There's a debate that is always going on among the Moms of my building: if you could choose just one upgrade for your apartment, would you get a washer/dryer or a dishwasher? For me, the dishwasher wins every time. Life goes on just fine without a washer/dryer. Here is how we do it:
1. We have a set day each week for doing laundry. This is the number one key to success without an in-house laundry. It may seem like a long time to wait, and the laundry sure does pile up with two young kids, but being in a routine helps me to face the inevitable, and it keeps my kids in a routine: "today is washing day".
2. We set up a decent-sized dirty-laundry storage system. Both our bedroom and the kids' room have their own laundry hampers, as well as the bathroom. Big laundry hampers. These three are enough to contain all the laundry we accumulate in a week.
3. We set up a retractable clothes-line (this one, just like in a hotel) above our bathtub. This works wonders for emergency washing, the occasional delicate item, and for those nights someone realizes they have no underpants to wear tomorrow. I've even washed winter jackets in the tub and hung them on this line: it is incredibly strong.
4. We have an air-tight soaking bucket stashed in the broom closet. This was used most when my youngest was a newborn, but toddlers have accidents too: anything gross gets rinsed off and scrubbed in the bathroom sink as much as possible, and then thrown in bucket to soak overnight until laundry time.
5. Big jobs require great friends. Occasionally I am in need of a larger sink for hand-washing a big item, or an outdoor clothesline for something that is drip-dry only. In this case, friends who have laundries and backyards are wonderful things. I don't believe that any apartment, or any life for that matter should be self-sufficient. A much better way of looking at my lack of washer/dryer is to see it as a plus: every now and then I get to haul laundry over to a friends' house, where we can sit outside, sip sodas and watch our kids play as the bedspread dries. What a life.
So that's how our family does it. What about you? Do you live without a washer/dryer? Could you keep living this way or is it number one on your wish-list?
(Image: blperk on Flickr, licensed through Creative Commons)