Win the battle with your laundry, part 2: Laundry for your lifestyle
By Aimee Heckel
On Tuesday, we talked to professional organizer, Cathy Thompson, on how to best organize your laundry room.
Every month, we talk to the helpful organizers at Colorado-based Major Mom, for expert tips on how to tackle common household problems.
Thompson is laundry room queen. She’s the author of Major Mom’s organizing book, “Laundry Organizing Tips: Your Jumpstart for Getting On Track,” available on Amazon for $6.19.
After your laundry room has been organized, Thompson recommends moving on to phase two of how to win the battle with your laundry room — tackling the clothes and linens that are about to be washed, or have been washed.
Thompson calls this “laundry for your lifestyle,” because strategies vary, based on whether you live on your own (as a college student or young professional), you’re two adults living together (married, empty-nesters or roommates), whether you have a baby or whether you’re a family with school-age kids.
Develop systems according to your lifestyle, Thompson says. Once again, she uses the “S.T.E.P.S.” acronym.
1. Sort your laundry into categories. That may be just one bag, or multiple bins. Also consider how you like to sort. By color? By care (hand wash, towels).
How you sort will depend on your unique situation. If you have a baby, those clothes may need different detergent. If you do laundry separate, you may sort based on person.
2. Treasure what counts. Keep only the amount of clothing that you can manage, and only keep what you love. If you are struggling to keep on top of certain higher-maintenance fabrics, replace them with clothes that make it easy for you. For example, if you have a pile of clothes you never wear because they’re wrinkled and you can’t seem to find the time to iron them, buy wrinkle-free fabrics.
Toss the stuff that you won’t or haven’t mended, or the clothes that can’t be repaired, like pants with a big paint stain or grease stain that won’t come out. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit your kids or that they don’t like.
It’s easier for your kids to help with the laundry if they know where everything belongs. If your family has trouble putting clothes away, your closets may be hard to reach or your drawers may be too full.
“A huge way to manage your laundry is to have the proper amount of clothes to maintain for your life situation,” Thompson says.
In fact, she says, we only wear 20 percent of our clothes 80 percent of the time.
3. Establish systems.
Do you have to carry laundry to the dorm basement or laundry mat? If so, you need to set up a system that works for that situation. You’ll need money, baskets, a block of time.
If you have roommates, set up certain times that you each do the laundry.
With a new baby, create a plan for how you will handle the messy clothes and the diaper bag.
With older kids, determine who does what. Does Mom or Dad do all of the laundry? Do the kids do their own? When? Talk about the division of responsibilities, so everyone knows what is expected, and what the others need. Create a system to communicate when clothes have stains; stick a clothes pin on the clothes to mark the stain, or write on a dry erase board.
“In the same way a load of laundry gets out of balance in the spin cycle, our laundry system can get out of balance if it is all on one person and she cannot do it all,” Thompson says. “We are not super heroes.”
4. Plan your container strategy. This might be a simple addition or change in your existing containers. Do you have enough baskets? Are they the right size and type? Do you have enough baskets for the dirty and clean clothes? Consider letting your kids pick out their own hampers, too.
If you have messy clothes, pick hampers than can be wiped down or washed.
Thompson likes this Chrome Double Laundry Bag Stand at the Container Store. Save money at the Container Store with these coupons, paired with 5 percent Cash Back from ShopAtHome.com. Read more articles about the Container Store here.
5. Start new habits. Be patient as you and your family members adopt the new habits.
Save money on other purchases for your family with these babies and kids coupons.
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