Organizing Services for Boomers, Seniors & Heirs

Call Mary Lynne Now


No more laundry blues

Home > Articles Archive > No more laundry blues

IF YOU’VE BEEN caught wearing a T-shirt promoting your favorite rock band under your white dress shirt, you’ve no doubt sung the laundry blues because you ran out of clean clothes. Whether you do laundry at home, the laundry room at your apartment building or a Laundromat, here are tips to put a spin on your wash.

The first rule is to keep a hamper/basket at the source — where people remove their clothes – usually the bathroom or bedroom. Make it easy to hit the target, which means forget about a lid. If it’s not in the basket, it doesn’t get washed.

The second rule is “If it’s not dirty — don’t wash it!” Establish a place for clothes that are “in-between” — worn but not soiled. We use wire baskets that slide out from the closet system. A spot on a shelf in the closet works as well.

Decide if your laundry and your schedule lend itself to doing wash in small windows of time throughout the week, or a larger block of time on just one day, when you may do multiple loads.

When I was growing up, we had one hamper in my parent’s bedroom, and everyone used it. Mom washed when the hamper was full, about every other day. Simple for sure, but I prefer concentrating on wash one day a week.

One laundress recommends one load per person per week; in my family, that would allow us four loads a week – not feasible with athletic clothes and teenager-size clothing. But you can lighten the load by using towels more than once. Make it easy to hang towels so they dry completely between uses and don’t get smelly. Solve the towel-on-the-floor problem with hooks, which are the ultimate easy hang.

If you get seriously buried in laundry, pack it up and do everything at once at the Laundromat. Also, the best place to wash an oversize spread or comforter is the large, front-loading machines found at Laundromats.

Personalize it
Are you loaded down with clothes mixed up among family members? As my girls have grown, it’s hard to tell the difference between their jeans, so they write their initials on the labels. (This also helps with other items — you get the idea.)

We solved another laundry caper by using lingerie bags for socks and underwear. Well, only one daughter uses the bags faithfully, but that’s enough to simplify things. She uses one for light socks and underwear and another for dark. This eliminates them being lost inside bigger garments and folding. Simply dump the items in the drawer and put the lingerie bag back with the laundry basket at — remember — the source.

Doing laundry is prime time for multitasking. During the 30-40 minutes of wash or dry cycles, try to accomplish something. If you are prone to distraction and won’t hear a buzzing dryer, set a timer in the kitchen or on your watch to stay on task. By removing clothes promptly from the dryer and either folding or hanging them, the iron can become extinct. Empty the lint catcher with each dry load and clothes will dry faster, using less energy. One family I know folds on their dining table, another uses a bed. Hanging is easier than folding and will provide a wrinkle-free garment ready to wear.

Everyone needs to know how to wash their own clothes. Children are naturally interested in helping when they are young, and can be trained to sort, fold and put away their own laundry. If they resist putting away their clothes, help them weed out drawers and closets that are crammed, so they can put clothes away easily.

Sort it out
The sorting process can happen in several ways: (1) each person has a basket for lights and a basket for darks at their source; (2) a three-sectioned laundry sorter with wheels is kept in the laundry space and sorted as each basket comes to wash; or (3) the laundry is sorted directly into the washer.

If you do your wash at an apartment laundry room or public place, there are a couple of other considerations. A hamper on wheels is an easy way to transport, if you aren’t dealing with long flights of stairs. Keep a change container designated for laundry and detergent with your basket so you won’t have to rummage around on wash day. Reading is the perfect multitask for Laundromat users.

There’s no cleaning power in supplies you can’t find, so set up your laundry space with easy-access storage. Cabinets or shelves above the machines, freestanding shelves next to the machines or caddies between the machines are options. I like the plastic-coated wire shelf that attaches to the top of washing machine. Have a container handy for coins or anything else that goes through the wash by mistake.

As you do laundry this week, take a few extra minutes to power purge the laundry space. Combine half used bottles, discard dried up supplies and throw out bent hangers. If you haven’t mended a garment in a year, it’s time to have someone else mend it or let it go. Wipe down the tops of the machines and vacuum or sweep the floor.

Not everything that says “dry clean only” must be dry cleaned. Just be sure to weigh the risk before trying your own hand. Use a gentle detergent such as Woolite, and don’t wring dry. Instead roll the garment in a towel to remove excess water, and dry on a rack. My daughter has a pop-up sweater dryer small enough to store under her bed when not in use.

For stains, the best bet is to spot clean when the stain occurs; the rest will come out in the wash.