Reader Kelly submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:
Your advice on doing the laundry is fantastic. I’ve employed several tips with great success. In particular, I’m a fan of clothing items that need little care (e.g. no ironing, dry cleaning, etc.). However, I’m unable to find usable suggestions on HOW TO PUT THE LAUNDRY AWAY. One mantra of simple living systems is to touch things only once (mail directly from the mailbox into office without setting on kitchen counter first and while throwing away junk mail before you even bring it into the house), but I’m unable to find a laundry system that doesn’t result in piles and piles of clean laundry that needs to be put away. Getting it into the washer and dryer is easy — how can I get it to put itself away? My kids are 2 and 4 years old. I do one load of laundry a day. It ends up sitting in our enormous rolling laundry cart in the laundry room, where we all gather in our underwear looking for clean clothes. Please help.
I laughed aloud when I read your description of your family gathering in the laundry room looking for clean clothes because I have done exactly that on numerous occasions. My guess is that anyone with a washer and dryer at home has done this, but maybe around a couch, dining table, or wherever clothes are folded. And, I don’t know why, but I’m usually standing on my tippy toes, quickly shifting my weight from foot to foot, on a mission to locate clean socks. You’ve just described the human clean clothes hunting ritual!
To find a solution to this problem, start by making sure you don’t have more clothes than storage space. If drawers and closets are cramped, you might be avoiding putting clothes away because you can’t easily do it. You shouldn’t have to push down on clothes to shut drawers, and you shouldn’t have to use your elbows and exert upper body strength to cram clothes into a closet. Also, check out your closet and make sure that whatever method you’re using to organize your clothes is simple to maintain. If your closet organizing system is too convoluted, you might be avoiding the chore for this reason.
Although your rolling laundry cart is really cool, it might not be the best tool for your family. You may be better served by having four labeled, stackable, laundry baskets or a rolling, 4-bag, laundry sorter. Each night after dinner, you and your husband can take five minutes to put away the clothes in your designated bin or basket and then spend another five minutes helping your kids with theirs.
Challenge everyone to a race, play upbeat music, and/or make the new routine as much fun as possible. After a few months, it will become second nature and putting away laundry will no longer be an issue. As your children get older, they’ll be able to put away their clothes without help (around age 5 or 6) and eventually even do their own laundry (usually around age 10, 11, or 12). I’m definitely looking forward to these milestones in my house!
Be sure to check out the comments for even more suggestions from our readers for ways to help get clothes out of the laundry room and into their proper storage spaces.
Thank you, Kelly, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.
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