Friday, May 15, 2015

Laundry Makeover Series - Part Two: Lessen the Load

If I could have one super power, I would just say the word and all the dirty clothes and dirty towels and dirty bed sheets would be cleaned and folded and put away in an instant. With many other chores I can set myself up for success the whole way through. For example, when the dishwasher is efficiently loaded, putting clean plates and cups away takes only a few minutes. If you regularly clean up small messes in the bathroom, a deep cleaning takes less time. There is nothing you can do to make folding laundry any easier, because no matter what you do, those clothes are going to get all tossed around and mixed up in the dryer. It also takes time to wait for the washer and the dryer to do their thing, leaving plenty of opportunity to lose your groove by getting distracted by something else, and before you know it, it is Thursday and you have been air-fluffing the clothes in the dryer since Monday. And there is still a load in the washer that is starting to smell bad. The line-up of laundry is never ending and the piles grow so fast. There are only two of us right now and soon there will be three – something must be done to streamline the process, because laundry is a chore that is here to stay. 

Part Two: Lessen the Load

I have the best husband in the whole world. I am on a mission to streamline our laundry process and he is being completely supportive. Part of our laundry problem is that we each have enough clothes to last us a LONG TIME before truly needing to wash something, which can result in days of running load after load and never feeling caught up. It gets frustrating. When I made-over the laundry room (with the help of my amazing Mama), I replaced our two large hampers in the bedroom with one small one to force us to bring the dirty clothes downstairs more frequently, and so far it is actually helping. I thought a good Step Two in the process would be to lessen the load by whittling down our wardrobes. The fewer clothes you have, the smaller your largest laundry mess can be. At work I have learned that most Americans wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time, so I thought we should narrow down our choices so that what we have is what we regularly wear. Obviously, special occasions call for pieces that are only worn once in a while, but that is okay. Overall, I want us to really like the clothes that we have, to choose quality over quantity, and to focus on what we need rather than keeping too many clothes simply because they aren’t threadbare.

I don't know if this really looks that bad, but I felt like my closet was feeling a little bit stuffed. And I had to leave several pairs of shoes on the floor, which I did not like.

Having made up my mind, I approached Drew and told him that for one of our Monday date nights I had been planning a sort of working, organizational date and asked if he would be interested in a bit of a challenge. “We’re throwing stuff away, aren’t we?” he asked. “Nope!” I reassured him, and being the wonderful man that he is, he agreed to be surprised by my plan for our date.

Let me lay this out for you, all teacher-like in lesson-plan style:

To simplify our wardrobe to assist in streamlining our laundry process.
To get organized and so that we truly appreciate what we do have. Less is more!

We will each evaluate and trim down our wardrobes by trying to limit ourselves to the following number of items. Some of the numbers are somewhat unrealistic, but that is the point; this is supposed to make you think about what you really like and need in your closet and dresser. We can adjust the numbers as needed.

5 nice t-shirts,
5 fun t-shirts (sports team related shirts and jerseys do not count towards this category)
5 grungy work-on-the-car shirts
5 under shirts
7 dress shirts
5 sweaters
5 jeans/other pants
4 shorts
4 dress pants
2 suits
4 pj pants
4 pj shirts
Evaluate and pare down undergarments, socks, ties, and shoes.
When finished, add any 10 additional articles of clothing.

Drew's piles-in-progress of clothes to keep.

(does not include maternity clothes)
5 t-shirts
5 fun t-shirts (sports team related shirts and jerseys do not count towards this category)
7 dress shirts
7 dresses
5 skirts
5 sweaters
5 cardigans
4 jeans/other pants
4 shorts
4 dress pants
2 pj pants
2 pj shorts
4 pj shirts
3 work out shorts
3 work out shirts
20 shoes
Evaluate and pare down undergarments, socks, dress socks, scarves, and purses.
When finished, add any 10 additional articles of clothing.

Angie's piles to keep (plus a couple of Drew's).

Put all extra clothing into bags/boxes/hampers and store in another room.

Clothes to donate!

Angie's clothes to store.

Drew's clothes to store.
In a month or two we will revisit our existing wardrobes and reflect upon the decisions we made. We will also look at the clothes we put away in the other room to determine what to keep and what to donate.

It was fun being able to help and support each other in this process. Although a few of the categories were hard for Drew to limit, I don’t think my numbers were really that far off in most cases. He ended up keeping many more than 7 dress shirts, but he wears them to work and church, and since he did choose to store several of them, that was fine. For me, I ended up keeping most of my dresses and skirts, but I did take the time to think about which ones I haven’t worn in a while and I put a few in the storage hamper. I also prematurely stored away my tank tops, and I ended up needing to grab a couple of them from my hamper. Also, 20 shoes was a little too low a number for me. I kept more like 25 pairs, I think. This is impressive, though, because a few months ago I think I had close to 40 pairs of shoes and since then I had already gotten rid of eight pairs. My shoes now fit much better in my hanging shoe organizers and I don't feel guilty when I see things that I rarely wear.

No doubled-up shoes! And clothes that were previously in piles on shelves now fit in my hanging organizer. Much better!

We put an impressive amount of clothing into our storage hampers. Between the two hampers and the bag of items to donate, I would estimate we removed four washing machines full of laundry from our potential load! Drew and I were each able to spread out our clothes more in our dressers and clothes aren’t trying to bust out each time a drawer is opened. I am looking forward to seeing how this experiment goes over the next few weeks!

This probably doesn't look much different than the "before" picture, but I promise, this is a great improvement. Cleaning up my closet now means that someday when I get to totally re-do it, the hardest part will already be done.
Clutter gone from the hanger bars and, most importantly, from the floor!
There is plenty of space for the items I chose to keep! Even though I could fit more in there, I don't want to.
Neat drawers make me happy.  :)
My clothes are nicely grouped by season and purpose. One thing that helped reduce clutter was getting bulky coats and jackets out of there.

Spring cleaning season is here - what are you waiting for?