Even if your laundry room is organized, you've got another part of laundry organization to consider -- how to collect the dirty clothes from all around your home and return them to their place once they're clean.
That's what we'll be tackling in this week's challenge.
(If you missed last week's challenge about organizing the laundry room go ahead and read it too.)
The reason I separated this part of the challenge out into its own week is that I believe having a system in place for collecting dirty clothes and returning clean ones is THE MOST IMPORTANT step you can take to keeping your washing under control.
Here are the steps to take this week:
Are you new here? The Laundry Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
The first step of the Laundry Organization Challenge is to strategically place laundry collection baskets, sorters, hampers and/or bags around your home in places where they'll actually be used to collect dirty clothes.
This step may not seem that important until you consider that chances are, if you've got trouble with getting dirty clothes into the laundry cycle to get washed, dried and folded, you've got a collection problem on the front end of the process.
If you have not given much thought to where your baskets or other collection containers are located, but instead stuck them where they'd fit, or where you've always had them, this is the time to decide if you made good choices for their location, or not.
Prime locations to place collection baskets include:
Consider that for every basket, bag, sorter or hamper you put into place you've got to have a system for grabbing these clothes periodically (at least weekly) to wash. Therefore, the fewer the number of baskets you've got to keep track of the easier this task can be.
On the other hand, if you don't have collection baskets where actually necessary in your home you'll just end up picking dirty clothes up off the floor, as they mix with clean ones, getting everything confused. In addition, you're less likely to regularly wash everything that should get washed since you'll miss things.
Basically what I'm saying is don't skimp on placing enough baskets around your home, but carefully make sure you'll remember to deal with each one at least once per week if you put it there.
I've already hinted at Step 2 of the Laundry Organization Challenge above, which is to get your system in place for collecting the dirty clothes.
Now that you've strategized where in your home to place your baskets, place them there and begin training your family to put their dirty clothes into them and not on the floor, or wherever else you find them later.
In addition, consider the fact that not all clothes, bedding, towels, dish cloths, etc., can be washed together.
Therefore, to the extent that you sort your laundry (and with a good laundry organization system in place this shouldn't be too hard to do) you may want to think about getting several baskets, bags, hampers, or my personal favorite, a laundry sorter, placed next to each other in those locations, to do two steps at once -- collect and sort. That's my favorite kind of multitasking!
I personally have a triple laundry sorter of the exact variety shown above, to the right, in my bedroom closet and all my kids place their clothes in it each night as part of the bedtime routine.
Even my youngest has been able to sort her clothes, roughly, by color, since she was about two years old, so trust me, you can train your family members to save you this step if you put in a bit of effort!
If you don't have room for multiple bags and baskets in each location where you have a collection basket, don't worry. Just make sure you've got a system in place for sorting these clothes from the baskets before washing them somewhere in your house.
For example, a good system in that instance would be to have three or four stackable laundry baskets placed in your laundry room, or to have a piece of furniture, such as the tilt out hamper seen above on the left which can be used to sort and hold laundry in the room while its waiting to be washed, and also doubles as a narrow folding table on top.
The third step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to put a system in place for returning the clean clothes from your laundry room to the rooms where the clean clothes are held (most likely individual bedrooms).
I've found the best way to do this is to have a rotating set of empty laundry baskets which can be used to carry clothes to the right location in your home, and then returned back to the laundry room afterward.
Here again, the main thing is not really the type of baskets or other method chosen to do this task. Instead, the important thing is the routine of doing this consistently, as laundry is finished, so clean clothes don't pile up in the laundry room causing a back up or confusion about what is clean versus dirty.
There is an almost unimaginable variety of laundry organizers and storage solutions you can choose from when getting your laundry organized and under control. What works best for you really just depends on the layout of your home, your laundry and physical needs, and what you find attractive and useful.
If space is an issue for you, folding and pop up hampers, such as the ones shown below, can be very helpful. Further, consider using hanging space in your closet, or pull out stacking baskets to use vertical space for more laundry storage.
Further, if you would like to sort at the same time you collect dirty clothes divider hampers and laundry sorters, as well as thin tall laundry baskets designed to hook together to form a sorting system, can all be helpful.
If you want to collect laundry in an area of your home where having a big laundry basket may be inappropriate a tilt out laudry hamper (such as the one shown above), or pull out baskets hidden behind cabinets can be the way to go. This way you can still have the functionality of laundry collection, but camoflauged from view.
Finally, if your laundry room is on the same level of your home as where you're collecting the dirty clothes, and you don't want to pick up heavy baskets or bags of clothes, rolling baskets, carts and sorters can be very helpful for you (plus save your back).
The final step in the Laundry Organization Challenge is to create a laundry schedule or routine that you can stick with. That can mean doing a load or two every day, or just doing laundry once or twice a week, consistently.
The key is consistency, and a plan to make sure you wash all the types of things you need to wash each week to make sure your family stays clean and comfortable most of the time.
If you'd like more information about laundry scheduling, check out my article on creating a laundry routine, which includes four questions to ask yourself when creating your schedule, plus a free printable for your household notebook.
I would love to know how this week's Laundry Organization Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this function in your home in the comments below.
I also would love to see before and after pictures of how you collect dirty and clean laundry in your home, once you've completed the challenge. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
In addition, you can see a full list of laundry and cleaning clutter to get rid of here, including what I suggest as part of the daily decluttering missions related to this area of your home.
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from the Laundry Organization Challenge this week. However, I know some of you love to know what's coming next, so I'll tell you. Next week we'll organize our purses, handbags and wallets.
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