Are you living in what Marla Scilly, aka The Fly Lady, calls CHAOS? (Can't Have Anyone Over Syndrome). Well then, join the club there are thousands, perhaps even millions of us!

I have struggled with organization in almost every area of my life for, well, my entire life. By starting this blog I hope to encourage others that they too can get and stay organized!

While it will probably embarrass my children for me to air the dirty laundry here, in full color photos, if it helps just one person along their own journey to getting organized and staying that way, it will have been worth it!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Taming the Laundry Monster

Marla Scilly, the Fly Lady, calls it Mount Washmore. You know, that giant pile of laundry that never seems to end? Well folks, that's just it, laundry is a never ending chore. If you wear clean clothes every day then you are going to have dirty ones to wash every day. Now that I live by myself it's no big deal, maybe 3 loads a week and not always full loads of whites. But when I had 3 kids at home I too had Mount Washmore.

One of the things I've learned though is that sometimes the kids have way too many clothes. And kids tend to do things like pull out something, decide they don't like it, it doesn't fit, it's ripped or stained, so they just toss it on the floor and get out something else. Then when you yell at them to clean their room, they stuff it all in the hamper.

So one of the first steps to taming the laundry monster is to get rid of everything that is ripped, stained, out of style, doesn't fit or that you just plain don't like. Now I hear some of you saying that you just can't get rid of something that you paid good money for. Well, yes you can, because it has served it's purpose to you and now it is time for it to go somewhere else. If it's in bad shape cut it up for rags or just throw it away. If it's still good but doesn't fit or you don't like it, find someone that can use it. If you don't have friends that you can hand clothes down to, take it to a charity thrift shop.

Now I don't expect you can accomplish all of that for a family in one sitting. It will take some effort, but if you will go through their dressers and closets 15 minutes at a time every day, then soon you will see a difference. When ever you are doing laundry, look at the clothes before you put them in to wash. If they need to go, trash them right then. It will only take a few seconds and will save you the time and money of washing something that should have gone to the garbage.

Because dear friends one of the reasons that you are pulling clean clothes out of the laundry basket instead of the dresser or closet is because the dresser and closet are jam packed full of things you aren't wearing! Don't believe me? Go have a look! How can  your kids put away their clothes neatly if they can't even wedge anything else into the drawer? If they don't have any empty clothes hangers?

For babies of course you probably do need 24 outfits to get through a week, but older kids don't need so much. I would suggest, if they are potty trained, that you keep no more than 10 regular outfits, plus of course a couple of things for special occasions. I was a tom boy as a child and I had tops about 8 outfits to wear to school, probably about 5 outfits for church and some worn and stained play clothes. Every day when I came home from school I had to take off my school clothes and put on play clothes. Mom would wash school clothes after one wearing, but play clothes got two or three days use before they went in the hamper. This method also works for grownups. I have over the door hooks on my closet door where I keep my pajamas and bathrobe on one hook. On the other I keep the current set of gardening clothes to change into after work or to wear on weekends. This certainly helps cut down on daily laundry.

Now another problem is that we are falling down on the job. There are actually 5 separate parts to doing laundry: sort, wash, dry, fold, put away. Most of us fall down on that folding and putting away bit. But here is how you can get rid of Mount Washmore once and for all: Do one load a day and do all 5 steps!

This is easy, even if you don't have a dryer. I have never owned a dryer but my clothes line will accommodate 2-3 loads of laundry at a time, depending on what I'm washing.  So in the afternoon I collect what ever is dry and get it put away. The rest just waits until the next day and gets put away then.

Once you have made some space in your dressers and closets for your clothes to live and you begin to get the hang of a smooth stream of laundry in and laundry out, Mount Washmore will be gone forever more. In the beginning and especially if you have a larger family you might have to do 2 loads a day, but for a family of four or five people, one load a day will keep it done up.

My house is small with only one bathroom, so I have always just kept a hamper by the bathroom door. If you have the space, you might consider one in each bathroom and one in each bedroom, depending on where your family is undressing the most.

This is a really nice looking wicker hamper which will match many decors.

When I was washing for four or five, I emptied the hamper each evening into a laundry sorter by my washing machine. Now my sorter was a pretty plain jane and has since bit the dust. What I would have given to have one of these back then!

I think this one looks like the Cadillac of laundry sorters. My mom has one like this and it's very handy for her. When she's done hanging her clothes on the bar she can wheel it through the house to put the clothes away, empty the hampers into the sorter on the way back to the laundry room, very efficient!

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