Me vs. Laundry

I’m okay with clothing as individual pieces, I even like a lot of it, but as an entire group of my family’s clothing, I despise it. Does this make me a laundrist?

Laundry overwhelms me. But since I have a moral dilemma with going to the grocery store naked, I have to deal with it.

I taught in Asia for two years. I worked with a couple who were not fat at all, but both were tall and large-boned. For some reason, the principal (a very small man) had told them before they came that they shouldn’t bring many clothes, just buy them there. Really? In Asia? I bought all of about two clothing items while there, and I was excited to find them. My roommate, a size 8-10, couldn’t even consistently find clothes that fit her.

So, I remember this woman wearing the same three outfits over and over and over and mixing and matching them all the time. I admired her so much. In fact, I was strangely jealous.

I have issues with having excess of everything, especially clothes. When I spent six weeks working at a summer camp when I was sixteen, I brought 5, yes FIVE full and over-the-weight-limit suitcases. I carried them through the airport by myself. That’s how important it was to me to have all that stuff. AND I went to town each Saturday to the laundromat. I’m guessing that I had enough clothes to wear 2 outfits a day and never repeat. Coincidentally, the camp made a rule the next summer that you could only bring two suitcases. Hmmm.

My kids have tons of clothes. I spend almost nothing on them by going to garage sales, and being the dumping ground for lots of generous, well-meaning friends with older children. Don’t worry, she’ll take them.

I need to purge my family’s clothes. I learned last year when my son started wearing a school uniform that he really did survive with about six shirts and four pairs of pants. Somehow, I kept all of those items clean. I only had to do the sniff-test two or three times in the entire year.

But when your 3 year old daughter has 24 pairs of pants, 16 skirts, 25 dresses and 56 tops, you don’t need to do laundry very often, right? Except that she loves the one shirt. And if all of those clothes are clean, they don’t fit into the drawers, and they spill out onto the floor, and are they clean or dirty, because I don’t remember her wearing that, but I should probably wash it again just in case.

It’s hard to think of my clothes as clutter, but they are. I have items that I NEVER wear because they’re never clean, because I don’t love them enough to put them at the top of the laundry priority list and I’m never completely done with laundry. Why not get rid of them?

I wear the same few tops and jeans and outfits over and over and over and over. I like them. And I learned from my friend overseas that you can be normal and cool when wearing the same things more than once every two months, if they’re the things that make you look good and feel comfortable.

So why am I hanging on?

So if I’ve learned that half of the lesson, why can’t I learn the other half and get rid of all of these clothes that we don’t need?

As I work on this laundry habit, I’m purging as I go.

I’m also learning that even though we have more clothes consistently clean, we’re still wearing the same ones we like, over and over.



  1. 1

    I have a hard time with laundry and own way way too much for both me and my daughter. I get them for good prices or given to us too !!!!!!
    Wow clothing as clutter that makes sense. I need to purge too !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. 2
    Moms In Need Of Mercy says:

    YES!! Just today as I looked at overflowing laundry baskets needing to be put away, I thought "We have waaaaayyyyy too many clothes" (don't tell my husband…wait, he already knows!). We too get tons of hand-me-downs for our boys, which is a blessing. But I am thinking about getting ready to get rid of excess. That's hard sometimes, too, though…because what if they will want that green dinosaur turtleneck three months from now, but it's gone??!!

  3. 3

    My husband and I were both out of work for 6 months at the same time. We sold our house and stayed with family and we consolidated all our clothes to what we could fit in 2 suitcases. I've never looked at clothes the same after that because I learned what we really needed vs. what we just wanted. I immediately purged 2/3 of what we owned when we were on our own again. It was an emotional experience though because most of what got the boot was my professional clothing from my pre-stay-at-home-with-my-kid life. It was part of the process of saying good bye to that version of me. Funny how we tie our emotions to stuff.

  4. 4
    Nony the Slob says:

    It's interesting that you say that because many of the clothes I'm currently debating over are clothes that I haven't worn much at all since I worked outside the home. They're too formal for even our church, suits and such, but it's just so hard to get rid of them because they were expensive. Most are probably out of style now anyway!

  5. 5
    Lacy @ Catholic Icing says:

    I have this idea in my head to seriously purge our wardrobes to a bare bones system. I don't know what else to do at this point. I also get everything we own from garage sales or as hand me downs, and it's crazy how fast it piles us. This is next on my big to-do list.

  6. 6

    If I could have a do over of clothing (with 4 girls) I would buy cheapo mix and match outfits like at Target or Fred Meyer (about 6) and when they are done- they are done and gone- next child gets new stuff. This eliminates the buying and storing of bins and all related problems that go with sorting, storing, putting away, rewashing etc. It is faster to buy new stuff, hang it up and be done check it off!! I think I’ve wasted more TIME and money with this clothes thing by keeping everything. I always put a dollar amount to my time-$50 to $75 dollars an hour- if there is a clog in the house we all pay with take out food, mom’s depression, missed birthday parties, not being able to do activities with the kids, and it is always more than what I “saved”.

  7. 7

    And when you have 2 girls 17 months apart and the 2nd one is incredibly picky with sensory issues and won’t wear half of the hand me downs, except that it’s not consistant, so she MIGHT wear them or NOT on any given day…so you can’t talk yourself into getting rid of them, yeah, I know.

  8. 8
    Kristen says:

    I sooooooo identify with this! In fact – my weekly cleaning/chore list includes (each day) “deal with one pile of clothes”. There are piles EVERYWHERE (all clean). My bedroom rocker, on top of the chest, in the laundry room “clean bins” that don’t seem to be working for me. Purging our overflowing closets and drawers is KEY. I have clean clothes and nowhere to put them. I’m working on it. Slowly, surely. Thanks for your wonderful blog. Just found you and loving it!

  9. 9

    Laundry will be my biggest challenge.. I am single person with way too many clothes. I finally sorted my laundry last night (motivated by the fact that I’m not the only slob out here). I have at least 15 loads to do. The good thing is that it’s sorted and that I’m not putting any pressure on myself to complete it in one day. It will be a process, but I’m glad that I’m on the path 🙂

  10. 11

    I heading upstairs to one of my closets and am going to purge a wardrobe bag that has stuff from … I can’t admit when. Thank you for the motivation!

  11. 12

    I had a friend give me this advice on the overflow of the closet. When you put your clothes away in the closet put them in the front with a marker behind them like an empty hangar with a date, anything behind that sign in 1 year should be tossed or if they are back there because you are trying to get back into them, pack them away in containers with sizes on the outside so you can pull only the size out you need.

  12. 13

    I just found your website yesterday and I am starting at your first post and working my way backwards. We have so much in common. Everything that I have read so far is almost exactly like me! It is almost unbelievable! I am so Happy that I found your website! This is so inspiring to me because everything that you have talked about are my same concerns. I want my children to some day be able to invite their friends over without being ashamed of our house and I also want to be able to invite guests that just show up into the house without ME being ashamed! I have already started cleaning some areas up after reading through these posts and it has already started making me feel so much better! Thank You so much for starting this blog and for inspiring me! I wish that we could be friends because from reading these posts we have so much in common cleaning wise, lol!

  13. 15

    Looking at my daughter’s room, I can only sigh. She has enough clothes to stock a small resale store. And she doesn’t like to get rid of any of them.

  14. 16
    Stephanie says:

    I am sooo proud of myself. I’ve been reading about capsule wardrobes and that’s what I want to get to. I donated about half of what I had in my closet today. I plan to wait a month or two and donate some more until I get where I should be. Thank you for the motivation.

  15. 17

    I’m a married woman with no kids. My husband and I have a ton of clothes between and we rent an apartment with no washer/dryer. Any advice on how to tackle the laundry? I used to try to put one evening aside to go to the laundromat but you miss one day and it backs up for…well, ever. I’m ashamed to admit how much we have to do. At this point, I pull out my work clothes and pajamas, wash them and get in the rest when I can. I wear my clothes to work and maybe to run errands or go out to dinner afterward, otherwise I just put my PJ’s on when I get home to avoid having to wear ‘interim’ clothes. As you can imagine, putting PJ’s on as soon as you get home can actually be a motivation suck. It’s made our master bedroom stressful and beyond cluttered. I try to get rid of things every few months and this year I started packing ‘seasonal’ clothes away while they won’t be used (it’s Jersey, and its 9 degrees out right now-summer clothes are useless). He, however, will not part. I beg him and try to explain it to him and he relents from time to time. I hate that I forget about clothes I own but I’m so bad at committing to walking everything to the laundromat, nevermind braving the cold and the cost. Any suggestions would be appreciated. New to you blog!!

  16. 19

    I was just about to go out and buy new summer stuff for my kids, and I know I always buy more than they need. I think I’m going to try to just get each kid a handful of shorts and tops they can mix and match, and maybe I can get this laundry thing …I call it mount washmore…under control. Really loving your blog, it’s as if you are inside my head and some things that never made sense before finally are.

  17. 20
    Heather Anderson says:

    Amen!! I purged my oldest sons wardrobe down to 10 bottoms, 7 tops each long/short sleeve, 2 dress shirts, 7 sets of pj’s. No one is complaining 🙂 Working my way slowly through the other 4 kids.

  18. 22

    I go through my girls’ closets when they aren’t home, and make a pile of giveaways. When they get home, I show them the pile, and allow them to go through it, and “rescue” 3 items if they want. They generally will save their 3 items for their sister’s or my pile. (We all wear the same size, including shoes).

  19. 23

    i always get all the laundry washed and dried every monday (it’s my laundry day), so we always have CLEAN clothes. now whether they’re folded and put away is a whole ‘nother story.

  20. 24

    Laundry is a constant battle for me. I made the comment to my husband today that my daughter and I have way to much compared to what we actually wear and that we needed to purge some of it. He told me that in his opinion a woman could never have too much clothe. Um, hello have you seen our closet lately? Now if I wore every single outfit I would maybe agree with him but I wear about 20% of what I actually own especially after just having a baby. The idea of holding on to an ultra sexy blouse and those awesome skinny jeans that I fit into when I first met my husband on the off chance I fit into them again is not helping me feel good about myself at the moment or take care of our home. So my goal this weekend is to purge my clothe, my daughter’s clothe, and my infant’s clothe. Wish me luck!

  21. 25

    You may address this later on, but I’m new and reading backwards as suggested. Thank you for helping me understand why Flylady hasn’t really worked for me. I’m very happy to find someone who gets me and can explain it to me and show me how it might work for me. If something is freshly washed and clean, it gets hung up or folded and put in a drawer (well, ideally it would go there LOL). When something is obviously smelly and dirty it goes in the hamper to be washed (or piled in front of the washing machine, or..but I digress). My issue is with something that has been worn, so not technically “clean” but not dirty enough to be washed. Perhaps a dress for church Sunday morning that could be worn again to go out to dinner on Friday night and then laundered. I just can’t bring myself to hang it back up with all the other clean clothes. Anybody else struggle with this? What do you do?

    • 26

      Hi there

      I’m reading backwards as well 🙂 I love this question of Kelly, because it is something that I cannot seem to find a system for either. So who has an idea?

      • 27

        Hmmmm, thanks for the reminder of this question. I’m so behind!!

        It seems like a mental block, and while I don’t struggle with this particular one, I have plenty of my own so I understand! If it’s clean enough to wear again, it should be clean enough to re-hang. But you could also block off a section of the closet for re-wear clothing.

  22. 28

    I too am new here and agree with so many of the other comments. I found your blog by doing a search on Pinterest for decluttering. I am finding by reading your blog that if I ‘do’ something everyday, even something little, towards decluttering it is at least doing something. I have a 6 week old as well as a 11 and 6 year old. I’m not going to overstretch myself as I too would get overwhelmed. I have 12 mths off work and I’m going to use this time to declutter and work towards having a home that the kids can invite friends over to. Thank you so much for starting your blog……..It gives me hope.

  23. 29

    New here, too! LOVE your blog. Omgosh! There are people like *me*??? I have been fighting clutter and laundry many years and came up with my own saying: “More Clothes is the enemy of Clean Clothes.”

  24. 31

    I pack seasonal clothes in tubs in the attic. That keeps clutter down a lot. But I’m pretty good at downsizing/paring down. I love dumping bags of stuff on the local thrift store, lol. Or passing on baby clothes to a friend.

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