A better system for organizing clothing that's been worn
September 6, 2010 10:51 AM   Subscribe

How do you arrange worn clothing? I tend to wear clothes more than once before laundering them, especially pants and outerwear, and usually drop them on the chair or the bed. Are you supposed to fold them up and put them in with the cleaned clothes?

Related: I know other people use the sniff test sometimes to see if a piece of clothing can be worn again or not, but I have a pretty dull sense of smell, so I'd probably go on wearing a pair of jeans forever with this method. (Actually, I probably wouldn't, given my paranoid nature.)
posted by Busoni to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
It is useful to fold clothing neatly to avoid needless wrinkling. As for where you put it, that's up to you. Dropping it on a chair sounds good to me.
posted by grizzled at 10:56 AM on September 6, 2010

Get a valet stand. In Germany it is known as "Stummer Diener" meaning mute servant. Alternatively, any chair will do.
posted by cronholio at 10:57 AM on September 6, 2010

We use a re-purposed hat stand or clothing tree, I guess because my parents always used a clothing tree and to me, that is just how you solve that problem. When I have not had a clothing tree, I have used a designated chair or an over-door hook system.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:05 AM on September 6, 2010

Really, anywhere off the floor is good. I generally fold them and keep them away from the clean clothes, but off the floor. Of course, my space is way limited so it's pretty easy to keep things off the floor.
posted by patheral at 11:17 AM on September 6, 2010

Best answer: Are you supposed to fold them up and put them in with the cleaned clothes?

Yes. In my mind, there is no delineation between unworn and worn clothes. There are only two piles: Fit for Wearing and Dirty.
posted by yawper at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2010 [14 favorites]

Best answer: We use a designated drawer for things like that - If it's been worn a little while, and we plan to wear it again soon (this happens most often on the weekends), we put it in the drawer.

We used to pile it on the floor, but quit when we noticed that clothes on the floor become a breeding ground for all sorts of clutter. It's hard enough keeping things neat without sabotaging yourself. :)
posted by WowLookStars at 11:32 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have a two-basket hamper (like this one) for this. I got it at Ikea. Clothes I need to wash go on the left side, and clothes I want to wear again go on the right. Usually, I try to fold them and put them back away when i can.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:38 AM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, for the smell issue, put a dryer sheet in your hamper or drawers.
posted by emilyd22222 at 11:40 AM on September 6, 2010

I vacillate between putting them away in the drawer/closet with the things I haven't worn yet or leaving them in a pile on the floor like the slob that I am. (Knowing full well that the latter is really bad for my stuff.)

Why would you not want to re-fold and put away? If it's clean enough to wear again, it's clean.
posted by Sara C. at 11:50 AM on September 6, 2010

Hooks. I have several hooks that are hidden behind my bedroom door when it is open. If I have something that can't deal with a hook I hang it over something that's already on there or fold it on the dresser.
posted by BoscosMom at 12:15 PM on September 6, 2010

Best answer: I, too, have three states for clothing: washed, worn but ok to wear again, dirty.

Washed goes in the closet, dirty goes on the fl- I mean in the hamper- and worn but fit for wearing again goes on hooks on the wall behind the bedroom door. Works wonderfully, when I stick to the routine. The hooks are just a $8 pegs in a board thing I got at Menards. Learned this system from my grandfather.

Fits in with a rule that got drilled into me in Chemistry: nothing ever goes back into the supply bottle. Not chemicals, not food, not clothes.
posted by gjc at 12:18 PM on September 6, 2010 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I hang up pretty much everything. If I've worn something, but it isn't really dirty, I'll hang it back up, but turn the hangar so it hooks toward me. This is a signal that says "Hey, you should smell this before you wear it anywhere." I also check reversed hangars when I'm doin' laundry for anything that could maybe be cleaner.

But I've never met anyone else who doesn't think that's nuts.
posted by Plug Dub In at 12:21 PM on September 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Another vote for hooks. I have some in my bathroom, and one on the back of my closet door. Hooks, for me, are great, because it keeps semi-clean clothes out of the reach of cats (unlike putting them on a chair), and it keeps them from getting wrinkly. It's also a self regulating sort of system- only a certain number of items can be hung at a time, forcing things to be laundered rather than accumulating in an amorphous "is this clean or dirty" pile.
posted by kimdog at 12:36 PM on September 6, 2010

Hang pants, jackets and outerwear on hangers on the back of a closet door or other place where they can 'air-out' a bit before rejoining the clean clothes hanging in the closet. Hanging is essential to cut down on the potential wrinkles. Separate from clean clothes lets some air circulate around them instead of immediately cramming them in the closet. I use this method for suits, sweaters and other items I don't want to dry clean frequently. I also find that an iron with the 'steam' setting on 'high' freshens up almost any wool items that have been worn a few times.
posted by Cheeto at 12:59 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I agree with Cheeto in the "air things out for a day" department; I have an over-door towel rack in the closet for this purpose. Then things get put away or ironed & put away to be worn again. Shirts and dresses usually get two outings before a wash (could be longer if you're not a sweat monster), pants can go quite a bit longer depending on the day's activities. Suits & fancy dresses are in an inexpensive zip-up bag (even a garbage bag or a cleaner's bag would work) so that they don't absorb any stray odors or dirt from already-worn clothes.

Just know that ironing can bring out odors in a garment. I avoid ironing over the armpit area of shirts that have been worn once. Of course, this is North Carolina, where we sweat 9 months out of the year, so YMMV.

Also, if you're like me and loathe the smell of Febreze, you can use cheapo vodka diluted in water as a fabric refresher if you're paranoid.
posted by Fui Non Sum at 2:36 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's called clothes purgatory. It's where you put clothes that are not clean but you plan on wearing again. Sometimes, you need more than one purgatory to keep things separated.

Putting your not clean clothes with your clean clothes makes no sense.

We have two hooks and a shelf for clothes like this.
posted by Brian Puccio at 2:42 PM on September 6, 2010 [3 favorites]

Usually I just have a system for the closet. Re-wearable get hung on the left side of the closet, emptied hangers go in the center, and clean clothes hung on the right. The hangers are a good divider that easily removes guesswork about which is which. Dirty goes in something on the floor of the closet, under the re-wearables rather than clean, just cause. Clean non-hangables folded in drawers. Re-wearable non-hangables folded on top the drawer unit.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 2:45 PM on September 6, 2010

Best answer: Just offering some comments, coming from experience:

1) As you clearly know (but others who have replied here apparently don't), do not assume that just because you can't smell an odor on your clothes, other people can't smell it either. You are accustomed to your own smell, which likely means that you are insensitive to it. Personally, I find my wife can really smell my clothes, pillow, bedsheet, etc., much sooner than I can.

2) I recommend against putting worn clothes next to, or in the same closed space, as clean clothes. Wearing clothes even for a short time can cause them to absorb and retain body odor (not to mention oils from your skin, dead skin cells, etc.), and the odors can get absorbed by the clean clothes. As a consequence of point (1), other people may be able to detect the odors, even if you can't.

3) Putting a dryer sheet among smelly clothes does very little. It's only an attempt to mask the undesirable odor with an even stronger odor. Problem is, people who have good senses of smell can smell both.
posted by StrawberryPie at 3:24 PM on September 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have a series of pegs on the back of a door that I use for hanging worn-but-still-ok clothes -- it keeps them away from clean clothes and airs them out, too.
posted by ldthomps at 4:49 PM on September 6, 2010

I hang worn clothes so they can air out. I hang them in the closet, on hangers, on the same rod as the clean clothes, only separated by something (bathrobe, hanger full of bras, what-have-you). I also keep the closet slightly open to allow air to circulate. I only wear pants twice before washing, sweaters 3 or 4 times. No problems with worn-clothes-funk jumping on to clean clothes (my clothes don't get that funky anyway) due to the proximity.
posted by Koko at 5:29 PM on September 6, 2010

I too believe in a clothing purgatory and attempt to lay out clothes relatively flat on either the orphaned ottoman or tv tray that have somehow found their way into our bedroom. This is not elegant—at all—and is in no way a recommended solution, but it will have to do until I get around to finding the clothes ladder (?) I saw in someone else's bedroom.
posted by braemar at 7:11 PM on September 6, 2010

If it's too dirty to go with the unworn clothes, then it goes in the laundry. If its clean enough to wear again, it goes in the closet.

So yeah, the categories are "clean enough to wear again" and "laundry", not worn or unworn.
posted by Kololo at 7:44 PM on September 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Previously. Although the answers here are pretty much the same, you may find one or two new ideas.
posted by mhz at 7:53 PM on September 6, 2010

Response by poster: Lots of best answers, some that didn't get marked. Seems like most people fall into several camps: hooks, chairs, separate drawer, or don't separate at all. Was unable to find the previous ask, so thanks. Going to add some keywords so someone else can find it again in the future.
posted by Busoni at 3:23 PM on September 7, 2010

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