While I’d consider myself a pretty neat person, I do have one clutter-filled space in my home: the laundry chair.
You know the one: that beautiful, decorative chair you splurge on for the corner of your bedroom. It’s sleek, it’s sophisticated, it makes you feel like the has-it-all-together lead heroine in a Nancy Meyers flick — and it’s truly impeccable at collecting clothing. Or maybe it’s a laundry bench, like my friend has, or a laundry stool, which I owned in my last apartment. The furniture item can differ; it’s the practice that’s the same.
For me, I’m not even sure how it happens; I toss a shirt onto it that I’ve decided against for dinner, or jeans I only wore once (They aren’t dirty!), and before I know it, half my closet is piled high on this “decorative” chair. Soon, there’s no discerning what’s dirty and what’s clean, giving me no choice but to eventually just throw everything into the wash with a huff after my husband side-eyes that corner a few times.
For others, the laundry chair might be the go-to destination for a newly-clean load you grab out of the dryer and plan to fold that day — before you get sidetracked and end up picking clothes out of the chair pile throughout the next week until you’ve inadvertently whittled it down to just a few items.
And this is the very important thing: I am not here to break you out of your laundry chair habit. Heck, I’m not even sure if I can break myself out of my laundry chair habit. But I’m all about little improvements, and according to the organizing pros I talked to for this article, the key to at least enhancing your laundry chair habit lies in turning it into a pseudo-organizing mechanism that works for you, rather than against you. Here’s how to do that.
Consider Some Laundry Chair Ground Rules
“If you’re committed to having your laundry chair, or you’re just finding it difficult to ditch it, I want you to establish rules for yourself,” says Kenika Williams, a professional organizer and owner of Tidied by K. One potential rule you might consider, she says: taking 10 minutes each night to tidy a few things on the chair to help avoid a mountainous buildup of clothing. “What ‘organization’ looks like to every person will differ, and you get to establish your own rules that will align to your organizational goals,” Williams says.
Similarly, Naeemah Ford Goldson, a professional organizer and owner of Restore Order, suggests coming up with a time limit for how long laundry can remain on the chair. “I’d recommend no longer than a day, so you can get into the habit of putting everything away before you go to bed at night,” she says.
Pick a Purpose for the Chair
An important caveat for having a laundry chair: It must be functional, says Williams.
A laundry chair shouldn’t be the place for both clean laundry and five-times-worn sweatshirts, according to Ford Goldson. Her recommendation: “I would suggest only putting clean clothes on the chair, because who wants to mix their dirty and clean clothes?”
Put Other Clothes Organization Methods into Place
To make the tip above happen, you can keep the chair around but also work to bring in other organizational strategies to tempt you away from the siren call of the laundry chair for all items.
“Try a clothes rack that is standalone and equip it with empty hangers so it’s much easier to hang clothes quick,” suggests Katrina Green, professional organizer, interior stylist, and owner of Badass Home Life. “This still gives you the system of separating the already worn clothes from fresh ones, and it’ll also give you more of an aesthetically pleasing look. Another option would be to have a blanket ladder or a coat rack so you can still keep stacking items, but it’ll lessen the number of clothes you’ll be hanging since space is limited.”
Ultimately, says Ford Goldson, “There should be a place for dirty laundry and a place for clean laundry, whether it’s a hamper in your closet or a clean clothes basket in your bedroom. When every item has a home, you’re less likely to put it in places it doesn’t belong.”