Put Your Laundry on Birth Control: 5 Pile Stopping Tips

Julie Anderson

woman's legs in dryer
Help! Help!
Do you have a laundry problem? Are you a slob, or just overwhelmed? Do you run out of clean clothes and send your kids to school wearing their swimsuits instead of underwear, or does everyone dig through piles or baskets of clean clothes and mismatched socks every morning before the bus comes or the big meeting at work?

I've been struggling with laundry pile-ups for years. The third kid put me over the edge, but it's always been a slippery slope. Here are a few tips and tricks that might help you:

1. Reduce the inventory: Most likely, you and your children have more clothes than you actually need or can possibly wear, so the clean, rejected outfits end up on the floor for a while until mandatory room cleaning dictates they'll be thrown in with all the actual dirty laundry. And then they don't get put away properly, because you think you should sort through them, and they end up in a pile or a basket again. Get rid of them! Bag ‘em up, stick ‘em in the car right this second, and drive ‘em out to your local charity or resale shop when you're in the neighborhood.

2. Recruit your troops with cuteness: Train your family (and yourself) to put dirty clothes in laundry baskets and clean clothes in closets. You can help the babies, but everyone else, even young kids and husbands, are more capable than you think. My 14-year-old does her own laundry, because she cares about her daily wardrobe choices more than I do. It works for me. A fun, new laundry basket like these Hello Kitty pop ups for the kids (my 16-year-old daughter is still a big fan!) or these chic, natural bamboo laundry hampers for you are also good incentives.

3. Develop good habits and attitudes: Just do the laundry! And do it the same way every time. It won't go away because you ignore it. Trust me on this, I've tried. If you know you have two loads to do every day, pick the times that work best for you and stick to them. Put in a load before work, another load after work, and put the clothes away before bed. Or, if you stay home with kids or work at home, do a load before each meal (or snack if you have several loads!) and put them away before dinner. You can do all the loads on the weekend if you must, but beware; this method can kill a perfectly good weekend.

4. Organize the chaos: Have cute hampers and practical sorters in each bedroom, and put each person who lives in that room in charge of filling their basket with their dirty clothes and putting their clean clothes back into their closets. Remind them that if you've agreed to wash, dry, fold, and sort into stacks, the one minute it takes them to put their clothes away is a small price to pay for the service.

5. Ask for help, or pay someone to help you: There is nothing wrong with this option. You aren't a bad person if your laundry gets out of control sometimes. I know this because I'm not either! I'm also not too proud to let my mom come help me get caught up every few months, even when she says, "I don't understand why you have such a hard time with this." I don't understand it either. And if you can afford a laundress, hire one! Hey, even Martha Stewart pays someone to do her laundry, and we know she can do it if she wants to. She obviously has better things to do.

Helpful Hint: If you're feeling totally overwhelmed by a mountain of laundry and you don't know where to start, check out The Fly Lady's tips and tricks on the laundry quandary. She's funny, forgiving, and comes in handy when you need a refresher course in laundry motivation.   

Image via VanesaMae/Flickr

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