Category Archives: Laundry

Home Tour Tuesday: The Laundry Room

Even as the organizational process is slowing down in our house for a variety of reasons, I still get bursts of inspiration here and there. Today’s Home Tour Tuesday is a testament to that!

Today I’m proud to introduce our laundry room. It won’t take your breath away with its beauty or special touches (… yet. We have plans!) but it has improved our lifestyle tremendously, even in the past few days that it has been organized.

We moved into our house about six months ago now, and we still had all of my dad’s supplies for cleaning and home repairs stored up on the top shelf in our laundry room. We piled the floor with our items. I had originally hoped the laundry room could double as a pantry, so I had added portable shelving and stashed oversized kitchen items on them. It was a bad idea. There was no room to sort or fold clothing, so our laundry inevitably spilled over into the kitchen.

Daniel prompted the beginning of the laundry room overhaul. He suggested we buy the sorting hamper we’d been eying for a couple of years. Done. We took the trip to the Container Store after church one day and came home with this beauty:

He assembled it for me and we began using it immediately. It’s fairly large, so storage in our room isn’t that practical, but the three large fabric compartments, sturdy frame, and casters make sorting laundry easy. We simply wheel it back and forth from our bedroom or bathroom hampers to the laundry room. (And once we cleaned out the laundry room, we could store it there, as well.)

On Friday, I decided that even that big help wasn’t enough. I was tired of having a messy laundry room that didn’t function as well as it should. I took nearly everything out, dusted, swept, and put only what we used or needed to keep handy back. I removed the pantry items (minus our huge bread maker that only gets the occasional use and doesn’t fit on either our counter or our cupboards). I threw out things we hadn’t used in the six months since I’d stored them there. I ruthlessly disposed of duplicates. (Since when had we had FOUR dustpans??!)

As a result, the laundry room went from this:

to this:

Yay! It’s inspired us to do more laundry and even sort and fold right away. I’m pleased, and I can’t wait to dress it up and make it “purtier” sometime soon.

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Filed under Home Tour Tuesday, Laundry, Organizing

Coming Soon: Dresser Drawer Divider Hack

So, I went on a laundry rampage over the past few days. I have one load of delicates/handwashables/possible dry-cleanables left but I got it done. This battle has been won (although we all know the war is never over. Eek. I can understand the aristocratic appeal of having a laundress on staff. Any volunteers? I pay in free dinner and crafts.)

While I was at it, I found an item or two I thought I was missing (funny how things disappear into the depths of a dresser drawer) but have yet to find the one pair of pants I wanted to wear.  The hunt is on. Perhaps one of the  few boxes yet to be unpacked in the garage contain the elusive pants in question? Hmmm.

In the meantime, I managed to fit more items into my dresser by utilizing a couple of tricks I uncovered via Pinterest and Google. And the peasants rejoiced! (Fist pump. Yeah.)

First, because Daniel and I share a single dresser and space is at a premium,  I removed all the items from our dresser drawers that we didn’t use on a routine basis. This included out-of-season items like shorts, as well as little-worn belts or articles of clothing. This freed up a significant amount of space. I simply purchased an under-the-bed plastic tub from Target to store those items in for easy access without taking up space.

Then, I filed our folded t-shirts vertically, like cards in a card catalog or recipes in a recipe box (inspired by this drawer organization example via sydoniah as found at Apartment Therapy) instead of stacking them. Brilliant. We can now see them all at a glance and access them more quickly and neatly.

Finally, I stored like items with like in the range most needed. Undergarments and socks went in the upper drawers, as always, while our t-shirts went in the second tier and our workout clothing (shirts, pants, etc.) went in the bottom drawers. Everything else was hung up in our closet. A separate trip to Target procured the additional black plastic hangers we needed to complete the task.

I searched in many stores for drawer dividers to keep our his-and-hers t-shirt “files” neat, as well as other items. Nearly every option I found was $15 or more. Like this one, at Bed, Bath, and Beyond:

Not satisfied (and wanting something even more adjustable/customizable), I recalled having stumbled across a solution for a kitchen drawer divider when browsing the Internet that I thought I could modify for our bedroom dresser drawers, so on a hunch I went to Lowe’s and purchased a $9 large sheet of corrugated white sign plastic, such as is used to make Yard Sale signs. I had to hunt through my browser history to find the link, but when I did I pinned it for future reference. Sometime this week I’ll take a ruler and an X-Acto knife and cut the sheet down to size. I have to figure out how I’ll attach the segments to each other (I’m thinking of hacking the original idea so it is more like this cardboard drawer divider, with notches that interconnect), but I am fully confident that when I’m done I’ll have nice, neat drawers with drawer dividers.

As a final touch, I am either going to use some  wrapping paper, as pinned here, or fabric, as pinned here, to create my own geometric-design drawer liner, as the current liner is pretty dated (I believe from the 70s, to be precise.)

I’m pretty excited to see how it will all turn out. Stay tuned!

p.s. As part of my “organize how it makes sense to you” campaign to simplify my life instead of add unnecessary extra work, I recalled a laid-back approach to the sock drawer that I saw in a book once. Sadly, I can’t remember the book title or author’s name. However, it really liberated me to not feel guilty about hating to pair socks. Daniel does it for me usually because he is wonderful and he loves me and he knows how I despise taking time to pair socks, but with this new solution, he doesn’t have to sacrifice for me. Our sock drawer … is just that. A drawer full of socks. Period. They are all in a single drawer and we take as we can. After all, so many of our socks are just multiples of the exact same style and color. (White.) This may end up being ditched if it adds stress instead of efficiency (in which case, I’ll  let you know), but for now I’m kinda loving it, to quote McDonald’s. And to quote William Wallace: FREEEEEDOOOOOOMMMM!

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Filed under Drawers, Laundry, Organizing, Sorting, Storage

Laundry, Dishes, Paper

These are the three things that are my nemeses. I have won battles, but the war is still going strong.

2012, please bring me systems or solutions, or just plain self-motivation to get them done in a continually ongoing and efficient way. My year of organizational endeavors is almost up, but those three things still mock me from the counter or bed or hamper or office desk every time they pile up and become the Goliath to my David.

I’m claiming the victory as mine!

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Filed under Cleaning, Home, Kitchen, Laundry, Office, Paper

Homemade Laundry Detergent and Softener

Just what does this girl do with all her new-found time?

She cleans up good, that’s what. And, in the process, participates in a Pinterest Challenge thrown out by Sherry at Young House Love and her cohorts.

Like a kid at Christmas who just got a new chemistry set (okay, okay, so I’m a geek at heart, what can I say?) I have been giddy for the past 48 hours over the prospect of making my own home cleaning supplies out of natural and/or inexpensive ingredients. For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about making this lovely little recipe I found at the Yellow Brick Home blog (I’m an avid reader, so I read it first, pinned it second–that still counts for the challenge, right?):

Looks so pretty and cheerful, doesn’t it? Well, it was calling my name. Kim found it via That’s Church, who in turn found it on Tall Tales. But believe it or not, the ingredient list is no longer than the attribution list.

(For even gentler laundry, use 1 bar of solid castile oil soap, such as Dr. Brommer’s … I’m trying that version next, but I bought the Fels-Naptha first.)

Here’s the step-by-step:

1) Grate the bar soap as finely as possible into a container. Despite the fact that the majority of Fels-Naptha ingredients are plant-derived, it is still an irritant in large quantities, so I wore a rubber kitchen glove for a little extra protection during the process. There was a small stub left at the end which I threw out rather than grating my fingertips down to a pulp.

2) Measure the Borax and Washing Soda into the container. If you like, you may add a few drops of your favorite essential oils to add fragrance.

3) Mix it all up. I used a plastic spoon to break up the large Borax pieces and then put the lid on the Tupperware container and shook it to combine the mixture.

Then I stuck a mini (roughly 1 Tbsp) aluminum scoop in it and tried it out.

The recipe says to use 1 tablespoon for small loads of laundry, 2 for large, and 3 for extra-large. I opted for 1 tablespoon, but I added a couple of extra steps at the end. First, I added 1/2 cup of vinegar into the fabric softener compartment of the washer. I stole this from another pin:

Then, I added a squished and rolled-up ball of cheap aluminum foil into the dryer with my guinea pig towel load, to reduce static cling. Yet another pin!

The result? Oh. My. Goodness. Where has this wonderful detergent and its cheap assistants been all my adult life? Daniel had done a load of towels our old way earlier in the day, so I had the ability to compare the two loads.

I’m sensitive to many fragrances and cleaning agents, so we don’t use fabric softeners or dryer sheets. The first load with our normal detergent had the typical clean, but rough towels. However, the homemade method produced soft, unwrinkled, nearly static-free towels that didn’t bowl me over with a heavy-handed perfume. If my sensitive skin doesn’t react to this soap over the next few weeks, I think I may have found “The One.” Of the soap, variety, of course.

Fingers crossed!

 

Linked up at:

Young House Love

Bower Power

House of Earnest

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Filed under Cleaning, DIY, Home Improvement, Laundry, Products

Storage Above the Washer and Dryer

Now that I have a place to fold the laundry, I was inspired to clean out above the washer and dryer to continue the progress.  They are two closet areas that have been bothering me for quite some time now.

When we moved into our house last June, my main focus was to get in, get comfortable, and get in shape. I began running to train for a 5k Daniel and I ran in October. We ran it , then a month later hosted an open house party (useful tip: nothing like a party to whip your lazy cluttered butt into shape and get a house clean!). Then the holidays hit …

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Filed under Dining Room, Laundry, Storage

The Laundry Zone

Balancing aesthetics and practicality is always tricky. I realized recently that I was going to need to give up my dining room nook in order to gain room to do our laundry. The laundry took over the dining room, anyway. It was time to face the inevitable … bye-bye shelf I keep meaning to put something decorative on. Helllooo laundry zone.

I had to say goodbye to this mess, as well:

Yes, those are Christmas ornaments you see there, and some packaging, as well. Yes, they’ve been there since just before Christmas, when I wrapped the last minute gifts. And yes, I cringe to be posting this incriminating image, but it is all in the name of transformation and my quest for truly functional organization.

Once again, I looked for the following things as I decluttered:

  • Items to be tossed
  • Items to be transferred to another location
  • Items to be sold or given away
  • Items to be kept

We had a large cookbook collection that I decided to pare down to just the essentials.  The books that we are most likely to use I kept downstairs. Right now they’re on the shelving in the nook, but I might need that shelf while I’m folding, so I’m still thinking about that. We’ll see how things go while we adapt to our new zone.

I threw out our phone books. It was a matter of some debate in the Brame household. It just seems like one of those things you SHOULD have, you know? Let your fingers do the walking, and all that. But it was taking up space and, as Daniel pointed out, we never look in it anyway. We always use Google. So out they went, saving me the trouble of figuring out a logical spot to put them.

Then, I collected the Christmas items and put them in one spot, threw out some junk mail, and rethought my storage of fragile items on the top shelf.

I ended up with this:

I’ll need a place for my pre-wash stain removers, and I’m trying to think of what else would be useful to keep in the new laundry station. Detergent I keep above the washer. Dryer sheets (if any–those darn fragrance allergies) and our small steam cleaner I keep above the dryer. I don’t have room to put an ironing board in between, but that would be ideal.

At any rate, now we have a laundry zone! It might not be so pretty now, but I have big plans for it. The aesthetics will come along soon. Hint: it has something to do with color and pattern and those paint chips I’ve had up.

{Photos: Andrea B of Behind Closed Drawers}

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Filed under Dining Room, Laundry

Developing a Laundry System That Works

Remember this? We got rid of a lot of clothing. A LOT of clothing. Things that didn’t fit, were worn out, faded, stained, and out of date. Yet we still have one or two hampers of clothing that take a little extra care and as a result, have sat around for awhile waiting for that care to happen. (Can you say “wool sweaters?”)

So, in addition to actually buckling down and doing the laundry as we are able (and sorting some more!) I’ve been doing some research on systems, trying to get a feel for what will work for us. Daniel already had some great methods for sorting in place and I had a moment of brilliance (if I do say so myself) and realized the extra expandable shower curtain rod I had held onto would collapse down and fit perfectly in the dryer closet. I’ve been able to use it to have hangers at the ready to keep shirts from getting wrinkled after being removed from the dryer. Do I always use them? Full disclosure: no. I’m working on it, though! I’m also working on folding as I unload. It drives the impatient side of me crazy, but the organizational junkie in me is thrilled to have it done and ready to put in their designated homes in our bedroom.

{When we’re really on a roll, we just keep the laundry goin’ and Daniel and I sit down for a movie or two and have what we call a “folding party.” I’m sure our future children will be thrilled to participate in their weird parents’ silly housekeeping ritual.}

What I’ve found in my research so far has given me hope that we’re going in the right direction. Outside of Martha Stewart or The Gap, most expert sources I’ve come across mutually agree that you don’t have to be perfect. While I’d love a gorgeous linen closet found in a home decorating magazine, I’m currently finding my neat (and pared-down) one acceptable. While I can appreciate the crisp clean folds of the clothes for sale at a store, I am perfectly willing to put my own clothes in their spots with minimal wrinkles.

The same sources also tell me that it’s okay that I’m not a perfectionist when it comes to sorting and laundering … that in fact it can be a road block if all I am worried about is washing something in the absolutely best way and so I freeze and don’t wash it at all if I’m not certain what that way is. Let me tell you … that hit home. That’s exactly why those wool sweaters, blankets, and delicates are still waiting for their turn in the washing machine or sink. I’m petrified I’ll ruin my favorite wrap and never be able to wear it to a dinner party again. The funny thing is, when you think about, I’ll never be able to wear it again anyway if it just stays in that pile of laundry.

Here’s some of the best suggestions I’ve come across so far:

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