Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tackling the Laundry Mountain

A Note from Mrs. Kelly:  Christine Green is a friend and freelance writer who lives in Brockport, New York.  In addition to being a mom, writer and literary host/organizer at A Different Path Gallery, she also maintains a side business where she helps people get organized!  Without further ado, I give you Mrs. Jones.

Guest Blogger : Mrs. Jones (Christine Green)
Did I mention she also has a Master's degree in historical archeology?


Is your laundry out of hand?  Are you walking over piles of dirty laundry and pushing aside baskets of clean, yet unfolded, clothes? Well, it’s a new year, and it’s time to get organized in the laundry room!  Here are few ideas and tips to help you get started.

Photo courtesy of Gretchen Carletta, PQR Photography

1.  Get Caught Up.  For now, forget pretty baskets in coordinating colors and fancy labels for the hamper.  Spend a day (or two or three) and wash every single backed up load of laundry you have piled up.  DO NOT LET THE CLEAN AND FOLDED LAUNDRY SIT!!!  I know it seems daunting, but it has to be done before anything else can be accomplished.  Creating a clean and organized place to work as well as a schedule to help you keep on top of things won’t be at all useful until you are fully caught up. 

Now go ahead and get going.  I’ll wait.  Shoo now…you can read the rest of this after that first load is in spinning away.

2.  Clean.  If your washer smells musty or stale, buy a washing machine cleaner to run through the machine or simply pour a cup of white vinegar in the tub (not the detergent dispenser) and run a hot cycle.   Wipe down the outside of the machine and clean out the soap dispenser using hot water.  Clean the gunk out of the door hinges and crevices.  

Photo courtesy of Gretchen Carletta, PQR Photography

When that’s done clean the dryer, taking special care to clean out the lint trap.  And if you have been backed up on laundry, chances are you haven’t replaced the dryer duct (ridged metallic hose that vents the dryer) in a while.  There are scads of websites and YouTube videos out there that will help you figure out how to do this if you don’t already know, and doing so will help prevent a dangerous fire.

3.  Get Organized.  My first rule of thumb is to avoid keeping anything directly on top of the washer or dryer.  My washer and dryer are right in my kitchen.  While this is very convenient it also invites those who pass through (MY KIDS!) to put everything and anything on top of the machines as they pass.  This just adds to the clutter and leads to more disorganization.  Also, don’t keep anything in the laundry area that isn’t laundry related, if possible. Move out the old coats recycling bins and bric-a-brac. 

Photo courtesy of Rebecca Charlton

4.  Design Your Room. Since I can’t see your space this is where you’ll have to get creative (or hire an organizer) with your laundry area.  Make sure you have adequate space for the basics like laundry soaps and softeners, iron and ironing board, stain removers and bleach.  If you can fit in a table or counter for folding clothes you are in great shape.  A drying rack or closet rod/garment rack to hang delicates to dry is also important. A radio or small TV is nice, too, if it’s in your budget.  Being entertained while you wash Jr.’s Spiderman undies can make a dreary task a lot easier. 
Invest in plastic baskets to transport clothes and linen back and forth between bedrooms and the laundry area.  Wicker is pretty but it doesn’t hold up over time and isn’t as easy to clean out.  

5.  Identify the Who.  Ok, so your laundry room or area is spic and span and the contents are organized.  Now what?  I suggest you start with WHO does laundry.
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Barnett
It’s time for a family or household meeting, so gather the troops!  Employ all members of the house in laundry.  Does that mean your six-year old has to start sorting and washing your unmentionables?  Um, NO.  But it does mean that almost all members of the household should have some job, even if it is small, related to the care and laundering of the clothes and linens.  

6.  Choose a System and Stick With It!  Decide if each person will have his own hamper in his bedroom or if members of the household will be required to take their dirty clothes to a central location like a bathroom hamper or directly to the laundry room.  Then you will have to decide how you would like to sort.  Some families don’t sort at all.  Others like to have one person in charge of separating the clothes.  Another system of sorting is to have multiple hampers: one for whites, one for darks, one for colors, one for towels, etc.  Again, this is a great topic to discuss at that household meeting!

Now, how will the actual washing get done?  One of the most popular methods is the load a day system.  Simply wash, dry, fold, and put away a load a day every day of the week.  The other basic system is to designate a laundry day or days.  Perhaps the weekend works best since everyone is home and able to help.  Or maybe you are home on one or more days of the week and prefer to do the laundry while no one else is around.  Whatever system you choose, stick to it, don’t hesitate, and don’t fall behind again—DO IT!!!!!
Photo courtesy Gretchen Carletta, PQR Photography

Well I hope I’ve helped you get a running start as you tackle the Laundry Mountain of 2013!  Thanks again to the ladies at Naptime Notebook for featuring this post.  You can ask me additional questions by emailing me at or visiting my website at or my blog at

Happy folding, 
Mrs. Jones

Note from Mrs. Williams :  Thanks for all the good advice Mrs. Jones.  We're lucky to have you!  I'd write more, but I followed your first piece of advice, and now I need to go put some clothes in the dryer.  Thanks again!

Note from Mrs. Kelly:  Washing machines need washing?  Don't judge me.  And, thank you for the motivation!

Note from Mrs. Gosling:  I think that I need to set up a conveyer system to move my laundry from the couch, to the drawers.  Is there a service for this?  Thanks Mrs. Jones, you post is awesome!


Christine said...

thanks! i think i might steal the photo for my FB profile! :-)

Naptime Notebook said...

Do it! After you take care of your laundry of course. ;)

Anonymous said...

I was really hoping the answer lay with a secret army of laundry elves that would be available or magic words that would do the trick. *Sigh* Better get folding.

Naptime Notebook said...

Yea, maybe Indiana Jones should get on finding the lost laundry elves instead of the arc of the covenant. :) Or, maybe we should all just hire "Mrs. Jones" to get us organized.

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