How Breaking my Wrist Actually Taught me a Better Way to do Laundry — 7 Comments

  1. I am living proof that this system works. Karen has worked with me and my family for over 2 years now. As a physician, I am very busy; not only do I have a full medical practice, but I am also the mother of two active young boys, ages 8 and 5 years old. For the past couple of years, we had an extra bed where all of the clean laundry would be piled. It would get totally wrinkled, increasing the amount of time it took to get ready for church (since everyone’s items would need at least a light pressing), and serioously interfering with my ability to get out the door on time in the morning. Since we have started using this system, my husband’s items aren’t lost in the laundry, I can find my clothes to get ready for work, and the boys don’t get their underwear mixed up and in the wrong person’s drawer (try an 8-year-old wearing size 5 underpants!). We have found the sheets and towels being put in a separate basket to be very helpful also. We each have one day of the week which is our day for laundry–that person’s basket is brought down to the laundry room that day, sorted, washed, folded, and put back up and the basket goes back in that person’s room by the end of the day. This way, my children have a chore they can keep up with (bringing the basket down) and have a sense of responsibility for keeping the wheels of the household turning. If we can’t get it done that day, the system stops until that one person’s laundry is done. This “pause” is SO helpful!! If you can’t get one pile folded, why push another 6 piles through the system and have that much more to fold?! It took me a long time to embrace this method, because I thought that just getting the laundry clean was what mattered. Actually, getting the laundry clean AND folded AND put up where you can find it to get dressed is what’s important…otherwise, you aren’t sure what you have and where it is. I have actually re-purchased items I had because I couldn’t find them, only to realize later that I had 20 shirts in the same size for one child! What a waste, both of money and of the mental resources and time to keep up with all that clothing…not to mention the space required to store it. The sense of peace I have from making these changes is tremendous. I get very overwhelmed by mountains of laundry and start to shut down emotionally when there’s that much to do. By taking it one basket at a time, it’s not so daunting a task, and saves both my pocket-book and my sense of well-being.

  2. Thank you for your story. I’m sure it will hit home for some of the readers. I’m so glad that you finally embraced this method. It really is a life changer.

  3. Karen, laundry is a very important process and you’re right, the combine then UNcombine method isn’t efficient. My husband and I have a system that works for us (and isn’t that the key?)

    We each have separate clothing hampers in our closet but we sort differently. I have one hamper for darks and one for whites/lights.
    He has one hamper for dry cleaning and one for machine washing.

    I wash all my lights / whites together and all my darks together. Simple.

    HE on the other hand, washes ALL his machine-washable clothes together and drops the other hamper off at the dry cleaners (business shirts and pants).

    We never commingle our laundry and it makes it so much easier!

    Great post Karen!


  4. Monica, You are right. It is all about finding a system that works. When I do residential needs assessments I always ask about the laundry process. When there are problems I suggest my method. Sometimes they tell me that they have a good system and it’s working. I don’t even suggest changing anything in that case even if they are “commingling”. I love that word!

  5. Taking this a step further… it seems that the 13 and 16 year olds – as well as husband – could be responsible for doing their own laundry. This means no “co-mingling” – and much less work for mom.

  6. Cindy,

    That did happen. Soon after my husband started doing his own laundry I taught the boys to do theirs as well. It was a real life changer and I think the catalyst to my getting organized. This event happened in the summer of 1996. I had my house completely organized toward the end of 1998. I started my organizing business in 2000.

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