Simplify For Fall: Clothes & Laundry Room

This week I’m following along with the Life Your Way Simplify for Fall Challenge. Six days, six areas of the home to simplify. I’ll be sharing my progress here all week.

Simplify your: Clothing & Laundry Room

Time I spent on this task: 2-3 hours


I have four wardrobes right now: maternity, year-round and winter and summer. My winter items, heavy coat and sweaters, are stored in a closet in our extra bedroom. The rest of my wardrobe is a jumble of maternity, regular clothing and a few pieces of summer clothing.

For the challenge I moved most of my year-round and summer clothing into storage. By storage I mean a few drawers in the dresser in our spare bedroom.

What a relief to have a nice uncluttered closet again.

Create More Space: Have Less Stuff

While our flat is quite spacious the storage is minimal. Not a big problem for us but we had no place to conveniently store towels and linens.

Until now.

Previously this dresser was divided two to one with my husband having two drawers and me having one. My husband’s second drawer held summer clothing which he never wore and a few hooded sweatshirts that had seen better days.

After a light purge of his wardrobe and storing a few summer items away, the bottom drawer was empty. Win.

Bonus: my husband was complaining that a lot of his socks were missing. We found most of them during this task and, ahem, by looking under our bed. Just four lonely single socks now instead of the dozen we started with.

Henry’s Wardrobe

There wasn’t much to do to get our almost three year-old’s clothing in order. Fall is arriving (summer never really visited) but we just booked our last family trip before the new baby arrives: eight days in Ibiza and Barcelona. We’ll pack a few pairs of shorts for that trip and Henry wears the rest of his wardrobe year round.

***I took these pics on laundry day so his wardrobe looks uber minimal in these pics. The closet usually has a rugby shirt, long sleeve button up, hooded sweatshirt and rain jacket in it. The drawer has a few more t-shirts, PJs and jeans.

As part of this task I made a list of what Henry needs for winter: heavy coat, wellies, sweaters, jeans, pants.

For another day: baby clothes.

I had big plans for pulling out baby clothing and sorting it for this challenge. Instead I… took a nap. I’ll save that one for later in the fall.

Laundry Room

We don’t have one.

Like most Europeans our washing machine is in our kitchen and we hang our clothing to dry.

I really struggled with this when we first moved over. Our machine was terrible. It was a washer dryer combo that neither washed clothing very well nor dried it at all. Everything came out warm and very damp and not as clean as I would like. I was always behind on the laundry and we always had drying racks up in our house.

When we moved to a new flat in the spring we were hoping for a separate washer and dryer. I just wanted my simple and easy North American laundry system back. But our new home only had a washer – no dryer.

At first I was disappointed but after using the washer I finally realized how all these Euros manage laundry: they have great washing machines. Our new washing machine spins clothes out at 1200 RPMs. Items come out clean and need less than 24 hours to dry. Even jeans. Our sheets dry in 3-4 hours.

I’m finally able to keep up with our laundry. Timely because we’ll be adding more laundry, onesies, burp clothes and cloth diapers in January.

My laundry room is a corner of my kitchen where I set-up our two hanging racks and use a shelf to fold clothing on. It’s not pretty but I try to only have it up during the week. The racks fold down and spend weekends in our front hall storage closet.

weekday look
weekend look

Simple laundry room = no organizing! Happy to have at least one thing already checked off the list for this challenge.

 Tomorrow: Kitchen & Meal Planning

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  • Concerning laundry: most people I know don’t use those hanging racks at all. They hang clothes in the bathroom*, over the tub. Some just have ropes under the ceiling, but this is too high, so most install something like this:
    The are plastic rods, that can be descended using the ropes, so it’s easy to hang clothes, but still lets you use the tub.
    * Actually, most Europeans have washing machines in bathrooms, not in the kitchens. It’s sensible, because clothes enter the bathroom dirty on a person and leave clean and dry.

    • Interesting. I’ve seen more of the types of racks we have where we live and most of the families I know have the washer in the kitchen. We also rented an apartment in Paris once and the washer was in the kitchen – same with Spain.
      What areas of Europe have washing machines in bathrooms? I’d prefer ours was in the bathroom. It seems strange to wash clothes in the same place we cook.

      • I’ve seen washing machines in kitchen almost exclusively in rental apartments. I’ve been in real homes in: Poland (I live here), Lithuania, Finland, Danmark, Germany, Austria, Italy, Malta, UK and Czech Republic, and washing machines were almost always in the bathroom. Only families with really small bathrooms would keep wasching machines in the kitchen, but most people in Poland would rather have a top loader machine.
        On the other hand, my point of view may be biased, because most of those families that I visited had some connections to Polish people, and if you know Poles just a bit more than the sterotypical car-stealers, you find out that they can invent and make almost anything.

          • I think it might be a Polish thing- everyone I know in the UK has a washing machine in the kitchen or, if they have a larger house, in the utility room. :)

            In this boiling hot weather we’ve been having, all washing dries to crispy in about an hour!!

            I do love all of these little differences in everyday habits between countries!

    • I think it’s a UK thing to have a washing machine in the kitchen. My Dutch husband was a bit horrified that mine was in my kitchen in Glasgow but I was always a bit perplexed that he had one plonked in the middle of his shower room in Rotterdam.
      We just converted an “extra” bathroom into a laundry room and now have the washer upstairs. I am sure future estate agents (realtors?) will freak out when they see it (in a bad way). But I love it. Kids strip, clothes into laundry room, washed, hang on pulley at top of stairs, back into laundry room, ironed if need be then sorted over stair bannister. All within ten steps. (And even if it’s good drying weather outside, its easier to carry a bag of wet laundry down the stairs than it ever was to carry a wet bag up the stairs.)

  • Clothes: After checking my clothes I concluded that apart from a white shirt and a black roll-neck, I do not need any clothes. I like my clothes, they fit, I have enough. So I decided try and not to buy any clothes in the next 12 months. (apart from those two items) Husband ditto. For the kids I need to get their school uniforms, apart from that they have enough clothes till next May.

    Laundry room: My washing machine and the drier are in the kitchen. Easy access to dry clothes in the garden. What I need to tackle is three lots of ironing. :((( I also noticed that we are seriously lacking in enough decent bath towels, so I might need to buy some.

  • As far as I know, in Central and Eastern Europe that’s where they have the washing machine in the bathroom.

  • Ah – I wondered why my American friends couldn’t conceieve of life without a tumble dryer. I grew up with one (in Britain), but haven’t had one since leaving home and it’s no big deal. Especially if you can hang outside – dry in as little as an hour on a nice day. Like you said, 24 hours to dry inside as well. I thought my friends were just really impatient! But if USA machines don’t spin clothes as well, maybe that’s why. I can see why that would be annoying!

    The only thing I really miss without a tumble dryer is fluffy towels!

  • Hey Rachel – I’m back to the virtual world after completing downing digital tools for a week or so. The laundry is looking good! Talking laundry I’ve bought back with me a ton, a week in Wales covers every weather system going, and as such not only did I take pretty much my entire wardrobe (sparse by all accounts) but got through it. One walk where we got lost across farmers fields and woodland taking 3 hours meant, rain, sun, mud and cowpats all ingrained in denim for me. Whenever we get back from ‘tiny house living’ aka a ‘caravan or tent’ I always want to do a major declutter. The Hubby’s at it also today! He did our under stairs cloakroom by 10am this morning. Hope all good with you…I’ll e-mail soon x

    • p.s – whilst comparing notes on where washers are kept – mine’s in a small room off the kitchen (utility) where I have an extra sink, cupboards and a dryer. There’s a loo attached in a separate room also! There you go! (but I keep my airers in the bathroom – which I have used a LOT this year! Pesky rain!)

  • I’ve assessed my clothing and laundry situation, and other than putting some clean stuff away, my biggest task is to actually mend everything in the big heap of mending!
    So that is what I shall be doing tonight :)

  • All the UK people I know (I live in the UK) have washing machines and dryers either in kitchen or utility or the garage! If you do buy a dryer I recommend Bosch, they also do a great washing machine with a 15 minute cycle which is great for clothes that just need a quick freshen that aren’t really ‘dirty’!
    Congratulations on your new little one to come!

  • Argh. I did the opposite of this! Rachel is still kind of in size 18 – 24 month clothes, but will be in 2T for winter, and hopefully, most of next year. And since “winter” is a silly term in Florida, I’ve been spending quite a bit of money at consignment shops, getting us all set for 2T. And I grabbed a few 3T things that were on sale, too.

    I feel like I have a bunch of separate wardrobes too: maternity, winter, year round, and post-maternity (it takes me a long time to lose the baby weight). I admit that one reason I am looking forward to being done with the pregnancy postpartum era of my life is to minimize all that clothing! Granted, that is probably 6 years away, but it will be nice.

  • Took me a few minutes to figure out that your dresser drawers were not actually labelled on the drawer fronts. I thought, wow, that is commitment to organization! Haha

    Also, I like the painting or poster in your kitchen. Does it depict a real place?

    I’m in the Seattle area. I’d go nutty without my tumble dryer. And clothes would be very mildewed.

    • Painting: it looks really like a small town around here but I can’t figure out which one. The ones that come to mind, Port St. Mary, Port Erin, have lighthouse on the opposite side.

      I am a terrible organizer. That’s why less stuff has been so appealing. I’ve tried, and failed, at every organizing system I’ve ever created. They all only lasted a week or so after days of folding, sorting and putting things in nice baskets. C’est la vie.

  • Amazing how those orphaned socks can travel all on their own! Completed my wardrobe culling – and have set aside a small section of the closet to give these pieces to charity. Have not added anything to my “shopping list” so that is a relief. Alas, I have a “want” list – but am learning to respect the difference between need and want.

    Barcelona is one of the most beautiful cities! I long to return.

  • The ability to have a dryer has really allowed me to purge a lot of my linens, and that has made my laundry days so much more efficent. I strip a bed, wash and dry the linens and put them right back on the bed. Same with towels, take them off the hook, wash, dry, and put them back on the hook.
    However, even with a dryer, I line dry all of my diaper covers and all of our family’s performance wear. Drying seems to bake in the sweaty smell of the arm pits and they dry very quickly because that is what they are designed to do.
    Since loosing all the baby weight, I’ve donated all of my nice but too big underwear and bought 7 pairs of EX-Officio underwear. Love them! They are designed to dry quickly for traveling. I bought enough for the multiple days a week that I shower more than once due to exercising after work.
    I can’t wait to takle all of these things tonight.

    • It’s true. If I had a dryer we would only need one set of sheets per bed. Right now we have two sets. I wonder if I will be in hot water when/if we all get stomach flu some day.
      I could go down to one set per bed and wash linens in the morning (they would be dry by evening). But I like a bit of wiggle room.

  • Kudos to you, Rachel! Very impressive. And kudos to all of you who have also finished. With back to school on us, I’ve been doing this process for many weeks now but it’s slower and slower as the kids get older, and as we add soccer uniforms, soccer practice clothes (read: too grubby for school but still good enough for play), 4 full seasons in Chicago, 5 people, etc. But i’m trying to keep us as simple as possible…if only those kids would stop growing every 3 months!!!!!

    I have gotten better at NOT buying ahead so much – I’ve found that for me, it’s a gateway to hoarding clothing (a habit acquired as a missionary mom with small children in a 3rd world country:) and I end up storing things that they grow out of before they are seasonally appropriate, or are too opinionated and dislike (I miss infants…). Best to look for sales and hand-me-downs as we need them and only store from brother to brother and a few chosen good quality second-hand items for my daughter. That’s MY plan for simplicity in clothing – but everyone is different!:)

    • Totally agree about not buying ahead. I used to do it as sale time but, in the long run, wasn’t sure I saved. I would sometimes miss the mark size-wise, or have tops with no bottoms or skirts with no top etc. Or I’d be handed a huge bag of hand-me-downs and then have overload in that size.
      I wait until they are in the size now, pull together the hand-me-downs, then work out exactly what they might need.
      And I used to find it stressful having to remember where I might have stashed larger sizes – attic, bottom of the wardrobe, larger sibling’s bottom drawer…

    • I don’t buy ahead anymore either. I know that some families do buy ahead and take advantage of sales but for me it just created headaches. I think storing clothes for the next child is enough work for now.
      PS. Seeing your comment just reminded me I owe you an email. It was great to hear from you. You’ve lead an interesting life – I’d love to know more about your travels.

  • The other thing I’d add for kids (small ones, anyway) is don’t keep stuff you don’t like. My sister has completely different taste for her daughter than I have for mine. I had two boys first so I’m done with the t-shirts and jeans. Give me dresses, smocks, tunics. She also likes every shade of pink, brown and that wierd donkey-brown-pink shade. I used to keep everything in my daughter’s wardrobe and think “I’ll use it one day”. But I could never bring myself to actually put it on my daughter.
    I’m more ruthless with hand-me-downs now and ask donators if they want me to return stuff that is too small, wrong colour, just doesn’t suit my daughter etc.

    • Agree! My Daughter gets given some truly lovely clothing and yet she won’t wear anything but t-shirt and leggings. She has simple tastes :-) some stuff has hung around ‘just in case’ but it’s pointless, it won’t get worn I know that. I’m now ruthless!

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