Laundry Debris

So it turns out that I only know how to do things that are very very simple.  Okay, no, that isn't true at all.  It just feels true.  I can do anything if I am motivated.  I just can't get boring detail tasks done unless all the obstacles to getting them done have been cleared away.  Do not leave it up to me to make a lot of phone calls or send things in the mail or match socks.  Socks kill me. Remember when I threw all of Luke's socks away and started over?  That's kind of where I am at with kid socks right now.  I just want them out of my life.

Actually anything that has two matching pieces-- two-piece pajamas sets for kids?  No thank you.  My kids will never ever wear those two pieces together unless it is an utter coincidence because I will never keep track of them from the dirty laundry to washing to drying to folding to putting away.  One will make it through and the other one will end up under a tablecloth that doesn't get washed for three weeks or under the hamper and by the time it goes through the whole process, the other piece will be dirty again.

I actually have a word for these items:  laundry debris.  It isn't just the mismatched stuff, it's also the stuff people think they like but don't.  The last resort t-shirts and the too-stretched-out and the stuff you think you want to wear and try on but you don't really ever want to wear and take off in desperation before you leave the house, throwing it into the dirty pile when it is actually just unloved.  All of that?  Laundry debris.

So I've started doing laundry with baskets, a storage tub, and two garbage bags.  I put all of the top-tier stuff in baskets.  This stuff is easy to identify because you wear it all the time.  Then I put the underwear with the too-stretched elastic and the shirt Alice drew all over with permanent markers and the junked washed-too-many-times shrunken tops in one of the garbage bags to throw away.  I use the other garbage bag for things (even nice things!) that we can no longer use and need to be donated and I put the things that have been outgrown and need to be taken out of rotation into the storage bin.  Phew.

Basically, the only way I can solve the laundry problem is to actually solve the problem.  I only want to be washing, drying, folding, and putting away the top tier items, the stuff we really wear all the time.  Otherwise I just won't ever do it and I will have to buy my kids more new clothes just so they can go to school.

Part of my willingness to donate nice stuff comes from my luck at the Goodwill Outlet.  They sell clothes for 69 cents a pound and I have purchased Matilda Jane, Tea Collection, Mini Boden, Crewcuts, Stella McCartney for babyGap, etc., stuff there in the last few months.  So it doesn't phase me to put some nice stuff back into that rotation.  I like to imagine somebody finding it and being very happy.

Does anyone else have this very low threshold for laundry BS?  Do you have a system?  I am always up for improving mine.  Even doing it this way... I hate it.


  1. This is a great solution! Why do I think I still won't implement it? :(

  2. Love the term laundry debris. :) I have a lot of laundry debris. :(

  3. i want to just sit down and have a spot of tea with you. and maybe some scotch. in an apron. in the 50's.

  4. i give a LOT of stuff to goodwill. like a car trunk full almost every month. it just feels so good to get stuff out of the house. and I pretty much never regret any of it, because yes, I like to think that someone else is really happy about finding something great for cheap.

    i have one "laundry day" a week, usually Monday, and I work super hard at getting almost everything washed AND put away (the hard part). if I don't do that it kind of gets chaotic and out of hand.

  5. i don't mind laundry at all. is that weird? but i do have a system.
    get rid of the laundry debris. it's the only way you'll stay on top of laundry and feel good about yourself. designate a basket for the last minute changes so that they don't get mixed up with the dirty ones. i also keep a bucket near the stairs (you could do one in the hallway) for all things that make it out of the rooms and that need to go back in. i take the bucket upstairs at the end of the day and bring it back down in the morning. keeps me from feeling like i'm wrangling crap all the time.
    as far as socks go...when you do a load, if you find mismatched ones put them back in the laundry. eventually, you will end up with the match. if after you do two loads you still haven't found the match, throw them out or turn them into rags.
    wow. my ocd just threw up all over your comments.

  6. oh, one more thing...i do a load of laundry every day. it never feels like i'm overwhelmed at that point. but then again, i don't mind laundry. if you told me to wash a section of my floors everyday, i would stab myself in the eye.

  7. Ugh! If only I had advice. I do laundry as much as possible just to keep up! And the socks I FEEL you. I usually deal with them once the "normal" laundry is folded and sorted. Lately my two year old has had several non matching sock days. Oh well. She loves the "ragamuffin chic" look. She's two. :)

    Good luck!

  8. If it makes you feel any better I spent a good deal of my life sorting, washing, drying, sorting again, folding and putting away socks for my kids. I loved the Osh Kosh socks and those little beasts were all different. And guess what? My youngest decided when he was quite small that he would not wear matching socks. If you tried to get him to wear matching socks he'd feel put upon. Kids, huh?

    Now, if I were you I would get lingere bags big enough to hold all of Clark's, Alice's, and Hal's socks and give them something for each sock which makes it in their bag. An M&M, a dime, a sticker, a special privilege, whatever floats their boats. This way you can wash them IN THE BAG, dry them in the bag, and they all stay together.

    I hate Wash-me-tons monument, I really, really do. Another thing I've started is giving each child their own hamper and washing their clothes alone. No more sorting out what belongs to who. Of course, it's easy for you to tell their stuff apart at this stage, so maybe this isn't important to you.

    We are building a house and I am using this time as a fantastic opportunity to purge the nonsense from my life. Goodwill is going to see me a lot!

  9. My kids have one or two "top tier outfits" and the rest---what they wear day in and day out---is the debris. (Though since I just finished reading A Series of Unfortunate Events, I'd call it "laundry detritus.")

  10. So smart. I must do this with my laundry room.

    Also - I hate socks. I just bought A some new ones because I was too lazy to chase down all the itty bitty socks. So. Easy. To. Lose.

  11. I completely agree with you. I spent the entire night last night doing laundry "debris" and sorting through the pile of clothes...and there were def. the try ons but never wears in that pile too. I thought to myself, I have to weed this stuff out instead of wearing the good, the bad, the junk and letting a month go by before I do laundry. Thanks for sharing!

  12. my house is currently struggling with laundry debris. and i HATE IT and am determined to rid myself of it. this is a timely post. i just spent last weekend reeeeeaaaally working to eliminate my laundry debris. some of it has to get out of the house. i like your system. i will continue to de-debris using your new ruthless methods.

  13. When my oldest was little they had the PJ's with the bottoms & tops snapped together. I would snap them together when I put them in the laundry basket so they would stay together, it was the only way. As for socks, I started getting each person in the house the same exact sock per person so I don't have to match socks, I just give socks back and you have a pile of socks in your drawer. Except the girls like to wear mismatched socks and I swear that it is going to be the death of me, I truly dislike it, possibly even more than whistling in the house....which is a lot.

    Geez, I sound like an old lady, next thing you know I will be shaking my cane and fist and yelling at you to get off of my lawn.

  14. I have a system, though it's getting harder to maintain now that I have a child. And, will probably be even hard when the next on is born.

    Here's my system in case it might help. Sunday is laundry day. I start with towels and sheets, then I do all of mine and husband's separated into lights and darks. I fold everything as soon as it comes out of the dryer so wrinkles are minimal and I don't have to iron. Then it's the toddler's.

    Here is where my system breaks down. By the time I wash the toddler's, it's usually getting late in the evening and I'm tired of folding, so her stuff sometimes sits for a day or two in the basket. Since she doesn't care if her clothes are a little wrinkled, neither do I. Sometimes I just don't wash hers that day and I have laundry to fold in the middle of the week which I do not like. I'm probably going to have to add another laundry day after the next one is born.

    Diapers get washed whenever they need it.

  15. i always hated doing laundry & let it pile up for 2 weeks or more & when i finally washed it it just sat in a milehigh stack on top the dryer. i've dashed into garage in a towel seeking clean clothes more than anyone should.

    & the number of times i've had to rewash a load of laundry because it got sour just sitting in the wash? embarrassing.

    i did this for years.

    i finally got on top if things about 3 months ago. i majorly purged my husband's and my wardrobe, and our towels and dishtowels. fewer items to launder definitely means fewer items to fold.

    i plan to wash one load everyday. some days when i check there isn't enough worth washing. when there is, i put it in the wash & set my kitchen timer so i have to get up & turn it off in 45 minutes. while i'm up i might as well put the clothes in the dryer. then i set another timer for 30 minutes to force myself in that direction when the load is dried. then i put the clothes on the couch when they're dry. since they're on the couch i have no choice but to fold & move them if my husband & i want to relax in front of the tv that night.

    i think i spend about 15 minutes on laundry every other day with this method. life has gotten so much easier!!!

  16. is it just me, or is this about more than laundry. because it certainly feels applicable for me in terms of the bigger things in life. you are so right -- it is time i only deal with the top tier and the rest? send it off.

    you are lovely.

  17. I Goodwill the grown-up stuff in our house but keep the kid stuff to cycle as hand-me-downs to a few different families. The problem is that everything comes back to me, so right now the hand-me-down bins are out of control!!!!

  18. I'm kinda AR about the jammies. They have to be matched sets when folded and in the drawer that way.

    BUT (there's always a BUT)my boys have started sleeping WITHOUT a shirt (don't ask) and so they only where the bottoms and those are all that is dirty and it kinda drives me crazy.

    But the socks, well, look under the furniture because I found FIVE socks that way this week. Crazy.

    And also, Matilda Jane at Goodwill? I need to come move near you... ;-P

  19. haha! This is me all the time but especially this month. My husband left for Army training camp for 12 weeks so clean laundry has been the greatest currency around here.

    Just found your blog from Jenny Mitchell's and am an instant fan!

  20. Your Goodwill selection is impressive. I feel like I rarely bump into boutique brands when I go thrifting.


  21. Love the term laundry debris. :) I have a lot of laundry debris. :(

  22. I'm very late to the party but laundry is my favorite chore so maybe you'll find this comment and it will be useful-
    wonderful smelling laundry soap helps- I am extravagant (relative to my budget) and buy an earth-friendly one that smells very very good.
    I give everything a little shake before it goes in the dryer- things come out unwrinkled.
    I do one load every day.
    I put all the socks and underpants in mesh bags and they all stay together.
    I don't match socks-they can be matched from the drawer.
    My laundry soap is vetyver- really it is so nice that I just mailed some to my best friend on the other side of the country!