One Simple Thing: No Laundry Basket


Credit must go where credit is due.

This was not my idea. I gleaned it from the comments section on this blog. Laura (posts as Apple) mentioned she had done this, how it simplified her laundry system and made for one less thing around the house (so important if you live in a small space).

The comments section here is a gold mine of advice and tips. Don’t forget to scroll down and have a glance through. There are so many of you living with different scenarios than mine and I am so grateful that you share how you’ve made living with less stuff work for you.

When I read that Laura no longer had a laundry basket, that it really wasn’t needed if you put clothes away right after folding them, my interest was piqued.

What a fantastic way to force my housekeeping hand and remove a step that often leads to procrastination in the form of a basket of clean laundry. It lingers in my living room taking up space and reminding me I’m putting off a simple chore. Perhaps my son decides to play with the clean laundry and pulls some of it onto the floor. With his almond butter coated hands. The clean is now dirty again and no one even got to wear it.

Our new home is furnished but still needs a few things. One thing I thought I needed was a laundry basket. Not a hamper which is a basket that I store dirty laundry in bu the kind of basket you use to transport fresh laundry around your home. Or store it until you get the hutzpah to finally put it away.

After a few weeks without a laundry basket I’ve decided we don’t need one. I fold what I need to fold and then put the piles away.


Because I don’t want anyone moving a pile of clean laundry off of the couch with dirty hands. Or having to stare at the laundry all evening as I am trying to relax.

This may seem like a small thing to get rid of but it’s actually resulted in better laundry turn around time here. And that’s a big thing for us.

PS. If you have a big home and a lot of stairs I can see that you might not be into this. But think of all the free exercise.

Anyone else have an item that was a procrastinator – something that allowed you to put off a task – that you’ve gotten rid of? The other one we got rid of was an in-tray with multiple slots for bills and mail. Now we just have one spot for papers and I try to deal with it once a week.

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  • i totally agree, clothes in our house go straight into the designated room, but what about the ironing pile???? help – mine sits there until there is enough to have a good going at – girls party dresses, shirts etc…any solutions????x

      • I’m with you. I won’t iron. I can’t think if a bigger waste of time. When I shop I look for fabrics that don’t require ironing or that will be okay with a tumble in the dryer. The other plus, besides the time saved, is no iron or ironing board to store. 😉

        • I’m a big fan of “hang and spray.”. I own an iron for those special events that happen maybe once a year but everything else I hang up and spray with water to let the wrinkles fall out. You can also put the item in the dryer and mist it with water a few times.

  • We’ve never had a basket to put clean laundry in, it never even crossed my mind that we might need one! I just take the washing off the airers and put it away, or in the ironing pile – and there are five of us!

  • As Rebecca’s family, we too never had a basket to put clean laundry in and actually never needed one!

    We just moved abroad and took just few things with us and now we are renting unfurnished property, so have to buy all things we need, but you know what, that’s so great as now we can really live with less stuff and buy just the stuff we really need and use.

  • I have a foldable mesh laundry basket, but I mostly use it for cleaning up. With an 18 month old, stuff gets scattered in random places (toys in bathroom, spoons in toy basket, cups in bedroom, etc), so rather than picking up one thing at a time and putting it away, I throw all that doesn’t belong into the basket, and then redistribute. Saves so much time and energy. However, I still don’t put latundry away immediately…it sits on top of the dryer where I forget about it.

  • We hang clothes to dry outside – so I use my laundry basket to tote the wet clothes outside and when the clothes are dry – I fold them as I take them off the line and put them in the laundry basket to go upstairs. I have to say that unless I empty the basket immediately it does tend to sit there with the clean laundry in it for awhile. The good thing is that it can’t last long because I need the basket the next time I wash clothes! When I use the dryer I find that clothes sit in the laundry basket longer because I can just add the clothes to the clothes in the laundry basket already! If I only used the dryer I would try to loose the laundry basket for sure. When we designed our bathroom I made sure there was a special shelf for the laundry basket to go so it would not be hanging out in random spots around the house. It looks sloppy when the basket is hanging out in the living room or bedroom.

    • When we were able to line dry our clothes our laundry was folded as I took it off the line. Now that we use the dryer, we aren’t allowed a line in this rental, I will let the piles sit on the table or floor until I get to it.

    • Same here, but I have to bring the clothes in from the line to fold them because the mosquitoes eat me alive if I don’t!

    • I use a basket to take the clothes outside to hang too. And I fold as I take off just as you do. This is more important in the Summer otherwise you will get a lot of creases. Even in the short time they are in the basket. There I only 3 of us so I stack each persons together in the basket. When I bring it in I can just take the stack out and carry to the appropriate bedroom. Or give to my son to put away. It definitely make putting away much easier when they are already folded, (besides getting less creased).
      I didn’t use a change table since I had a spare bed next to the cot when my son was little. There a quite a few baby things that can be done without.

  • I never thought to have both a hamper and a laundry basket. We just have one basket that’s in the hallway and all dirty clothes are tossed in there. Once it’s full, it is all dumped into the washer, and then the basket sits on the washing machine until it’s time to carry it upstairs. I put the clothes, unfolded, in the basket so it’s easy to transport upstairs, then immediately dump in on the bed and begin folding and putting away.
    So I guess I decluttered the need for a hamper, and the need to sort laundry.

  • Like others here I have never owned a laundry basket. It wasn’t a conscious thing I just never thought to buy one and until reading this never realised I was ‘lacking’ one. Not that I plan to buy one now, I have never found being without one a problem.

  • I think we had a laundry basket in our first apartment because it didn’t have a washer and dryer, but we must have gotten rid of it when we moved to one that did. We haven’t owned one in at least the last 15 years. After the laundry is done, we fold them and put them away.

    Our in-tray used to be our kitchen counter. We always hated how it looked, but never had a good solution. After we sold our house and moved into an apartment, the clutter was even more noticible. So now we process mail as it comes in the door. Bills get paid right away and junk mail goes in the trash.

    I think our next challenge is to wash dishes right after using them. We gave up on dishwashers because they never seem to do a good job and they tend to damage our glasses and silverware. Plus we would never end up emptying the dishwasher in a timley manner, so we’d end up searching the cabinents and then the dishwasher every time we wanted to find a dish. Now we wash by hand, but often have a small stack of dishes waiting to be washed. I’d like to get to the point where we wash the dishes right after we eat and also dry them and put them away. It really wouldn’t take long and would keep the countertop uncluttered.

  • I can’t imagine not having one. I don’t have a space to fold laundry in the bathroom that houses my washer, and my laundry lines are outside the window (6th floor). If I just pull stuff out of the dryer small things end up on the floor. Taking things off the line one at a time and folding them seems inefficient to me, unless you are able to do separate loads for each person (my teens do their own). I do try to get it out of the basket quickly though.

    • I hang each persons (there are only 3 of us) clothes together on the line so they get folded together as they come off and placed in a pile in the basket…carried inside then put away. Mind you we have a rotary clothesline (common here in Australia) so you just stand in one place and spin it to get to all the clothes…nice and simple. Plus it takes great advantage of any small breeze to help dry/fluff/remove wrinkles from clothes.

  • Wow! This is so interesting to me. When I was growing up, every bedroom had its own laundry basket. Dirty clothes collected there and were taken to the laundry room on Saturday morning. Each basket then went straight back to its respective bedroom. Laundry was folded in the living room and stacked on beds.
    In my own home, I started out using this system, but have evolved it into 3-bin laundry sorter where all the dirty clothes go. I was 1 load everyday and use the 1 laundry basket I have to haul it to the clothes line and back. I have to fold and put away the clothes that day because I need the laundry basket the next day for the next load of laundry!
    And no, I don’t do laundry every day. With only 3 of us, I get 3 days off!! woohoooo!!

  • I use to use a triple-bag sorting hamper and go to the laundromat once per week. When we moved into a very small space I got a much smaller, single hamper. Now I also do cloth diapers (with their own pail). I bring my clean laundry home in the same mesh hamper and empty it right away because 1) we need a place for more dirty clothes and 2) it did hold dirty laundry so I don’t want my clean stuff hanging around in there for long.

  • I love this idea! I struggle with putting clean laundry away in a timely manner myself. I will test it out and see how this goes because I have no problem getting rid of the laundry baskets, if it focuses me to get it together.

  • I love it!
    WOuld you please do a post on how you have dealt with minimizing papers and paperwork?
    I tell you, this is the bane of my existence. Piles everywhere!

  • Our laundry is down the hall in our large condo building. We have a 3 bin wheeled sorter where the dirty clothes get placed (and sorted!) once they’re dirty – I love that the sort is done and I don’t have to do it again to start the process! The wheels are necessary for getting all that laundry down the hall with a baby in her ergo. The sorter has a bar above so I hang most things as I pull them out of the dryer, any odds and ends (socks, towels, etc) get placed back into the bags then folded and put away the next time my daughter is sleeping (grimy hands “help” fold around here too!).

    I noticed several people commented about the paperwork… that’s one we’re still trying to figure out!

  • Both DH and I work outside the house and we use cloth diapers so we have come up with a system that has really helped and, for the most part, we have been able to keep up with the laundry, do not own a laundry basket, and eliminated having to fold mounds of clothing, caused us to keep our clothing to a minimum (only what fits hanging in the closet is acceptable, we do not buy more hangers, if we run out of hangers it means time to get rid of unused clothing). I have the separate laundry sorter in our closet (1 for delicates (underwear and socks), 1 for towels, 1 for darks, 1 for lights), then 1 laundry bin for DS clothes (all together), then my diaper bin. That is 6 separate loads, already sorted. Each morning I grab a load and start it before leaving for work. In order to put a new load in in the morning I have to put the one from the previous morning in the dryer or hang dry which then means I have to put the load in the dryer on the couch. That evening when hubby has play time with 2 year old DS he has to fold/stuff diapers, whatever is on the couch, while I am cooking dinner. Since the laundry is sorted already it only takes about 5 – 8 minutes in the morning to do this (we timed it). The thing that has helped, believe it or not, is I started hang drying everything (minus towels, diaper inserts, socks and underwear) from the wash I immediately hang on hangers to dry then I just have to put them directly in the closet. Of course this meant making sure everything was hung in closets and nothing is in drawers (got rid of those pieces of furniture). It took some time getting used to it, but by making it a habit that every morning I start a load and by not really having a lot of laundry to fold it has made for an easier laundry duty and it is pretty much kept up. I am sure if one is a stay at home person then this method can be altered, but no one is home during the day for us so this system works for us and doesn’t really take that much additional time. Because I am doing the 1 load/per day and there are 6 loads, that means each load is done 1/wk except diapers are done 2 x/wk, the amount of laundry on hangers is not a lot and can be taken to the closet in 1 load. No need for a basket because they are ready to go straight to the closet. I second the “I don’t iron, if it needs ironing I don’t buy it!” rule. However, if an article of clothing does need to be ironed, it gets ironed when we pull it out of the closet to wear it. Not before being hung up. 9 x’s out of 10 the hanging in between the other clothes gets it “good enough” that it doesn’t need ironing.

  • Hi minimalist mom,
    I have another idea that I thought I would throw out there for your viewers: A friend of ours (single guy so a bit easier for one, but it still could be done for a family!) keeps his closet of clothes right beside the washer and dryer in that room, so it is his ‘dressing room’ and minimalizes the laundry process!

  • I don’t own a laundry basket and i do try not to leave piles of clean laundry about the house. However it’s not the same when it comes time for my two university (at different uni’s) to come home for the holidays. I spend weeks getting everything in order – well never mind. When they leave again it’s time to start again. I also only have enough clothes to wear and not loads and loads of extra that do not need.

  • only one basket in the house. simple cube/square design (because im too small for a large rectangle). i hang shirts immediately in the laundry room and fold clothes in the rooms they belong in. i don’t own an iron but i keep a small portable steamer in the laundry room for emergencies. it’s fantastic.

  • Question for those without laundry baskets. Is your washer/dryer setup in the basement or on a first (or second) floor? Ours is in the basement and I’m having trouble imagining how either my husband or I would transport clean laundry from the drying racks (or dryer, depending on what was washed) to the living space without dropping bits here and there along the way. Am I not picturing this correctly? I’d love to make our laundry process more efficient, especially since it seems to happen after the kids are asleep at night (and I’d love to reclaim some of that time for myself/sleep). Though, side note, we use the laundry basket as the dirty clothes hamper (it fits under the shoe shelf in the closet).

    • I grew up in a 2-story house, with basement laundry. We had a long shelf (about 12 feet long) opposite the washer and dryer, and each family member had a section. My mom (or us kids) would fold the laundry right from the dryer and stack the clothes in the appropriate section. Each family member was then responsible for taking care of their stack(s). It was a really good system that I would like to implement in my own home.

      Right now, I tend to shove two clean loads into one basket because I never want to fold, and then they’re all full, so when I carry the basket up the stairs and through doorways (tipping it to fit at times), I lose items anyway.

    • My washing machine, drier (and the garden :) ) is downstairs, the bedrooms with wardrobes are upstairs. i fold and iron downstairs, and everyone carries their own set of clothes up into their wardrobe.

  • We do own a laundry basket (2 actually….) but for the last several months, neither has been used for laundry. They’re both housing “stuff” in two different closets (yeah.. we need to get to that). So in effect, we don’t have a laundry basket. What I usually do is bring the hamper straight to the washing machine, wash & dry clothes, and put dry clothes back into the hamper to tote them to the bed where I fold them. It’s pretty efficient. I don’t really see the need for another tote.

  • I never considered not having a laundry basket but we never had hampers… I have a couple of small folding baskets that are used for any kind of transport around the house, but most usually collect the dirty clothes; when it’s full, it goes downstairs to the machine and I use it to bring the clean, dry, folded clothes back upstairs again, when it goes back into the bathroom. Cycle done! If all our laundry could be washed together, I guess we could throw our laundry straight into the machine and do without a basket. I do have a lot of shirts to iron so they tend to pile up a bit next to the machine till I get round to them. I will be glad when my husband retires and doesn’t use 7 fresh shirts each week!!
    My grandma never had a basket. She collects laundry in the bathtub and sorts/washes in small loads as necessary, so the few articles are soon folded and put away. In fact, there are a lot of things she has never needed or used – she is 96 and a fantastic role model! She got her first (tiny) freezer at the age of 92. She also has a tiny fridge. In her old house there is a cool pantry and she has dealt with food storage in a small space all her life – not much actually needs to go in a fridge if you have sensible quantities and storage, so I try to take a leaf out of her book. Her frugality is a remnant from the war and a reminder of how wasteful we have all become. I strive for balance and “enough” in her example.

  • You’re absolutely right about the laundry baskets…I think we have 6. They are all full of clothes that need to be folded and put away. All. Of. Them. That’s why I have been purging like crazy lately. We have donated about 15 bags of clothes in the past 3-4 months. I have another two bags worth of just MY clothes that I purged over the past two nights. I have never even considered living without a laundry basket. It’s such a simple but great idea of a way to “rewire” my brain from putting folding off (I HATE to fold clothes) to just going ahead and doing it. Thanks!

    • We have 8. Until I read this this morning, they were all full. I have since folded 6 loads (two of them straight out of the dryer), and really, it didn’t take that long! I just really want a folding area in the laundry area.

  • As Monique said above, I will definitely give this a try. With a 16 mth old and another on the way and my plans to continue line-drying our clothes I think the laundry basket might be lingering about. I might try storing it outside though, so it is only used to and from the house. It definitely gathers randomness sitting in my laundry room!

  • Interesting… I just use the hamper as a laundry basket. After I wash the clothes I toss them (wet) into the hamper and haul them outside to hang on the line. Sometimes I bring them in & put them away a few at a time as they dry, other times I do it all at once… but needing to have the hamper back is great incentive to get them put away quickly!

    In terms of other stuff, I recently got rid of my dish drying rack on my kitchen counter, and it’s WONDERFUL! You can read all about it (and see before & after pictures) here if you are so inclined:

  • Ha! Three story home. Laundry room in the basement. Bedrooms on the top floor. Three children and a husband who works construction and also exercises daily. This means lots of laundry. I already make hundreds (yes, that’s hyperbole, but it feels like hundreds) of trips up and down the stairs every day. If I did not have my laundry baskets I would lose my mind. And the cartilage in my knees.

    I appreciate so many of your ideas but this one, juxtaposed on my life, made me laugh.

  • Thanks Rachel for the mention. :)
    I see from the comments, that have different concepts about what a laundry basket is. What I mean by not having a laundry basket is that when washed clothes are dry, they either get folded or ironed immediately and then put into wardrobes (within reason, but usually on the same day).

  • Love this!!! We’ve never had a laundry basket… actually we did have one when we first got married (gift) and I used it as a container garden for our herbs!!! We’ve always had a top loader – all laundry gets “Slammed dunked” by all members of the family as it comes off… no laundry lies around because everyone likes to play!!! When the washer finishes – laundry gets hung out to dry and when it is dry we fold it into a pile for each family member and put it away. We usually bring the washing in at the end of the day and fold it on the kitchen table just before dinner… gotta pack it away or we can’t eat!!!
    My two year old is in charge of the ironing… it is his job to stuff it in the laundry bag at the front door and the bag gets dropped at the laundry every other week…

  • I have three laundry baskets and they are so well-used I can’t imagine being without them. Let’s see: clean laundry gets transported to wherever the folding is happening, then the folded clothes are carried to the various closets for putting away. We never did this when I was a kid, but out on my own dropping socks out of armloads of laundry got old fast. Won’t use the hamper for clean clothes…the insides get a little yucky when things are put in wet, which happens, alas. Then there’s all the other uses: they’re perfect for taking stuff to potlucks and gift exchanges and they corral small stuff on camping trips and my small boy pretends they’re boats and they’re ideal for toddler basketball…you get the idea. Though I do admit one sits on the dryer and is currently full of rags and stray socks.

  • The Minimalist Hubby stopped me using my “peely bin”. Lovely minimalist looking thing to chuck your fruit and veg peel in and then at the end of the day hot-foot it out to the recycling bin for food-waste, therefore one trip instead of many. Oh no! He reckons it will get smelly and that if I can’t be bothered to get rid of the peel at the time that it is very lazy. He feels so strongly about it that I have given in – More exercise for moi!

  • Giving up my laundry basket would most definitely complicate my life! I keep my one and only in the bathroom closet and all dirty clothes get tossed there. When I need to do laundry I just grab the basket and carry it downstairs to our basement laundry room and use it to carry the clean laundry up to our bedroom where it gets folded. I can’t imagine living without it!

    It’s funny how what simplifies one person’s life only complicates another’s!

  • No clean laundry basket here either. Living in an apartment (and having in-suite laundry) makes it easy to just grab the laundry pile out of the dryer and bring it straight to the bed, where it gets folded and put away immediately. In a previous life, I used to leave clean laundry piles on the bed “to fold later,” but the reality was that they never got folded; instead they just grew throughout the week, and with more laundry to fold, I procrastinated the task even longer. Folding straight out of the dryer is a lot less of a hassle, and the clothes don’t have wrinkles.

    • :) Same and we hang everything. I can see how useful it is for some people but for me, in a small home and drying everything on racks, it was just a chance for me to procrastinate.

  • Good idea. We keep our dirty clothes in a big drawstring sack thingie, and just dump it out and select the garments that need washed. We don’t have a dryer, so when the laundry’s washed, I put it all into a canvas bag and carry it into the room where we air-dry our clothes to hang it up. Our wardrobes are in that same room, so once things are dry, it’s extremely straightforward to fold and put away. My mother always uses a laundry basket, but I’ve not yet had need for one.

    As for ironing… ugh, I find it pointless. The only clothes I own that need ironed are things like party dresses and summer cotton blouses. I just ignore the wrinkles in everything else – they fall out once you wear it for a couple hours!

  • Something I’ve eliminated from our home is a coffee table. Initially I didn’t get one because I had little kids and I wanted to prevent the typical childhood scar from splitting your forehead open on the coffee table. Even though the kids are older now, I understand that a coffee table would just turn into a clutter collector in my house- one more thing to clean off and dust. We do have a large ottoman that I can put drink trays on when we want to have a drink in the living room, but that’s it.

    • Nice to read this. We don’t have one in our new flat and I’ve been mulling over buying something. I think we’ll go without. We don’t have a lot of floor space anyways and we like to use it as a play area with our son.

  • My laundry machines are in the basement and the bedrooms upstairs. Without a basket into which to put the clean folded-straight-from-the-dryer clothes, they’d slip out of my hands as I carried them upstairs. Laundry baskets are great catchalls too, for car clean outs, separating out clothes and such to pack for a journey, etc.

    Fold straight from the dryer is my laundry mantra. Nothing I hate more than a basket of wrinkled clean clothes. Now that’s a waste!

  • We have one laundry basket but I don’t use it. When the clothes are dry, I dump them on the bed and fold them right away.

  • My laundry basket gets a good workout. I do laundry every day, line dry it and then put it away straight away.
    I couldn’t do with out this much used item.
    My clothes dryer on the other hand is not being used, so maybe I will be getting rid of that instead?

  • About a month ago I got rid of my desk. I am now using my grandmother’s antique chiffarobe to store envelopes, printer paper, pens, etc which forced me to clear the clutter out of the chiffarobe in the first place. The desk was just another horizontal surface that attracted clutter. Now I’m putting papers away as they come into the house.

  • We also have a 2 story house w/ bedrooms on the top floor and laundry in the basement. Fortunately there’s a laundry chute, so I just set a hamper below it in the basement and all the dirty laundry falls into the basket, 5 feet from the washer. I do all the laundry on Monday, which for our family of 4 is 3 loads (1 load darks, 1 load lights, and 1 load sheets. I wash the kids’ sheets one week, and ours the next). Each person owns only 8 pairs of underwear; that forces me to do laundry weekly and I never get behind. We don’t have clothing that requires ironing or dry cleaning. We also purge clothes regularly so we don’t end up with more in the closets than we actually need. Out of season clothes are stored in suitcases in the attic. When I put a load in the washer or dryer, I set the kitchen timer to go off when the load is done. This way I get that load out and throw the next one in immediately, instead of forgetting about it for 6 hours. I like to check out dvd lecture series from the library and then watch a lecture while I’m sitting on the couch folding laundry. It gives me something enjoyable to look forward to on laundry day. Each person puts away their own folded laundry. My 8 yr old daughter is in a stage where she wants to change outfits all the time. She knows that if she changes her clothes multiple times during the day and puts them in the dirty clothes, she will be responsible for doing her own laundry that week.

    I was discussing this with my cousin who couldn’t keep up with laundry. We discovered that my front loading washer holds about 1.5-2 times the laundry that a traditional top loader holds, while her stackable washer/dryer was actually an apartment sized set that only holds 1/2 to 3/4 the laundry that a traditional top loader holds. That means I can do in 1 load what took her 3 loads. With 4 kids and a 1/2 sized washer, no wonder she was always behind! They sold that set and bought a front loading set. She did ALL the laundry in the house and couldn’t believe how much extra clothing they had. Previously she hadn’t realized that they had more than what could fit in the dressers/closets, because half of it was usually dirty or waiting to be folded. She sorted and donated the extra clothing. Now she still gets behind sometimes (life happens!) but she doesn’t have to scale Sock Mountain anymore.

  • I haven’t had a laundry basket for years.
    To take it out of the machine I use an IKEA bag – which folds up nice & small and tucks away discretely when not in use.
    Then I dry on a rack or on hangers (I don’t iron either). When it ‘s dry it gets folded into drawer piles, and put away. I do have a small flat though – but I also have 2 young children! It works.

  • My laundry basket is my hamper. I have two smaller, square ones that fit in the closet or under the light switch. Once its full, I have a load to wash, then I take it upstairs and put the clothes away. and its ready to catch the dirty clothes again. I agree that one doesn’t need both – one or the other will work.

  • Someone beat me to it, but we don’t have a dish drainer/drying rack. We just dry the dishes right away and put them right in the cupboard. The dishes are where they belong, you can find them easily and the counter top is clear!

    I have one laundry hamper (for dirty clothes) in our bedroom and one in the nursery for my 2 boys. I have one laundry basket (for clean clothes) that I empty the clothes from the dryer in to. Then I fold the clothes on the top of the washer and dryer, put them back into the basket folded and take them right to the rooms to put away, emptying the basket before the next load comes out of the dryer. On a busy day, the basket might have two loads in it to put away, but I try not to let it build up!

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