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The House That Cleans Itself

Mindy Starns Clark

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Sorting Laundry in a House that Cleans Itself

How do you sort your dirty laundry? If you go with the standard light-medium-dark divisions and that works for you, stick with it. However, if you'd love to know a better way, consider perfecting the art of sorting in your home. In The House That Cleans Itself, my goal is to offer custom-design cleaning solutions that make your life easier, the way you live it.

Here's how that principle applies to dirty laundry. Take a look at your laundry with fresh eyes, and think about it in terms of how you live your life. What thoughts run through your mind when you bring dirty clothes into the laundry room?

"I'll need to get this clean as soon as possible."

"These things might have stuff in the pockets-don't forget to check."

"This stuff is damp, I need to wash it before it starts to stink."

"I'll have to remember to hang up these shirts as soon as they're dry."

"I'll need to hand wash these."

"I won't be wearing this again any time soon."

And so on. If that's how your mind works, then why not sort your laundry this way? Instead of three bins (for darks, lights, and whites) get four or six or eight or whatever you need, and label each one with the type of dirty laundry it should hold. Here are some examples:

To be done first ~ ASAP
Check pockets first
Permanent press
No rush

This way, when you start a load of laundry, you know exactly how it needs to be processed. Let's say it's Sunday evening and you've got a busy week ahead. Better to throw in the "damp" stuff or the "to be done first ~ ASAP" stuff now, because you might not get around to doing laundry again until Friday.

Or maybe you're working on a project near the laundry room and you'll be ready for a break in an hour or two. That would be the perfect time to start the "permanent press" pile, because you know for a fact you'll be available to hang it up the moment it's dry.

Can you see where I'm going? By looking at the way you do laundry and then sorting accordingly, you're lessening the load, shortening the time, and solving one more type of mess in your home.
Here's how the art of sorting works in our house. In my tiny laundry room, I have six bins; they're labeled as follows:

1. HW: This includes anything to be done in cold water on the "hand wash" setting. (I don't want someone accidentally tossing these in with a regular load.)

2. PP: This is for permanent press items. (They have to be hung up immediately, and I never wash these unless I know I'll be free to do the hanging as soon as they're dry.)

3. TS: My husband's T-shirts go in here. (He doesn't like his T-shirts to get machine dried, so I only wash these when I know I'll remember not to toss them straight from the washer into the dryer-and if there's room on the dryer rack to hang them up.)

4. DW: Dirty washcloths go in this one. (I use washcloths in the kitchen rather than sponges-just my personal preference. I hate the thought of tossing them in with the regular laundry, especially if they have food particles or bleach on them.)

5. W/S: These are seasonal bins. Winter is for things made of fleece. (You should always wash fleece with fleece.) Summer is for clothes with mud/dirt/outside mess on them. (They'll need presoaking.)

6. In this one goes everything else.

See how we use the art of sorting? When I load the washer, I still follow the light-medium-dark divisions to an extent. But by dividing the laundry into more useful categories, I save a lot of time and trouble. This way it's custom designed for me and my family and how we do laundry.

© 2001 by Mindy Starns Clark

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