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June 2012

Mary's Modern Homemaking

Of Laundry Rooms and Clotheslines
By Mary Frances

Mary's Modern Homemaking archive


Laundry or dishes, dishes or laundry? I am not sure which I dislike the most. It seems neither one ever gets completely done. People are always eating or getting their clothes dirty. Well, since I could not take charge of their eating habits, I put a stop to the "24-hour Laundromat." Out of self-defense I started to set limits. Laundry only gets done on Wednesdays and Saturdays. If you do not get your basket of clothes to the laundry room Tuesday or Friday night, then whatever you need will wait until next laundry day—or better yet, do it yourself.

A place for everything

A place for everything, and everything in its place. This is a motto that runs throughout the house, especially in the laundry room. After all, why turn a 30-minute project into three hours because you cannot find the right tools?

My favorite piece of "furniture" in the laundry room is this rolling cart.


rolling cart


It has three pull-out drawers that house all I need. The top is reserved for my laundry soap, borax, baking soda, liquid dish soap, and vinegar. The next drawer has a silverware divider inside. This holds all those little surprises one might find inside a pocket: loose change, a comb, maybe that long-lost tube of lipstick or ChapStick, or who knows what. You might even go one step further and label each compartment so when it comes time to put things away you will know what treasures belong to whom. It can even hold dryer sheets or, in my case, my dryer balls (more on this below).

On the wall behind the cart I hang my brushes . . . lots of them. From left to right are my dryer vent brush, a clothes brush used instead of a lint roller, a soft brush for ring-around-the-collar, and my dryer-screen-cleaning brush. On another wall, I hang my ironing board.


brushes organized


ironing board organized


Dealing with stains

Now that you are organized, let's tackle those stains. I found the best way to treat stains on cotton fabrics is to catch them right away or as soon as possible. I have two buckets that are labeled "whites" and "greasy." For demonstration purposes here, I used my kitchen dishrag. As you can see, it was horribly stained. Unfortunately, it had been sitting around for about five days before I found it, so it might have been harder to get those nasty stains out. First, I saturated the rag with liquid dish soap and then gently rubbed it into the stained areas. Second, I filled the bucket with very hot water and one cup vinegar—either distilled white or apple cider works great! Soak at least 24 hours. Sometimes stains need more soaking time, so I then freshen up the water and go another 24 hours. In this case, after I was satisfied the stains were out as much as possible, I simply tossed the dishrag into the washer and washed as I would normally.


before: grimy dishrag


after: a dishrag that is clean and fresh-smelling


Controlling static

Static is something we all wonder how to control. The very best way is to make sure the fabrics around your house are all natural and organically grown. Wools and cottons are the best. Synthetics and blends love static. You could use liquid fabric softener or put dryer sheets or tennis balls in the dryer. I have used tennis balls, which did dry my comforters faster and fluffed up my pillows better, but the noise was almost unbearable. Then I found an all-natural—and quiet—approach. I now use felted wool dryer balls, which I found made by Subito Farm.

Three nifty clotheslines

I also believe every home should have a way to hang-dry clothes. The less we use our dryers, the lower our power bill will be, and it's better for the environment—not to mention having an alternative when the power goes out. I have three different types of clotheslines. First is this beautiful outdoor line my son and I put together last summer. I love it.


outdoor clothesline


Next is the retractable one that hangs on the wall in my laundry room. I bought mine at Home Depot, and it has been a life saver.


indoor retractable clothesline


Last but not least is the portable one that can be used outside or in. The best thing about it is that I can place it directly over a heater vent, so in the winter, while my house warms up, the clothes get dry. Two uses for the price of one!


portable clothesline


Clothesline etiquette

For those who love using clotheslines, I thought I'd share with you some clothesline etiquette, author unknown.

  1. Always wipe clean the line before hanging clothes.
  2. Always hang whites with whites and hang them first.
  3. Shirts should never be hung by the shoulder but by their tails.
  4. Hang sheets and towels on the outside lines and unmentionables where they cannot be seen.
  5. Shared pins means less pins needed.
  6. No matter if the weather is subzero—just consider the clothes "freeze-dried."
  7. Clothespins left on lines are tacky.
  8. Never hang clothes on the weekend.
  9. Clothes off the lines by dinnertime. Always!

A clothespin bag

What laundry room would be complete without a clothespin bag? Whether for looks or to house a boatload of pins, the simple little pattern, available free at Made with Love by Hannah, is sure to please. I modified mine a bit to more resemble an apron. I chose to leave the armholes open to accommodate any size hanger. Then I added the little cuffs and ties in the back. This basic pattern is so simple that you can make it up as is or add some unique trims.


clothespin bag front


clothespin bag back


Now that you are completely organized, laundry should no longer be an awful chore but a delight in knowing that whiter whites and brighter lights are just a breeze away.


Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


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