I hate doing laundry. Always have. I thought I always would. Lately though, it began to dawn on me that what truly frustrated me was HOW I did laundry. I tackled the problem head on, and have settled on a system that is working pretty well. It involved getting rid of lots of cloths, changing how I wore what I did have, and changing how I cared for them.
As a middle child in a large family (12 members) laundry was the truly never ending chore in my eyes. Everyday, laundry was top of the priority list, and every night found us retiring to our chambers with dirty laundry waiting to be washed, dry laundry needing folded or put away, and the inevitable newly dirtied laundry that must be collected in the morning.
As I’ve grown into a young woman, developing and indulging in my love of simple, beautiful and organized living, my clothing and laundry habits were becoming glaringly out of character. You see, I’ve been using the policy “If you haven’t worn it for a year, pass it on.” and it has served me well, except I always seemed to have an enormous amount of clothing. Than it struck me. My reluctance to do laundry had driven me to collect enough of every thing I wore that I only needed to do laundry once a month or so.
I seriously had enough clothes, all of which were worn on a regular basis, to only wash them once a month. That, my friend, is absurd. Even more crazy was the fact that I had multiples of the same thing! Being quite picky about clothing styles, I apparently would buy multiples of the same shirt if it fit great to make sure I would have enough of them! So here I was, with a closet and dresser full of a ridiculous amount of frequently worn clothing.
Deciding this had to change, I began researching how to tackle the problem of laundry. I found a lot of tips on how to pair down ones wardrobe, but the one I found most valuable was the idea, if you don’t truly LOVE and item, or have a very good use for it, get rid of it. And the second tip most helpful was to wear things longer between washings.
There are a few points I kept in mind while going through my things, most importantly that my occupation is a line cook in a kitchen.
1. I have a set work uniform, which is not reflective of my own personal style.
2. Working around stoves, ovens and grills means I’m sweaty a good deal of the day, providing unique challenges to stretching between washings
3. I love to sew and design clothing.
4. I reenact in several different time periods and have the appropriate clothing for each one.
5 I have many hobbies which do not lend themselves to shared clothing.
So, right off the bat, it’s clear I’d never narrow my clothing down to 33 items, or something like that! Instead I created lifestyle categories and worked to have only a few items in each one. The idea of having only just as many items as needed to keep a clean set on hand really appealed to me. Here are the categories I settled on.
1. Work. This was my biggest pitfall. Because I make my own skirts to wear at work they did not require sorting as I only have a few. For my shirts, after removing all I did not LOVE, I also got rid of all that were stained, leaving a vastly reduced number!
2. Casual. There are about 4 casual skirts I wear over and over. And they share the same color schemes, so this section was easy to shrink as the same few shirts and skirts make lots of different outfits. These cover all my day to day activities outside of work. Cleaning, visiting friends, gardening running errands…you name it. You will notice that I have work and casual shirts. That’s because my work shirts are worn under rough chef jackets that wear heavily on them. So, the colors are mirrored between the two categories, but they do not get mixed.
3. Dressy. I dress nicely for church every week, and with a love of music, culture and fashion, I wear this type of clothing a couple times every week.
4. Dance. I love to dance, and do it often enough that I wanted to keep my clothing that fun to dance in. This does see a lot of overlap with casual and dress but has a few items of its own. mostly shoes.
5. Undergarments. This category is what saw the truly fundamental change. I only kept around 5 of each item, socks, slips, tee shirts and underwear. Each night, I hand wash what was worn, and hang them to dry on little clothes line hung in front of the windows. I purchased 3 black and white tee shirts that I wear under my outer shirts, and these absorbed most of the sweat, which means the outer shirts don’t need washed after every wearing.
These changes have completely revamped how I view laundry! No longer do I face mountains of it. I wash my little things everyday, it only takes a few minutes, and every couple weeks I wash my skirts and shirts, but there’s still only a few of them, thanks to practical use of undergarments.
I still have about twice as many clothes as I want to ultimately, but over the summer I hope to pear it down even more. Each week collecting at least one bag of items to pass along. ANd I’ve set myself a clothes buying freeze for a few months. I have enough in each category to last me a long while before anything should need replaced.