Dirty laundry. We all have it. Like the Whac-a-Mole arcade game, it’s the chore that rears its ugly head again and again even while you are tackling it. As our family has grown, I’ve honed our laundry process so that it has become much more manageable. Here are three laundry solutions for small spaces that have worked for us.
1. Storage and Sorting
The Problem: Where can I store and sort dirty laundry when space is limited?
For years I relied upon having a laundry hamper in each bedroom. I gathered the laundry from every hamper and sorted it into piles on our bedroom floor. These sorted piles stayed there until the laundry was done, sometimes for multiple days.
What Works for Us
One day I had an idea. I emptied two of the drawers of our storage bed to create space for sorted laundry. By purchasing two adjustable OXO dividers, I split each drawer into two separate areas. This allowed me to sort and store up to four piles of laundry at once and keep it completely out of site. I also removed the hampers from our kids’ rooms. Now the kids bring all of their laundry to the lone hamper in our room.
By dedicating storage drawer space to sorted laundry, I did lose some of the space where we normally kept extra sheets and blankets. To solve this problem, I pared down the extra sets and kept only those we needed.
If you have an article of clothing that shouldn’t go in the dryer, wash it in a mesh laundry bag. This makes it easy to spot when transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer. For larger items like jeans, simply washing them inside-out often helps me remember to hang them up for drying.
2. Space to Fold
The Problem: Where can I fold clean laundry in a small space with limited blocks of time?
Being a stay-at home mom, who also homeschools, means that my kids interrupt me all the time. It is rare that I can fold and put away a load of laundry without the kids calling on me to handle an “urgent” need.
What Works for Us
I use our bed as the folding area for all clean laundry. As soon as I pull a clean load of laundry out of the dryer, I take it to our room, which is conveniently close by, and prepare the clothes for folding.
- With the laundry basket on the bed, I take clothes out in semi-random order and handle them as follows:
- I hang up my husband’s work clothes and my nicer shirts and jeans in our closets.
- I fold/roll children’s pants and shorts and place them in piles for each child.
- If needed, I fold underwear and add it to piles. I save socks for last to make finding matches easier.
- I lay all remaining shirts flat on the bed face-up in a stack that is ready for folding when time permits. For pajama sets, I place the matching pants on top of the shirts to fold together.
- If time permits, I go ahead and fold the stack of shirts. Otherwise, I leave it as is until I have another small block of time to get to them.
After folding the clothes, I put them away when I am able. It’s okay if they stay on the bed for the better part of the day. My goal is to have all clothes put away before the kids go to bed at night, but sometimes the last load of laundry is still in the dryer when the kids go to bed.
Don’t stress about laundry. If there is still a load in the dryer at the end of the day, pick one of two options. Either fold those clothes and place them in a laundry basket to be put away the following day, or leave them in the dryer and do a quick, low-heat cycle the next day to remove any wrinkles before folding them.
3. Folding to Save Space and Prevent Wrinkles
The Problem: How do I avoid wrinkled clothes and messy drawers?
Until I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” I never really considered that how I folded my clothes and stored them in my drawers could reduce wrinkles and disorder. Interestingly enough, I already owned a FlipFold and FlipFold Jr., but I wasn’t yet doing the extra fold that would allow me to store my clothes in an orderly fashion with fewer wrinkles and a smaller footprint.
For me, the standing-fold method of storing our shirts and pants in drawers has revolutionized clothing storage. Our kids can easily find and neatly pull out their clothes from their drawers although the younger ones still make a mess of it at times. Additionally, the drawers accommodate more clothing items when folded this way which is another space saver.
What Works for Us
Remember that stack of shirts mentioned above? When I have a small block of time to work on folding those shirts, these are the steps I follow.
- Open the FlipFold and lay it next to the stack of shirts.
- Take the top shirt from the stack, check it for stains (see tip below), and lay it on the FlipFold face down so that the front of the shirt will show when folded.
- If there are matching pants (e.g. pajamas), fold the pants lengthwise so that the legs overlap, and lay them in the center of the FlipFold on top of the shirt.
- Fold the left side, right side, and finally center-bottom of the FlipFold. Then fold the clothing item one more time to create a standing fold.
- Add this item to the pile of clothing for that person, and repeat the process until another task calls you away or the stack is actually empty.
When I encounter stains while folding, I treat them with stain remover (stored conveniently close on the top shelf of my closet) and throw them back into the laundry hamper for the next time. With six people in our family, it usually isn’t long before I run another load of laundry that includes that item.
Would any of these solutions work for you?
Do you have any laundry tips of your own to share?
- For the Love of Clean – a blog with tons of tips for running laundry
- Detergent index (scroll right to see all information).