I know a woman whose housekeeper folds and irons irons her 15-year old son’s underwear with a level of precision matched only by the care the Smithsonian’s Gem and Mineral Collection curator gives the famed Hope Diamond. In my opinion, this takes laundry room organization to the next, albeit ridiculous, level.

You’re probably wondering, “So? What’s wrong with that?”

First, there comes a time when parents need to a.) Let go, and b.) Teach their children how to wash their own clothes (although my 27-year old nephew still goes home every Friday night, ostensibly to have dinner with his parents, but in reality to have his mother do his laundry).

Second, when this kid goes to college, there won’t be a housekeeper around 24/7 to iron his boxers, which I guarantee will get wrinkled in a very brief time anyway.

Lead by example and teach children to pick-up after themselves, especially if they’re in the habit of trying on multiple outfits and leaving the discarded – but perfectly clean – clothing strewed all over the floor.

Following are a few hints to help take control of the proliferation of laundry, which every family – no matter if it’s one, two of 10 people – needs to tame.

LAUNDRY HAMPERS: Purchase two hampers (one for darks, one for lights) per bathroom. If space is as a premium and you have only one bathroom, which is being shared by four kids and two adults, buy two hampers per bedroom instead of per bathroom.

Whichever system you choose, it’s up to everyone to separate their own wash (lights/darks).

WET TOWELL RULE: No wet towels are to be placed in the hampers or left on the floor. Period. Wet towels need to go directly into the washer or be hung to dry.

Trust me, once a towel gets mildewed, no amount of washing will remove the stench!

ERGONOMICS & USAGE: If you keep the family-sized dispensers of laundry soap near the washer and on a low and easily accessible shelf, not only will the soap be easier to reach, but there will be less spillage to clean up.

LAUNDRY 101: Get over of the mind-set that men, or for that matter, children, can’t do laundry. If they can read, they can help. Ironing is a project onto itself, but for starters, everyone should know how to do laundry and how to fold their own clothing.

COIN JARS: Toss spare change, found in pants pockets, into a glass Mason jar. At the end of the year, treat yourself to a mani/pedi.

THINK SMART: I play tennis four times a week before or after work and actually plan my tennis outfits around my laundry schedule. On Sundays, when I change the bed linens, I’ll wear white to the courts. If it’s mid-week when my blue jeans are in need of a wash, I’ll wear dark colors.

GOOD LIGHTING & BRIGHT WALLS: My laundry room is painted bright white and the light fixture is fitted with a 100 watt incandescent light bulb – how else can I see if something is dirty or not?


The real “secret” to getting your laundry organized is to do one load of wash a day. If you wait until Sunday to do a week’s worth of laundry, it becomes a “job,” and not one that any of us especially likes.

Here are a few more hints to help you get organized:

  • Skip the drying rack and hang “line-dry-only” items on a hanger. Once dry, they’re ready to be put away.
  • Keep the tops of your washer and dryer clutter-free so you’ll have a place to fold as you unload the dryer.
  • Do a load of wash at night before going to sleep and toss it in the dryer first thing the next morning.
  • Each week, assign a different family member the task of sorting and folding the socks; designate a special drawer for missing socks, which will eventually show up.
  • When it comes to kids’ socks and underwear, don’t stress about separating the lights from the darks. What’s more important is the turn-around time.
  • Even if you don’t have time to do a load of wash, attack stains, including underarm stains, by spraying them with a spot remover, such as Spray ‘n Wash. (Check instructions on bottle.)
  • Edit your detergents and keep only those products you use. Combine almost-empty containers of the same or similar products into one.
  • Store laundry detergents and spot removers above the washer and drying sheets near the dryer.
  • Clean your dryer’s removable lint trap after each cycle.
  • Ironing will be easier if you remove hard-to-press items, such as linen napkins and cotton shirts, from the dryer while they’re still damp and put them in the refrigerator until you’re ready to iron.
  • Time is money! Check with your local dry cleaners to see if they have a cut-rate price for washing and ironing men’s shirts, or look in the paper for a stay-at-home mom who will iron your clothes. The time you save is worth its weight in gold.

Finally, if you’re building a home and thinking about where to put the laundry room, why not put it next