Come to order: Turn your laundry piles into smiles


Do mountains of dirty laundry make your winter days turn gloomy no matter the weather? Does your dog think those piles of unwashed sheets and towels are his personal bed? No matter how big or small your laundry piles are, here are some tips to help you quickly turn those piles into smiles.

Keep supplies nearby. Pre-wash treatment, detergent, fabric softener, bleach, etc. should be within easy reach. Store them on a shelf over the washer, in a bin on top of the dryer, in a nearby cabinet, or on a storage cart next to the washer or dryer. Consider having a spot for empty hangers, a hanging rod, a drying rack (I use one that attaches to the wall) and a wastebasket (for tossing dryer lint).

Get the family to help. Have a hamper in each bedroom, and possibly each bathroom, to make it convenient for family members to deposit their dirty clothes. Consider using a lidless hamper, since opening a lid is an extra step that may prevent dirty clothes from getting where they belong. Make family members responsible for emptying pockets and turning socks right-side out. Your family can also help empty the dryer (even a 5 year-old can do this), fold, and put clean clothes away.

Use labeled bins for sorting. You can use separate laundry baskets for each category, hang separate laundry bags on hooks, or purchase a laundry sorter that has a number of separate compartments. Label the containers with the appropriate categories, such as whites, darks, towels, delicates etc. Another option is to sort loads according to family member. Either way, family members should be responsible for making sure that their dirty clothes hamper gets emptied into the proper sorting bin by laundry day.

Use a separate “clean clothes” laundry basket for each household member. Label the baskets and place folded clean clothes into the appropriate baskets as you empty the dryer. Items that aren’t affected by wrinkling (socks, undies) can be placed into a single basket for other family members to sort. Everyone can help fold towels as well.

Develop a laundry routine. One option is to do a load every day or so, as needed. You might choose Monday for whites, Tuesday for bedding, etc. You might want to wash a load overnight and then toss the clothes into the dryer first thing in the morning while you’re getting dressed. You might prefer to do it in one marathon session, devoting a day to doing all the laundry. No matter what your preference, just be sure you have a laundry routine that you can maintain.

Put clean clothes put away. The job of laundry isn’t finished until the clothes are put away. Everyone should be responsible for putting away their own clothes within a predetermined amount of time, e.g., once a week. When clothes have an assigned place to go (e.g., undies in this drawer, pajamas in that drawer, t-shirts on a shelf in closet), putting them away should go fairly quickly.

When everyone who wears clothes in your household pitches in, you can have a simple routine for getting laundry done and clothes put away on a regular basis.

Sue Becker is a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization who helps individuals and businesses discover the simplicity, harmony, and freedom of being organized and productive. She also speaks to companies and organizations about how to get organized and make the most of their time. Sue can be reached at or 630.373.7400.





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