I get this question a lot: Where should I put clothes I’ve worn (so they’re not technically clean), but that aren’t actually dirty, so I want to wear them again?
Usually, the question is followed by an explanation that these clothes end up piled on a chair. Or hanging on an unused treadmill.
I get it. This is a problem. A real problem for real people everywhere.
I just never answered because I didn’t have an answer. I had the problem, too.
I had the chair.
The chair that sat in the corner of my bedroom and was the unintended but totally official Place for Things I Might Wear Later.
Eventually, in an effort to eliminate this eyesore, I got rid of the chair, and my problem was somewhat solved. I no longer had a pile of clothing with a chair underneath it, and this did force me to make more definite decisions about the re-wear-worthiness of clothing.
Because that’s what the chair really was. A chair of indecision. A chair of “it would probably be fine to wear this again, but what if it isn’t, so I’ll put it here instead of in the closet” deposits.
It was the In Between Chair.
And even after the chair was gone, I found other places to pile things. On top of the dresser, at the end of the bed, wherever.
But during our recent painting and flooring escapades, I needed somewhere “safe” to put my in-between clothes. While the master bedroom was being redone, all (or a lot of) our stuff was in the master bathroom.
I needed to find a safe spot in that small, chairless space to put my re-wearable clothes.
After a few days of frustration, I looked up. I saw the perfect solution, totally unused and unrecognized, that had been there for months.
When we cleaned out my mother-in-law’s house, I liked that she used an over-the-door multi-hook rack to hang her jewelry on the back of her bedroom door. Since she wasn’t taking this rack to her assisted living apartment, I took it to my house, hung it on the back of my bathroom door with a few necklaces, and promptly decided I hated using it for jewelry. Turns out, necklaces on the back of the bathroom door make a LOT of noise during middle-of-the-night potty trips.
I removed the necklaces, left the rack, and totally forgot it existed.
But in this moment, I realized that multi-hook rack was a perfect place to put my super-quiet shorts and t-shirts so they could be off the floor and ready for a second wear!
It took me a few days to remember where I’d put my favorite shorts, but now I remember almost every time I need to remember.
That was another big problem with “the chair.” Clothes on the chair were piled. Only the most recently worn clothes were visible on the top of the pile. And in my world, anything that isn’t visible to me ceases to exist.
Also, piled clothes weren’t actually getting “aired out” which was always part of the super-logical (but not) reasoning behind those clothes not just going back into the closet.
Visibility and actual airing out are great reasons why this solution works, but the very best part of all?
This multi-hook rack is a manageable “contain”er.
If you’re new and/or haven’t read my book yet, you may be confused. A container is anything that limits how much of something I can keep. Viewing spaces that way is much more effective for me than trying to decide how much of something I can/should keep. I would like to keep all things all the time, so letting containers determine limits frees me.
This rack is a container. It limits how many “clean enough” things I can have in the Clean Enough Spot at one time.
When the rack is full, I need to wear something again (since it’s clean enough) or stick it in the washer if it isn’t actually clean enough.
If it’s clean enough, but not something I’ll re-wear that day, the item needs to go back in my closet.
If it’s clean enough but I don’t want to wear it again, it can go through the wash and straight into the Donate Box in the laundry room the minute it comes out of the dryer.
But it can’t stay on the rack once the rack is full. The rack (the “contain”er) is a limit.
This has worked so well for me (after working hard to train myself to use it and then remember I had used it) that I bought similar racks for each person in my family. My husband and daughter are using theirs well and it’s really making a difference in the overall maintenance of their spaces.
My sons? We won’t talk about that.
So yay for solving multiple problems at once in a spot that won’t visually mess up my room! If someone is a close enough friend that I’ll let them use my master bathroom, they might as well see my dirty-but-not-really-dirty clothes.
A few other things:
Here’s my affiliate link to a version of the racks I’m using. Ours are all different, and I picked them up at TJ Maxx for less than this one on Amazon.
I staged that chair. I don’t stage clutter here on the blog, because unfortunately . . . I don’t need to. So I’m actually counting it as a win that I had to recreate The Dumping Chair. Now to make myself unstage it before it blends into the landscape and becomes invisible to me.
And I made a video! Watch it here or over on YouTube if you don’t see it.--Nony
This is a great idea! I currently hang my rewearable clothes on the knobs of my dresser. 🙂
I just finished your decluttering book, and I loved it! I am now inspired to clean out more stuff! Thanks for a good read!
Claudia W says
Geez! I have been doing this for years and never realize it’s a thing, and a good thing at that. For a change I’, ahead of the game instead of WAY behind. Now if I could only do that with the rest of my stuff!
Thanks for helping me get uncluttered! I am working on it!
Dana White says
Right?? Once I did this, I thought “I bet this is what Normal People have always done!” But it truly is a question I get ALL the time, so I know it’s not just me. Go you for having it figured out!
Susan Kaplan says
I just put these kind of things back where they belong. Why use a transitional object (and trust me, I am still a chair dumper but trying to change my ways) if the clothes can be worn again instead of just putting them back in their homes? 🤔
Airing it out is a thing. It can make the difference between clothes that are musty and ones that are totally fine to wear again. The key is to have a system that means you either rewear or put things away in a timely manner.
Whether you need to air out, depends on local climate, HVAC system and settings, and such.
I agree. I air out and then hang in the “to rewear” spot in the closet.
I have half a drawer specifically dedicated to my jeans and pajamas that are going to be worn again. In my closet I keep all the empty hangers lined up in front and on the other side of those (away from the actually clean clothes) are the shirts or cardigans I might wear again. When it’s time to do laundry, anything still hanging in that section gets thrown in the wash along with the pajamas and jeans.
I do this, with a slight variation. On laundry day, everything in these hooks goes into the laundry. Nothing stays there long and it helps me to rewear something right away.
I have had a similar rack in my bathroom for many years. When my bathroom was redone this year it was the first thing back up. Mine actually has hooks I put hangers on and I always have an outfit on it picked out for errands and such. I call it my grab and go outfit. I usually have some accessories out for it also. It’s just easier than thinking about it when I have to rush. Also my current house outfit, etc. A real help! I also put a couple of hooks above the window and I hang the hangers of things I’ve thrown in the wash. So wash day I take them down and put the clothes away easily. I’m not OCD, I took a test online, lol.
Oh man! I can relate!!! I used to have “the chair”and it drove me crazy. Then one day, a solution hit me and I felt so dumb. I now have a separate section in my closet where I just hang up the clothes that I intend to wear again. The rod is high enough that I have a sectioned laundry bin under it. When I grab clothes from a bin to wash, I check the rod to see if something could be washed sooner rather than later. Works for me.
Dana, Dana, Dana…you never cease to amaze me with your tips! Love it….on a side note, I bought some circular belt hooks that have a swivel hook top. I use these three to hang my costume jewelry, divided into groups.
Since my dresser has a hutch type mirror, I have hooked these on one end and can easily see and retrieve as necessary.
Since this old gals eyes are failing heras well as her once nimble fingers, I bought a board made out of plastic with little holes, about 12×12. It houses my dainty chains because I can hang them through one hole and down the back and out the front over another, depending on their length. No more tangles and all in sight!
I have this square on my dresser in a dollar store plate holder, the kind that sits and displays plates.
Krysten T says
I love this idea! I have hooks on all the doors of my master bed/bath and now I need to purge them so I can use this suggestion.
Erica F. says
This made my whole day! This is something that drives me crazy in our bedroom! We have a lovely chaise at the foot of our bed that just collects the “maybe I’ll wear it again” clothes. You can’t even see the chaise! I love this idea, especially that it will help set limits for my husband! Thank you so much for solving these issues that so many of us struggle with!
Kelly Howard says
What a fabulous idea! I have ONE totally messy son who just wads up whatever he takes off and squishes it on a shelf or in a drawer. MAYBE just MAYBE I can get him to try this?!?! It would save me time and a load of laundry if he would..I can never figure out if it’s clean enough so I wash it anyhow and I know some things were only worn and hour or two in the air conditioned house. BOYS!!! Thank you for this idea!
Kimberly O. says
Another way you could tackle this is to hang the “clean” clothes with the hook turned to come over the bar to you and put the “not dirty” clothes with the hook away from you. That way you won’t get a weird knobby from hanging (and then steaming) your not dirty shirts.
I had a short little dresser that used to be my “not dirty” holder, only the clothes were piled on top. Although now that I work remotely from home full time, I just wear the same “not dirty” shirt/shorts/pants/sweatshirt until it IS. 🙂 Well, no more than a week, anyhow.
Debi Z says
Yay! I already have one of these on my bathroom door! This idea is WAY better than my current “random crap” that I hang there 🙂 My laundry is in my bathroom, so the dryer top has been my in between spot, but this is way better because I’ll actually be able to SEE the clothes! Brilliant!
Haah! Thank you! I’m so glad that other people rewear clothes because as a kid, I was raised to think that if it’s come in contact with your skin for longer than it takes to try it on, it needs to be washed. 😉 I’ve been doing this ever since I saw a 1950s instructional video that told kids to “hang clothes that have been worn, but are clean enough to wear again”. Of course, the same video also said that you should only wash your hair once a week and treated cleaning your nails as revolutionary, so take what you want from that. 😀 I’ve tried hanging them on hangers and putting them on the closet door, but… clothes just look so /unsightly/. I’ve taken to hanging them up in the bathroom after I’ve showered so I don’t have to look at them and so they’re there when I need to change. That way it’s easy to swap out the outfit for the day, too, without it cluttering the bedroom!
I have been doing this (hook rack on the back of the bathroom door) for my robe, nightshirt and bras that I will wear again. I love it! Only problem is, our house is on the market and this had to go, I’m so frustrated trying to figure out where to put these items that I need on the daily!
I implemented this with hooks on my closet door today! I’ve always used the edge of my bathtub, which annoys m y hubby and makes things look more cluttered. I’ve been meaning to do this for a long time, but your post pushed me into action, Dana! Thanks for the motivation!
Yup, I’ve got a row of hooks that hang behind the door when it’s open–so you can’t see it when just looking into the room 🙂 hooks for the win!!
Thanks again for the blog and your podcast. I starting listening from the beginning and am now caught up. I am so glad I found you. I like you are not normal.
Sarah B says
Totally having a “why didn’t I think of that” moment. I even have one of those racks hanging over a door totally unused.
Dana White says
Mine was unused for so long!
My ‘chair’ is a washstand that I use as a dresser in the spare room. It’s really piled high right now…even after cleaning it up when I thought someone might pop in. The spare room has been rearranged into a Genealogy Room- a desk is in there in place of the bed, which is now in ANOTHER room. So a pile of clothes no longer blends in well with file-cabinets, desks, and old photographs.
Yeah, I’m going to have to get one of those door hangy thing-a-ma-bobs.
I have a different thing I do because I have lost over 80% of my ability to smell and my bedroom doors slide plus a pocket door. I hang the clothes inside out on the hangers. For the pants I found some 1 inch rings in a craft store that I put over the hook for ever two times I wear it. I do have an area I’m likely to hang these together. The exceptions are the clothes I wear for yard work which get dirtier faster. Those have a hook in the bathroom that let’s the “air out”. I hope this idea may help someone.
I turn the clothing inside out and hang them in the closet. I don’t have a ton of clothes so they have enough space between items to let them breathe a bit.
You just made me realize EVERY pile of stuff (not just on my chair in MBR) is a pile I couldn’t decide what to do with. Indecision in the moment (over & over)has made my home a clutter mess!
Good news, tho’!
Yesterday, I made made a deal with DH, asking him to make a decision on “just one” shirt in the pile, while I cleared(sorta) the coffee table. He donated 7 shirts!
So, my new motto is,”I can decide at least ONE every day.”
Thanks, Nony, & God bless!
Stephanie Judy says
I usually wear shirts (the button-down style) a second or third day. I have quite a few of these shirts, because I love them. They all hang together in my closet. The freshly laundered, just-ironed ones go on the extreme left of the “shirt collection.” The ones that I’ve worn once or twice go on the extreme right. I try to choose from the right side first.
I moved my wreath door-hanger to the inside of the bedroom door. I am a short person, and the wreath hanger is longer than a conventional hanging system. My robe goes on the hook every evening, ready to go in the mornings.
Janice Thompson says
I love your posts!!! A slob at heart, I am learning the one-touch rule as you described in your Decluttering at the Speed of Life, which I’m reading for the second time. I think a lot of my problem is pure procrastination. I’m seriously ADD, and it’s hard to stay focused, but less stuff is making it easier. Thanks, and keep up the good work!
For the love of my husband, I decided my clean clothes hang in the closet, worn clothes get worn until they go in the hamper. Period. I have an over the door thing and I find rewear works better. So to prove how I forget my rule all the time, I wish I could show you my pile. This time it’s growing sideways instead of up. I think of it like reading tea leaves. I can read my pile and see my future. If only I could ‘see’ my pile before my future is obvious!
LORI KING says
OMGosh, that last line….lol.
So you found a New/Different place to put something…unlike your decluttering question “Where would I look for this first?” and you made yourself get used to that new location. You’ve resisted this in the past, resisted finding a “best” location for something in favor of the most convenient location because you’ve been afraid you wouldn’t remember where that new place is. I think you *can* get used to a new location…it’s a habit to work on, just like remembering to run the dishwasher every night, check the bathroom for clutter, etc. Food for thought.
Dana White says
SUCH a great question! It IS a lot to think about. I talked about it in the video about this (going up soon), thanks to your question.
An example is my brooms/mops/etc. When we moved into this house, there was a broom/mop holder in the basement laundry room, behind the door. I immediately knew I didn’t want to keep my broom/mop there, so I brought it upstairs. I didn’t have a good location for it upstairs, so I put it in my dining room, mostly hidden in a corner by a piece of large furniture. But I could still see it from where I work on my computer at the dining room table, and guest could see it if we had them over for dinner. It stayed in that spot for many years–convenient but not pretty. We just had most of the first floor of the house painted, including the dining room, so I had to take it down, at least temporarily. I took that opportunity to try to find a better place for it, especially since we want to sell the house. In a stroke of inspiration I finally realized that I can put it in the garage, within reach of the door leading from garage to house. And it looks so good there. We definitely had to get used to it being there and not in the dining room, and it’s a couple of steps farther, but it’s perfect.
This is a great solution. The only problem is your affiliate link….they are sold out! LOL Want to suggest a new one so I can give you credit and get some hooks sooner rather than later?
Dana White says
Ha! Are they still? I just checked. You can also search and buy ANYTHING on Amazon after getting there through my link and I’ll get commission on whatever you buy. So, if you’re looking for a new couch or a 10,000 TV, that would be awesome!
I’ll see what I can arrange. 🙂
Your uncluttered Master Bedroom is giving me joy!!!!! What an inspiration you are…xo
Sandi Eichenberger says
Dana, I put 2 two pronged hooks on the back of my bedroom door which nobody sees unless you are sleeping in that room with the door shut. LOL But the BEST thing I added was two loops of this coated chain that has links big enough to hang my coat hangers in. I have one big loop of chain for me and one for my husband and he actually uses it too!! We pull out of the closet what we are going to wear and hang it on the back of that door and dress there usually since our underwear etc. is in the dresser next to it. The hangers are there for when we take those clothes off AND handy for me to grab the empty ones to take to the laundry room for hanging stuff out of the dryer. I have ones on the back of the bathroom door and ones on the toilet room door too. This has been my salvation against those “I might be able to wear this again” problem. Thanks for your work for US!! Your advice it spot on…..always!
Oh my yes, great idea. My chair has pretty much become a limitless “contain” er since the pile can keep going higher if I never take anything off of it! That can’t happen with the hooks, they can only contain so much. And, oooh, that one pictured is so pretty.
This was a question I was going to ask when talking about husbands! I am totally guilty myself. But it’s funny that I have had this thought (hanging pegs) for so long and just did it last week. My husband commented! But it’s not for half dirty clothes. I usually make a sweep and decide dirty or clean, but often things are dusty from the wood floor, so the strategy of saving time on washing is not working. I told my husband’s and put them away so he can make hi own decisions!
We have a problem with towels on the doors. That I how we hang them when they are wet.
I do the same thing! I do not like to over wash. Just wears out the clothes.
And a comment on your book. Throwing clothes in the trash is filling our landfills which are just another container.
Find a way to recycle them. I know we had a textile recycle drive here. I believe certain familiar charities also do it.
Buy fewer clothes and good ones that last.
Years ago I was containing these clothes but didn’t realize it. I bought a wooden stand-alone coat rack for the corner of our bedroom. There are three hooks for each of us (yes, they’re assigned…). And if one of us puts too much stuff on a hook, the container is overfull and the coat rack falls over.
Candy Kelly says
Yes, I know. Two comments in one day! It shows I’m busy. I can’t believe I haven’t thought of using a hanging clothes wall rack to hold my day-old clothes. In these days of Covid, I often re-wear the same jeans and/or sweatshirt for 2-3 days running. It’s just foolish to wash what isn’t, frankly, dirty. So when I’m putting on my pj’s I just dump the clothes on…wait for it…the wicker chair. Now, it’s not like I don’t have any racks. I have 4 of the lightweight plastic ones that hold 30+ years of super-cool costume jewelry and one for current season purses (of which I have several) all in my bedroom, one in the hall for summery hats and visors, one in the den for off-season purses (yes, I have several of those, too), and last but not least, I have one I need to put-up in the landing from the garage to hold jackets to grab and put on quickly that end-up on the backs of the stools around the kitchen island — and I hate them there! So using one for gently worn clothes should have been a no-brainer.
My goal is to reduce the numbers of some costume jewelry (lots was my mom’s – same with purses) that are in great shape so I may put them on one of those garage sale sites to see if the artsy folks might use them. If not – donate! So hopefully my wicker chair will be cleared shortly. Thanks for the tip!
Debbie A. says
I have a few nice shirts that I wear to church on Sunday. I rotate them, to avoid wearing the same shirt two weeks in a row. I’m good at hanging up my shirts after washing and wearing, and a recently worn shirt will go to the back of the line. I bought a bunch of ponytail holders in white, gray and black. When I hang up a freshly washed shirt, I put a set of ponytail holders on the hook, white on top, gray in the middle and black on the bottom. When I wear a shirt, I remove a ponytail holder, which helps me know how many times I’ve worn the shirt. When I get to the black, the shirt gets washed after that wearing.
Nancy Toka says
Great idea. I will look for ‘just the right’ over door hanger. I had the same problem. So many things just don’t need to be washed after one wearing, but what to do with them?
Thank you for solving my dilemma.
Some funny person on the internet coined the word “floordrobe” for the items of your wardrobe that are on the floor. They are not quite dirty enough to go in the hamper, but not quite clean enough to be put away.
Kim White says
I told my daughter about this, because to my slob brain, it was a great idea. My daughter, however, informed me that if it’s too dirty to go back into the closet, it’s too dirty to wear. I may have to disown that girl. 😉
You have helped me so much, Dana. Thank you!
Nickalli Braaten says
I found my solution! Since I work from home I often only wear “heading out” outfits for an hour or two at a time. When I get home and change out of them, I hang them back up in the closet – inside out. So if I go to grab a shirt and it’s inside out on the hanger I know I’ve already worn it once and it can go in the laundry after this wearing. No visual clutter anywhere else!
I am so impressed at you all.
I’m still wrestling with my ‘floordrobe’ to graduate to a chair would be a win!