Ask UfYH: Put it Away, Goddammit!

Q: Any suggestions for dealing with when the “put it away” part of doing the clothes washing gets too tiring? I struggle with loss of momentum if I take a break, but washing and drying THEN sorting and folding and putting away gets too tiring and it always just ends up piled up in the drawer in a way that’s impossible to find anything. Is there a simpler or more low maintenance way to sort stuff so I can find my clean shirts for once?

A: Well, I’m glad you asked! Over at UfYH, this week’s challenge is to follow through on the elusive third step of laundry and dishes (put it away, goddammit!). This is a really common problem, so let’s take a look at some ways to make putting your laundry away a little easier:

  1. Wash like items together. If you have a lot of laundry to do, wash it by where it goes once it’s clean: all T-shirts in one load, one load of socks and underwear, one load of hanging stuff, etc. This will cut down on your putting away time, since everything’s going to the same place.
  2. Bring your empty hangers to the dryer. Hang things up as you take them out. No sense in handling the same piece of clothing a bunch of times. Save yourself a step.
  3. Don’t “stack” loads. If you have one load in the washer, one in the dryer, and one on deck to wash, the odds of that third (and even second) load getting put away decreases. It may not save time, but doing one load beginning to end before you start the next one helps ensure you have the energy to put it away.
  4. Fold right at the dryer. As soon as that clean laundry goes into the basket, the likelihood that you’ll fold it and put it away drops. Try folding as soon as you take it out of the dryer. If standing isn’t feasible for you, try setting up a seat at a low table.
  5. Don’t wait. As soon as the buzzer goes off, get the stuff out of the dryer and get it put away, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing, because then it’ll be done and it won’t be haunting and taunting you.

So, putting it away. Indisputably the worst step of laundry, but definitely the most critical. Look around at your bedroom mess. How much of it is clothes? How easy is it to avoid that with just a few minutes’ work? This week, challenge yourself to put it away, goddammit.

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[E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

5 thoughts on “Ask UfYH: Put it Away, Goddammit!”

  1. I get stuck with this one a lot, mostly because my living space has horribly inconvenient storage. For me it’s not folding but hanging clothes up that I hate. For example, as I type this, I have two coats and three shirts on my floor that should really be in my closet.

    My solution is to turn on a new podcast or radio show, or an old TV episode that I love (so I can listen but don’t need to pay attention) and treat putting away clothes as “guilty pleasure time.” There is coffee or wine and possibly some chocolate. I sit in the middle of my bed with the pile of laundry around me and sort and fold while listening to Buffy quip at the Mayor (obvs the best Big Bad of the series).

    Another thing I did is get little baskets for socks, underwear, and pajamas. I don’t have to fold those things because it doesn’t matter if they are wrinkled! So once I get to just sort of throw those into a basket, the rest of the pile looks much smaller.

    Good luck, darling!

  2. I have such a tiny dresser at the moment that I usually wait a couple days to put things away because otherwise it doesn’t all fit. But then it’s all too easy to just leave the bag of laundry on the floor until I need to do laundry again. It helps to Netflix an episode of something I’ve seen a billion times (usually Chappelle’s Show or The Boondocks) so I have something to entertain me while I fold. And I make Lexie put away her underwear and match her socks, which doesn’t actually speed things up much, but it’s good practice for her.

  3. I read somewhere about turning “shoulds” into “coulds.” (I’m probably not the only one here who read it, so if someone wants to add the source, please do). But anyway, I get my laundry put away by putting on my favorite music at loud volume-I have a large closet (it’s a room, seriously!), so I can sing, boogie, pull out my “graceful ballerina,” whatever. So, “I should put the laundry away” becomes “I could belt along with Sutton Foster and pretend that I’m a ballerina.”

    In my old place, I would put on a good TV show, and do as much as possible there. I could get pretty much everything done except for putting the hangers on the rod and the stuff in the drawers.

    FWIW, the music thing has become such an integral part of the laundry experience that when I was having issues with my music player, I threatened to go on strike until my husband fixed the damn thing. Did not have to follow through.

  4. I get stuck there all the time, too, dear reader. These points really help me, especially taking the hangers to the dryer. My laundry closet is very small, but it has a wire rack above the machines. I hang my empty hangers there so I don’t have to remember to grab them.

    Another thing I did to motivate myself was get some of those Downey smell-good balls that are supposed to keep your (clean, put away) laundry fresh for a month. They smell REALLY good, especially when the clothes are still warm. It makes folding much more pleasant for me. (Inscrutables? Instinkables?)

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