So, do I really have to wash the school uniforms every day?

The innocent laundry question on Facebook that caused a storm.

Do you wash your kids’ uniforms every day?

Come on. Seriously. You don’t? Well that’s frankly just bad parenting isn’t it?

I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s “gross”, or “disgusting parenting”.

I’m not sure I’d use the term “unfit”.

But others would.

Have I insulted you? I don’t mean to.

I am just surprised you don’t have more pride in your children…that you don’t care about them enough to send them to school in clean clothes.

Okay, you might have either figured out I have my tongue firmly in my cheek OR if not – you’ve sworn at me – a lot.

The smell test: highly scientific.

But in all honesty I didn’t realise this was such a very emotive issue.

But it is.

And it was firmly ignited on the Mamamia Parents page last week when a simple Facebook question about how often you wash the uniforms garnered nearly 600 comments.

And most of them not particularly nice at all.

A bitter back and forth, insults and swipes, digs and straight-out nastiness.

All over washing kids' clothes.

The question asked was whether you wash your children’s uniform every day or performed “the smell test”. This is a select few responses:

That's gross in my opinion. Sending my child off to school with freshly clean clothes, to me, is taking pride and teaching your kids cleanliness. Nice clean fresh clothes/uniforms everyday and clean jammys every night."

"Yes, yes, you’re all just wonderful for washing every day. CLEARLY your priorities are in order. My trampy, trashy smelly children get more time with mum. What are your kids getting besides an uptight mum?"

"No way am I washing a bloody uniform everyday!! Smell test on the shirts for the 11 year old boy but the 7 year old goes 3 days unless soiled."

"I kinda think your children's hygiene is a huge priority."

"If you are washing every day you are anal."

And on it went, and on.

Some took the moral high ground that it was bad for the environment, others who claimed they lived with tank water said that they themselves washed every day.

Some wondered why you just didn’t buy your kids five uniforms, one for each day (er, “the expense” cried the critics).

Others claimed that not washing every day was just a breeding ground for germs.

"Germaphobes” was the cutting remark straight back at ya.

Now I’m going to be upfront here and tell you that I am firmly in one camp.

I wash every day. Every night my kids' uniforms go in my overloaded machine and litres of water get swilled down the drain.

(Okay let’s get this out too - yes we recycle, yes we have a large rain water tank and yes we contribute regularly to several well known charities.)


I just thought everyone washed their kids' clothes after one wear.

After reading the Mamamia Parenting brouhaha, I wondered if I was strange.

I put it out there on my own Facebook page and came to a small scientific conclusion.

Every. Single. Day.

Whether or not you send your kids to school every day in freshly washed uniforms comes firmly down to one of two things - the colour of the uniform and the sex of the child.

I have 2 very very active boys and a local public school with a very patriotic uniform of bottle green shorts and a bright yellow polo shirt.

I am convinced my kids are drawn to every puddle, every not-yet-dried painting, every child having tomato sauce on their sausage roll.

And my kids jump in it.

They mix it up and smear it all over them.

There is no need for a smell test. I can see the colour palate of the day’s activities pasted across their tops from 100 metres away.

Not washing isn’t an option.

You lucky folk who don’t have to wash every night shouldn’t get defensive. You should rejoice.

Let’s be honest here, we all have different things we are “anal” about (to use one word that featured far too frequently in the Facebook furor).

One friend of mine vacuums her car out every Saturday afternoon, while mine is secretly harbouring a mould plantation between the car seats.

Another puts her kids' lunchboxes in the dishwasher every day, and my mother can’t resist sponging down my son’s school hat every time she pops in.

It’s not bad parenting, it's not disgusting, it’s not anal. If we were all the same style of mother - a homogeneous cookie cutter type with the same ideals and same desires then how boring would life be.

Now I’m off to do a load of washing. Otherwise the kids are going to school tomorrow in their PJ’s. you wash your kids' uniform everyday?

Want more? Try:

Yes, mummy judgement exists. But it’s not the mummies who are doing the judging.

Don’t judge me, but… I’m taking my kids to the circus.