How should I manage worn, but not dirty clothing?
April 24, 2014 4:59 PM   Subscribe

Please explain to me how adults manage the clothing that they have worn but is not soiled enough to go into the laundry. I need some sort of system, as throwing them on the chair is probably not acceptable at my age.

I have plenty of closet space, but not much drawer space. I do not do the laundry, so I don't just want to put everything in the hamper after each wearing. I am willing to throw some money at the problem if there is some organizing solution that I need. Right now I just sort of pile them on the reading chair. Should I hang them up? Get special bins?

My wife's system is to turn the clothes inside out, hang them on a hanger in a separate part of the closet for 24 hours, then turn them right side out and hang them back in with the other clothes but with the hanger facing the wrong way. This is way too much work for me, as I'm pretty lazy.
posted by i am a sock puppeteer to Home & Garden (48 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
The chair is a thing. I bought a chair, for this purpose. I call it "clothing purgatory".
posted by kellyblah at 5:02 PM on April 24, 2014 [17 favorites]

I have over the door hooks and usually hang things up there.
posted by three_red_balloons at 5:05 PM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by Xalf at 5:06 PM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

If they're not dirty, just put them back with the other clothes. If you need to air them out, in my opinion, they should be washed.
posted by xingcat at 5:07 PM on April 24, 2014 [17 favorites]

To be honest, my usual thing (if the clothes don't end up on the floor or on top of the dresser). Is that they get piled onto a shelf in my closet, or I just hang them up regularly after I take them off. If they smell - as in they need to go into the laundry- I just toss them into the hamper right away.

I don't quite understand your wife's hanging differently for 24 hours thing. Is that to air them out or something? Wouldn't you just not wear the same shirt 2 days in a row anyway?

But, I can get away with wearing cardigans and shirts a few times, pants much more. Then again I am a less-smelly lady, but deodorant smell sometimes piles up.
posted by Crystalinne at 5:08 PM on April 24, 2014

How about a valet stand? I would put dressier stuff back on hangers so it does not wrinkle. But it's fine to put stuff like a sweatshirt on a chair.
posted by travelwithcats at 5:11 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I throw mine over a dresser instead of a drawer. I'm 32, have a job, girlfriend, house, child, etc. This is still a thing.

Tip: nobody else's house is as neat and clean as they let you think it is.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 5:13 PM on April 24, 2014 [18 favorites]

I figure that anything that is clean enough to go back on my body without laundering is clean enough to put back in the closet/drawer. I'm not sure that turning a garment inside out for 24 hours would do anything more than get some symbolic cooties off.

(Honestly though in real life I often pile them on my dresser but I acknowledge that this is not a system to aspire to)
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 5:14 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

My system: Take clothes off, smell clothes. If smelly (or stained), put in hamper. If smell fine, hang back up just like before I wore them (or fold if it's jeans/sweater and put back in drawer). Tshirts, underwear/socks, and exercise clothes get washed every time.

You don't need to wash clothes until they are dirty (smell, stains).
posted by amaire at 5:15 PM on April 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

If they're still clean, put them back in the closet with the other clothes.

If they're dirty, put them in the laundry.

I have a chair in my bedroom, and I put clothes (folded, not thrown) on it when I don't have time/can't be bothered to put them back in the closet right then. It has nothing to do with cleanliness. Clothes on the chair are either waiting to be put away or worn again, whether they've come from the laundry or I've just taken them off. If they were not wearable, they'd be in the laundry with other dirty clothes. I don't understand treating worn but clean clothes differently from other clean clothes.
posted by DestinationUnknown at 5:19 PM on April 24, 2014

Yeah I just put them back unless they're mega-soaked, in which case they go into the laundry. I have also known people with systems but that's too much work. You could designate *where* in the closet you put, say, worn jeans vs unworn, but I don't. Pretty much when I do laundry I assess my jeans that are hanging up and decide what needs to be washed.
posted by radioamy at 5:24 PM on April 24, 2014

I put them in a pile at the foot of my bed; my husband and I each have one. The piles mostly contain house-sweaters, jeans, pajamas, and weekend tshirts, but never work clothes. And every weekend both piles get tossed into the laundry with everything else in the hamper. The piles are more because we are lazy, less because they are in laundry purgatory.

Work blouses and shirts are not worn multiple times before laundering. Work slacks, skirts, sweaters and dresses get rehung until they are soiled and then they go into a pile in the closet for the dry cleaner.
posted by rhapsodie at 5:25 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have a series of coat pegs slightly higher than my waist on the wall by my bed. My jeans and belts live there. Belts for convenience, jeans to air out (since they go a looooong time between washings; sorry mom). Chinos go back in the drawer.
posted by supercres at 5:25 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

I like a hook or two on the wall for this. It keeps things more aired out and less wrinkly, and you physically can't put as much stuff on a hook as you can on a chair, so it doesn't get too out-of-hand. (But I have a pile of clothes on a chair too.)
posted by fussbudget at 5:28 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I have a rack with hooks on the back of the door that I use for my in-use jeans and certain other items in heavy use (my favorite coat and sweatshirts, pajamas). I don't think they should go back in the drawer, but if I had a closet (that was big enough for this) I would set up an area of it for that sort of thing - some hooks, maybe a bar to drape things over. Things like sweaters I do fold up and put back on the shelf (when I get around to it - they spend a lot of time on my chair or floor as well - you are not alone).
posted by sumiami at 5:35 PM on April 24, 2014

I use a chair. I'm in my 40s and I figure it ain't broke so I won't fix it, and from what I can tell, everyone in my age range uses a chair or similar.
posted by rtha at 5:37 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]


Or the floor, but don't tell anybody will you ...
posted by GeeEmm at 5:37 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

I don't understand why you can't just hang it up again without any special inside-out mojo if it's clean enough to wear again. Unless your wife does that so she doesn't wear it more than once a week? But you could just designate a section of your closet for "already worn this week" and keep them there until the new week began.

Otherwise, door hooks. But hanging is still more tidy.

The only thing I wear more than once before washing is jeans, and only if I don't get them dirty; I wear them maybe 3 times before washing, but they go back on the hanger inbetween.
posted by emjaybee at 5:38 PM on April 24, 2014

I air things out on one of those free standing clothing racks and then I put them back in my closet after a day or two. I don't like to wash certain things that don't come into direct contact with my skin much (cardigans that can lose their shape/ fade, skirts/ dresses but I always wear slips) but they can usually use a slight airing and a hang to get rid of wrinkles!
posted by hellomiss at 5:46 PM on April 24, 2014

Put 'em on your floordrobe or drape them artfully over a chair.
posted by Elly Vortex at 5:46 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I find the idea of placing already-worn clothes back in with clean clothes 100% unthinkable and unpleasant to say the least. I use a chair myself and think it is the best and most efficient option among imperfect options, but I was recently thinking about a small stand-alone garment rack for this purpose. This would enable keeping things aired out, as well as being more organized and accessible than a pile, and it would also facilitate a regular review of each item to decide if it needs to be laundered or can stay in rotation. It seems to have a lot going for it as a system.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 5:49 PM on April 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

put them in the laundry anyway! you want to do this before a service dog on an elevator can discern which subspecies of staphylococcus is flowering in your nether regions.
posted by bruce at 5:49 PM on April 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Just a note on the 'if they're dirty, wash 'em' way of thinking. Those of us who do some manual labour don't want to wash our greasy grubby clothes all the time - why get a clean set dirty again tomorrow digging the same shit (sometimes, literally) when you can wear dirty ones?

My dirty but will be worn again clothes go on a free-standing towel rack. My hug-buddy's much dirtier but will be worn again clothes hang on the back of his (dirty person's) bathroom door.
posted by Kerasia at 5:51 PM on April 24, 2014

I'm going to seem really over the top but my feeling is that, since I wear undershirts and shave my pits and am scrupulously clean, shirts can have two wearings. To facilitate this, I have a series of green hangers and yellow hangers. Fresh shirts go on the green hangers; after a wear, the shirt is then placed on a yellow hanger.

Each day, as I take a shirt off the hanger, I put the hanger above the shelf so I can look at the end of the day and know that I have either worn a shirt which was unworn since laundering or if I have worn it once prior, which determines if I put the shirt on a yellow hanger or put it into a hamper.

I am so very, very alone.
posted by adipocere at 5:52 PM on April 24, 2014 [13 favorites]

I like hooks or a butler basic butler stand. I'm also not as fastidious as your wife, but do believe that airing out is necessary if you want your clothes to stay nice and have a long life.
posted by quince at 5:55 PM on April 24, 2014

I just have a closet pole in one corner of my room (i.e. an open-air closet -- a closet with the doors off or a small fan for circulation would be equivalent). When I hang up clothes, they go on the left; when I choose what clothes to wear, I pull from the right.

Grubby stuff has a pile in the corner on top of some dressers.
posted by flimflam at 5:58 PM on April 24, 2014

posted by kestrel251 at 6:15 PM on April 24, 2014

We have two matching wire baskets from IKEA that sit on a shelf in the closet. Previously we used a chair, but this looks tidier.
posted by epanalepsis at 6:19 PM on April 24, 2014

I keep a clothes steamer in my walk-in closet. It takes less than a few minutes to steam the clothes perfectly flat and fresh and ready to wear. I love this thing. My laundry is considerably reduced. Since I iron out of the laundry, the steaming is not a big job and the clothes look pressed for a longer time. I usually wear my work outfits 2 -4 times before washing again.
posted by waving at 6:33 PM on April 24, 2014

Chair. 32, married, pregnant, employed, pets, etc. I think my husband considers it a win that they're not piled on the floor or bed. I'm lazy like you, he is organised like your wife. I can't just put them back in the closet with other clothes because I won't remember what or when or how many times I wore it.
posted by jrobin276 at 6:42 PM on April 24, 2014

I missed my AARP memo to stop hanging my "will wear again" casual clothing on a chair in the bedroom. I hang my fancier dry-clean-only duds from the moulding of the bathroom door (if I want to take advantage of the shower's humidity to steam out seat wrinkles a bit) or from the moulding of the closet door (if I plan to inspect for stains and give it a spritz of vodka before rehanging in the closet).

My older SO still throws his to the floor but the piss-happy cat is doing more to train him out of that than 25 years of my complaining about it ever did.
posted by jamaro at 6:43 PM on April 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I think most things that had contact with my body need to be washed. Sweaters get aired, wool or dry clean only pants/skirts get hung back in the closet, but everything else needs to be cleaned. And if it was worn outside, it's probably dirty.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:09 PM on April 24, 2014

We have a couple wall-mounted peg hooks in our bedroom for pants that can be worn again and belts and what-have-you). When I worked in an office, I always placed laundered shirts on hangers facing to the left, and when I got home from work with a shirt that could be re-worn, put it on a hanger facing right. More than two wears on shirts? No way. Pants, maybe.
posted by notsnot at 7:22 PM on April 24, 2014

Hooks! I have blecka hooks from ikea drilled over my hamper for this exact purpose. Also behind the door hooks. And by the front door.
posted by justjess at 8:28 PM on April 24, 2014

Some of my things get folded/hung and put away. Some get put in the dryer and then a lad of wash goes in with them so they get refreshed. Depends on the item.
posted by padraigin at 8:30 PM on April 24, 2014

I throw them on a chair (or over the wooden chest, which ever has more room) just like most adults.

No, really.

I periodically declutter by hanging/refolding everything and putting it away. At that point, it's been draped over something for awhile.

I always do this before company comes over, as do most people, which is why you don't necessarily think that almost everyone has a clothing slushpile.
posted by desuetude at 10:01 PM on April 24, 2014

I only re-wear button-down shirts. For those, I put them on pegs. When they're cleaned, I button them to the top on the hangar. Each successive wear means one less button. Of course, at day's end you need some idea of where it was in the morning.

I wish I had a similar system for pants.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:41 PM on April 24, 2014

I'm older than you and I throw 'em on a chair. I also have a coat tree for when the chair is too full.
posted by Obscure Reference at 4:26 AM on April 25, 2014

I always thought this is what home exercise equipment was for.

Seriously, if the chair method is not causing trouble in your marriage, you're probably fine to keep on with it. I throw my re-wearables over the back of a chair in the living room, the uncomfortable one where we never sit. (There is really not much room in our bedroom for a chair, and we rarely get company.)

My husband throws all his clothes on the floor on his side of the bedroom. But he does not mind looking rumpled.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 5:10 AM on April 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you want to re-wear jeans or a jacket or whatever, then just hang it back up in the closet. If it needs airing out in some weird way, then it needs washed.

So hang it back up like a grown up.

The floor is not a hamper!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 5:33 AM on April 25, 2014

Airing out clothing is a thing people! Especially wool. Wool that is aired out can go quite a while before washing. You know those fancy Downton Abbey type suits? Those were laundered like once a season. (Brushed constantly by servants, but still) A wool cardigan, lined wool trousers? Air it! Unlined, summer weight wool dress pants... eh maybe 3-5 wearings before dry cleaning.

A valet stand is the proper thing. Chairs are perfectly cromulent. Hooks behind the door is tidier. A regular hanger and an open and dedicated closet rod is probably ideal from both airflow and tidiness perspectives.

If you can't remember how many wears a pair of pants has, turn the hanger around. A backwards hanger means it's been worn.

Or buy a different color of hangers and only use them to hang up airing out clothing.

Or keep some bread bag closers to snap onto the hanger with big numbers on them.

Either way, when laundry time comes, you know which ones to grab.
posted by fontophilic at 6:40 AM on April 25, 2014

I don't understand why you can't just hang it up again without any special inside-out mojo if it's clean enough to wear again.

A note that this may be a source of conflict with a spouse or live in partner. My husband tried to argue for just putting things back in the closet, but it would have made me crazy. In part, because while I'm okay with wearing some stuff twice, I'm not okay with wearing it more than twice, so if I don't have a system, I might accidentally wear it three times or more if I forget, and also then I don't know what's really clean if I have a extra-special interview or something, and agh agh agh.

Valet stands look really nice, though. I just learned about it through this thread and am going to buy one.
posted by corb at 7:44 AM on April 25, 2014

I have one of those drying rack things that I put clothes like this on. There's also a hamper from West Elm that I can't find online right now that I'm considering - it has a small hamper and the bottom and a few ladder-like rungs.

I usually put handwash things on the drying rack so they don't get mixed in with the laundry, and shirts/pants/skirts that can use more time before being machine washed. Dresses I usually hang back up and handwash/dryclean when they reek.

Workout clothes I usually put in a little hamper thing that has a lid on it because they reek and I want them nowhere near my other clothes.

No clothes on chairs - looks messy and makes a little nest for the cats.
posted by sweetkid at 8:44 AM on April 25, 2014

adipocere - I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
posted by lizjohn at 10:21 AM on April 25, 2014

Thanks everyone, I'm going to try the different color hanger thing that adipocere explained. If that fails, I will at least feel better knowing that I am not the only one with a chair covered in clothing.
posted by i am a sock puppeteer at 10:22 AM on April 25, 2014

Inspect clothes carefully for soil or smell, then re-hang. It sucks to pull a pair of pants out of the closet and find a stain you didn't see before. This likelihood of this happening is proportional to how much of a hurry you're in.
posted by theora55 at 2:24 PM on April 25, 2014

I have been so happy since I installed three towel racks in my bedroom for this purpose. They're stacked above each other about two feet apart, like rungs on a widely-spaced ladder.

I chose bars I thought were attractive but still inexpensive--mine are oak but you could do whatever--and they are so much neater than a chair. They take up little room, and in a pinch I can also use them as extra drying-rack space.

I am a diehard jeans-rewearer, and this gives me a chance to air them out--and I can always find them!
posted by Edna Million at 8:07 PM on April 26, 2014

Late to the party - wanted to nth a special clothes valet - lots of rungs, minimal floor space. I have this one and I love it to death.
posted by london explorer girl at 3:07 AM on April 28, 2014

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