Ask Unclutterer: Not yet dirty clothes

Reader Susan submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

OK, this may be a strange question, but it’s one I have not seen addressed anywhere: Where do you put clothes you’ve worn for a short time that are NOT dirty enough to go into the laundry basket or to the dry cleaner’s? I am talking sweaters, blouses, pants, etc. — not underwear.

For instance, I might put on a top & pants for a couple of hours to go to a luncheon, but when I get home I am not going to put those items in the wash (unless I spilled something on them, or they got sweaty due to hot weather, etc.) because they’re still essentially clean, and I can easily wear them again “as is” — but I won’t put them into the drawer or closet with other TOTALLY clean (freshly washed or cleaned) items, because that is an invitation to moth damage, among other things.

In an average week, I might wear several different tops and pairs of pants, but not long enough for any of them to get “dirty” or smelly or sweaty.

My family had no system for dealing with this when I was growing up — we just tended to toss stuff onto a coat-rack in each bedroom, which was far from ideal. For me now, when I take off a piece of “hardly worn” clothing, it gets placed into a neat pile on a chair or ottoman in the bedroom, & then I pull the item out again when I want to wear it. But there must be a better way, and I would love to hear suggestions!

Oh Susan, you have asked such a great question. I think that all of us deal with this issue from time-to-time. Let me start by explaining what it is that I do, and then I hope that others will jump in the comments section and describe how they solve this problem in their homes.

In my closet, I have a Skubb Organizer from Ikea. I have five of the Skubb Drawers in each of the shelves that hold various things (scarves, purses, pajamas, and sweats). The top drawer is labeled for things “Not Yet Dirty.”

You could easily use a dresser drawer in the same way. Once a week, I check the drawer to make sure that something hasn’t gone sour in there. Otherwise, it’s a fairly straightforward system.

Thank you, Susan, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.

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91 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Not yet dirty clothes”

  1. posted by PKitty on

    I have hooks on the wall behind the door of my closet (it’s a walk-in) and I hang my not-yet dirty clothes on the hooks.

  2. posted by Loren on

    I usually just hang mine back up in the closet with the clean clothes. Just wondering, how is that an invitation to ‘moth damage’?

  3. posted by Rue on

    I’m with Loren, I usually hang them back up in the closet, but they are in front of the clean clothes and not touching them. I also don’t understand how it’s an invitation to moth damage – unless you’re leaving these not-quite-clean-not-quite-dirty clothes in the closet for months?

    You could get some of over-the-door hooks, put the clothes on the hanger and hang them up on those.

  4. posted by Peg Bracken Fan on

    This way lies madness.

    I’ve found that separating my clothing that’s been worn into “dirty” and “not quite dirty” just leads to piles of clothing all over.

    The clothes that I’ve worn either go into the laundry basket or back into the closet. At a minimum, everything that’s dry cleanable in my closet gets dry cleaned at the seasonal changeover.

  5. posted by Allison on

    My feeling is that if it’s clean enough that it doesn’t need to be washed, then it’s clean enough to be hung up or put back on a shelf. I do have a couple of hooks on the back of my closet door and I’ll usually hang up my pajamas there as I usually wear them several times before putting them in the laundry basket.

  6. posted by @SportTeam Fan on

    I (a computer nerd) use a ‘stack’ method:
    In my closet I have standard pole, and load clean clothes at the ‘top’ of the stack (left side) load worn clothes in the ‘bottom’ (right side). The two stack are separated by a garment bag with my suits in it.

  7. posted by Martin on

    @SportTeam: That’s pretty much exactly what I’d thought of doing, but have never been able to do because the closet only deals with hangables. If the divider was something like the organizer mentioned in the article so that you can re-fold shirts and sweaters, then I think we have a winner.

  8. posted by Nisha on

    I have a clothes hanger in my room. Its also great to hang damp towels or clothes that I needed to rinse lightly coz I spilled something on them .. I have something similar to what’s on this link :

    I use 2 coat hooks for hanging my coat and scarf. Its a great system .. I come back home and immediately hang my coat and scarf and change and put my clothes on the clothes rack or my laundry hamper.

  9. posted by Michele on

    I’ll hang a shirt or blouse on a hanger and place it on the knob to the closet door for the item to air out for 24 or 48 hours. I’ll hang a suit to air on the door to my bedroom the same way. As for jeans, I’ll lay them on my desk chair (my home office is in my bedroom) overnight — truth be told I wear jeans just about every day, for at least part of the day, and letting them air out overnight that way works for me.

    Since I have only 2 closet doorknobs and one door to my bedroom, my airing-out clothes are put away quickly and don’t pile up. If they don’t seem fresh when I take them down, then they go into the laundry.

    It is probably not an ideal solution for everybody to hang clothes around the room the way I do, but it works for me.

  10. posted by Sonya on

    For nice clothes that started on hangers, they go back on hangers.

    Clothes that I wear on my daily walks get folded and sit on a bench close to my bed so I can get dressed first thing.

    Anything else gets draped over the lip of the clothes hamper (which hangs on the backs of my walk-in closet doors, it’s really not sloppy looking) and assessed on laundry day.

    The most I ever end up with is a t-shirt and a pair of jeans hanging on the edge of the basket and I usually just tip them in and wash them anyway.

  11. posted by kariwk on

    I have a set of hooks right by mu dresser, behind our bedroom door. I hang things there to air out.

  12. posted by Karyn on

    Most of my clean clothes go in drawers. My still-wearable-before-washing worn clothes go up on hangers, where they can “air out” between wearings.

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only person who does this. πŸ˜‰ It does minimize wear and tear on my clothing, and since I shower every day (and use deodorant) that also minimizes how dirty and smelly my clothes are going to get.

  13. posted by Kelly on

    We have a cubby in the closet that used to just get full of clutter… I’ve designated it as the ‘I’m going to wear these again’ shelf, but we’re still working on putting it to use. πŸ˜‰

  14. posted by Joe Ganley on

    I put them back in the closet, but put a rubber band over the top of the hanger. I never wear anything more than twice, so if I put something on in the morning from a hanger with a rubber band, it goes in the laundry at the end of that day.

  15. posted by Joe Ganley on

    Oh, and when the seasons change, I launder everything from the season that’s ending that has a rubber band on it.

  16. posted by Samantha on

    It seems like folding them is a bad idea – if you hang them they’ll get aired out, assuming your closet isn’t so full that the clothes are crammed together. It’s not, right? πŸ™‚

  17. posted by Amanda on

    I’m with Allison “…if it’s clean enough that it doesn’t need to be washed, then it’s clean enough to be hung up or put back on a shelf.” Pjs get thrown onto the bed, and tucked under my pillow if I make the bed before wearing the pjs again.

    The airing out method doesn’t appeal to me, but to each his own, if it works for you, it ain’t broken, so don’t fix it.

  18. posted by John on

    Interesting. I’ve never even thought about separating clean-but-worn from the unworn clean. If it’s not ripe or stained then it just goes back in the closet where it came from. My only exception is jeans, since they go much longer between washings.

    I have friends who live in the UK and they think that Americans wash their clothes way too often.

  19. posted by Samantha on


    I’ve lived in Europe. Some of them don’t wash their clothes often enough. πŸ™‚

  20. posted by Geek_Girl on

    My feeling is if it’s no dirty then wear it til it is. If you’re trying to unclutter why the heck would you create more clutter by inventing a path between dirty and not dirty that now requires yet another place ot put things? It makes no sense to me…

  21. posted by chris on

    I’m glad to see no “eeew…gross!” flamers on here!

    My N-Y-D items tend to be:
    – jeans or work pants, which I usually fold and leave on top of my tall dresser if I’m too lazy to re-drawer;
    – sweaters worn as a top layer, which get folded in a drawer (or hung in closet if they’re cardigans);
    – and dry-clean skirts/dresses, which I just hang back up in my closet.
    – Tshirts/pajama bottoms go back into my tshirt/pajamas cube a few times before getting washed.

    Obviously anything sweaty, stained, smelly, or otherwise visibly dirtied goes directly in the hamper.

    I would definitely include bras in one-wear-does-not-dirty-make, because I’ll wear those a dozen times before handwashing.

  22. posted by Beth on

    Ahh – the questions we pose here on Unclutterer!

    [1] If I have only worn an outfit once, it is usually hung up for a day on a hook on the back of my door to “air out”. Then it is put back into its appropriate closet/drawer.

    [2] PJ’s are worn for two nights and are stashed under the pillow when I make the bed.

    [3] Jeans are worn several times – they are hung on hooks in my closet between wearings!

    OK – related to “airing out” – is is just my mother or did anyone else’s mom tell them they shouldn’t make the bed right away – you should let it air out while you shower/get dressed/have coffee and then make it? Just curious!!!

  23. posted by Noah on

    I have a hook on the back of my closet door. I will usually just put the items back on a hanger and then hang it on the hook. It reminds me to wear the item again soon so I can launder it and also lets it air out some.

  24. posted by Celeste on

    If it fits closely, it goes into the laundry when I take it off. If it’s a looser fit (sweater, jacket, woven pants, dress, skirt) it goes back on its hanger barring any dirt or sweat.

    I don’t worry about moth damage because I don’t have all that much clothing that something would go long before being worn again, and because of the close fit/next to skin criteria. All of the stuff I put into drawers is close-fitting (socks, undergarments, bras, hosiery) so all I am dealing with is the closet.

    I wash sleepwear after one wearing, but hang a robe on the bathroom door. I keep the same sweatshirt jacket on a chair back on the main floor in case I feel a chill.

  25. posted by Sheryl on

    If it’s something that I won’t be wearing again for a while, it goes back in the closet, otherwise it gets hung on the hook where I keep my bathrobe and I wear it the next day. Hubby usually throws his “to be worn again” clothes on the bedroom chair.

    Jeans get worn for a few days before going in the hamper.

  26. posted by Jill on

    I hang worn, but not ready for laundry, clothes up on a rack of hooks from Ikea, outside the closet, on a space of wall behind the bedroom door.

    Works great, easy to see what to toss in the wash at the end of the week.

    Keeps the room nice and tidy.

  27. posted by WilliamB on

    1. Most clothes get aired out then sniff/sight test. (Unless they’re obviously dirty, of course.) This is office wear, jeans, sweaters, sweats. To air out I use hooks in the closet for hanging clothes and a designated chair for folding clothes.

    2. Anything I’ve worn a bunch of times gets cleaned whether or not it passes the sniff test. “Bunch of times” depends on the garment and circumstances.

    3. Already used running shorts and outer layers go on the door hooks in the bathroom. They’re not clean but I need to wear them a few times more anyway.

  28. posted by Peter on

    Man oh man, I am SO relieved I’m not the only person who has a not-quite-dirty category! My “solution” used to be a pile on the floor in a not-so-visible corner of the room. My somewhat better “solution” was a pile on the floor of my closet. Obviously neither of those are ideal. A perfectly good t-shirt would get unnecessarily wrinkled. Reading all the “airing out” comments above I’m thinking hangers and maybe hooks on the back of the door might be the way to go. Maybe. There seems to be an inherent tension between “airing out” and “visible clutter”. Maybe if I could keep the pile down to two or three items at a time it could work.

    Also, “Honey, I didn’t forget to make the bed. It’s airing out!” πŸ˜‰

  29. posted by April on

    Yes, very interesting to see that other people have this issue! My N-Y-D clothes are generally wear-around-the-house clothes that I throw on for a few hours after work, when no one will see me – so I figure I can re-wear them a couple of evenings at least. Like others, I hate to put these clothes back in my drawers because I like them to air out between wearings, but due to lack of space I end up throwing them over the footboard of my bed, and get annoyed by the unsightliness of it. I’m afraid if I hang them up in the closet, I’ll forget about them! Need to study these comments some more to see if I can adapt some of you other folks’ ideas.

  30. posted by Keira on

    I hang them back in the closet, and thank goodness I’m not alone here!

  31. posted by Anita on

    I have a pretty low threshold for how “worn” something is before it needs a wash. If I’ve worn something for only a little while, either it’s clean/fresh enough to go back in the closet, or it gets tossed in the laundry basket. Jeans (and pants in general) have a longer between-washes time (except in winter slosh time — yuck!), but tops get washed after one wear 90% of the time.

    But for folks with different habits (or less sweat-inducing lifestyles?), I’d recommend leaving your N-Y-D clothes out somehow, to air out. Get a couple of over-the-door hooks and hang your chothes on them (preferably on hangers). That way they air out and stay visible for the next time you want to wear them.

    My concerns with Erin’s solution are that (1) clothes don’t air out, and confining them might just make them laundry-worthy sooner, and (2) they’re out of sight, so you’re less likely to wear them again soon…

  32. posted by Christine on

    I put the not yet dirty clothes back with the clean ones. But I also won’t put back anything that even seems remotely dirty. When it doubt, it goes in the wash. But if I’ve worn something for a few hours and I know it’s clean, then back into the drawer it goes!

    As for the moths… I’ve been doing things this way my whole life and I’ve never had a moth problem.

  33. posted by WM on

    Wow, I am AMAZED that this is something so many people are concerned with. I’ve never even heard of this. I’ve always figured if it’s clean enough to wear again it goes back in the closet where it belongs.

    Learn something new every day!

  34. posted by Helen on

    I air out anything that’s been worn once and isn’t ripe or stained on hooks over my closet door (on the outside).
    Jeans get folded over a chair arm in the bedroom to air out before going back into the jean drawer.
    Sweaters that I wear and undershirt with just get folded up and put back in the closet.
    I am a big believer in changing right when I get home into house pants/skirt and shirt (those get changed out once or twice a week and don’t see the outside) even if I’m going out later after work, gives me a chance to put everything away, and allows me to not stretch the work pants out too much and wear them again later in the week or the week after.

  35. posted by Cat on

    Joining the “air out overnight” club here. If the item is stored folded, it gets draped on the edge of the dresser; if it’s stored hanging, it goes back on its hanger on the doorknob. I store my clothes by style/type (blouses, lightweight sweaters, etc etc), so the idea of having a separate area for worn-once stuff would make it harder to keep track of what I have.

    Have never had a moth issue — although before storing anything long term, it’s always fresh from the wash/cleaners.

    I definitely air out the bed, although I’ve never intentionally waited to make it (usually have my coffee, take a shower, and then make the bed as I’m letting the moisturizer soak in!)

  36. posted by Annette on

    For those of you who are younger than mid to late forties, this is for you! As we age, we sweat less (aside from hot flashes and the like) and our clothing can be worn many more times than one would think. Get a system going now!

    I just rehang everything that isn’t dirty and put it in the closet.

  37. posted by TedH on

    I have a small section of my closet where I hang ‘almost clean’ items back up on hangers.

    Keeps them separate from the freshly-laundered items but also keeps them from becoming clutter.

  38. posted by Sooz on

    @Loren and @Rue, about why moth damage would be an issue, well, it won’t be IF you don’t have clothing moths.

    I went decades without ever having a moth problem, but I have one now and I don’t know how it started, as I don’t buy at consignment or thrift shops. Once you’ve got clothing moths, they are astonishingly hard to eradicate — and they will target any clothes that have been worn. That is one reason to NOT put N-Y-D clothes back into the closet from my point of view, because the N-Y-D clothes will tend to attract moths who will then feast on even the clean clothes. And if you have clean out-of-season clothes in the closet, you might not discover the moth damage for a long time — like when you go to put on your good winter coat that you put away 3 or 4 months earlier.

    Moths will TRY to eat anything fabric-related, including fabric handbags & feather trim on clothes. They’ve even made attempts at my 100% acrylic sweaters, but fortunately they can’t eat synthetics!

    Some of you are probably thinking “big deal, just use mothballs” — but I have asthma and can’t expose myself to the fumes. And cedar blocks just don’t get the job done. Therefore in my home, anything that’s been worn does NOT ever go back into a closet or drawer with the “fully clean” stuff.

    Not related to moths, I find the idea of putting tops (which, if I’ve worn them, I assume have deodorant residue on them) icky. I certainly want to separate those items from the not-yet-worn ones.

    PS: on the making-the-bed issue, I’ve read that because humans do sweat even in our sleep, it’s better to air out the bed for an hour or so after getting up, because if you make the bed right away you are trapping moisture which optimizes the conditions for dust-mites, etc.

  39. posted by Beaker on

    I have all my closet hangers facing the same direction. ie ” or so the hook is facing me.

    That way my colour/type system stays in place and I don’t need a special ‘dirty’ section.

  40. posted by KatieBee on

    NYD items get hung in the closet– with the hanger hooked in the *opposite* direction (hooked back-to-front, instead of front-to-back, like the clean items are).

    When I get home & change, the empty back-to-front hanger reminds me to double-check the clothes I’m removing before deciding whether to re-hang or throw it into the hamper.

  41. posted by A. on

    I too air my clothes out. Whatever I’ve worn gets put on a hanger on the outside of the closet door overnight. In the AM, after I’ve showered, it’s light out, and my nose is a better gauge than it was the previous night, I assess the relative cleanliness.

    If it’s good, it goes back in the closet.

    If it’s not, it’s laundry time.

    I wear my pajamas twice, once if my room was too warm. They hang on a hook in the closet.

  42. posted by chris on

    I lay out N-Y-D clothes onto the chaise longue in my bedroom. If I want to wear it again within a day or two, I grab it from there.

    Once or twice a week, when I do laundry, I decide if items in this stash get put away or get washed. Yes, this means I have clothes draped over a couch most of the time. And this attracts other clutter, including my boyfriend’s dirty clothes. And this is also where I put my freshly-laundered lay-flat-to-dry clothes, like cashmere sweaters.

    It’s not ideal, but it’s my stopgap en route to uncluttering!

  43. posted by Kris on

    How I handle “wear-again” or “not-yet-dirty-enough-to-wash” clothes: T shirts and casual pants get folded and put into a wicker basket. Hanging clothes go back onto hangers and are hung on the left side of the closet.

    How I might modify what I do: Instead of putting “wear-again” folded clothes in a wicker basket, I’ve thought about putting them in a small laundry basket on the floor of my closet. (My dirty clothes go into a standard-size laundry basket, also on the floor of my closet. Come laundry day, it would be easy to shift “wear-again” clothes into the laundry basket as needed.)

    Also, I’ve though about tying a ribbon or a piece of yarn to the hanging bar in my closet to separate the “wear again” clothes on the left from the totally clean clothes on the right.

    But having read the comments of @SportTeam Fan, maybe the “not-yet-dirty-enough-to-wash” hanging clothes should go to the right. πŸ™‚

  44. posted by Sarah on

    Great idea!

  45. posted by Chrissy on

    This is by far the most difficult thing for me to conquer when it comes to clutter. As others have said, when you keep out ‘not dirty’ clothes, they have a tendency to get mixed up with dirty and clean clothes.

    What I have considered doing is placing a lower closet bar in our closet, that we can hang clothes on that we’ve only worn once or twice. And maybe for clothes that aren’t hung up, i.e., lounge pants or t-shirts, those should just be folded and put into a spare drawer.

    The response I get from my husband is, “well, I’m going to wear that tomorrow, so I want to leave it out so I remember.” Then he ends up wearing something else, and not wearing the item anyways!!

  46. posted by Malena on

    @Peg – um, I guess I didn’t know I was supposed to separate them. I’m with you. Either it’s dirty enough to wash or clean enough to hang in the closet. I might air it out for a few hours or overnight, but I have enough trouble keeping things straight without torturing myself with stages of dirt.

    (I do wash clothes according to stage of dirt, though. White socks never go in with white t-shirts. My 12–yr old can trash a pair of socks in seconds. They’re not going in with my good white t-shirts!)

  47. posted by Tatiana on

    Gotta say that I too figure if it’s clean enough to wear again, then it’s clean enough to go back in the closet or drawer. PJs get stashed under my pillow. Never really thought about “airing” anything out…if it needs airing out it generally goes into the laundry.

  48. posted by Mary on

    For those of you who think it’s clean enough to go back in the closet, I’m guessing you don’t have long-haired animals in the house. πŸ™‚

    A shirt I wore for an outing is not sweaty or smelly, but it’s still covered in fur from when the beasties attack me as I come in the door. Freshly laundered clothing gets a thorough cleaning with the lint brush, but de-furring every piece of clothing as I wear it would require the time I use to eat and sleep.

  49. posted by GV on

    Something that’s been worn once (for more than, say, an hour or so) should absolutely NOT be hung back in the closet. A piece of clothing worn once is not the same as one that’s just been laundered. Treating it as such is a good road to wearing smelly clothes.

    I, like multiple other posters, have dedicated hooks on a closet wall.

    Whatever you do, just keep it separate from clean clothes but don’t toss it on the floor or in a hamper because it’ll wrinkle.

  50. posted by Susanne on

    My husband and I use a chest of wire-basket drawers for not-yet dirty clothes, it’s next to our closet. I like that it’s essentially open, so the clothes get a bit of air, but at the same time they’re stowed away neatly. We have two drawers each, one for sports clothes (they might be not so fresh to mix them with your day clothes, but still good for another run) and one for the rest.
    We only make an exception for stuff that should not be folded, wich are blouses and shirts, the get hanged back into the closet.

  51. posted by Karolina on

    I used to not see this as an issue, until I realized I had clothes that have not been washed for a year – they were “not yet dirty” when the weather got cold last year, I had enough closet space that I didn’t have to do a “season switch”, and then the summer came again, and – oops.

    My clothes are all folded neatly on shelves (I can’t stand dressers – how do you ever find anything in those drawers?!?). So now, there’s a sheet of cardboard in the middle of each stack; under the cardboard it’s “clean”, above the cardboard it’s “gently worn”. At the end of the season, all of the remaining “gently worn” things get washed and the cardboard sheets sit on top of the stacks (i.e. the N-Y-D section is empty) until I start wearing those clothes again. I highly recommend this method.

    Also, most of the time I don’t put tops away right away – I let them air out overnight or for a day or two.

  52. posted by troy on

    I don’t sweat much and live in a mild climate so I can get away with more than 2 uses out of a shirt so…

    I have multiple sections in my closet separated by special hangers that are easy to see. Clean clothes go in section 1; once-used clothes in section 2, etc. Each time I wear something it gets moved to the FRONT of the next section.

    What I like about my system is that (1) I never have to guess how many times I’ve worn something so (2) it is easy to decide when to wash and (3) you can see what you’ve worn recently so you don’t wear the same outfit too often. Also, if you notice that some clothes are perpetually in the same section it means you never wear it so it might be time to throw it out.

  53. posted by Another Deb on

    I live in a dry climate and a small pile with one shirt or pair of shorts can dessicate itself clean on the side chair. My husband tends to pile a washer-load’s worth on his side chair and it ends up cascading onto the floor by the time I demands that he move it to the laundry.

    I find that sometimes I “think” the clothes can go one more time but the next day my sniff test is more accurate. Since I’ve gotten older, I am able to wear things a few times but more often I throw it into the laundry so I don’t get that “Goodwill” used clothing smell in the bedroom.

  54. posted by Liz on

    I have a freind who hangs/folds the item inside out if she’s worn it once and feels it doesn’t need washing. It seems to work for her. (I’m not that organized yet).

  55. posted by Rachel on

    I keep my dog walking/hanging around the house clothes (a pair of jeans and a t-shirt) on a small stool in the closet so I can put them on first thing in the morning. The shirt gets exchanged for a fresh one several times during the week, every day if its above about 90 out. I change out of my work clothes as soon as I get home and hang them up on a valet bar that pulls out of my closet. Its a Closetmaid system from Lowes. I usually let them hang there all night and put them back on the regular bar the next morning. Pajamas and robe hang on a hook on the back of the closet door.

  56. posted by Michele M on

    A very easy solution, to eliminate the build-up of NYD clothes, is to take one of the items, the top OR the pants, and wear those again the next day, combined in a different way (with a different top or pants). After two wearings that item is definitely needing to be washed, and the day after, reincorporate that other remaining item into another outfit, etc. There is no sin against wearing something two days in a row, but then again you are not really even doing that.

  57. posted by Cassi on

    I can’t stand it when people wash clothes that aren’t /dirty/.

  58. posted by Laura on

    I have two small “laundry” baskets that sit between my dresser and the door. One is for my gym clothes (I don’t want to wash them every time) and the other basket is for clothes I feel could be worn again. When I do the wash, I usually go through this basket and wash everything.

  59. posted by klutzgrrl on

    formal clothes just get hung up; jumpers (sweaters) back in the closet, jeans over a chair. I try to keep this sort of thing to a minimum as you end up with a pile of clothes in various, dubious states of unwash.

    The kids have large funky colored bucket-things from an organizing store, so all they have to do is toss them in.

    Makes perfect sense to re-wear things if they still smell fresh and clean – especially upper layers – people used to actually SEW their kid’s clothes on for the winter and wash once a week….

  60. posted by Jay on

    I echo KatieBee’s comments about the direction of the hangers. I too hang N-Y-D clothes with the hanger facing in a different direction from the clean clothes’ hangers. In that way, I can easily spot the N-Y-D clothes.

    Why do I care about whether an item of clothing is worn or not? If I am doing an almost full load of laundry and have room for some more clothes, I might add an N-Y-D item. Also, there are occasions where a clean, unworn item is necessary, and I can easily make sure that I don’t wear an N-Y-D item.

  61. posted by Cat on

    I often wear a V-neck T-shirt under shirts or sweaters so at the end of the day, the T-shirt goes in the laundry basket with the underwear and the outside top can be worn again as well as the pants or skirt.

    I like breathing fresh air so when the temperature is not too cold outside, I put my NYD clothes on a hanger that rests on the knob of my bedroom’s window, and I leave that window cracked open during the night (heater turned off). In the morning, clothes are fresh smelling and go back in the closet with the clean clothes.

    I even tried that with a wool coat that had been exposed to smokers for half an hour: it got rid of the smell entirely and was cheaper than bringing the coat to the dry cleaners! Less polluting too…

  62. posted by Kathryn on

    NYD clothes usually get tossed on the back of my desk chair overnight,which I suppose serves the “airing out” purpose. I then put them on or back from whence they came the next day. I’ve got wool sweaters that get washed once a season, if that.

  63. posted by Claycat on

    We have hooks on the back of the bathroom door, which my husband is finally learning how to use. πŸ™‚

  64. posted by RV on

    I haven’t read through all of the comments yet, so maybe this has already been mentioned. I usually leave worn clothes on the back of a chair or over the footboard on my bed to air. Once they’ve aired a day or so, I do a “sniff” test to see how clean they seem to be. If they pass the test, they are hung on a separate side of the closet. Pants never worn go on the left side of the rack, slightly worn on the right. For sweaters, I put a safety pin on the tag if they are freshly washed and remove the safety pin when they’ve been worn. If they are clean enough to be worn again, then there shouldn’t an issue with the worn clothes touching the freshly washed.

    @ A: How do you justify wearing pajamas only two nights? Exactly how dirty does one get while sleeping?

  65. posted by Christine on

    I haven’t read all the comments, but my method is pretty simple: turn it inside out and put it back where it was.

    If it’s not dirty enough to be washed, it’s not going to stink up the clean clothes around it. I usually have two or three inside-out blouses or sweaters in my drawers, plus a pair of pants or two. I’ll wear the same pair of jeans several days in a row (I’ve got several pairs of identical jeans, so nobody can tell), but I’ll usually wait a day or two before rewearing the same blouse or pants so I don’t look like a slob.

  66. posted by Christine on

    Oh, and add me to the list of people who don’t have a deadline on how many days an item of clothing can get worn. If it passes all of these tests, it gets put back the way I usually store it but inside out:
    1) No stains or visible grime
    2) Passes the sniff test
    3) Wasn’t tossed on the floor overnight

    Number 3 is actually the failure point more often than 1 or 2, unfortunately; I’m still not very good about not shedding all my clothes on the floor as I climb into bed.

  67. posted by hadashi on

    lightly worn clothing (obviously passes the no marks & the sniff test) gets turned inside out and hung back up. this way:
    1. there’s no piles of clothing on the floor
    2. the clothes worn do not get wrinkled by being in said pile or even going into a drawer or bin
    3. i visually know which garment definitely needs a trip to the hamper next time it’s worn.
    since most of the clothing that gets this treatment tends to be nicer things that do only get worn for a few hours to a special occasion, this cuts way down on wear & tear and preserves the garment.

  68. posted by JB on

    My method for hangables is similar to the rubber band idea mentioned above. I simply put the item back on the hanger but place the hanger backward on the bar (that is, with the hook opening facing me; hope this makes sense). This allows the not-yet-dirties to be easily recognizable, yet preserves the ROYGBIV arrangement of my Oxford shirts.

    I skimmed the last 20 or so comments, so I hope this wasn’t already mentioned.

  69. posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    I used to do something similar to the backwards-hanger idea (clothes hung facing the ‘wrong’ way but hanger still facing the ‘correct’ way). Then I picked up my husband’s habit of draping t-shirts over the top rail of our 4-poster bed. This may have happened when we moved once long ago.

    I’ve suggested to him that we use one of our laundry hangers-on-wheels to hang up N-Y-D clothes come our next move. Obviously it would help if we have a bedroom big enough to fit this in. Currently even our laundry basket doesn’t fit – dirty clothes have to be grabbed from the floor and shoved into the laundry ‘chute’, which at least runs from the bathroom to the laundry, so is useful when going for a shower.

  70. posted by phoneill on

    I love this thread. I am home with my kid full time, so almost everything I wear on a daily basis is dirty by the time I take it off at night. But my husband often has a pile of N-Y-D clothes and it always ends up on top of his dresser looking horrible. I will definitely be discussing some new strategies with him.

    I understand how some folks figure if it’s clean enough to wear again, it’s clean enough to put back in the closet or drawer, but my husband is adamant that it will “contaminate” the clean clothes.

  71. posted by Claire on

    Most of my clothes are hanging. If I hang something up that I’ve already worn I hang the hangar backwards. When I look in my closet I can easily identify the clothes the I’ve already worn once.

  72. posted by Tracy on

    The problem here in central Florida, is that wearing clothes for only an hour or so can often leave them too smelly to re-wear. A quick trip to the grocery store and I’m sweaty! So, yeah, we do a lot of laundry.

  73. posted by otterbyte on

    Long ago, I bought a whole bunch of inexpensive tubular plastic hangers from the Container Store, mostly in white but a few in blue. I hang all my clean clothes on the white hangers. If I wear something that doesn’t get dirty enough to wash (I often wear a button down shirt jacket-style over a blouse), then I put it on a blue hanger when I hang it up. When I take something off a blue hanger, I know it’s already been worn. I’m scatterbrained enough that I need to remember this! My husband, whose ‘wear-again’ clothes are mostly folded – jeans, sweaters and such – uses the bottom drawer of his dresser for the same purpose.

  74. posted by Terri on

    I hang the garment back up in my closet, but I turn it inside out on the hanger. This way I can tell at a glance something has been worn once. This applies mostly to tops/shirts, not to pants/jeans.

  75. posted by Rue on

    @Sooz – Okay, that makes sense, now. I’ve never had any problem with clothing moths nor known anyone who had one (at least, not one that I was aware of) so I didn’t understand what the problem with NYD clothes was. Now I can see why you wouldn’t want to put your NYD clothes back with your clean ones πŸ™‚ Maybe you could get a separate dresser to put them in, or hang them in a closet in a different room that doesn’t have fabric items in them?

  76. posted by Liz on

    I put them back away. If they are clean enough to wear again, aren’t they clean enough to be near your other clean clothes? I don’t see how this is a problem.

  77. posted by Emma on

    I guess I’m one of the Europeans who don’t wash enough :), because my rule of thumb is: if it doesn’t touch my skin (for example a sweater, or a skirt worn with tights), it doesn’t need to be washed til it’s visibly dirty or smelly. Things that go against my skin get washed after one use; others get folded and go back in the wardrobe (or, more likely, they get thrown into a pile next to the hamper to be folded and put away later!).

  78. posted by Ellen on

    I’ve always maintained a chair in my bedroom for NYD clothes; when I do laundry, if there’s space in a load, I’ll wash the least-likely-to-be-reworn-soon NYD items.

    My spouse is a tougher problem, as he often just tosses everything on the floor next to his side of the bed. I’m trying to figure out how to make space for a second NYD chair πŸ™‚

  79. posted by Frumpulent Grumpton on

    IF: smelly or stained or super-wrinkly
    THEN: launder

    ELSE: hang up

    Life is too damn short to categorize degrees of dirtiness. It’s either good enough to wear again or it isn’t. Are you really going to wear something 0.5 days, and then only wear it 0.5 days more instead of just another full day? If it’s good enough to wear a full day, then it may as well be labeled as 100% clean.

  80. posted by chacha1 on

    Hilarious thread. … I live in an apartment with coin laundry, and washing things often kills them faster. I’m with our European friend, if it doesn’t go against my skin, I wear it many times. Pants & skirts? Do not get “dirty” in an office job like mine.

    Many shirts/sweaters can be worn two or three times between washes. Turn inside out, hang (on hanger) on hook on back of bedroom door, perhaps squirt with Febreze, air overnight, and it’s good to go back in the closet the next morning. Or, if it doesn’t pass the sniff test, into the laundry. No clutter when dealt with daily.

    I am also with the commenter who changes out of work clothes immediately. Skirts, pants, and shirts that go right onto a hanger do not often need to be ironed!

    Airing the bed: a necessity for two hot sleepers. But I make it before work, because otherwise it’s full of cats all day.

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  82. posted by Loren on

    @Sooz: Thanks for the info, that does make sense. I’ve never had a moth problem but I do shop consignment a lot so I will be more careful in the future. When I lived with my parents all the out-of-season clothes got stored in a cedar chest to prevent bugs from becoming interested, I’ll have to start that practice again.

  83. posted by Margaret on

    For many years, at our house, that pile has been called “other”, as in: “clean”, “dirty” or “other”

  84. posted by kris on

    I totally understand Susan’s problem! I would never put worn clothing in the closet with my clean clothing, as it does invite moth damage. They are attracted by the slightest bits of dirt, oil from our skin, etc. I have had problems with moths eating hole in my clothes in past years, even with cedar blocks in the closet, until I stopped putting “slightly worn” clothing back in my closet. Now I keep it all in a hall closet downstairs, separate from my clean clothes. I haven’t had a problem with moths in years, since I’ve started this habit. As someone who doesn’t enjoy clutter, the idea of having clothing in two separate places is a bit annoying. But as someone who also likes her clothing to stay in great condition, this is the best solution for me.

  85. posted by Patti on

    Awesome thread, another NYDer here.

    Since I only put freshly washed/not yet worn clothes in my closet or drawers, I have one of those free-standing clothing racks. There are some nice wood ones out there like this one (, but mine is just painted steel; it does have wheels though.

    The free-standing clothing rack works well for me because the worn-once items still go back on hangers, eliminating the need to drape them on the bed or seating areas, and they also stay separate from the “clean.” This is a tad OCD but I can even hang them in the order that I wear them so that I don’t mistakenly wear the same thing two days in a row.

    The clothing rack also has hooks that I hang my worn bra on; first thing I do upon arriving home at the end of the day is to “release the girls” if that’s not too TMI.

    Pajamas that I’ve worn I usually just toss on the unmade bed (yeah I know), but I’ve also put them INSIDE the covers on the MADE bed. That way when I turn down the covers they are warm and waiting for me. πŸ™‚

    With that said, if I didn’t use a free-standing clothing rack I like the rubber band idea over the hanger hook that someone mentioned above.

  86. posted by Peter on

    So an update.

    Since my last post I’ve been hanging the NYD stuff in the closet. They go all the way on the end on the right. That area of the closet is all button down shirts so then I put my NYD jeans and then my NYD t-shirts. I always put the NYD stuff in on the left and take them out from the right.

    I’ve been very happy with the solution. No clutter, no confusion. One extra benefit I’ve noticed is I now tend to keep my NYD queue down to two shirts and two pants, whereas it used to grow larger.

    Thanks Unclutterer community!

  87. posted by Cassie on

    I usually just put the NYD clothes back into the closet – I prefer hanging my clothes so I can “see” everything when trying to decide what to wear. Dresser drawers never worked well for me (except for underwear).

    Most of the time, I will drape the clothes over a chair or something when I get home from work and then hang it up in the closet before going to bed. So it gets a short while to air out… of course, sometimes I get lazy and don’t hang up clothes for a week or so, but I’m trying to get better at it!

  88. posted by Feli on

    I just hang them back in the closet but I hang them inside out so I know they’ve been worn. That way they can still be grouped with similar items. Like Joe, I never wear anything twice, so once I’ve worn it for the 2nd time, it goes straight to the laundry pile.

  89. posted by Kara on

    My problem is that we only have two closets in the whole house, they hold all shirts that need to be hung, a shelf above for jeans and sweatshirts and a shelf below for shoes. Our bedroom is tiny, and filled with dressers and plastic bins that hold t-shirts, his jeans, sweats, etc. There is just barely enough space to walk around the bed.
    My boyfriend works construction during the day and then puts on some jeans and a shirt and/or sweatshirt for a few hours then pjs at night, every day he wears different jeans and shirts and they get piled EVERYWHERE because they are not dirt enough to wash, but too dirty to put away. How can I store these items out of the way before I go crazy in a sea of clothes?

  90. posted by LPD on

    The easiest solution my husband and I found to ‘store’ our NYD clothes was to simply hand them behind our bathroom door on a couple of attached hooks or on a free standing clothes rack ( as Patti 11/30/09 had done). This allows the clothes to air out and also avoids contact between NYD, clean and dirty clothes and ease of selecting what to wear in the morning.

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