We all know kids are messy but that doesn’t mean your house needs to be or that their clothes and toys all need to be stained forever. With a minimal amount of time and a few basic tools you can keep your kids’ stuff looking great for passing down to friends and family or getting the most money back through resale.
Kids have a lot of stuff but you can minimize clutter and chaos by sorting through them on a regular basis. Medium sized bins labeled with pictures of the toys and clothes that belong in them let even the littlest ones help clean up at the end of the day. Once a month, set aside a few minutes while the kids are napping or playing happily somewhere to weed out broken toys and separate the others into a keep and “to pass on” pile. Do the same with clothes every couple of months. Box up the outgrown stuff and pitch the stuff that’s too stained or worn. After sorting, call your favorite kid’s consignment or resale store to make an appointment to resell. They may not accept everything, so plan on taking a trip to Goodwill or the Salvation Army to donate what is left over.
Kids are rough on clothes, that’s for sure but you don’t need a whole laundry mats worth of stuff to keep them clean. Most kids stains are organic in nature- grass, blood, food, etc. Pre-treating stains as you undress your kids for bath time can save many an outfit from ruin. Dish soap works well on all food stains especially the greasy ones. Baby shampoo is great for ring around the collar or sweaty armpit stains that your teen brings home from sports practice and a good detergent with enzymes such as ERA or TIDE works wonders on grass, blood, and dirt. Soak clothes in a full washer of cold water overnight then run your wash cycle as normal. Line drying also cuts down on the number of baked in stains.
These take a beating from daily use but even just a simple wipe down with a baby wipe (one of my favorite household cleaning tools) each time you take baby out of the highchair or exersaucer can prevent icky stuff from getting dried into cracks and crevices. Magic eraser is also a useful tool for removing crayons and markers without chemicals. They can pose a chocking hazard, so keep out of reach of small children. A damp micro-fiber cloth may also remove most marks more economically. Most non-electronic kid stuff is durable enough to take out in the yard and hose off after a quick spray with some diluted dish soap. If the weather is bad, try your shower. Check bigger items that take batteries once a month or so to prevent corrosion or leaks. And as soon as your child outgrows it remember to wipe it down remove batteries for storage until you can get into your favorite resale shop to resell it. A moment or two it takes to wipe off messes now will mean a higher resale value later.