Just think, if they can go in a box, that means you don’t use them frequently enough to merit the trouble of storing them unless they are very special like a wedding dress or something like that. Stop storing old jeans you’ll one day fit into. Just go get some jeans that fit you and donate the others. Live in the present and look good with what you have now. If you have children, you’ll probably need to store maternity clothing and children’s’ clothes. If absolutely necessary, you could use a box for this but I suggest keeping everything hung up where you can readily make an inventory of what you have. I would only save the very best because it’s likely that when the time comes to actually use those items, you’ll probably get some new ones as well as use what you have saved. I’d save them by hanging them near the back of the closest with a rubber band around the hangers to keep them from getting in the way.
First is the hamper. If you are in a household with a hamper in every bedroom and bathroom, then you are probably in a laundering fiasco as you read this (you know who you are). Unless you have enough washer/dryer sets to go with all those hampers and enough hands to deal with all of that, you can’t possibly want to have all those dirty clothes sitting around for weeks just being dirty. I recommend getting rid of these extra hampers and only have 2 hampers total. For smaller families, especially, you really just need 1. Dirty clothes go into the hamper, period. Not on the floor, not on top of the washer, not in the closet, just in the hamper. A large, family-size hamper is best. Make sure the hamper is well-ventilated so wet clothes don’t encourage mold and mildew. Be vigilant about communicating to family members that all dirty clothes go in the hampers. And clothes that don’t go in the hamper need to be hung up or they will be tossed in the hamper by default, but never left on the floor or cluttering up the bathroom.
If you are teaching a young child to do his own laundry, do not be shy about letting him launder all the family’s clothing. A child will learn much quicker when someone is depending on him, rather than having him be responsible for only his laundry. If you just can’t relinquish the control of the laundry, then you’re going to spend way too much time being exhausted and overwhelmed. Just let others help. I tend to like the control, so I take charge of the hamper and the laundering and let my family help with the hanging and putting away.
Now you have a place to hang clean clothes and to toss dirty ones. Next is the laundering. Do medium-sized loads. They will wash up and dry better than if you pack the appliances to their limit. Get a liquid detergent and some fabric softener sheets that have a nice scent to them. Expensive doesn’t always mean better. I actually prefer Arm & Hammer detergent and especially the Arm & Hammer Essentials* Fabric Softener sheets in lavender & white linen, and they are so cheap! If clean laundry smells good to you, you’ll enjoy doing the laundry more and it will fill the house with a pleasant smell. Always keep your washer/dryer area clean and well-stocked with what you need. Anticipate when you are running low on detergent and buy the next bottle a little early so that your laundry station is always ready for the next load.
Next, decide where you are going to sort the clothes once they are clean. I prefer to make the master bed and then use it as a large, flat, sorting area. Here’s the whole thing in a nutshell:
1) Empty the hamper into two baskets, one for whites and one for colors (put “special” items such as delicates or very saturated colors aside for hand washing)
2) throw them in the washer and then the dryer (make sure they are completely dry before taking them out of the dryer)
3) dump all the clean clothes in a big pile on your bed but don’t start putting them away until all of the loads you are going to do are clean and on your bed (this picture shows 4 loads of laundry)
4) pull out all of your empty hangers and pile them up next to the clothes
5) make a pile of clothes that have been put on hangers while setting socks, skivvies, burp cloths, and anything that needs to be folded aside
6) gradually sort through it until one by one each “category” is put away
Involve other members of your family and make doing laundry a regular occurrence at your house, at least twice a week. I repeat (at the very least) twice a week. Once you get down a system, you’ll be amazed at how enjoyable, quick and nice it can be to have clean laundry and not to have to, heaven forbid, look through the hamper to find what to wear. Hanging your clothes up is quicker than folding them, it takes up less space, it’s easier to see where things are and it cuts back on ironing. You’ll love it.