Are You a Lumper or a Separater?

Since most people can’t afford to buy new clothes everyday, laundry is a necessary chore.  Here at Mermaids Don’t Do Windows, the clothes, sheets, and towels do have to get washed.  Until a laundry fairy starts doing ours, somebody has to do it.

The Husband rarely does laundry.  I banned him for life shortly after we got married.  His idea of washing everything in hot water didn’t sit well with the few nice things that I owned at the time.  I’m sure it was his evil master plan to get out doing of laundry altogether.

Daughter 1 does most of her own laundry, but she can’t sort colors to save her life.  She puts bright colors in the whites all the time.  “I didn’t know which basket to put those in.”  Drives me crazy.  If I’m feeling generous, I’ll throw her clothes in with the rest, but she has to put them away.  It’s not my problem if she can’t find something or her clothes are dirty.  She is 14.

Daughter 2 is too short to reach the controls.  When she’s tall enough and/or pushes me over the edge about how her clothes are done, then she’ll be assimilated, too.  For now, she helps with simple tasks.

The other day, a friend asked me to choose between my washer or dryer.  She did not just ask me to choose which child to keep, did she?

I know that the appliances aren’t children, but don’t ask me to choose.  They get sold in matching sets for a reason.  The Maytags I have now are the first matching set I’ve ever owned.  When we got them several years ago, we called them the Rolls Royce and Bentley.  They even have luxury features (the sales guy sold them to my husband with promises of wrinkle release settings).  I’m not choosing between them.

Every once in a while, someone will complain about the wrinkles.  Wrinkles?  No, those are dryer laugh lines.  I’ve tried to get shirts out when damp and warm, but the wrinkle fairies live in the dryer (and they probably eat socks when they get hungry).  Wrinkle release spray is my only hope of defeating them until the laundry fairies arrive.  I thought that the wrinkle prevent setting on the Rolls Royce and wrinkle release settings on the Bentley were supposed eliminate my wrinkle problems.

What?  Use an iron?  *scoffs*  Mermaids don’t iron.  Heck, my iron is the same one I had in college.  It has my maiden name written on the bottom in permanent marker and black electrical tape on the cord where my roommate’s illegal pet rabbit chewed the cord.

Daughter 2 helped me change the sheets on her bed last week, and she noticed the wrinkles.  “Aren’t you going to iron those sheets?”  Who taught her that?!  How does she even know what an iron is at 6 years of age?  When she’s old enough and can figure out how to unfold the ironing board, she can iron her own sheets.

While I wait for that laundry fairy to take over the washing, drying, ironing, folding, and putting away chores and to save me from my wrinkly bad habits, here are my laundry demands for Daughter 1:

  • Sort the colors into the proper baskets:  Reds (including purples and oranges), whites and most unmentionables, jeans and dark colors, towels and sheets.
  • Don’t use fabric softener with the towels.
  • Don’t wash the kitchen dish towels with the other towels (I don’t know why I have a problem with this.  Just gross.)
  • If you complain about the way the laundry gets done, do it yourself.  You have clean clothes, so be grateful.

I’m a separater.  I can’t even lump the dogs’ bath towels with the family’s bath towels.

What are your laundry habits (good or bad)?  Do you have pet peeves about cleaning clothes?  Do you make your children do their own laundry or participate for the common good of the entire family?  Are you a lumper or a separater:  Do you throw everything into one load (who cares about the colors), or separate all loads by colors and types? I’d love to hear from you.

22 comments on… “Are You a Lumper or a Separater?”

  1. I thought when I started reading this blog that I would be a lumper. Easily, I do most of the laundry in our house and I have a tendancy to through some things together that don’t always go together. But the farther along I read, the more I realized that I am a separator. There are a few times the wrong things get lumped together, but mostly I have to pull everything out and put it in at separate times.

    At the moment my daughter is just about to turn one, but you can bet when she is old enough to help out she will be doing some laundry. I know this dad gets tired of doing it every weekend, haha!

    • LOL…I know all about getting tired of laundry. On a positive note, your daughter’s laundry should be getting easier now that she’s out of the baby stage–unless, of course, she’s a clothes horse and changes into three or four outfits a day. 😉 And props to you for doing the lion share. More dads should follow your lead.

  2. Oh, this made me laugh! I have two boys, and they can sort and fold laundry, but washing the loads? Not yet. And I purposefully shop for clothes that DO NOT require ironing! I take out my ironing board a handful of times in a year. I never understood people down here who iron jeans. What’s up with that?

    • The first time I heard about people ironing their jeans, I about fell over! That’s just wrong. Evidently, it’s about starch and crisp lines. *shakes head*

  3. When I was younger and did the laundry for the entire household, I was a rigid separator. Nowadays? Not so much. Sometimes I cringe and close my eyes when I toss things into the washer together, hoping they will fight it out and each will have the strength to preserve their own uniqueness. And I must confess that these days, my clothing purchases have an additional criterion, one more hoop they have to jump through before I’ll consider buying them: will this fade onto my other clothes? (That plays second fiddle to the number one consideration: will this be comfortable?)

    • LOL. If you buy everything that goes in the same basket, then you’re separating and lumping at the same time! That’s genious, Tommie! What does that make you? A lumperator? Next shopping trip, the kids get to buy only stuff that can be lumperated. 🙂 I’m sure that still won’t help with the wrinkles though… Hmmm.

      • A lumperator! Too cool! Hmmm….I think I’ll have a button made that I can wear on my shoulder: “You’re looking at another proud Lumperator.” LOL

        • I love the button idea! You need a T-shirt, too, as long as it’s comfy and in the right color range of the rest of your laundry. 😉


  4. Rebecca janssen


    Separator for sure! My teenage son has been doing his own laundry since he was 11 or 12. My daughter is being indoctrinated as we speak.

    I also separate the dog towels and for some reason don’t mix sheets with towels at all. I don’t think I have an aversion to it, I just don’t do it. I also separate sheets by color and have numerous small loads of delicates separated by color or whatever other needs they have. Those small loads sit on top of the dryer for weeks until they get large enough to warrant the use of all that water. That’s my environmentally conscious brain kicking in.

    My newest thing on laundry is something I found on pinterest. I want to try to make my own laundry detergent. This may be a total bust, but wish me luck.

    • Wow! You’ve got more serious separating going on than I do. 🙂 Let me know how the laundry detergent works. I’ll have to check that out on Pinterest now.


  5. rcahill111


    I used to be a separator until a few months ago when we shifted all the chores around here at our house. I used to do all the laundry, except the teenagers, which I was making him do himself because I have hopes of not doing it for him while he’s in college. He’s gotten better at washing…. folding… well, I’d rather not comment on that yet.
    Recently, DH suggested that everyone should do their own laundry. I JUMPED ON THAT LIKE A FLEA ON A DAWG! I’m not sure he knew what he was suggesting because now he rarely has clean clothes. If we are going on a trip, I usually wash for him knowing that he’ll not pack and won’t be ready to leave if he doesn’t have anything to wear. The kids (7 and 9) have adapted pretty well to the own laundry thing. It’s pretty manageable for them.
    As soon as we switched to the “own laundry” thing, I decided that I didn’t always have enough to make a load and I just want it done. Most of my items are older and I don’t feel they’ll bleed onto other clothing, so I just throw them all in. If it’s going to bleed, then it can wait. 🙂
    I’ve been using those little detergent packs, which are a little more expensive, but I am finding that the right amount of detergent is now being used since you just grab one and throw it in. It does however mess up my jive with water preparation at the beginning. I always put the detergent and color safe bleach in while the water is filling up so that the water is soapy. (I hear that some folks have the audacity to simply dump the soap in on top of the clothes after filling it up. C-R-A-Z-Y!)
    Something I am neurotic about is zipping up pants. I used to always find little holes in tshirts and such and one day I thought I would try zipping up jeans, shorts, pants etc. Ever since then, I don’t get those little holes. I think the zippers were catching in the washer or dryer. Prolly the dryer.
    Anyways, I’m totally enjoying not doing everyone’s laundry. 🙂 I do have the tendancies to want to refold everyone’s laundry though. Hard to fight those urges……….


    • rcahill111


      Animal towels definitely go separate. Yuck!!! Beach towels are separate too.

    • Dump the soap on top of the clothes? The nerve! 😉 Since I got the Rolls and Bentley, I don’t have to worry about that anymore. The washer is a front loader, so I put the soap in as the water goes through. So nice! I love that DH made the suggestion and then doesn’t get around to washing his own stuff.

      *throws confetti* That’s to celebrate that you don’t have to do everyone else’s laundry anymore! It gives me hope.


      • rcahill111


        It definitely takes some work to walk away from it. I know I could do it better. LOL Just a lesson they have to learn on their own. I don’t mind helping them fold some of it as long as they are participating and doing a majority of it. 🙂


        • rcahill111


          OH… the other thing that was instituted recently, with chores in general, thanks to a CD from the Love & Logic Institute called “Didn’t I Tell You To Take Out The Trash?”
          They suggest that you pay allowance because you pay allowance. They say don’t pay for individual chores. The kids should have chores that are part of their family contribution. Part of being a family.
          HOWEVER, if someone is willing to put their chores up for bid and pay for them, then those can be paid for. For instance, everyone does their own laundry, BUT if someone wants to do DH’s laundry, he’ll pay $5/load (wash and fold). This gives the kids some opportunity to earn money for things they want and lets someone out of doing their own chores if they’re willing to pay someone to do them.
          I always put the litterbox up for bid. $2 per cleaning. 🙂

          • Great idea! It legitimizes kids paying their siblings to do their chores–and includes the parents now. I know a certain sister who paid her little sister to clean her room all the time–they never told their parents until they were grown. (No, it wasn’t me. 😉 ) We pay allowance to pay allowance, too. The girls are expected to do their individual chores and clean their rooms. Thanks for sharing!


  6. Alice Dyer


    Okay, so I had to laugh at rule #3. This is one of the golden rules of laundry in my house–no kitchen towels in with any other laundry. The second rule almost even with the first rule which is don’t let the husband touch the laundry, especially my laundry. Separator is definitely the leaning in this household!
    About choosing between the washer and dryer, I would hate to break up a set, but I could live w/o the dryer since I rarely use it. I have the best dryer in our universe–the Sun! I love the way my clothes smell after being on the clothes line half the day! The sheets and the towels are the best.

    • LOL–I’m glad I’m not the only one who is picky about the kitchen towels or my husband doing my laundry. With the sun, do you worry about colors getting bleached? I bet whites get really white, though.

  7. Pingback: Baffled by Baffles | Diana Beebe's Blog

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