Oh, Those Clean-Dirty Clothes

Here was another great question, from dana&ryan: "I was wondering what suggestions you had for the bedroom in regards to clothes that are used but are still clean. I don't really want to rehang them but they always end up on the floor. Any suggestions?"

Man, did your question strike a nerve with me! If you blog readers are nodding your heads over this one, you know what I mean. In my experience, the only people who ever ask this question are the housekeeping-impaired. Don't believe me? Go ahead, ask the Martha Stewart in your life. She or he will look at you, perfectly perplexed, and say that you hang them up and return them to the closet, of course.

Not of course. That may work for Martha-types, but not for me and obviously not for you. We poor impaired folks simply cannot, will not, hang up worn-but-still-clean clothes in our closet among the clean-but-not-yet-worn stuff. It may have to do with our perfectionism, our need to categorize or whatever, but just the thought of it gives me the shivers. Besides not wanting the clean and dirty clothes to co-mingle, there's also something about the act of hanging or folding a worn item that just feels distasteful. (I suspect that feeling stems from my general forgetfulness; if the item LOOKS newly clean, I'm likely to forget that I already wore it once.)

So what are you to do if your only choices are the floor or the closet? Create another choice—an intermediate station, if you will—for all of those clean-dirty clothes. I happened upon this solution when staying at a hotel a few years ago. I had a roommate who just happened to be a neatnick, so I didn't want to clutter the room with piles of my pre-worn clothes. I realized that there was a really deep drawer in the dresser, so out of desperation I put the clothes in there that I had worn but could wear again. I didn't fold them, just sort of draped them across the wide space. My only caveat at the time was that when I wanted to get dressed I had to look there first. Guess what? It worked! My clean-dirty clothes were stored out of sight, kept fairly wrinkle-free, and I was able to remember to wear them again.

Back home, I changed things around to create a similar spot in my bedroom, where the system has worked ever since. If you don't have any deep dresser drawers, consider these similar options:

• Install some hooks or pegs in an out-of-sight place, like inside a closet or behind a door. Only allow yourself as many clean-dirty items as there are pegs.

• Buy a free-standing coat rack and place it inside a closet or in an unobtrusive place nearby. This option has more potential for abuse, as you could continue to stack item upon item, so resist that urge. Again, limit yourself to as many clean-dirty clothes as there are spots to hang them.

I know, wall pegs and coat racks covered in worn clothing aren't the most beautiful sights in the world. But they're still better than draping things on chairs or plopping them on the floor. Best of all, this approach will allow you to keep those clothes relatively wrinkle free until you have the chance to wear them again—without having to go through the strangely distasteful task of hanging or folding worn items.

Yep, we're all nuts in our own way. Check back next time for one more laundry tip, then we'll move on to a different area in your home.


  1. Wow! That's totally me. I have that pile of worn-but-still-ok-for-another-day clothes. I love your ideas, and now just have to figure out which one works for me. Where I live we can get 4 seasons in one day (sometimes) so I can end up with a whole range of clothes that aren't clean, but aren't really dirty either.
    And thanks for your ideas for my other problem too.

  2. great tips, it is helpful for me! thanks!