Laundry: When You’re Almost Done

photo by Multiple fragments of tissue

Do you procrastinate folding and putting clean clothes away?

It usually comes down to two reasons:

1.  It’s a pain.
2.  You don’t feel like it.

By the time you have gathered, sorted, pretreated, washed, and dried your laundry, you really just want to quit.

The down side is if you don’t put your clothes away, they’ll just sit there getting wrinkly and ultimately put on the floor, so you’re not sure what’s clean or dirty anymore. Then you end up washing them all over again!

Be kind to yourself, and finish the job. Put away each load as it comes off the clothesline or from the dryer. Don’t wait until there is a mountain of it. It only takes a few minutes.

You won’t have to see stacks of clothes on the dryer, the couch, the floor, the counter, the basket, or the chair.

Is it hard to put your clothes away?

It could be a sign that you have too many clothes for the storage space. It’s not pleasant to cram clothes in a drawer or to search for an extra hanger when there isn’t one. If all of your clean clothes don’t easily fit in the closet or the dresser drawers, see if you can make some changes.

Do a closet cleanout and give away some clothes, especially if you’ve recently bought some new ones. Store off-season clothes somewhere else to free up more space and let you easily see the clothes you can wear.

A few extra tips:

  • You don’t need to fold your underwear unless you just want to.
  • Socks can be washed in a bag. If you have a hard time identifying to whom they belong, write the person’s initial on the toe with a permanent marker.
  • Most of our clothes go on hangers in the closet. I think it’s easier, and I like it better than trying to get a folded t-shirt off the bottom of the stack in a drawer.
  • Shirts don’t need as much ironing when they’re hung up immediately. I also try to think about clothing care when I shop for clothes, and try to choose things that won’t need to be ironed.

If you need ideas to improve your laundry routine, be sure to check out the comments from the post Avoiding the Laundry Pileup.

What do you think — does having too many clothes make it harder to put laundry away? What is your experience?
About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. ugh – laundry is my sticking point. It really all falls to pieces when I get to the putting it away part! Great tips!

  2. I agree and thanks for the linkage! Before back to school shopping, I had my kids go through their closets. They were to purge anything they knew they were never going to wear again. I did the same. When out shopping, I told them that they had to LOVE what we were buying. I didn’t want to buy anything that was just going to sit in their closet. Long story short…I’d rather clean out my closet. Now, my husband is another story, he’s a keeper. My goal for him is to purge 5 items at a time. It’s a start!

  3. Giggle. I’m just the opposite. I prefer a neat stack to hanging clothes. I’ve done what I can to replace the closet space wasting hanging rods with shelves.

    Something I found that helps get stuff put away: If I don’t have the laundry put away when the family gets home – I ask them to help put away their things. Gets done quickly.

    This fall I’m experimenting with a laundry day (not many other chores that day), instead of doing a load each day. I get to have a bit more down time that day if I have my few other chores done. Have had fewer loads sitting in the dryer hoping I’d make time to come get them. So far so good.

  4. Putting away the laundry is the hardest part for me. It comes down to being lazy. You are so right – it only does take a few minutes.

    I need to clean out my husband’s drawers – they seem like they are always full.

  5. yes, i hate putting away the laundry. i don’t even mind folding it. just something about traipsing around and putting everything away. and i’m even good about not having too many clothes/overstuffed dressers! right now i have two laundry baskets full of freshly folded clothes. i’m going to make myself put them away before i start another load this morning.

  6. Laundry – not a fun job!

    I do less of it than everyone else in my family – I guess I’m lucky.

    My wife really has our kids trained well. They can pretty much do the laundry themselves. Usually she assigns tasks – someone to put it into the dryer. Someone to bring it up and fold it. And when a couple of people do, it really doesn’t take too long.

    Socks are the ones I hate when I help fold. I don’t know whose socks are whose (except for mine). With five people in the house, there’s just no way I can keep track.

  7. A laundry day would never work for me. The only thing that has saved me with the laundry is a load a day habit. The first thing I do every morning is gather the laundry and start a load. When I get to it, I throw it in the dryer. At the end of the day or when I think about it I take the clothes out of the dryer and put them away. If I do this EVERY SINGLE day, I don’t have either a dirty clothing pile or a clean one. And one load isn’t really very much at all. I used to excuse my laundry disaster by joking that by the time a family of 4 gets undressed, uses cloth napkins, uses dish towels, and uses towels for a bath I had a load of laundry. So very true, so I just do that load of laundry. I do still back up on special occaisions: coming home from vacations, camp homecoming, or when I’m sick. Then I’m forced to do TWO loads of laundry a day. I’ve also simplified EVERYTHING by simply not having any whites at all. I start with gray socks so I don’t have to worry about them turning gray:)

  8. Lance – absolutely, I love it when the family pitches in to help get everything done.

    Avlor – there’s no reason to apologize, your comments are always welcome!

  9. This follow up post is so timely for me – my reverse WFMW post yesterday was about suggestions for getting clothes put away so I can liberate my dining room table! {blushes} For me the washing and the folding is no problem, and even putting away my clothes is not a chore, but the sticking point for me was my daughter’s clothes…she’s not quite old enough to help me put her clothes away, and most of the times when I want to do this she’s napping so I don’t want to go into her room!

    I totally agree it helps me to periodically purge clothing that is worn, stained, outdated, etc in order to liberate space. Moving out of season clothing is another key for me, as we have limited storage space in our bedroom.

    Great post, as usual ;)

  10. Yes, my closets and drawers have been overstuffed. Finally, I took everything out and sorted it into piles:
    1) Things I love and wear
    2) Other things I wear
    3) Other things I love
    a) They are out of season
    b) I never have the right occasion to wear them
    c) They don’t go with anything I have
    d) They don’t fit.

    Then I start putting clothes back (in the order shown above) until I run out of room. The rest gets donated or put in the garage in labeled boxes. Now, when I get a new pair of pants or something, I’ll run out into the garage and see if I have anything in there that goes with it.

    This plan works best if all your laundry is clean when you do it or if you leave extra room for things that are currently in the laundry basket but that will often be in the drawer or closet. Obvious? Yes, but I had to learn the hard way.

    It’s much, much more pleasant to put everything away now.

    It also helps to have things organized so you know where to put things and know where to find them later. If you don’t have quite the right sized drawers, you may have to do something odd. For example, I have black, grey and red socks in one drawer and all other colors in another drawer.

  11. Another way to cut down on folding laundry – don’t turn socks right-side-out! Pair them and give them back the way you got them. If the recipient doesn’t like it, kindly inform him or her that if they want their socks right-side-out, they should put them in the hamper that way. Think of it as crowd-sourcing your sock folding. :)

  12. Debbie – Wow! Thanks for explaining your system to clean out your clothes. It sounds so easy that way.

    LivSimple – I do that too. I used to turn Doug’s socks inside out, but when I mentioned it to him, he didn’t care so now I don’t worry about it.

  13. One tactic I use to motivate myself toward the towering pile of clothing is to use the time to listen to music or a podcast. Folding clothes doesn’t take a lot of concentration, so you can get sucked into a news show or sing along to an album you haven’t listened to in a while. I try (I emphasize try – chores are still chores, after all) to think of the listening aspect as a treat.


  14. I fold and/or hang clean laundry as I take it out of the dryer. I started doing this because I got sick of wrinkles in everything which lead to unnecessary ironing. I keep an empty basket on the dryer and the clean folded items are placed in it as soon as they’re dry. I also have a hanging rack in my laundry rooms for hanging items and there are always empty hangars available. When it’s time to unload the laundry basket, I take it to my bedroom and sort it into piles for each family member, take it to their room and they put it away. I’ve done it this way since I’ve been married. Even when the girls were little they’d come and get a small stack of their clean clothes and take to their room to put away. At those young ages, they took pride in their work. Not so much the case anymore but I guess that’s just the way it is with teenagers.

  15. The less clothes the better is what I think. Unfortunately, my actions say the total opposite! Holding on to stuff you don’t wear makes it impossible to find the stuff you do want to wear. I need to remember that! I’ve been much better this year about purging the excess, but still not there yet.

    I’m working on getting all the basics that I need. Then there will be some major purging going on again.

  16. I don’t mind the washing and the folding.. Its the putting it away that gets me every time!! In fact, my husband teases me that I have a phobia about it! LOL!!!

  17. Thank you so much for this reminder about putting laundry away. It can become a real hassle for me if I don’t do it straight away and keep on top of my laundry.

    I have a similar problem as Steph with napping children and not wanting to disturb them. I actually sit the basket of their folded laundry at their door and when they wake up I take it in with me and put it away. I just chat while they stay in their cot. (I’ve done this since they were little so they’re patient with me.)

    I am really enjoying reading your blog – you have a knack of inspiring me to do laundry! LOL. Thank you!

  18. LOL! I also truly hate dragging the laundry out of the dryer, hanging it or folding it, and hauling it back to the closets and drawers.

    Then sometimes I think, “Ohhhh you poor put-upon little critter!” And remember helping my mother lift hot soapy clothes out of a big tub, run them through a wringer (each time she would warn me not to get my fingers near the wringer rollers!) into a big cement tub of cold water, slosh them up and down — up to our elbows in laundry water! — then wring them out by hand, carry them outside in a big basket, and hang everything up on clothesline. I remember running outside to grab all the clothes off the line every time a dust-storm or rain threatened. And I remember my mother ironing EVERYTHING, even the sheets. And my father’s heavy khakis.

    Gosh, life’s rough, ain’t it! :-D

  19. I agree laundry is one chore that can seem consuming because it never ends. In order to be sure the clothes get folded (my pit fall) I dump the clean clothes out of the basket on our bed. I am then forced to fold them before we go to bed that night. As for socks… Forget folding them together, I just dump them in the drawer! The wearer can match a pair just as easily as you can. It saves a ton of time.

  20. cheryl ann says:

    GREAT TIPS! You must have seen my laundry room! Thanks! I’ll try your tips and see if I can make a dent on the pile!

  21. Yep! I’m so over laundry by the time it’s done that I just don’t care. I hadn’t thought about the problem being too many clothes, but that’s probably a big reason why it’s such a pain.

    It would so much easier if I didn’t have to cram t-shirts into tiny spaces. Thanks for the light bulb moment! I still won’t love laundry, but I can be more inclined to get it done now that I know why I’m procrastinating.

    Sara at On Simplicity’s last blog post..Four Ways to Purge Your Closet

  22. My oldest is 6, and she is already trained in how to fold her own clothes… So, that’s what I have her do. When my laundry is done, I usually bring it all into our bedroom and dump it onto the bed to sort first. Once I have all her clothes sorted, I dump it all back into the basket and leave it on her bed for when she gets home from school.

    Mel´s last blog post..Decluttering

  23. The only laundry basket I have ever owned was used only to transport my clothes back and forth to the laundry room in the basement of my apartment. My theory is if you fold and put away clothes by the load you will avoid that overwhelmiing feeling that keeps most folks from doing it. It also helps to keep things from getting wrinkled and having to iron or re-wash. I tell people I am efficient due to laziness. Why do things twice or give yourself extra work. Don’t get too much arguement and it changes alot of peoples mindset. Try it.

  24. Small Notebook, I could not agree with you more about putting away your clean clothes. It really is a must-do step in finishing the cycle of laundry.

    I have found that when laundry is not getting put away by my children, and it is not the culprit of too much clothes clutter, that the problem is that I have gotten lax in supervising them.

    Children can slip back into old habits easily (can’t we all), so supervision and positive encouragement are key in keeping the clothes put away. Children as young as 2 (with help) can put away clean clothes, assuming their drawers and closets are not stuffed so full they can’t fit them in.

    Taylor at Household-Management-101´s last blog post..Put Away Clothes To Complete The Laundry Cycle

  25. i am so loving your ideas, thank you so much. my family is big, FIVE KIDS and laundry is a huge chore. i don’t have time to put away clothes and when i assign the chore to kids the drawers are a mess and everything ends up folded on the floor and i have to wash it again. so, i have shelves assigned to each child in the laundry room, i fold from the dryer(i have 2 washers 2 dryers) and put clothes on shelves. it saves me time, loads of laundry and the kids rooms stay cleaner than before.

    • Oh, I’m glad to hear that works for you. I am pregnant with my fifth and we are having a new laundry room built to house two washers and shelves! It takes forever to sort and carry little piles from room to room with a toddler chasing me, and of course the little ones are napping sometimes so then their stuff gets left out. I am hoping having it all in one room will make life simpler. In their bedrooms my kids each have a 7 day clothes sorter shelf too so they will be able to come into the laundry room, pick their stuff for the week, and then leave it alone until the next week.
      Cori´s last post…Spring 2011 photo update!

  26. A mother I once nannied for had 3 children all very close in age. She used to mark the clothing on the tag (or the toe of the sock etc), 1 mark for the eldest child, 2 marks for the next child and 3 marks for the youngest. As an item was passed down from one child to the next, another mark was added so that she could keep track of which pile to put it in. So simple. And I could help her with the folding when I was working without having to look at the sizes or trying to remember which child I had seen wearing a certain top. I don’t use this method, I only have 2 kids (boy and girl… easy to sort), but it sure made her laundry easier!