People get hung up about organizing because they want to do it the right way. First of all, there is no “right way.” More importantly, there is no “perfect way.” And waiting/looking/hoping for that is what keeps many of you from getting it done. This is part of a series entitled, “Forget the Right Way, Do it Your Way.” Let’s talk about laundry.

Managing laundry and clothing are challenges I see frequently. Several issues with the process of doing laundry are:

  • it’s never really completed; it’s an ongoing task that, as long as we wear clothes, must be done.
  • it’s a task that has a variety of steps, and some items have more than others (i.e require ironing)
  • it’s easy to put off – there’s always a shirt you can pull out of the dirty pile and wear again
  • the literal mountains of it can become overwhelming.
  • the fact that some people just don’t place importance on the mundane, and if laundry is anything, it’s that.

But the biggest contributor to laundry problems is that people have too much of it. Fewer clothes = less to manage. (The same goes for any other category of stuff.)

Get your mind right

Identify your goals. Some that are immutable are: you should be able to find what you want when you want it; you should preserve what you have or at least not cause it more harm (i.e. leave dirty piles of clothes that are wet or with food spills on them lying around). What other goals might you have? Others may include: to save money (keep from buying clothes to replace ones that are dirty when you want them or you can’t find; to have all your clothes fit in your closet; to be able to access them quickly; or to require minimal work to put away.

Remember: nothing has to be permanent. Systems can be tweaked, changed or cancelled for any reason. If it works to achieve your laundry/clothing goals, it’s good enough, but if you want to tweak it more from there (with different locations, bins, hooks, whatever…you’re always welcome too.

Then get to work

Declutter first – Donate, gift or sell what doesn’t fit, you don’t LOVE, or is not in good condition.

Put clothing items in designated homes. Remember, you must be able to find what you want, and the clothing must be kept in a way that preserves it or maintains its integrity. For example, underwear and workout clothes don’t need to be folded or hung; A business suit should be hung.

Here are a few “out of the box” ideas for keeping clothes:

  • Keep clothes in clean laundry baskets. Don’t fold. Don’t worry about “putting it away.” Just continue to use the pile system, but sorted by person/clothing type/however you want into baskets.
  • Have a basket or bins in any room where clothing tends to accumulate, and pile it there. When full, put it in the washer and start.
  • Get rid of dressers – have open shelving or cubbies to stuff things into.
  • Use over the door hooks wherever you can.
  • In the bathroom, forget towel bars and go with hooks.
  • Instead of hangers, get hanging cubbies for the closet. If you really want hangers, get the slimmest ones you can, that keep things from sliding off
  • Install a curtain closet – Hang a tension rod diagonally to curtain off a corner of the room, and have piles “stored” behind the curtain.

Go farther: Create the system

To create systems for getting laundry done – or any ongoing project – consider these questions:

  1. WHO is affected? WHO will do it? – Will one person be responsible for the whole process? Will each person do their own laundry all the way through?
  2. WHAT needs to be done? WHAT tools are needed? – What are all the steps required? Collect, wash, dry, fold/rehome, iron 🙁
  3. WHEN and HOW OFTEN should it be done?
  4. WHERE will we do it? WHERE will we store our tools? – Where will it be collected? Where will items be returned to?
  5. WHY do we need this system? – Go back to “Get Your Mind Right”

The biggest hurdle is activating. To get going, start with K.C. Davis’s video on the 5 Things Tidying Method or my 10 Steps to Organize any Room checklist.

Want to start on your own?

Get my checklist, "10 Steps to Organize Any Room."

You can do it!