Friday Five: Laundry

Looking at Ben’s blog, I was startled to see that the Friday Five has begun appearing again. I had more or less given up on it. Well, I’m a day late, but I’ll answer this week’s questions; it seems as good a way of any to break the Blogger’s Block that’s been plaguing me for weeks.
1. How often do you do laundry? About once a week. Typically, what triggers a laundry cycle is a complaint that someone is about to run out of underwear.
2. What’s in a typical wash load? I’m doing laundry for a family of four, so there’s a great deal of stuff to wash. As a result, there is no such thing as a “typical” load; I sort clothes into whites, light colors, bright colors, dark colors, reds, jeans, underwear, and linens (bedclothes and towels). Most of these are one load each, but the lights, brights, and darks typically produce two loads, and sometimes the jeans do so as well. Lately, I’ve started separating black clothes from the other dark-colored ones, since there is enough for a full load of each. I’m not sure why the volume of black clothing has increased in recent months, but it probably has to do with having two teenagers in the house. Reds and underwear are not full loads, but have to be washed separately; I usually combine them in the dryer. Whites can sometimes be combined with some of the light colors, but that means they get washed in warm water instead of cold. (I try to wash as few partial loads as possible, to save electricity, but some of them are unavoidable.)
I have sixteen laundry baskets (Ultra Laundry Baskets from Sterilite, in every color I’ve been able to find), but usually four or five of those are unavailable when I start sorting, because they’re still sitting in people’s rooms full of clean clothes from the previous laundry cycle, waiting to be folded and put away. Washing and drying a dozen loads takes a whole weekend day, or several weekday evernings.
Yes, I’m a laundry geek.
3. Front or top loader? Powder or liquid detergent? Like most Americans, I’ve never even seen a front-loading washer. And I use two powdered detergents: Tide with Bleach for the underwear (to sterilize it, and I spray the basket with Lysol afterward), and Cheer with Liquifiber for everything else. Whites, linens, and underwear get washed in hot water, light colors in warm, and everything else in cold. (Actually, if the outside temperature is below 60, I use warm instead of cold. Water colder than 60 doesn’t dissolve the detergent properly.)
4. Do you use fabric softener in the rinse cycle? No. My family seems pretty indifferent to whether softener is used, so I don’t bother. I use softener sheets in the dryer during the winter months, but that’s to control static electricity.
5. Dryer or clothesline? Dryer. We currently have an electric dryer, which was purchased when we lived in an all-electric house. Our current house has gas, but it isn’t piped up to the laundry room, so future dryers will probably also be electric unless we determine that a gas dryer would save us a lot of money.
If it sounds like I do all of the laundry, that’s not the case. I wash and dry everything, but Marie sorts the clean laundry, and everyone is responsible for folding or hanging up their own clothes.