This Next Iteration of Handling Laundry is Brought to You in Part by Dr. Peter Venkman

Let’s begin with what the Murricane brings to the table:

I’ll find a better version later, for now let’s go over what I have brought to the table:

Previous Laundry Iterations

1 – Underwear-Based Scheduling

Everyone knows about waiting until you run out of and need clean underwear to do a load of laundry.

What I determined was the frequency with which I wanted to get laundry done, and then limited my underwear supply in such a way as to encourage a regular laundry schedule:

  • laundry every twelve days,
  • undergarments allotted a specific number of days of wear each to help regulate shower schedule and or reduce over-washing,
  • number of days in shower intervals divided into designated days for laundry intervals,
  • plus one (so you have clean undergarments on laundry day).

With that plus one (which will eventually be applied to each type of garment in my wardrobe as an inventory limit with one planned exception), you have a crossover “alarm” system in place. You immediately see that you are putting on the last available underwear and know — if it wasn’t on your calendar already — that it’s time to do a load of laundry.

2 – Clothing Rotation & Inventory

As mentioned above, I am working to reduce the number of items in my wardrobe (recovering hoarder over here), which means I have to determine what clothes I really want to keep and what I can live without.

The clothes I definitely want to keep are clothes I wear again and again. I use a sort of ribbon method to “force” myself to wear things I don’t typically wear as often until I decide I just don’t want the item anymore.

I also keep a spreadsheet inventory of all my clothing to track wear-and-tear, how long I’ve had something, whether it needs replacing or will just go bye-bye, etc. Just making the spreadsheet helped me to get from 100 down to 80 items as I was building the thing, and I have a clear and steady trajectory established to get me down to about 52 items (not including accessories).

All of which is to ensure that if there ever comes a time when I must run every article of clothing I own through the wash, it will not be a completely unreasonable task.

3 – Establishing Multi-Wear Items

This is not to be confused with multi-use. These are the items that are worn multiple times between washings because they pretty much go with everything because they’re classics/basics/necessities/foundational:

  • pants
  • skirts
  • socks
  • camisoles/tanks
  • sweaters
  • accessories/etc.

The “problem” with these items is tracking how many times you’ve worn them so as to avoid over-wear and know what foundational pieces you need more or less of beyond the inventory limit established to maintain one’s laundry schedule.

There are multiple, specific places where I find myself putting things so that I can wear them again without “contaminating” clean(-er) clothes by putting them away as I would on laundry day. This is also to allow these items to air out a little rather than pick up any additional odor or what-not from items designated as being dirty(-er).

This is where Venkman’s “many subtle levels” between clean and dirty comes into play, except that my designated areas (and the solution to their current untidy appearance) is given the same limit as my wardrobe inventory.

Introducing a Multi-Hamper System

I should note here, that I don’t think multi-compartment laundry-sorting hampers are good for this. Each hamper — in my opinion — should have a designated spot to help one remember where a multi-wear item is headed next.

When they’re all together, and identical, you run the risk of confusing what goes where when you’re tired because the “conjoined” hampers would all stem from an identical habit groove in the brain/muscle memory situation.

The number of hampers should be one less than your general wardrobe inventory limit.

So for me that’s three hampers, that aren’t identical, in separate places.

  1. first time wearing a thing it comes out of your wardrobe and goes into whichever hamper you feel best fits its level of cleanliness,
  2. second time wearing a thing it comes out of the first or second hamper and then
    1. from the the first hamper it goes to the second or third depending on which best fits its cleanliness level, or
    2. from the second hamper it goes straight to the third to await laundry day.
  3. third time wearing an item must result in that item going into the third hamper to await laundry day.

It’s a good idea to lay out an article of clothing over the top/side of its next-designated hamper overnight to give it a chance to air out a little. The next morning you can refold the garment before putting it into the first or second hamper (if using a three-hamper system) to avoid further wrinkling before you next wear it.

The Multi-Ribbon System

For items that are hung rather than folded. Here you take your designated hamper number, subtract one, and tie that many “ribbons” along the closet bar. Moving items from the now Section Zero (where newly cleaned clothes go) to the next appropriate section (matching closet sections to all but the final hamper of your own setup) until they find there is no section but that hamper of items awaiting laundry day.

You’re welcome.

Also published on Medium.