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How to Calm the Laundry Clutter Monster - by a Professional Organizer

Updated: Apr 3

laundry clutter management organization
laundry in washing machine

OK, we’ve all been there.  Piles of laundry all over, you’re not sure anymore what’s clean or what’s dirty, and you just want to scream. Plus you can’t find anything to wear.  A recipe for disaster!

Even in the smallest households, laundry can become a very scary clutter monster.  Add in more than one person, pets, kids and you can have a massive issue.

But no fear – this is fixable! 

Understanding Laundry.  Know thy enemy, right?  Doing laundry is not a one-stop deal. It’s important to acknowledge this fact, and STOP FEELING GUILTY about not doing it perfectly.

It takes seven steps to go from dirty clothes to clean clothes put away in drawers or closets:

1.       Throw dirty laundry in the hamper.

2.       Bring hamper to laundry area.

3.       Put clothes in washer and wash.

4.       Put clothes in dryer and dry.

5.       Take everything out of dryer and put into laundry basket.

6.       Fold clothes.

7.       Put clothes away.

Think about which step is getting in your way.

Organizing laundry clutter and process
Overflowing laundry creates clutter

Do people throw dirty clothes on the floor instead of a hamper? Are clean clothes sitting in either the washer or dryer without getting to the next step?

Is folding the bane of your existence? Can you assign each step to members of your household?

Step 1: Dirty Laundry Goes in the Hamper. Every person should have a hamper, preferably a three-bin sorter, in their bedroom. Whites/Underwear, Colors, and Linens.

They sort and drop their dirty clothes in the right bin. Socks go into the SockDock (amazingly simple way to keep socks together!). Sheets, bedding and towels go into the Linens bin.

You can wash all your clothes on the cold wash/cold rinse cycle on delicate, with the same detergent. If there are specific delicate items to wash, they go in a mesh bag and in the washer. The delicate cycle means that they don't get as roughed up as in the regular one.

 Step 2: Bring to the laundry room.  Bring the hamper to the laundry area on the designated laundry day. Choose one (or two if you have a larger household) laundry days per person per week - PLUS – one day a month for Linens.

Step 3: Put clothes in the washer and wash. Run dirty clothes by category -1) whites/underwear  2) everything else except 3) Linens.  

TIP: Run the wash overnight, or before you go to work in the morning, it usually takes a couple of hours.

Step 4: Put clothes in dryer and dry. Throw clothes in the dryer in the morning if you washed them overnight, and in the evening after work if you washed in the morning. Yes, it’s safe to leave clothes in the washer/dryer overnight. Just take them out of the dryer within a day, otherwise they’ll get super wrinkled.

Laundry basket with clean clothes to organize
Laundry basket

Step 5: Take everything out of dryer and put into laundry basket. A seemingly easy task, right?  But if this doesn’t happen, it clogs up the whole system.

TIP:  Even young kids can do this one, make it one of their chores.

Sort while you go. As you are folding, pull out anything that you don’t love, is ripped or stained, or that doesn’t fit. Have a give-away bag handy for donations, load it up, and put it either by your front door or right into your car.  You want this to leave your home as soon as possible!

Step 6: Fold clothes. This is where a lot of folks get tripped up.

Really, folding can be fun, kind of like a mediation. There are great YouTube videos that show you how to fold just about anything.

Organize clothes in drawers by file folding after laundry
Organize clothes by file folding

The file folding method is the best, in my opinion. Easy to do, and it helps maintain order in your drawers and closets, which is important for long-term time management. Turn on Netflix or your favorite show and get to work – that makes it more fun!

Remember – perfection is the enemy of the good!  If you have the time to perfectly fold everything, then you’re a hero!  For the rest of us muggles, just getting clothes into a semblance of folded does the trick and accomplishes your goals.

Step 7: Put away. Ideally, when you fold clothes you put them in a basket for each person in the house. If you’re the one in charge, text them an alert on their phone to pick up their hamper.

If everything is file folded, it’s a breeze to put things away. You just slot the piece in and it doesn’t mess up the whole drawer.  You can get a lot of satisfaction looking at a drawer or closet where you see everything that you have to wear.  Makes getting dressed in the morning a whole lot less stressful, too!

Other Ideas:

Linens. For linens like sheets and towels, you may want to have a weekend night/morning where everyone chips in. If you have at least two sets of sheets and four sets of towels, you can get away with doing this once a month.

Nasty, stinky clothes. For sweaty sports and workout things, take them off as soon as you get home and hang them either on a rack or a shower door, so they don’t attract bugs or mold.  For serious stains, you may have to add another step for stain treatment,

Laundry Triage. If you have bags and bags of clothes that need to be dealt with, consider a Laundry Triage.

Invite a friend over and run the washing machine and dryer non-stop, folding as things get dried. (Personally, I think a glass of wine or cup of coffee helps this whole process…).

If you are just out of time, or don’t want to spend precious free time doing laundry, use a wash and fold service, at least at the beginning to get a handle on the volume.

Rinse has locations across the country, or just Google “wash and fold service” to find a place near you. Cry once at the price, and then enjoy being completely up to date on this onerous chore!


NO JUDGEMENT, NO GUILT! Please try and let go of the negative self -talk like, “I must be lazy,” or “I’m a terrible person because I can’t keep up with laundry.”

You’re not! You’re busy and prioritize things like job excellence, spending time with friends and family, or exercising over doing laundry.  That’s ok!

Use this system to stay on top of things – and remember,

plan a reward for each step. You deserve it!

Organized laundry room decluttered
Organized laundry room




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