Spring is (finally!) here! Which means, more time at the playground, more time on the sports field...and, most likely, never-ending piles of your kid's muddy clothes. When your kids come home with muddy clothes, instead of cringing--or even considering just tossing them away--know this: their dirty items can be salvaged!
FamilyEducation's Managing Editor Laurie McKenna Mega, a mother of two toddler boys, shares some laundry hacks she's learned the hard way. Read on to learn ways to make laundry time less stressful, more kid-inclusive (really!), and much cleaner:
Use Changing Area as Laundry Area
When helping your kids undress, do it right in the laundry area. It's most likely a big hassle if you have to carry those soaked clothes to the laundry room on the opposite side of the home, or into the basement. As soon as the kids walk through the door, shoo them into the laundry room, and remove the muddy clothes immediately. Or, do it at the front door where you have a mesh laundry bin ready, so you can run it right to the machine. Kudos if you have a new set of clean clothes for them right there in the laundry room or entranceway as well, so you're not running around wasting time.
Don't 'Sit' on the Stain
"When the clothes are off, immediately tackle the stains," says Mega. "Don't let the stain sit there; tackle it as soon as possible. The longer the stain sits there, the harder it will be to remove. I spray the stain all over with a stain remover, and let it really soak in for a while before tossing the clothes in the washer." Adds Mega: "I keep one near the changing table to spray a stain immediately and toss it into the laundry bag. And I keep another by the machine. It works — even with mud!" Just wash in warm water, not cold.
Stick to Dark Clothes
Hey, we like name-brand, designer fashions as well, but there's a time and a place to wear them. For a day at the park, you may not want to dress your kids in their fanciest frocks. That's the time to whip out the dark clothes, the denims, the black, and the navy. "If I know we're going to be outdoors, I dress the boys in cotton, which is easier for stain removal, and dark colors, which hide stains much better," says Mega.
When doing a wash, wash the kid's clothes separately from yours. Sure, it may seem easier to just do them all at once, but remember: kids are quite messy (what a shocker!), probably messier than mom and dad. You don't want to risk ruining any of your fave clothes because they were mixed with your kid's muddy, stained tops and bottoms. (You can never be too careful.) And while you're at it, roll each pair of kiddie socks into a ball/pair and just wash/dry them that way. They'll still get cleaned, and chances are you won't lose those tiny socks as easily.
No laundry basket nearby? (Or, your kid is using it for her couch fortress?) Just pile all your dirty clothes on to your bedsheets, scoop up the fitted sheet, and use it as a laundry carrier. Toss it all in the machine and voila!
Wash Velcro Separately
Most Velcro items, such as bibs, are items that are frequently replaced anyway. However, when washing bibs, the Velcro part can sometimes stick to clothing in a dryer and cause pilling. Be safe, and just wash everything Velcro together so it doesn't risk getting stuck on — and pilling — your fave tee from college.
Set Up a "Medium" Clothes Box
Mega advises parents to consider setting up a "can be worn again"/"still clean" mesh laundry bin. "These are the clothes that were worn briefly, just for a few hours, and are not dirty, but can be worn again before washing--such as cotton PJ's." Think about it. We all have articles of clothing--from a tank top to a pair of leggings--we tossed on just to run to the pharmacy and back home that aren't really dirty and can be worn again sometime soon. For your young ones, keep this special "laundry in-between" bin near the bed and it saves you precious time from digging around in drawers for a "just toss this on quickly for our 10-minute CVS run" shirt.
Make Laundry Fun for Kids
OK. We know. We get it. "Laundry" and "fun" rarely go together in a sentence. However, it really can be a fun sensory activity for your kids. "My kids help me by opening and closing the laundry doors, and transferring the wet clothes from the washer into the dryer," says Mega. "They also like pushing and counting the buttons on the machine and telling me what colors they see inside the machine," says Mega, who stresses the importance of keeping cleaning products far away from kids on a top shelf, and reminding kids repeatedly to never crawl into a laundry machine. "When they are older, I'll teach them how to pour the detergenet and spray Clorox Oxi Magic spray on stains, with my assistance."
Featured photo source: OutsideMom.com
Laurie McKenna Mega is the managing editor of FamilyEducation and Content Director of FEN Learning, FE's parent company. She is also the mother of two toddler boys, born one year apart from each other.