Your Weekly Organasm: How to Keep Your Clothes off the Floor

I think that a good, workable solution needs to follow the golden rule of organizing, which is to find a place for everything and keep everything in its place.
Publish date:
August 27, 2012

I have to admit to something, you guys. Back in college, I was too cheap to buy furniture to hold stuff. Instead, I was happy to spend all my money on important things like clothes, shoes and handbags. This led to a hoarding-type situation where my possessions were piled knee-high on the floor, and covered every inch of space except the top of the bed.

Then one day, my housemate stopped by my room for a chat. I was mortified when she couldn’t open the door more than a few inches because my stuff was blocking the way. That was a looooooong time ago, and I’ve totally reformed since then. So if this is your problem, don’t worry because there’s hope for you yet.

  • Let’s start by thinking about the clothes that always end up on the floor. They should fall into one of several categories:
  • Clean clothes you considered wearing but rejected for a more flattering outfit
  • Clothes you wore once but are willing to wear again
  • Clothes you wore once but can’t wear because they got wrinkled being kicked into a pile on the floor like that
  • Dirty clothes that should be in the laundry basket but aren’t because you just can’t be bothered to walk that far
  • Clothes that are dry clean only and don’t belong in the laundry basket so why not leave them on the floor while you think about it?

I think that a good, workable solution needs to follow the golden rule of organizing, which is to find a place for everything and keep everything in its place. At least, that’s what I had in mind when I recently created a sort of clothing control center in my bedroom. It consists of a chair, laundry basket, a bag for dry cleaning, a bag for Goodwill and a hook on the wall. If you’d like to do the same, you should know it’s okay to use substitutes. For example, a table or drying rack can stand in for the chair, and a bin can hold your dry cleaning or dirty laundry.

For me, the chair is the best part of the clothing control center. I use it to hold the clothes I want to wear again, as well as the clean clothes I’ve rejected for something different. When I get dressed in the morning, I head straight to the chair to see if there’s something I can work into my outfit. I don’t actually have to use the stuff on the chair, but if I do, it will go a long way toward cutting down on the number of items I keep there.

Since I’ll probably have trouble keeping the pile small, I’ve attached a little green sticker to the chair back. It’s there to indicate what my tolerance level should be. Once my clothing pile starts to cover up the green dot, I’ll know it’s time to start slinging clothes into the laundry basket or the dry cleaning bag so that I can start over again with a clean slate.

I know that some of you don’t wear clothes more than once before cleaning them. In that case, you don’t need a chair. Other people put their already-been-worn clothes back in the dresser or closet after airing them out. If that works for you, that’s great. I use the chair because I get lazy, it gives me borrowed time and sometimes, I don’t like the thought of “contaminating” the rest of my clean clothes.

But the airing out your clothes part is a pretty good idea. That’s the purpose of the hook on my wall. You can also choose to drape your clothes over the arms or back of the chair, or lay them flat on the clean, made bed (if you have it) for a few hours before you put them away. The reason why I use a chair and not a bag, bin or drawer is because it’s highly visible. I’ll forget about my clothes unless they’re right in front of my face.

I am finding it surprisingly easy to adjust to this new system, since people seem to have a natural tendency to use chairs as clothes hangers. I’m convinced that’s why I always come home from work to see Mr. Min’s shirt on the armchair, his undershirt on the sofa and his pants on a dining chair. It’s something that never fails to annoy and mystify me.

Let’s move on to the laundry basket. Obviously, it’s meant to hold everything that’s wrinkled and/or dirty. It’s part of the setup because I find it super convenient to go to just one place when I get changed. For example, my jeans might go on the chair, my shirt in the laundry basket, and a blouse in the dry cleaning bag. And I’ll be able to do it all without moving my feet an inch!

In time, I expect some clothes to linger on the chair for days on end. If I’ve been visiting it regularly, it probably means I’ve rejected them for various outfits. I plan on looking at the items, one by one, to see if I can figure out why it’s happening. Maybe my pants need to be shortened or a shirt taken in. If so, I’ll stuff it in the dry cleaning bag and take it to the tailor. If there’s nothing wrong with a particular item and I’m just not wearing it, I should put it in the other bag and take it to Goodwill as soon as I get the chance.

To make life easier, cleaner and more organized, you can set up a control center for things other than clothes. I have one to control my paper clutter. After walking through the front door with my mail, I can sit at the dining table, open envelopes and feed stuff directly into the shredder, recycling bin or letter rack. I don’t have to get up from my seat, and I’m done in seconds without having to sort through, or create little paper piles. Usually, the only thing left is a stack of magazines and catalogs, which I’ll stick in the recycling bin as soon as I’m done with them.

You can also create a control center to help you get out of the house quickly and efficiently. I’ve heard some people call it a launch pad. Just pick a spot where you can store a handbag, keys, wallet, cell phone, hat, sunglasses, dog leash or whatever else you need when you walk out the door. For the things that need to be refrigerated/are too big/inconvenient to keep there, write it down on a notepad and keep that there instead. The launch pad doesn’t have to be right by the exit but it should be highly visible and convenient.

It’s time for you to dish. Do you have any tips for keeping your stuff off the bedroom floor? And do you have control center for things other than clothes and paper clutter? I really want to know, so tell me all about it in the comments.