How to Organize Your Laundry
Our pro tips will help you make the most of your wash and ensure all of your items have a place in your home.
Organizing laundry is a household necessity. One way or another, the dirty clothes that pile up in your hamper need to make their way to the washing machine. But what are the best steps to take along the way to ensure that your clothes stay fresh for future use? It all comes down to sorting your laundry before and after you wash it. According to our founder, certain items don't even need to be stored. In an episode of The Martha Stewart Show, Martha said that if you're trying to organize laundry like fitted sheets, you can simply wash, dry, and put them right back on the bed. But as for the rest of your wares, organizing your laundry is essential in terms of both maintaining a neat home and extending the life of your pieces.
Sort Before Washing
To better organize your clothes, you can set up separate laundry baskets to keep everything in order before cleaning. "Laundry should always be sorted by color, fabric, and construction," Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd, cofounders of The Laundress, say. "We recommend separating into groups of whites, darks, and colors, and items that must be hand-washed or washed with a fabric-specific detergent and water temperature—like silk, wool, cashmere, or activewear—to avoid mixing them in with your everyday laundry." The benefit of this pre-wash work? You'll save time and energy by sorting your laundry as it goes into the hamper instead of as you're getting ready to wash. Mindy Godding, National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) board member, and CPO and owner of Abundance Organizing, LLC, says you can even put hampers in different areas of your home: "Linens and towels get their own hamper. Delicates get a hamper. Separate kitchen linens, too. In fact, if you have the space, put a small hamper in the kitchen! It's a life-changer."
Store Everything in the Right Place
When it comes time to pack your thick sweaters away during the summertime, or vice versa with thin garments during the chillier seasons, you should store them in cool, dry areas. Whiting notes that this keeps your fabrics in tip-top condition by helping them avoid mold buildup, moths, fading, or deterioration. Another professional tip? Make sure all items are freshly washed and not worn before storing, Boyd says. "This will prevent perfume, body products, body oils, food, and dirt from resurfacing later—they can be difficult to remove the longer they sit. Also, make sure not to starch your items before storing. All of the above can attract bugs."
The best rule of thumb is to pack away your prized pieces—especially sweaters—in a breathable format. Keep clothes and textiles folded in an airy storage container or in a cotton-or linen-based bag that zips to prevent clothes from yellowing and collecting dust. Try something like The Laundress Canvas Large Zip Storage Bag ($45, thelaundress.com) for items like sweaters and blankets.
Know How to Properly Hang and Fold
It goes without saying that keeping clothes in great condition is high on everyone's list. You can organize clothes by hanging or folding them correctly to make this a reality. But keep in mind that some laundry can warp if not tended to the right way. "Once clean, bulky items like sweaters might stretch out and become misshapen on a hanger," Godding says. "I recommend draping a folded sweater over the bar of a pants hanger [to avoid this issue]."
If you're looking for an alternative to hanging your clothes, Godding has a go-to tip. "For items that must be folded, I recommend leaving the first folded item of each classification—towel, T-shirt, jeans—on the folded surface and then folding other items of the same classification on top of it in order to easily match folded dimensions," she says. The folding technique you use can also help keep laundry organized. "When placing folded items inside a drawer, I recommend using [the] 'file fold' technique, which is arranging a stack front to back inside the drawer so that the folded edge of all items can be viewed from the top," adds Godding.