The weird nature of the career I’ve found myself in constantly challenges the “and then what?” As a society, we push each day to automate and optimize. We make the mundane, repetitive and tedious move faster. We are the creators of the metaphorical machine that churns data, algorithms and commands into actions. We fill in the blanks “if this happens, then this….”
Naturally, that kind of thinking doesn’t just shut off. I’ve come to learn that more non-linear a process is – and therefore the more difficult to outline, connect and create a circuit – the longer my own brain will run circles trying to uncover all of the pieces that need to be considered. Nowhere in my life is this more apparent, than in the process of doing laundry.
When I was single, I had the luxury of never caring about how much laundry I had to pile and hide in my closet before someone visited the house. Clean and dirty, alike, never left their baskets until one lazy Sunday I would finally sort everything into piles and do a marathon of washing, drying and – if we were really lucky – folding.
Now, Aaron and I have lived together for over a year and I still don’t care as much as I should. The problem, though, is that he is now witness to my madness and it throws his day off kilter even worse than it does mine. We both hate laundry right now. But it’s not so much the act of doing it that stands in my way – it’s that the process is extremely broken.
As much as I love our 1910 historic house, storage space of any kind is its greatest downfall. Now, the Minimalist in me loves this. We can’t keep shit without it quickly turning to clutter so I’m in a near-constant “do we need this?” mentality. However, the process-focused piece of my mind struggles hard to get the laundry to the washer, out of the dryer and back into the small closets that we do have. The result is baskets of clean but not cared for clothes that get rummaged through daily until the least-exciting pieces are left and we’re both frustrated that we can’t find what we need.
Even when I do manage to get everything back into the closets, the success is short lived. Inevitably, another load of laundry finds it’s way to the basement, another clean load comes upstairs and tackling the unexpected task of putting it away again never takes priority over the running, shuffling, working and other insanities of our lives.
So, here I am writing about it. Let’s fix this.
Research and set up
Our current setup includes showering, changing, dressing and day prep on the second floor of the house. The washer and dryer are in an unfinished basement. I have a single small closet and a dresser. Aaron has two small closets. When we first moved in, we built custom closet organizers that are actually pretty smart. They have all the necessary spaces for dresses, long coats, etc with a couple of shelves, shoe space and so on. By putting high and low bars in each closet, we nearly doubled the capacity of our house which, believe me, was much needed.
Like the rest of the world, I’ve recently watched Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up on Netflix. We should start with clothes apparently. Seeing as that is actually my biggest problem at the moment, I’d say that’s pretty sound.
- Theory 1: Start with clothes (Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up)
- Collect all, minimize, donate and organize
I’ve also done some Pinterest-ing and reading. That’s how I found a sweet DIY for hanging canvas laundry bags on the wall. Now, Marie has her “keep things that spark joy” in reference to almost everything. I have my “only hang things that spark joy” when it comes to my walls. The only practical item on our walls is a moose head hook in the bathroom because Aaron requires a reasonable towel hook. And it makes me laugh.
That being said, I could really get behind a hanging canvas bag in each closet. It would likely prevent us from piling clothing indefinitely. And, because there would be a clear weight and capacity limit, we would have to take it to the basement. That part of the process is made even easier by the clothes already being contained.
- Theory 2: Hang canvas bags in each closet (Yellow Brick Home)
- Hanging prevents over-accumulation and leaves closet floor open for shoes
From the look of Pinterest (here), many people use this set of hooks right by the washer and dryer as well – giving a “home” to the loaded bags (you know, instead of the basement floor). I don’t love the idea of these bags hanging from open walls – but we could eventually hang them inside of cabinets as we work on finishing different elements of our basement set up. We could also consider another DIY industrial route with a few somewhat reasonable items from IKEA.
- Theory 3: Add sorting bags in the basement
- Keeps laundry off the floor and lets us organize colors for easier washing
The only step of the process where the bags seem to fall down a bit is on the return. If we toss the clean clothes back into them and take them upstairs to put away – the process is obviously more straightforward than the current. The bags would be an absolute pain to dig through compared to an open basket – meaning the clothes have to come back out of them. Generally, I like that they would at least force that routine a bit.
I’m a little stuck on the idea of crushing fresh clothes back into the sack and then having to find a place to fold and unload them among our crazy day-to-day second floor. This is, after all, one of the current problems too. Aaron even took to tackling the space issue by using the dining room for a bit – a move that genuinely stressed me thefuckout every single time. Maybe, just maybe, we handle the folding in the basement and bring the fresh stuff back up in a basket. Then, there’s a free-floating basket on the second floor with no purpose. Here goes the crazy…
Let’s draw a line – at least for the dirty solution. I think that’s enough. I think that’s genuinely just enough to get us going. We can test these theories and optimize the return once we see if this plan works.
So, friends, here we go. I’ve ordered my hooks, grommets and the three laundry bags for hanging inside the upstairs closets. Next week, we’ll KondoMari it up with our clothing minimalism. Once we get things ironed out there, I’ll decide if we order more or go the IKEA route for the basement bins. Decisions! Decisions! Decisions!
Keeps your eyes peeled for an update. This has to go a thousand times better than what we’re doing now!
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