A Laundry Update

Shall we talk about how my hanging laundry basket system is working out for my family? Oh, let’s!

hanging laundry baskets

It is the best. thing. ever.

The hanging system has completely changed the way I approach laundry. Like I mentioned before, we dedicated a hallway closet to take care of our laundry needs, and installed six labeled laundry baskets for our family of four. It’s been an organizational dream – no more overflowing cloth bags or hampers stuffed in the back of the closet until I’m forced to shake them all out. The six baskets are labeled Towels, Whites, Lights, Darks, Colors, and Blacks, which would probably work for most, but over the past few months, I’ve realized I seriously micro-manage my laundry piles. Yes, I can’t believe I’m admitting this, but I still sort some of the laundry baskets before washing. As if six categories weren’t enough, I prefer to separate laundry into 9-10 piles before washing. Is that crazy? Have I gone off the deep end?

Let’s break it down. Here’s how I sort.



Lights – tans, beige, khaki

Lights – grey, pale blues

Colors – reds, pinks, oranges, purple

Colors – blues, greens




Yep. 9 loads. Some people have informed me that I might be a little loco, but I like to keep all my colors vibrant and I believe my method keeps our clothing from looking dingy and worn.


Also, some of our laundry baskets are far more popular than others. Our “colors” and “lights” baskets fill up twice as fast due to the kids’ colorful clothing and my husbands penchant for grey and light blue. Do you notice a predominant color in your laundry baskets? Also, I would love to hear about your sorting system. Are you a “more is better” when it comes to separating laundry, a “who cares” or somewhere in the middle? Laundry separatists unite!

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  • Esther

    June 12, 2013 at 7:15 am

    Laundry Separatists? I didn’t know YOU PEOPLE had a name! lol

    • whoorl

      June 12, 2013 at 7:20 am

      Hahaaaa, I know. Just another way my Type A manifests itself. ;)

      • Esther

        June 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

        Pshh! I threw away my Type A a LONG time ago….lol

  • Katie

    June 12, 2013 at 7:45 am

    Fist bump from a fellow Laundry Separatist. 9 loads here too. :) I do a lot of dark loads (hubby) and colors (girls pjs and play clothes). I have a laundry basket dresser/sorting system like you and I love it. :)

    • whoorl

      June 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      Fist bump!

  • KateP

    June 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I am as diligent a sorter as you…I’m REALLY concerned about the red clothes bleeding into the other items. Also, I am just OCD/Type A in general, so of course it spills into laundry, too. I need a system like yours. My dirty clothes end up either piled in my first floor laundry, or all over my family room floor on “laundry day.” This way I could take a basket or two a day!

  • Tiera

    June 12, 2013 at 9:27 am

    How funny we had this conversation at work yesterday. All the men thought their significant others were crazy for separating to this level of detail. They were a happy to let their jeans get dirty to the point of being able to stand them up in a corner on their own! We also discussed balancing the loads and when it’s ok to sacrifice a piece of clothing from its typical sorting because it doesn’t matter as much eg. Men’s light grey boxers can move to the dark jeans wash to balance the load.
    In my house I do the laundry always so I can control the sorting and the cycles.

  • Cass

    June 12, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Been there, done that. :-) I’ve had to change my ways a little because my husband and anyone who asks looks at me a little crazy. But currently it goes towels (light colors), towels (red/dark colors), towels (dog) whites, colors, darks, denim, dress clothes/sweaters, sheets. Still at 9 loads, but they don’t all get washed every week – thank goodness.

  • Ginger

    June 12, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Not a separatist here. I just use cold water and hope for the best.

  • Michelle

    June 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I’m with Ginger – all in cold and hope for the best. This is primarily due to the fact that I only have one person to do laundry for – me! And most of my clothes are black…

    Can someone answer this for me – what temp water do you wash sheets and towels? I usually wash in hot.

    And for clothes – what exactly are you supposed to wash in hot and warm?


    • MommyTime

      June 12, 2013 at 12:15 pm

      I do everything in cold, even sheets and towels, unless someone has been really sick. Then I wash and rinse his/her sheets and towels in hot. I think that heat sets stains, so I prefer cold for everything unless I have a lot of germs to kill. But I could be wrong about this.

      • GreenInOC

        June 12, 2013 at 3:47 pm

        @MommyTime, how do you rinse in a different temperature – does your washing machine have that feature? Clearly mine doesn’t nor have any that I’ve ever looked at but I desperately want one that does. Thanks!

        • MommyTime

          June 12, 2013 at 6:02 pm

          I have a pretty basic model Maytag (top loading, manual nobs, absolutely no frills and hence relatively little to break), but it does have temperature choices for both wash and rinse, load size options, and the standard cycle type options. I’ve had it for ten years, and it’s a workhorse. I love it.

    • whoorl

      June 12, 2013 at 12:17 pm

      I wash always wash my towel and sheet loads in warm or hot.

  • Rebekah

    June 12, 2013 at 11:23 am

    I used to sort like that when I had a smaller machine that couldn’t handle mega-loads. I’m not so specific now, but I totally understand the impulse. I typically do whites, light colors, dark colors, towels and diapers, although I have been known to throw the odd towel, napkin, or washcloth in with those at the end of the day. Some people like an empty inbox. I like an empty laundry hamper.

  • Christine

    June 12, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I’ll see your 9 loads and raise you 7 more: sheets, table linens, underwear and socks (dark), underwear and socks (light). I also have sub categories for sweaters (delicate), bathing suits, lulu lemon and similar athletic materials (washing them with other cottons messes them up). I have accepted that I am crazy about this one thing but I swear all of our clothes look new for a ridiculously long time. Don’t even get me started on how little I put in the dryer though. I hang almost everything but sheets, towels and underwear/socks. :)

    • whoorl

      June 12, 2013 at 12:18 pm

      You’re my kind of woman. And I do my Lululemon separately as well! Same on the dryer too…I hang dry tons of stuff.

      • Summer

        June 13, 2013 at 6:56 am

        LOL I feel like I found my people! I OBSESS over separating and definitely prefer to dry on ultra low for a few minutes before hanging dry a good portion of the wash.

  • MommyTime

    June 12, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    I separate whites and lights, though don’t care if grey and tan and powder blue mix. I ALWAYS do a red/pink/orange/purple load — and because both of my kids favor those colors, I sometimes have more than one load’s worth in any given week. I also have mesh zip bags that I used for things that don’t get dried, so that I don’t forget to pull them out of a wash load (little girl tights, sweaters, delicates, anything containing lycra, my good jeans). I put those into the bags as I’m sorting laundry, so that they don’t accidentally get thrown in the washer. My mother always did denim with towels, which makes very heavy loads. I like to mix sheets and towels, since I find that in my large-load washer, an all-towels load sometimes doesn’t spin effectively due to weight.

    And now, I can’t believe I’ve written this much about doing laundry. (Perhaps I’m procrastinating from actually doing it?)

  • Mikal

    June 12, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    I only separate out known color offenders, which for me is only dark wash jeans. So jeans get their own load and everything else is mixed.

  • Ambr

    June 12, 2013 at 12:56 pm

    Nah, I’m a lazy laundry washer. I separate it into the ever so difficult [/sarcasm] categories of “jeans” and “everything else”. I’m frequently working outside, so by the time i’m doing laundry, everything’s so covered in dirt that I just want to dump it in the machine and call it a day hahah. Periodically, however, i’ll do a “delicates” run, for my few nicer items. And I *always* throw in Shout Color Catcher — I swear by them, I haven’t had any sort of bleeding of colors since I started using them — just to try and compensate for my laziness x)

  • ChrisB

    June 12, 2013 at 2:10 pm

    I did not even know those options existed… My word!
    I only separate into lights, darks and sheets. The towels end up with the lights or darks.
    But I only use a dryer for towels, everything else is air dried.

  • Kevin

    June 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Whites, Lights, Darks, Towels, Bedding, Boy #1, Boy #2, Wife’s Unmentionables. I will wash and fold all but the last. The last also includes delicate sweaters, etc., that I don’t want to take a chance on destroying. Everything on warm, except Whites – those get hot.

  • Jessica

    June 12, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    I did not know that Laundry Separatists could exist to this extent! I wash Chris’s work clothes separate because he is a paramedic and that’s kind of a dirty job. But everything else is tossed together and I wash on warm. I do occasionally wash special clothes on a gentle cycle, and towels/washclothes are always washed alone on hot. However, I am a bit of a crazy when it comes to putting clothes away.

  • GreenInOC

    June 12, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    You would pass out if you saw me do laundry.

    It all goes in willy nilly!

    ALL clothing is washed together. The other day I washed a white shirt with a bunch of black items. It came out white, bright and stain free! I always wash in cold to prevent any stains from setting and I use whatever eco-friendly laundry detergent, Borax and sometimes vinegar for all loads.

  • Mia

    June 12, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    I am not currently doing this (4 separate types of loads here), but it makes sense. Now I’m curious about what detergents and stain removers you’re using, too! Who knew laundry could be so interesting!

  • Patricia

    June 13, 2013 at 12:00 am

    Ooh my husband will love this he is an absolute neat freak and “sorter” of colors, sizes you name it he sorts it . Now the question is do I or don’t I show this to him, and make my life a little bit more interesting :o))
    But what a fantastic idea

  • Sharon

    June 13, 2013 at 5:33 am

    I used to have a similar sorting system. But my kids play so many sports now that I need to throw in a load every night. I’m down to three sorting groups: dark, light, towels/sheets. I have all boys so there isn’t much in the way of white clothing. I find that they will destroy the clothing faster than I could by improper laundry techniques.

  • Maria

    June 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

    I’d love to keep more of my things out of the dryer. For those of you that don’t use the dryer much and air dry instead, where the heck do you hang it all while it’s drying?

    • Brittany S.

      June 13, 2013 at 6:59 am


      No, but seriously. I do as many as I safely can on the shower curtain line (usually put them on a hanger) but it can only hold so much, so then I have the on the towel bar, on the backs of chairs, hanging from the hamper, lying flat on the table, occasionally hanging a few light things from the curtain rod. Now luckily I don’t air dry everything, so it’s not too bad, but I definitely want a line outside when I move. (I’m in an apartment so my outside options are pretty limited.)

  • Brittany S.

    June 13, 2013 at 6:54 am

    I do:

    – towels
    – whites (it takes a while for these to accumulate since I have like 3 shirts and a ton of socks, and that’s about it for my whites)
    – blues/denim/purples/greens
    – red/orange
    – blacks

    I imagine that if I were doing laundry for a family, I might do the categories a little different, but right now if I were to split them any further, there just wouldn’t be enough for a load.

    I always see these amazing laundry rooms on pinterest, but I know that despite my diamond dreams, I only have a cubic zirconia budget. :D So I really appreciate your solution. It’s something us normal people can do, the ones that DON’T have a decorator or a million dollar McMansion.

  • Elizabeth

    June 13, 2013 at 8:07 am

    I am glad I am not the only one. For our family of two I do 2 lights, 2 darks, bathroom towels, kitchen towels, cleaning towels, and sheets. Occasionally whites when I feel like bleaching. Yes, that is 8 loads a week for 2 people. And yes, I have hampers in the closet for most of those. I can’t imagine what fun I will have when baby arrives in 3 weeks. :-)

  • Sierra

    June 13, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I’m feeling better about my laundry neurosis already…well, and that my mom is so much more hard core than I am bit still, nice to know we’re not alone! I even do two towel loads as my husband and I have our own bathrooms and therefore different towels. I also do a separate load for workout clothes as I fear the sweat will invade everything else (yes, in the water…totally irrational but whatever).

  • Jenifer

    June 13, 2013 at 10:53 am

    I’m more of a not wanting to waste water and energy mindset. Whatever is most efficient that way is good for me.

  • kat

    June 13, 2013 at 12:34 pm

    i think i lucked out because my husband does ALL the laundry. but it’s amazing how much laundry gets done for just us two. it’s basically either white/color loads. we don’t separate out light colors or denim – they just all go in at once! we probably wash colors more often – the whites is mostly towels and sheets that that ends up being easy. erik was big on pushing for white towels mostly for the bleaching we can do so that does keep them nice and bright.

  • Kristen Howerton

    June 13, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    I sort mine into two loads: things that might bleed color, and things that won’t. And my husband dry-cleans EVERYTHING he owns.

  • Emily

    June 13, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    A question for all of you separatists, do you do all of your loads on one day or are you doing laundry every day of the week? I don’t know how I would build up enough items in each category without missing essentials I need washed every 3-5 days…insights?

  • Steph

    June 14, 2013 at 11:06 am

    I sort my laundry into several piles too. When I went to college and realized that some people do ALL of their laundry together, I was appalled! I sort mine into black, white, brights, and towels. I hand wash all of my sheer clothing, lingerie, athletic clothing, and swim suits.

  • Kris

    June 15, 2013 at 12:30 am

    I am not a separatist but I love the idea of it. It’s just that (giggles) I’m not actually the one who handles the laundry thing… my husband. He washes our clothes every Saturday (hand wash) and the curtains and sheets one’s a month (machine wash). Anyway he only has 3 types of separation: white, colored and our baby’s. He seems loving it because I never heard him complain, thank God.

  • Katie

    June 15, 2013 at 11:28 am

    I think laundry habits also have to do with how much you care about clothing in general. I’m actually Type B, but you would think I was Type A by the way I handle my laundry! I basically have a love affair with clothes though, and spend way too much money on my wardrobe, so of course I go to greater lengths to keep everything looking nice.

    For one thing, I only wash my clothes if they have a stain or are smelly. I just don’t see the need to put them through the unnecessary wear and tear of the washer and dryer after each and every time they’re worn (with the exception of underwear, of course!). I’m not sure if this is normal or not, because when I revealed this habit to one of my friends she was completely shocked and couldn’t believe that I would wear something and then hang it straight back up in my closet. Who knows, maybe she’s the strange one though!

    When I do wash my clothes, I wash the majority of them on delicate or handwash and either dry on the lowest heat setting or airdry. As for seperating, I usually just do whites, lights, darks, and denim. It’s safe to say that I’m definitely more anal when it comes to how my clothes are washed rather than how they’re separated! This could be because I don’t wear a lot of bright colors though, which means there’s not much risk of my clothes fading and bleeding onto each other anyways.

    As for sheets and towels, however, my Type B shines through and they just get thrown in on the normal wash cycle and high heat dry cycle with no regard to colors!

  • Olivia

    June 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I guess I’m somewhere in the middle. I separate into towels, lights, darks, but I put all of the kids’ clothes in one load and wash in cold. If I separated more than that I would never have a full load.

  • Kate

    June 16, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    I’ve found it really easy to keep colors bright without subcategorizing too much. If you separate the towels, whites and lights out, the rest will stay bright if you wash in cold. The trick is just to wash new clothes separately or with like colors (reds, darks, denim) until you know they won’t bleed any more — usually once or twice. If you only need to do four or five loads of laundry, it’s a great time saver. If you’re washing nine loads anyway, I guess it doesn’t matter!

  • Stephanie

    June 19, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    This is such a neat idea, but I have to admit I’m a slacker mom who doesn’t bother with sorting clothes. If only I could be this organized.