Tag Archives: Laundry

Dirty or Clean? That is the Question

Here is an organizing challenge that many of my clients create for themselves over and over again: what to do with the clothes that have been worn once and are not quite dirty.

I find many people create holding zones for clothes that are not quite dirty and yet not quite clean. In my opinion, similar to being pregnant, clothes can’t be halfway anything. They are either dirty and in need of a wash or clean enough to wear again. Do not put them into a half way zone. Make your decision when you take them off and do what needs to be done. If they are not dirty enough to be put into the hamper, then they can be worn again. Do not hang them on your exercise bike!

When clothes are piled up, they are forgotten about. Even if you want to wear something again, will you know where to look for it? And will you still want to wear it once you realize it’s wrinkled from sitting in a pile? By hanging clothes that have been worn, you’re also allowing the fabric to air out, making it much more likely they will be fresh enough to wear again when the time comes.

If you find yourself hyperventilating as you read this, here is a possible solution. Hang the ones that are gently worn backwards on the rod in your closet, or hang them together in one section. For folded clothes, keep them at the top of the pile. When you do your laundry, you can always double check these areas and decide whether or not they need to be washed after all.

Whatever you need to do, do not pass go and do not create a separate holding zone for these items. It will only cause complete confusion, take up unnecessary space and cost you more time later.

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Six Tips For Managing Your College Schedule

Six Tips For Managing Your College Schedule

Your first year away at college can be stressful. After a long time of anticipation, you are now on your own and responsible for creating (more…)

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Garage Organizing ~ FAQ

Cleaning Garage

Here are a few answers to my most frequently asked questions:

Q) What Tools Do I Need To Organize a Garage?

Gather boxes, in all shapes and sizes along with a box of large trash bags.

Q) When Should I Begin?

The day after trash is emptied if possible.

Q) How Should I Begin?

To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto.

Start 3 piles outside (more…)

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Organizing baggage

Baggage Sign

Dear Kathi,

I have a three-bedroom home with a two-car garage. I recently took on a new roommate who agreed to bring in only a TV and his clothes. He would put the rest of his possessions into storage because the room he rents is completely furnished. This is the problem: he has moved many of his belongings into my garage. I don’t want to be difficult and would like to try to accommodate his items. Right now, however, he is blocking my gaming area where I have several pinball machines. What can I do to optimize my space more efficiently and fit more storage into this space?

James, San Diego


I appreciate your wishing to accommodate a roommate who has overstepped his agreement. Putting one’s things in storage usually means one’s own storage, not someone else’s! In most difficult situations there is a middle ground. In this case it sounds like your roommate has gone over your invisible (to him) boundary line. You might negotiate him storing some of his things in your garage, perhaps only to the extent that he not impinge on your gaming space, or whichever limits you choose to impose. That way you could create a win-win situation: helping him out while still retaining the essential garage space you need for yourself.

It is hard to give specific organizing advice without seeing exactly what is in your garage. The standard organizing process would be to take inventory of the all the loose items and the larger immovable items, like your pinball machines, washing machine, etc.

I’m not sure if you have a laundry section within your garage or if you park your car there. Let’s assume you do laundry, play pinball and keep storage items in your garage, without trying to accommodate an automobile. If this is the case, you basically have three zones within this space. Knowing this, you will want to group all items related to each activity within their appropriate zone.

Storage items, like your new roommate’s boxes are best stored floor to ceiling on shelving units against a long sidewall. One swift way to reduce the clutter of storage items is to buy large plastic bins. Fill these bins, label and stack them together. Rectangular bins save space and fit nicely onto shelves. If you decide to allow your roommate to keep his items in the garage, you can at least insist that he repack his belongings into plastic bins. They save space and are the best way to protect against water and dust damage.

Consider hanging cupboards above the washer and dryer to hold extra cleaning supplies. If you have room, a small roller unit that fits between or on one side of the washer and dryer can hold the laundry soap, spot remover, bleach, dryer sheets, etc. If you use an ironing board, consider buying a unit that installs into the wall or one that hangs directly from the wall and tucks away when not in use. This will optimize floor space.

One of my favorite laundry tools to save space and time is the professional grade clothes steamer. I haven’t used an iron since I received my steamer as a gift over ten years ago! This unit, which requires only one foot of floor space, steams wrinkles out of clothes more quickly than any iron. If you are not familiar with this handy tool, you can find it online by searching ‘garment steamer’ or ‘clothes steamer.’ A wonderful space and time saving device! Make sure to buy the floor model on wheels for the most effortless steaming.

If this column hasn’t completely addressed your dilemma, please email me with more specifics about your garage predicament and I will do my best to advise.
Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Practical garage organization

Dear Kathi,

I have a garage for the first time and I want to organize it in the most practical way. What are your suggestions? I’m sure some things are supposed to be in the front and others in the back. I need to do laundry and park my car and would like it to be functional and easy to keep tidy.
Keith, San Marcos


Determine what activities will take place in your garage before you begin to plan the layout. Your garage will include a laundry area, but will it also store sports equipment, garden supplies, holiday décor? Will it feature a workout or workshop area?

Once you have listed the different items you will keep in your garage, you can create a practical plan for each zone within your space. For instance, position your laundry area closest to the interior door. Gardening supplies and lawnmower should be towards the front or side of the garage to keep the dirt toward the outer perimeter and away from the laundry zone.

Every garage should include some type of storage. Does your garage have pre-existing shelving or cabinets? If possible, use an entire wall for storage. Use every inch of vertical space, ceiling to floor and if possible wall to wall. Buy the tallest available cabinets or shelves to totally optimize the space along that wall. If you still have overhead space after installing these cabinets, consider running another shelf above to hold holiday boxes or tax archives.

Cabinets/shelves are typically 20-24 inches deep and should fit easily along the wall where you will park the car. Using this wall for storage will keep lawnmowers etc from banging into your car door.

When you think your plan is complete, look again at the space above each zone. You can never have too much storage. Consider adding more shelving in the areas that have empty wall space or above the garage door. There are companies that specialize in overhead garage door storage units. This storage area works well for large items like skis, extra lumber and building supplies.

Bicycles can be hung from the ceiling using a hook, pulley and rope system. Use a boat cleat to tie them off to a sidewall once they are hoisted above head level. A quick-release rappel cleat (found at any outdoor store) will quickly attach or release the bike from the rope.

When you design your laundry area, install shelving above the washer and dryer. This will hold your extra cleaning supplies and possibly paper towels and toilet paper if you buy it in bulk. If there is extra space, consider adding a thin rolling shelf between the machines for everyday detergents and fabric softener.

Make sure to have some type of large horizontal space in your laundry zone. The ultimate solution is to buy or build a large 36″ high counter top. This will help your back and provide a convenient space to fold and hold laundry. If space is tight, an ironing board will also work for folding laundry. This board can be stored vertically and hung on a wall when not in use. You could install an ironing board system that fits in between your wall studs. It lives behind a door and folds open when it is needed.

Garden supplies can be stacked neatly in two rows of large plastic bins with lids. Extra potting soil, mixes and pots can be stored in the two bottom bins. Tools, seeds and bulbs can be stored neatly within the top bins. Sectionalize your smaller items within the larger bins with ziplock baggies and smaller shoebox size bins. Keep an empty plastic bin on top of this stack to use for potting plants. By the time you have stacked three of these bins on top of each other, you have a convenient waist-high workstation.

Feel free to write again if you need additional information about planning your garage. Have fun and remember, a little build-out and preplanning will make using your new-found space much more enjoyable.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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Finding the solution to lost-sock syndrome

Dear Kathi,

I am experiencing sock challenges. For starters, I never can seem to find two of a kind. After doing a load of laundry, I always have single socks. I keep buying more socks every time I go to the mall. My main question is how should I organize my socks and keep them together as pairs? Also, how many pairs of socks should a normal person own?

Edward, Encinitas


You have a very common problem that I affectionately call the “Missing Sock Syndrome”. Your single socks have joined the ranks of the many eligible socks throughout the world. They become foot loose and fancy free once they hit the laundry bag and create a life of their own during the wash cycle.

There are many ways to take control of these wayward soles (pun intended). To organize your sock drawer, use plastic waffle dividers. These dividers hook together and configure to fit any size drawer. They can be purchased at your local bed and bath store or selected department stores.

I still use the old fashioned method of folding the top of one sock over it1s mate and storing my pairs single-layer in a shallow drawer. For my clients who feel that this will stretch the tops of their socks, I recommend that they use the military method and wash their socks together in a fine mesh bag with a zipper or Velcro enclosure. Additionally, there are plastic clips made specifically for pairing socks during the laundry process. These plastic clips are best fastened to the toes to prevent stretching during the wash cycle.

Regardless of the method you choose, there will inevitably be stray socks. My favorite creation is “the missing sock” bag. An extra pillowcase or a drawstring bag works great for this purpose. Store this bag in your laundry area. When you finish a load of laundry and you find another lone sock, don’t even give it the time of day. Simply throw it into your missing sock bag and forget about it for a while. Every month or so, empty your bag of loose socks. Amazingly, many singles will have reconciled with their mates while you weren’t watching! Pair these socks and store them back into your sock drawer.

Put all remaining bachelor socks back into your bag and give them more time to find their way. You will eventually have to toss the stubbornly single-minded socks. Give them a few cycles in the bag and then banish them forever into the trashcan. If you can1t manage to throw away a perfectly good sock, make a hand puppet for your favorite small person.

There is no normal amount of socks to own and no one way to be organized. For instance, my husband surfs and lives in sandals most of the year. I, on the other hand, am constantly cold and wear socks throughout the year. Our sock collections are as diverse as our needs.

My brother is color-blind. Years ago he decided to purchase only black socks, to minimize the risk of creating blue/green sock combinations. As my brother, he knows that it is a severe fashion violation to wear black socks with anything but dress shoes, he naturally gravitates to sandals when not working. His simple system requires owning only 10-15 pairs of socks.

If you still have issues with your sock collection after implementing these suggestions, consider following my brother’s example. When you purchase socks, repetitively buy the same brand and the same style in the same basic color palette. With this method, your single socks will have numerous potential partners when they begin their new life within your drawer.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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A Laundry Room Comes Clean

Situation: This is typical for a laundry room- lots of clutter on top of the machines, and no adequate horizontal space for folding clothes.

In this case, the client has front-load machines, so I would recommend installing a countertop across them to provide a large space for folding, like in the photo above. This client was getting ready to sell her house, so we did not install a countertop.

Challenge: The closets were cluttered and full of things that did not belong in the laundry room. We also needed to provide some horizontal folding space without adding a countertop.

Solution: We moved the gift bags and sewing supplies to other closets in the house. We moved towels down to a shelf that this client could reach, and we stored extra fabric for sewing projects on the top shelf, since she will not need to access them very often. Now that the clutter that was on top of the machines has a place, she has this space available for folding clothes.

One of my favorite organizing devices is this roll out cart between the machines that houses cleaning supplies.

Most people don’t use the fast drying rack that comes with some dryers, but are afraid to get rid of it in case they sell the machine or home some day. I recommend mounting this high on the wall or storing it in a garage or other storage space.

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The Iron Versus The Cat

What does an iron and a cat have in common? Not much until recently. Monopoly just removed the iron token from their game and instead enlisted the services of a cat. It’s about time since a dog has been a token from the beginning!

Monopoly claims that ironing is on a decline. Why not tell that to the average woman in the UK who, according to NPR, irons an average of 55 minutes a week.

Wow. Haven’t they heard of the professional steamer? You save boatloads of time using a professional grade steamer. You also save a lot of money on dry cleaning bills.

My life changed dramatically 15 years ago when my husband bought me a professional clothes steamer. I haven’t picked up an iron since then and will not miss it in monopoly. I will, however fight to use the cat token!



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How to organize your laundry area

Situation: This laundry area was unorganized and under utilized. As you can see, the clutter was getting in the way and making it difficult to do the laundry.

Challenge: Laundry and donations were mixed together, bags of clothes were getting in the way, and cleaning tools and storage items were piling up on top of the machines.

Solution: We moved an old shelf unit onto the dryer to provide vertical storage. We hung the broom and mop up on the wall above the washer. We brought tools, lightbulbs, and cleaning products into this area to give them a proper home. We also purchased a smaller laundry hamper to hold dirty clothes without getting in the way.

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The Balcony that was used for Storage Space


This balcony was used as a catch-all for items that needed to be moved to other places within the house. It all began with the laundry. The family needed a central location to gather laundry and the ideal spot was on the balcony outside two of the bedrooms. This was a OK idea but, as we know, when items outgrow their space, clutter grows into more clutter!


The baskets being used did not provide enough space for all of the laundry as it landed there. Once the laundry began to overflow, other totally unrelated items began to gather there as well. Surprise! OK, not really…


We cleared away everything that was not laundry related and either donated it or moved it to other parts of the house. The kids were old enough to safely remove the mesh barrier. We purchased a set of nice wood cabinets that held three large laundry bins. Now the landing area is clean and clear and the laundry is behind closed doors! The view from the front door looking up is fantastic and even the dog loves the new perspective.

*Please note: the picture does not show the new three drawer laundry system.  It was taken after we had cleared the landing and before the new cabinet was installed The photo above is representative of what we used for the cabinet solution.

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