wonderful example of this. She had always admired a friend’s little girl who wore the most gorgeous designer clothing. She simply asked her friend what she did with the outgrown clothes. The mother now passes all her daughter’s clothing onto this friend who has six children.
When I was “delivered” from having yard sales or trying to make a buck by selling our clothes to consignment shops (as I said in an earlier chapter), our family began overflowing with clothing! It took me a long time of prayer before I found a group at our church that passes clothing around so I could pass Macy’s clothing to them. Our neighbor just mentioned to me that she loves “hand me downs” that was such a blessing for me. I never even thought of giving her Cooper’s clothes that he has outgrown! So be sure to ASK. The rest of our clothes, I simply give to the closest thrift store to our home. I make it simple by putting a silver trash can with a black drawstring bag in it marked “Give Away” so that anytime we no longer want something, it can go right in the bag and onto the thrift store.
Whether you need clothes, or you have clothes to give away, it is important that you keep your clothes clean, which is what this chapter is all about!
Before I get started, however, I want to share my heart regarding mothers who have their children do their “own” clothes. I am all for training my children (as you know from my workbook A Wise Woman), but I am not in favor of this system, because I like living and promoting “family.” Though our children learn to cook, clean, and do laundry, we do not do it “independently” from each other, but rather we learn to do it as a family.
Society as a whole loves to “divide and conquer” yet our very nature draws us to wanting to “belong.” Cults prey on young people, because they are “communal” and these young people finally feel they are needed (even if it is trying to sell beads at an airport!). I am not saying that if your children do their own laundry they will end up a member of a cult, I just want to emphasis promoting family and “servanthood” (caring for each other rather than “self”) that is becoming as outdated as remaining a virgin before marriage. Okay, enough, moving on . . .
Praise God. If you have a washer and dryer, PRAISE God for your modern conveniences! If you don’t have to wash on a board, at a river, or carry water and boil it, praise the Lord! Most of us in the United States don’t have to hang out our wash to dry, but have a clothes drier! Traveling around the world proved how blessed we are since most countries hang their clothes out to dry! We don’t have to load coals in our iron when pressing our clothes either!
Be thankful. Be thankful by showing God your appreciation for the clothes you have by:
- Keeping them clean: Use bibs, aprons, and a stain remover when you or your family does spill.
- Keeping them wrinkle free: Keep up with your ironing, and fold or hang as soon as the drier stops. Also, not overloading your washer and drier will help with the wrinkles.
- Keeping them mended: A stitch in time really does save nine! Learn to hand sew or keep your sewing machine set up with white thread during the warm months and black thread during the colder months for quick mending. If you know how to sew, but don’t have a machine, there are very small machines, even hand held ones, that will mend a seam or tear.
Diligence. Setting a washday schedule and a routine will increase productivity and keep you from dreading this very important job you do for your family.
- Sort your clothes by using three different-colored baskets: use a white basket for whites, a light color for your lights or bright clothing, and a dark basket for your darks. Teach young children their colors by having them sort their own clothes as they take them off. Once they are either dressed in their bedclothes or dressed for the day, they can be trained to bring their soiled clothes to the laundry room. If you prefer, you can have a laundry basket in each room for them to bring to you on laundry day. However, very often children will throw clean clothes that they try on and don’t wear or put dirty clothes in their drawers that you discover a week later. If you have either of these situations, you might want to use the first method.
- Set days, i.e., Monday, Wednesday, Friday, for your washdays, or you can wash a load as soon as that colored basket is full. (If you like this method, make sure you have your family sort their own clothes as they take them off). This works better for smaller families, where set washdays are a must for larger families. Recently I was blessed with one of those front load washers that does 17 pair of jeans! Now I have just ONE washday a week, not counting another day for towels and sheets that my 13-year-old son does.
- Turn the clothes the right way out or inside out for sweaters, girl’s tights, or other items you want to protect. Teach your children to do this themselves. If my children don’t turn their clothes, I make a pile of all the clothes that are unturned and make one child (the biggest culprit) to turn or shake out the rest of the family’s socks. It only takes ONE time for each child to turn someone else’s socks (or underwear) for them to remember to turn their own clothes!
- If you zip up your clothes, they will fold easier, but more important, it saves the life of your clothing. A zipper frays clothing in the washer and especially in the drier.
- Take time to look for soiled or stained clothing, and pre-treat them with a stain stick, or what I prefer is the new liquid detergent I use that gets out everything, including blood!
- Ooops, I spoke too soon. The only thing my new laundry detergent doesn’t get out is anything oily or greasy. For this I use “Goo Gone.” If you can’t find this, look or ask for a citrus stain remover that gets out gum. It took out a stain from a baby romper that was covered with red lipstick in just two washings! When my sister visited, she just about cried when she told me her son (who had begged his mom for a pair of designer shorts for the summer) got a black oil stain on it. She told me she had tried “everything” and it didn’t help at all. It took two washings with “Goo Gone.” Just make sure you cover the stain, let it dry, then use a liquid detergent or stain stick on it when you wash (it explains it in the directions).
- My favorite laundry detergent is OUR Detergent. It’s a liquid, which is what I always use with my darks, since I often end up with powder marks on dark colors. It uses a pump, so you don’t have messy cups. It works with cold water. It gets my clothes so white, and the colors are so much brighter. I found out about it from a Christian woman’s magazine, and I have told everyone about it. You can order online at www.ourproductsonline.com. Recently, a neighbor I recommended the OUR detergent to asked what I thought of their other cleaning products, which I had not tried. After trying them, I now love most their products, especially their powdered whitener. Their products are safe for your skin, without petroleum byproducts or harmful chemicals that you don’t want to use next to your family’s skin. And if that is not enough to convince you to try this, I figured that it cost my family of nine just $5.00 a month to use! Now with my front load washer I use half a pump or $2.50 a month. I use the smallest recommended amount per wash and still cannot believe the great results and such a cheap price! If you do give this product a try, mention my name and they will send me money toward more of their products! Thanks!!
- If you want to stay ahead of the game, collect and sort your clothes at night and start your first wash load—whites. If you do your whites at night, you save competing with the hot water you use for showers in the morning.
- Throw your whites, which consist mostly of towels, underwear, and socks in the drier since these will sit before folding. When you wake up, you have a load to fold, your third load in the washer, and your second load going in the drier. This saves me so much time it is unbelievable!
- To get cleaner clothes, don’t over fill your washer.
- Use a detergent that requires only a quarter cup. Others have fillers, which can burn clothes, cause skin irritation on children, and other family members that have sensitive skin, and may be the cause of sickness and diseases like autoimmune disorders. Again, I highly recommend trying OUR detergent.
- Though I used to use liquid fabric softener and recommended using a Downy Ball in previous editions of this book, I no longer recommend using chemicals that come in contact with the skin that are easily absorbed into the body. Fabric sheets are said to be one of the worst products you can use regarding your health, and often cause skin rashes. A natural softener, especially for towels, is vinegar. There are different kinds, but Heinz makes a good one that is made from vegetables, not petroleum, and vinegar is so cheap to use. For a nice scent, I use natural lemon extract that you can get for about $5 in a health food store. You use just about 4-5 drops for a fresh scent.
- For clothes that you do not want to go into the drier, put these in a net laundry bag. All my children know that a net laundry bag does not go in the drier. Before I discovered this method I had so many articles of clothing that would be ruined by drying. It is the drier, not the washer, that makes clothes wear out and fades the colors. So now most of my own clothes are hung up after I put them on an “air only” cycle to fluff them and get out some of the wrinkles.
- Remove your clothes immediately, fold or hang up, to eliminate wrinkles.
- To save electricity—dry two small loads together.
- Shake out clothes as you place them in the dryer, rather than throwing a giant wet ball of clothes, to get fewer wrinkles.
- Place your laundry basket under the dryer door to prevent your clean clothes from falling on your dirty (or lint covered) laundry room (or garage) floor.
- It is the dryer, not the washer, that fades colors, especially black items. So if you have something that you want to keep looking like new, don’t dry it, but instead hang it up to dry. Then to help it get less stiff, put it in the drier for about 5 min. Just makes sure you don’t forget it’s in there! I set a timer so I don’t forget.
- My sister and I used to spray our jeans with a little water, or throw a wet washcloth in with them, so we didn’t have to iron jeans or our wrinkled tops. I showed this trick to my 13-year-old daughter who thought it was the neatest thing she ever found! This works for just about any wrinkled item that you have that you don’t need to look pressed.
The fastest way to fold is to have smaller baskets set aside for your:
- towels and washcloths
While folding, fill these baskets with your towels, socks, and underwear, until all your loads of laundry are done. Fold or hang up the remainder of the clothes immediately. My younger children fold these baskets for me (youngest the towels and washcloths to the oldest who folds the underwear), but before little helpers, sorting these items, and saving them to the end, cut my time folding.
When I fold a shirt or pair of pants, I hold them on the shoulders or at the waste band and give them a quick, sharp shake to smooth them out for a quick fold. There are some mothers who fold in a “fancy department store fashion” that forces them to have to do all the folding, since it is too complicate (or she is too picky) to have her family help.
My sister also likes them done in a “fancy” fashion that keeps her from keeping up with her folding! She never can get around to it (since it takes her probably five times as long as it takes me per load). So she buys more laundry baskets, lets them sit, and is then forced to iron everything before her family can wear it!
If your folding method causes you to fall into either of these groups, then find a simpler way. (Funny, while revising this chapter, I just so happened to be visiting my sister and folded at least a dozen or more loads to free up the laundry baskets. I had planned to buy some more for her until I found CLEAN clothes in baskets unfolded.)
To Reduce Ironing:
- Hang up all your clothes immediately on colored plastic hangers (to be ironed if necessary).
- Fold clothes right away, after each load to avoid wrinkles.
- Fold underwear, socks, and towels after the last
- Assign designated items to be folded by your children (youngest working up to the oldest).
- washcloths (youngest)
- the rest of the clothes (oldest child or you)
“She looks well to the way of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness”
Putting Laundry Away:
- Have the “folder” put away what he/she has folded into the proper drawers (if possible) or at least on the bed, dresser in the right room, or in designated laundry baskets that are taken to the room later once filled with all the loads.
- You could have each child put away his/her own laundry. On the farm, I used to make each family member take his or her own pile and then call out “laundry break.” Each family member would take a “break” from whatever he or she was doing to come get his or her pile of laundry and put it away. It works great if you are all at home during the day.
- On Mondays, or when a lot of clothes are in the wash, this is the best time to organize your drawers. You can put this task (to organize drawers) on your children’s 3x5 cards for Monday. Then, the newly folded clothes can be added neatly to the newly organized drawers.
- If you are short of drawer space, use colored, small baskets on shelves in your closets to organize your clothing, socks, underwear or shoes. This is especially helpful with small children’s clothes. When my husband left us the first time, we had no dressers, so I found some cinder blocks and made shelves with boards. I found dollar plastic baskets, which served as our “dressers” for many years! I particularly liked being able to see all the clothes folded, not stuffed, in drawers.
- Make sure you have a special drawer or basket for underwear, socks, nightclothes, shirts, pants and sweaters. Within the drawer or basket, divide it to separate socks from underwear or other smaller items. Shoeboxes work well in the sock and underwear drawer. I mention this because I was not raised this way. As a teenager, I believed I had “invented” this method of having a special drawer for different clothing items, not knowing that almost everyone lived like this!
- Teach your children how to keep their drawers neat by having them sort their drawers each week as one of their task cards. It didn’t take long for my older children to automatically put that card as “done,” because they learned to keep their drawers organized!
- Ironing your husband’s clothes shows other women in the workplace that “there is a woman who cares for this man”—and one who is hard to compete with! If you want to keep him, don’t have him iron his own clothes!!
- Use a spray starch. It helps to keep clothes looking newer and crisper. You can buy liquid starch and put it into a spray bottle to save money, and it can be diluted to suit you or your husband’s preference of crispness.
- The proper order to iron a man’s shirt is: collar, then cuffs, sleeves, left front, back then right front of his shirt.
- Don’t crowd clothes in the closet—get rid of what you don’t wear! Rule of thumb—if you buy a dress, a shirt, or a pair of pants, give one away. Give to the poor—“Give and it shall be given!”
- Use colored or matching hangers to make your closet look neat. Each of our family members has a specific color, which helps keep things in order in our laundry room and when putting away the items in rooms and in closets that are being shared. Colored hangers are extremely cheap. Use the little size for your younger children, and move up to the large hangers when things begin falling off the small hangers. The smaller children’s hangers also work well for pants to keep the pants from sliding down to one end.
- Collect all your empty hangers when you put away newly washed and ironed clothes. Have a place by your washer to hang the different colored hangers. Some places I have used are: a wire rack over my washer holds cleaning products on top and has a place to hang up hangers underneath; on the edge of a high table where I folded my clothes; and along the end of my ironing board. Now that I have a nice laundry room, I have a wooden bar along the top of my washer and drier. God is good isn’t He?
- Hang your clothes (in the closet) in some kind of order: all your shirts together, then pants, your dresses, next coats, and rearrange them with light to dark clothing within each section. You may laugh, but it helps to find what you are looking for.
- “Airing dirty laundry” is the biggest mistake you could make. Never share details of your husband, your child or friend’s personal matters with others. “He who repeats a matter separates intimate friends” (Proverbs 17:9).
- The three most important things to remember are: always check for stains before putting items in the dryer (preferably before you put them into the wash basket); never iron over a stain; and use the easiest and least caustic method first.
- Some of the stain sticks advertise to rub the stain before you put the item in the hamper. It has worked many times for me. If it doesn’t work or you forget to use it, follow some of these other tips:
- Fill your washer on low setting with soap and water (and the powdered OUR for whites), and put in the extra dirty or stained items to agitate alone. Then turn off the washer, and turn on a timer. Let the stained or soiled items soak for just 10 minutes. Check the stains again. Fill the washer the rest of the way, and then add the remaining laundry. This works for top-load washers only and is the only draw back to a front load washer.
- If you have young children, you probably deal with a lot of stains. When I did, I usually washed my lights before I washed my whites, in case all my attempts still left a stain. At this point I use the more drastic method, and wash a light item with the whites. If this still doesn’t work, go to the next step:
- With extreme caution, use bleach with an old toothbrush, or better yet, purchase a bleach stick. It works great with white fabric, but if you must use it on a colored item, as soon as the stain disappears, run it under cold water to remove the bleach. If it’s used on a colored item that would not come out, and it does get ruined, I figure that it was ruined anyway. So, if the item gets damaged, or if the stain still doesn’t come out, try this:
- Seam rip a famous name label from another garment, and sew it over the stain or bleach mark. At the time this is being written, you find labels anywhere and everywhere on the garment. Many times it makes the article of clothing look more expensive! This also works for covering a small hole or tear. I have used a label to upgrade an inexpensive brand of clothing or the clothes I sew and women asked where I bought it!!
- Use lingerie bags to wash panty hose, bras, knee high stockings, any delicate item or things you don’t want to put in your drier. It not only protects them in the washer, but it also makes it easier to remember not to put them in the dryer where items with elastic lose their elasticity and bright colors lose their brilliance.
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As an “Older women likewise…teaching what is good, that they may ENCOURAGE the young women…” (Titus 2:3) you will have the opportunity to speak to the younger women who are still single as part of your ministry.