With the number in our family we have had piles of laundry up to eyeballs on more than one occasion. We have tried several different methods to keep up with it, and have had many different types of bins and contraptions. The problem with sorter bins is that they are way too small for our family size. We have tried sorting into several different baskets, takes up too much room. So, what do we do.
1. Well, my first tip on getting clothes clean and back where they belong is stop folding. I picked up this tip from Mandy over at Biblical Homemaking. Once you get over the initial shock, you'll probably realize as I did that folding clothes is a big time killer and a waste of time at that. One trip by your husband or 7 year old into that drawer of nicely folded shorts is going to turn it into one jumbled pile anyway. No one has ever seemed to noticed that my kids pants did not come from a neatly folded stack. And trust me, my friends and family are the type to point it out. Not in the 'Oh look how sloppy' way, but in the, 'is everything ok, you need some help way.'
2. The washing. Each bedroom in our house has a basket. Only clothes that are stored in that room go into that basket. Each basket is done on separate days and I wash the whole basket before I begin sorting through the clean clothes. This makes putting away clothes much easier.
3. Putting things away. I separate clothes for drawers into piles and hang up shirts. With the exception of Anara's clothes, her clothing is usually hung up in outfits. A new room doesn't get started until the last room is put away. I throw in a load of towels as needed. I have a small basket sitting on top of the machine to separate out white clothes (I despise white clothing, so we don't have a lot of it!)
4. Socks. This one is a little trickier. No one in our house seems to be able to get many of their socks into their hamper, so when I do a load of towels I go around the house and collect socks. All clean socks go into this basket below which has a tendency to move around the house a bit. Each person also has a sock drawer or bucket in their room for socks that do make it into their dirty clothes basket. I do fold those socks as they come out (or I just throw them into the pink basket with the rest of the clean socks). The pink basket of socks gets folded together every 2 or 3 months, when there are just so many pairs of unmatched socks it takes over a minute to find a set. I highly encourage sandals in our house. I just recently matched socks in the pink basket, so I'm not planning to do it again until sandal season is over.
5. Products. We have made our own in the past and loved it, but my theme this year has been to do what saves me time. So, we use free and clear everything because it can be used for everyone and on everything. Our household cleaner (made from essential oils) makes the best pretreater ever. If it's not handy, I use detergent.
This is by no means fool proof, but it works for the most part for me. When my teenager wants to get out of doing her laundry, you'll find plenty of it in her little sister's basket and vice versa. This method does still seem to drive John a little nuts, but again it works for me.