Avoid Laundry Overwhelm

As a residential professional organizer, I visit lots of homes. One household system that is quick to fall apart and overwhelm a person is LAUNDRY. I see on a weekly basis how the “putting away” is where the system breaks down. 

Most of us are pretty good starting the laundry process.
• There is an obvious and inevitable external motivation to wash clothes when one runs out of clean socks or underwear.
• Many people are also decent at shifting the wet clothes over to the dryer. The widespread access to timers on our phones has made this step particularly easy for even the “follow-through-challenged.

I see “laundry overwhelm” during the next steps in the system:
  1. clean but not yet folded clothes that get mixed with dirty clothes or buried under other stuff
  2. folded clothes in baskets — if not returned to drawers or closets they clog rooms
    — this also holds laundry baskets “hostage” leaving dirty clothes “homeless”
If we focus on these 2 connected steps: 1) folding and 2) putting away
and employ task batching*, the process goes smoother.

Task Batched Laundry steps would look like this:

• SORT laundry into categories: if you mix loads from a whole household, your first SORT job will be by person, then by category of clothing (socks, underwear, shirt that fold, shirts that hang, bottoms, work out clothing, pajamas…etc)

This example is table linens – out of the dryer and placed directly onto a folding surface.

• DECIDE the categories to be folded

   This load broke down into hand towels, dish towels and cloth napkins.


• FOLD each category separately — preferably on a clean and flat surface

  FOLD each mini pile as its own category which is also sorted by location.


• DO all of your folding at once and PUT IT AWAY — when you sort by category you are essentially also sorting by location so your folded piles are easy to put where they belong.

Will task batching your folding process solve all of your laundry dilemma’s? No — but folding by category allows you to delegate small pieces of the project to even the youngest helpers. It also lets others take pride in the smooth running of the household if you’re lucky enough to live with people who will “volunteer” or as in our household, be volunteered to help 🙂
* Task batching is a way to manage time and perform tasks in sets where the same mental effort and physical energy is used to maximize productivity and streamline a process. If you’re a procrastinator…task batching is good news! It decreases the distance between start and finish and builds in lots of manageable size “loads.” More, but smaller tasks to quickly complete offer the satisfaction of a job well done.


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