Organizing Your Laundry
by Janet Hall

Does it seem like your laundry is multiplying:

Fear not because you are not alone! Paper, toys, and laundry are usually on the top of all my home clients’ list of causing chaos and frustration. According to The Tide Clothesline at the average household washes 7.4 loads – about 50 lbs. - per week and the average load contains 16 items. They go on to say that in a typical household, more than 6,000 articles of clothing are washed each year!

I’d like you to ask yourself and answer the following questions; I hope these will help you in evaluating your situation. I have added suggestions and some thoughts for you to ponder on after the questions.

1. Who do you do laundry for?

2. Who can do their own laundry?

If you’re washing for everyone in the home and you have children/spouse that can reach the knobs on the machines, ask them for HELP. Teach them to be responsible for their clothing and show them how to sort, wash, fold, and put away.
Post washing and drying instructions near the machines.
Develop a schedule for family members that can wash their own clothes.

3. What kinds of clothes are piling up—children’s, towels, sheets, etc.?

4. What help can you get from others?

Assign and limit 1-2 towels to each family member per week.
Wear clothes more then once.
If you have children that are too young to do their own laundry, teach them to sort clothes and/or fold towels, underwear, socks. Depending on their age, don’t expect it to be perfect but praise them for their help.
Show children where “their folded” items go (make it easy for them by storing those items in bottom drawers).

5. When do you prefer to do laundry?

6. When do you have time to do laundry?

Decide if you prefer to do laundry in the morning, in the evening, during the week, or only on weekends.
Pick a day and time that you’re not going to be constantly interrupted or tempted to “play”.
Place yourself on a schedule and system if you can’t get help.
Time yourself and your machines cycles; sort, wash, machine or line dry, fold, sort and put away to help you determine how much time you need for each load.
Wash, dry, and put away by person or room.

Sample schedules:

Stay at home two loads a day schedule: If you stay or work from home try starting a wash load in the morning while the coffee is brewing, throw that load in the dryer or hang at lunch time, and start another wash load. Right before or after dinner, take the dried load out and put the other load in. Fold while dinner is cooking, watching the news, or waiting for pages to load on the Internet. Get the last load out and fold before going to bed. Make sure you put each person/rooms in a sorted pile to make putting away quicker and more efficient. (My mom use to use the couch, bed, or a table to fold and sort onto, she would then pile the piles into the basket by person and room and distribute them on our beds for us to put away).

Away from home one load a day schedule: If you go out to work you can try throwing in a wash load before going to bed at night and tossing them in the dryer before leaving for work. As soon as you walk in the door, get them out of the dryer and fold while you’re checking your phone messages or email. Put away before retiring for the night.

7. Where is your washer/dryer located?

8. Where does everyone put his or her dirty clothes?

9. Where do you like to or would like to fold clothes?

Your washer and dryer might not be located in a convenient place, such as the basement. More and more builders are starting to place these machines in hallways, kitchens, and even bathrooms. If you have the funds and space, you might look into relocating your machines.
Install a laundry shoot in the bathroom closet or area that is convenient for everyone to use. If that isn’t possible, designate a place for everyone in the home to put his or her dirty clothes.
Find a place in the home where you are comfortable and have plenty of room to spread out and sort/fold clean clothes.

10. Why are you responsible for everyone clothes?

You are the only one that can answer this one .

11. How often do you want to do laundry?

Decide if you want (I know, no one wants to do laundry) to do laundry daily, weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Then ask if you need to or are you able to.

12. How many articles of clothing does each family member REALLY need per week, season, and special occasion?

This is the time to be REALLY HONEST with yourself and will depend on your answer to # 11. How many articles of play, casual, dressy, work, holiday, seasonal, and special occasion outfits does each family member need? If they have too many, you will never stay ahead of the dirty clothes.
Recycle, sell, or donate clothes that aren’t being used or that you have an abundance of.
If you or your family are putting on and taking something off (and throwing it in the dirty clothes) because it doesn’t fit right, look right, or you/they don’t really like it…get RID of it!

Laundry Tips: Always try and wash a full load. Wash hand towels and smaller items of same color range with large articles, such as sheets and table cloths. Make sure you and others know how to use the proper cycles on machines to minimize wrinkling. Put a clothes rack by the dryer and hang clothes as they come out; put away by person/room. If you can’t hear the buzzers on the machines or tend to lose track of time, set a timer for the length of the cycle and keep near you. Clothes that need ironing should be washed first so you can iron while the other loads are being done. Wash delicate, underclothes, and hand washables while taking a shower.

Please remember that anything you try you MUST give it a chance to work, at least a month. If you find something not working, try another schedule or approach for another month until your clothes stop multiplying.

I hope some of these tips and hints will STOP the major reproductive system of your laundry. Good Luck!

Smiles, not Piles, Janet

About the Author
Janet Hall,
The Organizing Wizard, Janet L. Hall, is a Professional Organizer, Speaker, and Author. She is the owner of OverHall Consulting, and organizing By Phone. Subscribe to her FREE organizing newsletter at or visit her web site at

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