I usually dedicate one weekend day to laundry. That night becomes “too tired to fold laundry night.” Sometimes I skip a week because I don’t see nearly enough full laundry baskets hanging around the house, but when they’re overflowing and drawers are empty, I know it’s time.

I go into the project with the best of intentions, “I’m going to switch the loads over and fold them immediately.” It never works out. I end up with a bunch of constantly moving piles and baskets tripping me as I walk around the house. I put them in my way on purpose so I’ll have to see and fold them, but my inner procrastination wins the battle and I move them out of the trip path or off the bed so they can call to me another day.

“I’m an unmatched sock! I need my mate!”

“Don’t you see me? Your favorite shirt? Crumpled near the boy’s stained clothes? Get me out of here!”

When I don’t remember a specific basket, I usually assume it’s clean, and I fold it up and put it away by the middle of the week. The same holds true with piles on the ground. Piles without visible stains or pronounced odors are probably clean. If an item of clothing has been in the pile long enough that I don’t remember wearing it, I safely assume the molecules of dirt and contamination have fallen to the ground–it’s the basic science of gravity. Clean by default. Fold. Put away.

Days like today where I’m out of socks and undergarments, I know I’ll have to finish the laundry process at all costs. Today, I have committed to making the Mount Fuji of laundry into a molehill.

Here’s how I get the job done:

1. Hang up and fold the things I don’t remember wearing. I don’t dress up very often if I can help it. If it belongs on a hanger, chances are I didn’t wear it very long, if at all. Back into the closet it goes.

2. Check baskets for scraps of Kleenex.  A basket’s definitely clean if it has scraps of Kleenex throughout. Only teachers understand this–I always stuff my pocket full of tissues in the morning because I never know if I’ll get stuck in a school bathroom without toilet paper–often I don’t check until it’s too late. If you’re female, you know the emergency Kleenex is a lifesaver. Problem is, I forget to take them out of my pocket, and they disintegrate all over my laundry. That’s okay–they prove the laundry is clean.

2. Take out all the cloth napkins, face cloths, and dish towels. Crumple them and throw them in the cabinet. It’s ultimately what happens when I use them. No need to fold them too well.

3. Throw socks into sock drawer. Matching socks takes up good time I could be spending doing something fun. It’s more frustrating than I imagine golf to be. Luckily, teens have figured this out. They wear mismatching socks to make a statement. I’m taking a cue from them.

4. Find dirty clothes and throw them in the washing machine. Separating laundry is old-school. That’s what your mom did, wasting time when she was supposed to be ordering you around. This is a new generation. Don’t worry about separating clothes, they all reintegrate in the basket, anyway. Life, like laundry, is a melting pot.

5. Think briefly about changing the loads over and starting a good habit of folding clothes right away. Every week I speak a promise over the washer. “I’ll fold the clothes today.” The day progresses. Clothes begin to bore me, and I leave them in baskets until the fateful day toward the end of the week when I run out of socks or underwear once again. Time to repeat the laundry ritual.

Maybe one day I’ll get it right. I’ll plug in the iron rather than throwing a wrinkled t-shirt into the drier for dewrinkling. Maybe I’ll fold all the clothes. Maybe I’ll sort the laundry. Maybe, I’ll even make a clothes line and hang them out like I should. The drier takes more unnecessary electricity than I’m comfortable expending.

Or maybe…I’ll simply look at that basket, dump it out looking for a sock or a pair of jeans, and scoop the remaining clothes back in until tomorrow. It’s too early to decide.

Perhaps, after one more cup of coffee…


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