Where do you keep semi-clean clothes?
October 30, 2013 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I know I should throw my dirty clothes down the laundry chute so that I can wash them later. I also know to bring clean clothes up from the laundry room and put them in my dresser or hang them up in the closet. But where do I put the clothes that have been worn at least once but that don't yet need to be washed? I'm talking about jeans, sweaters, and certain shirts, not underwear, socks or undershirts. Putting the semi-clean clothes back in the dresser doesn't seem ideal because they have some dirt or dust that I don't want to get on the unworn clothes. Right now, I fold up the semi-clean clothes and put them on the floor next to my side of the bed, but my wife objects to my clothes pile. How do other people handle this? Is there some standard system that I've missed out on?
posted by Area Man to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (69 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
I have a special shelf for folded clothing (could also use a drawer or section of a drawer) and a small area in my closet for hanging clothing. This way I know exactly what needs to be washed on laundry day.
posted by valeries at 12:02 PM on October 30, 2013

We have an over the door set up hooks that have about 6 metal hooks that we hang over the closet door. It holds clean and mostly clean pants, the occasional dress shirt and what ever else needs to hang out for a bit until it's to dirty to wear.

Bed bath and beyond and the container store have a million of these types of hangers.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 12:02 PM on October 30, 2013 [6 favorites]

We have a dressing chair in the bedroom that we keep semi-clean clothes on. I tend to pile everything on there, though, and it really annoys my partner, so I'm not sure I recommend it.
posted by ethidda at 12:04 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I hang them on designated hooks inside my closet. My husband uses a small laundry basket that sits next to his larger hamper.
posted by anderjen at 12:06 PM on October 30, 2013

Back in the closet. It's not like it's a bacteria-free zone.
posted by Dragonness at 12:06 PM on October 30, 2013 [26 favorites]

This is why people have a chair in their bedroom.
posted by bondcliff at 12:07 PM on October 30, 2013 [25 favorites]

Overdoor hangers in the bedroom or nearby chairs are usually the location for this. I mostly tend to throw stuff over the back of the couch or on the breakfast bar stools since I shed clothes with every step into my apartment, culminating in the Wearing Of The Pajamas or the Wearing Of The Gym Clothes.
posted by elizardbits at 12:07 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

I have a valet stand for this. (But also a chair for overflow.)
posted by clavicle at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a couple of hooks inside my closet door; I hang worn-once-or-twice jeans there, and hoodies. Sweaters and wear-twice shirts get folded and put back in the drawer, but I keep the semi-clean stuff on the far right so I can remember.

My husband has a pile on the floor. (grumble grumble)
posted by hungrybruno at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chair, wall hooks, or hat/clothing tree.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:08 PM on October 30, 2013

I call this "clothing purgatory". I have a rack on the back of a closet door, and a chair.
posted by kellyblah at 12:09 PM on October 30, 2013

This is why people buy elliptical machines.
posted by Gungho at 12:09 PM on October 30, 2013 [100 favorites]

I put them in a laundry basket at the foot of my bed specifically for that purpose. In my last bedroom I used the papasan chair.
posted by désoeuvrée at 12:10 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

My husband has hooks; I have a shelf in my nightstand.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:11 PM on October 30, 2013

I keep clothes like that on my floordrobe.
posted by Rob Rockets at 12:12 PM on October 30, 2013 [58 favorites]

Somewhat used clothing will help keep the dust off the also somewhat used exercise equipment in your bedroom. If you lack an exercycle, the the over the door hanger described above will suffice.
posted by Cranberry at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Get a good chair.
posted by vrakatar at 12:13 PM on October 30, 2013

My partner and I had a terrible half-dirty clothes problem (mine were on the floor, she used a chair) but it has been solved so well by this Ikea rolling canvas shelving thing. If you are using it for just one person's worth of half-dirty clothes, you can set up fewer of the shelves and hang things in the top! It's really very exciting.
posted by snorkmaiden at 12:14 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by The corpse in the library at 12:18 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I use a combination of small laundry basket in the closet plus hooks on the closet door for this purpose. I would even put them in the clean clothes basket but not put them away in drawers and closets, just so you can differentiate. Contamination isn't really a practical issue.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 12:19 PM on October 30, 2013

I put them back in the bin (I use plastic bins instead of a dresser because I'm so darn classy). If they're so dirty that they're going to contaminate other clothes, they need to get washed.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:20 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Behind my bedroom door, on the floor... Frankly, all clothes get the smell check before I put them on, whether or not they are hung up.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 12:20 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

The exercycle is the traditional clothes hanger of my people.
posted by ook at 12:20 PM on October 30, 2013 [3 favorites]

Night stand or bathroom counter. With me socks and underwear are dirty after 1 wear, no questions asked. Not because they're socks and underwear, but because they're my socks and underwear.

Pants usually get worn the next day if they're not really dirty. So they just go on the night stand or the bathroom counter. Bathroom counter works since that's where I put the clothes I'm going to wear after I get out of the shower.

My wife hates the floor shelf as well. In an ideal world I'd put a milk crate under my night stand and go from there. But somehow I don't think I can get away with that.

YMMV. I work catering, so I'll come home and change shirts then wear it for just a few hours around the house. So wearing it again just around the house or pretty much anywhere not in close quarters with people we know is fair game.
posted by theichibun at 12:23 PM on October 30, 2013

I put them on a chair. But honestly, if it's clean enough to wear again, it's clean enough to get hung up again. I'm just lazy.
posted by Countess Sandwich at 12:31 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

This is pretty much THE reason people have chairs in their bedroom. Draping over a footlocker or chest also works well, in my experience. I'd tend to shy away from the floor, because that's asking for things to get stepped on and/or pick up floor dust/dirt.
posted by dlugoczaj at 12:35 PM on October 30, 2013

My biggest problem is that SOME clothes can last several wears (jeans) without washing (many people recommend this). Others need to be drycleaned after a few wears, others need to be cleaned after one wear.

I can never tell how many times I've worn something, so I tend to do all my laundry every month or so.

I refold jeans and mix with clean clothes. Ditto with my daily-wear OCBDs. Socks, undershirts, and underwear end up on the floor, but I use exofficio so I just wash them nightly in my sink (only 3 pairs!).

I would love a system to organize this madness. I'll keep reading.
posted by bbqturtle at 12:35 PM on October 30, 2013

Closet hooks are my solution. However, for jeans that I wore to the barn briefly or dog-walking shorts that have exterior dust and mud but no inner bodily ooze or grime, I have a have a hook by the back door. These things are absolutely clean enough in the inside to wear again. The outside is not clean enough to be in the closet.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:38 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I hang them back up in the closet, but in the middle "section," and with the hangers turned the opposite way.

If it's a heavy sweater, I drape it over whatever chair I'm sitting in when I take it off (either my dining chair or my armchair). If it's more of a jacket, I have hooks by the door.

If it's pajamas, I leave them laying on the end of the bed when I take them off for my shower. I'm going to put them back on before I get back into bed anyway.
posted by rue72 at 12:39 PM on October 30, 2013

I personally think that if clothes are clean enough to wear again, they're clean enough for the dresser/bin/whatever - if they're not, they should go in the hamper. But then, I currently have a very elaborate floordrobe myself, so ....
posted by lunasol at 12:41 PM on October 30, 2013

I stick them on a shelf in my wardrobe when I'm not being a slob. When I'm being a slob, the floor.

I figure if my clothes are dirty enough where I'm concerned about them contaminating my clean clothes, they should be washed.
posted by inertia at 12:41 PM on October 30, 2013

This is why god created exercise bikes.
posted by Solomon at 12:44 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mine migrate back and forth between my bed, a chair, and a box of sewing supplies that occupies the same spot where the chair used to be. As a kid, I used to put my pajamas under the pillow, but there's a gap in our headboard and they fall back behind it if I put them there.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:45 PM on October 30, 2013

Hangers that are a different color than the rest of the hangers.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:56 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

If it's pants, especially jeans, I brush them off pretty firmly (almost like shaking out a beach blanket) and then fold them up and put them back on the shelf. If it's a shirt, I hang it up again. I have enough space in my closet that it can kind of air out/not touch other clothes too much. Sometimes lately I let sweaters sit out on the back of a chair overnight to air out and then fold them up again to go back in the closet the next day. If it's too dirty to have these things done with it, I don't want to wear it again. This is all assuming I'm keeping up with my clothes. When I'm not, I default to a combination of floordrobe and chair for everything.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2013

Folded or "draped across" the dresser.
posted by salvia at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2013

Pssst. Don't tell anyone but I only wash my pants and dress shirts after wearing them 6 or 7 times. Air is the secret. And don't wear the same clothes consecutive days. If you let air circulate through your clothes, they actually dry out between wears.

I use this style of drying rack to hang them up.
posted by just.good.enough at 12:59 PM on October 30, 2013

'In-play' clothes -- I throw them over the edge of the laundry basket but not in it. And/or hung on hooks on the back of the closet door, though that gets crowded.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2013

Trousers and leggings get hung up on hooks in the bathroom, tops and dresses go back into the wardrobe. When I used to have an exercise bike, in-between clothes went there too.
posted by Ziggy500 at 1:00 PM on October 30, 2013

I put them back with the unworns without a second thought. I don't have a job where I sweat or pick up dust or terrifying amounts of bacteria.

Until a minute ago I didn't think I'd have to think twice about my once/twice-worns.
posted by kimberussell at 1:01 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Chair. Or in my case, on top of a giant plastic storage tub. But anyway its a storage surface between the bed and the wardrobe. Sometimes things end up on the floordrobe, but only due to laziness.
posted by Joh at 1:03 PM on October 30, 2013

I just hang everything back up in the closet (anything that would go in a dresser, like underwear, t-shirts, etc. I consider dirty after one wear). I guess my system is that things either need cleaning, or they don't, and all wearable clothes can just hang out together. If I was worried about "dust," it would be time to wash the item. I do keep my clothing sorted by type, so that may also be why I don't care if the outside of a skirt I've worn twice touches the outside of another skirt I've worn once, instead of a damp winter coat touching a silk blouse or something.
posted by aspen1984 at 1:04 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Putting the semi-clean clothes back in the dresser doesn't seem ideal because they have some dirt or dust that I don't want to get on the unworn clothes.

Clothes with dirt are by definition "dirt-y" and need to be put in the hamper or spot-cleaned. Dust? Clothes don't get dusty, at least any more than the clothes in your drawers and closets. Fold them and return to the drawer (possibly on the bottom to "rotate" your clothes) when you're done.
posted by deanc at 1:07 PM on October 30, 2013

If something is so dirty that it will contaminate other things it touches, it needs to go into the hampr. If you can't tell from looking at/smelling them that they've been worn before, why not put them back in with the rest of the clothes? I started doing that several years ago, and it means that clothes get worn until they are actually dirty. (Depending on what it is, that could be one wearing, or five.) My clothes last longer by not going through the machine as much, and I get to be lazier about doing laundry, without anyone being the wiser.
posted by chowflap at 1:07 PM on October 30, 2013

Spare open-topped laundry basket from the big box store.
posted by planetesimal at 1:09 PM on October 30, 2013

i put them in my filing cabinet so my cat can't reach them.
posted by bruce at 1:10 PM on October 30, 2013

I hang mine on the opposite side of the closet than my unworn clothes.

There's also a peice of furniture called a "valet" that is made specially for this.
posted by windykites at 1:14 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Usually I keep wearing stuff until it smells, has a spot on it, or if I think I've worn it like 4-5 times and it probably should just be washed (backne from dirty shirts = bleh).

Pants and shirts that go on hangers just go back into the closet.

Clothes should air out and a dresser just doesn't seem airy enough for me. So I have a set of open shelves that live in the closet. Jeans go on a closet shelf and I mix in dirty with clean. Sweaters get an airing out on the drying rack and then folded back up and put in the shelf with other sweaters. Certain wool sweaters worn with an undershirt get washed like once a year.

I only use my dresser for sweatpants/sweatshirts (I like lounge wear), sleep wear, exercise clothes, undershirts and other t-shirts that don't hang, socks, underwear and the like. I also don't like to mix my worn stuff with my clean stuff in the dresser. This may seem arbitrary, but open shelf mixing is fine. Dresser mixing is not fine. So, my wool socks, undershirts, sweatpants, sleeping clothes, etc. get tossed on the bed or folded into a laundry basket I use for semi-clean clothes.
posted by ephemerista at 1:19 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I put things on hangers on hooks in the dressing room (because I am really lucky and have a dressing room).

Although I subscribe to the belief that if it's clean enough to be worn again, it's clean enough to go back in the closet, I do like to let things air before shoving them back into the closet. If I'm feeling competent and on top of things, I run the lint brush over my ordinary clothes before they go back in the closet. If it's a suit or one of my more expensive articles of clothing, it gets a brushing with the clothes brush when it gets hung up whether I'm feeling on top of things or not.

I am also one of those people who has "house" clothes and "leaving the house" clothes. My husband laughs at me because he knows that even though it means I change clothes three or four times some days, if I'm in the house for longer than 20 minutes, I change out of my clothes and into my house clothes. It minimizes wear, cat dander, and the odds of my spilling all over my nice things.
posted by crush-onastick at 1:20 PM on October 30, 2013 [4 favorites]

I always wear shirts under my sweaters, so in my head, sweaters are practically outerwear, and unless I've spilled food all over myself, it's not even half-laundry, it's just "clean". I put the sweater back in the drawer at the end of the day, just like I'd hang a jacket/coat up in the closet. Then a mammoth wash of everything in the drawer in the springtime to put everything away for the season and ideally a mid-season wash of my favorites.

Pants get hung on hooks of the closet door, but mostly I'm just trying to wear them as many times as possible before the laundry hamper's full. House rule - when the hamper's getting full, add all the half-laundry that's sitting around and run the load. It's not that I'm trying to save the pants the wear and tear of being washed, and I'm not exactly trying to reduce the size of the laundry load, it's largely about not having to dig my one pair of brown jeans out of the hamper when I decide I want to wear the shirt with brown stripes.
posted by aimedwander at 1:31 PM on October 30, 2013

Since I began wearing undershirts, I can now wear my dress shirts twice. The system I use to tell when it's been worn once is, I reverse the shirt when re-hanging so worn-once shirts face one way, not-yet-worn shirts face the other.

I hang them back up in the closet, but in the middle "section," and with the hangers turned the opposite way.

All your hangers should face the same way, or so I've been advised by the Fire Department. You want all your clothes-hanger hooks oriented the same so you (or some first-responder) can easily yank your clothes from the closet if there's a fire.
posted by Rash at 1:44 PM on October 30, 2013

I would never put my purgatory clothes back in the dresser/closet with my regular clothes because ew. I recognize it's my issue, but nope. Clean clothes only in dresser/closet.

Purgatory clothes get folded (or rather "folded") and put on a bench that lives under the window by our bed. There they remain, until I wear them enough to wash them. With shirts it's usually once more the next day, with jeans a few more times unless I spill something on them.
posted by lydhre at 1:52 PM on October 30, 2013

We sling our could-be-worn-again clothes over the footboard of our bed. Also on a set of hooks on the inside of the bedroom door.
posted by fancyoats at 2:06 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

but my wife objects to my clothes pile.

What does your wife do with clothes she's worn once but wants to re-wear? Adopting her practice might be the most harmonious solution. Otherwise, solutions that keep the clothes out of sight, but yet does not mix unworn and worn clothes (I like to keep them separate, too, so I don't wear the same thing too often):

* A small hamper that can slide under the bed
* In the closet
* A dedicated drawer in your dresser, separate from unworn clothes
posted by muddgirl at 2:08 PM on October 30, 2013

When I lived in Manhattan, that is what the oven was for. Folded once used clothes. Now, I have a special floor space for them where they won't get stepped on.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 2:33 PM on October 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

I have two laundry baskets. One is for dirty clothes, the other is for stuff I can wear again before washing.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:37 PM on October 30, 2013

I thought everyone just threw these over a chair or treadmill.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:46 PM on October 30, 2013

Thanks everyone.

The elliptical machine is in the basement, my wife uses the hooks on the door, and the chair is in front of the desktop computer and actually gets sat on, so I think I'm going to get a laundry basket for the purgatory clothes.

What does your wife do with clothes she's worn once but wants to re-wear?

She puts them in crazy piles on top of her dresser. This results in sweater avalanches. I could do that, but first I'd have to sort through all the junk currently on top of my dresser.
posted by Area Man at 2:53 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

I put them back in the closet or drawer. Your closet and dresser aren't like, antiseptic pristine spaces. It's okay. If you have some outerwear that gets particularly dirty or wear all the time, an over-the-door hook for the closet works for this. I have a jacket that I wear to walk the dogs in the morning so I keep that out. I also have a sweatshirt that I wear only at home that gets full of dog hair so I keep that on the hook too. And my life is controlled by my dogs, yes.
posted by radioamy at 3:03 PM on October 30, 2013

Get a spare pillow sham to put the folded items in. Put it on the bed. Done.

Or put the folded items under a sham-clad pillow you already have.
posted by jgirl at 3:48 PM on October 30, 2013

My system is, everything gets hung up in the closet (I used to be a piler, but clutter drives my hubby batsh*t insane). Freshly washed clothes get hung up right-side out, to indicate that they have not been worn since washing. Worn clothes get hung inside-out, so that I know that they have already been worn.

My jammies, which get worn several days in a row, get draped over the edge of the laundry basket. *Not touching the dirty clothes, but not put back in the stack with the clean jammies*. That's because they don't get hung to begin with; they start their cycle in a folded stack on the closet shelf.
posted by vignettist at 4:25 PM on October 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

'Double robe hook' in the bathroom.
(I can hook that with 5-6 things easy.)
Once it's filled, something has to go in the hamper.
posted by artdrectr at 5:14 PM on October 30, 2013

In our house these semi-dirty clothes get thrown in the baby's crib and the baby gets thrown in the bed with us, but I've been meaning to make some of these clothes horses for ages. They have the chair back for hanging things over (even folded, which you can't do with a rack), but without the chair seat to accumulate the unstable mountain of clothes.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 2:45 AM on October 31, 2013

Thirding the valet stand, you can fit a surprising amount on one and it usually looks a lot less messy than draping the chair (although admittedly that occasionally gets overflow). Looks like Ikea have some cheap ones if you wanted to road test the idea.
posted by humph at 5:39 AM on October 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Like windy kites, I hang mine on the opposite end of the closet.
posted by aniola at 11:42 AM on October 31, 2013

Generally I have a small laundry basket for once-worn clothing, and a hanger above it, on which I throw a couple of things like shirts.
I wear the same shirt a couple of times, not two days in a row, but on alternating days which is still pretty obvious, but, meh.
posted by Elysum at 12:14 PM on October 31, 2013

I have a small basket for this next to my dirty-laundry hamper. If something is nice like a blouse, I hang it back up, but once-worn jeans and t-shirts go in the basket. In theory I could put them away but I am sometimes too lazy.
posted by mai at 12:24 PM on October 31, 2013

I have an A-framed valet stand that's got several rungs on it (there must be a word for the thing; can't remember). It's kind of like this (but doesn't have the swirly bits). The rungs are good as they take a lot of things, and I can kind of see what's where. I've also got a second clothing rod in my closet at waist height, which I throw worn pants over instead of using properly.
posted by cotton dress sock at 7:21 PM on April 24, 2014

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