How My Minimal Wardrobe Saves Me Time

posted by Nancy Vorsanger on June 24, 2014 13 Comments

An easy way to make laundry less overwhelming from simplify101.com

My real-life and virtual friends often tell me that laundry is one of their most dreaded tasks. They can’t seem to catch up with the piles of dirty clothes or the baskets of clean ones waiting to be put away.

I don’t particularly mind doing laundry, because it never feels like a lot of work. There are several reasons. For one thing, I’ve cut way down on folding. In my family, we just stuff our clean pajamas, underwear, exercise clothes, and many other items into drawers, because we don’t care if they get wrinkled. And here’s a confession: We wear a lot of our clothes multiple times. If they pass the sniff test and aren’t visibly dirty, back to the drawer or closet they go.

But I think the biggest reason I’m never overwhelmed by laundry is simple: my family doesn’t have a lot of clothes.

As soon as I have enough clothes for a load, I wash them, then put them right away. I have to. If I let my laundry build up, I’d have nothing to wear! I have no choice but to keep things moving quickly back to my closet or drawers.

But I find this lack of choice very liberating. The laundry process never feels oppressive to me, because I always have a manageable amount of laundry. I never have big piles of clothes to deal with because I simply don’t have enough clothes to make big piles.

(How many clothes do I have? Here’s my summertime line-up: two pairs of shorts, two pairs of capri pants, one skirt, three dresses, five “nice” T shirts, two cotton tees, one tank top, and two cardigans. )

Having a small wardrobe keeps my closets and drawers from being packed, so I can see and find everything easily. It saves me money. But what I really love is how it saves me time. I have less stuff to deal with—less to wash, dry, fold, hang, store, or generally think about. Less clothing translates into more time for the things I want to do.

Less stuff means more time.

I try to apply this principle to many aspects of my life. I’ll admit, for me, keeping my wardrobe small is an easy one. I’m not particularly interested in fashion and I don’t enjoy shopping. But the benefits of my small wardrobe encourage me to make do with fewer things wherever I can, even when it’s more challenging. Less stuff—whatever kind of stuff it is—means less shopping, less unpacking, less cleaning, less maintenance. Less stuff means more time for the things that are important to me.

Now, maybe you’re a fashionista, and for you, time spent tending to your clothes is completely worth it. Or maybe you’re like a friend of mine, who finds folding laundry relaxing. She likes to take a pile of clean clothes, turn on HGTV, and get to work. If that’s the case, great! You’re spending time on something you like.

But dealing with clothing is not high on my priority list, so I’m glad I figured out how to do less of it by having less.

Have you found ways to make laundry less of a burden? Are there other areas of your life where you’ve pared down? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Nancy

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Nancy Vorsanger loves how her organized home makes her family’s life easier. She opened her own organizing business to help other families get—and stay—organized, with practical, no-fuss strategies tailored to their own needs and lifestyles. Nancy also loves coffee, word games, blogs, her husband, and her children—not in that order. She lives in central New Jersey.
  • June 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    After living in houses with big yards my husband and I have finally worked out that we don’t really love gardening or yard work. We love a couple of small garden beds and pots on a deck or patio to tend but, a lot of grass? Not so much. It has been good while the kids were small but they don’t play in the yard so much now that they are getting older. We are renting and know we will be moving in the next couple of years so a house with a smaller yard will be on our priority list! Either that or a pet goat to be a natural lawnmower! Ha ha.

    June 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

    Ha, the smaller yard is probably the better option. But that is a great example. When we were looking for our house, a lot of people were surprised that we wanted a small yard. We’re like you–we don’t like the maintenance, and we don’t enjoy gardening. So for us a big yard would have been a minus. But I realize for others it is a huge plus. It’s good to know what your priorities are.

    • June 25, 2014 at 8:56 am

      I downsized my wardrobe, and have enough clothes for about a week. That means I have to do laundry every week or I don’t have anything to wear. Like you, I found that makes laundry a bit easier because it’s not as much to wash and put away.

      June 25, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Yes, I really do like having less to wash and generally deal with.

      • June 27, 2014 at 5:01 am

        Less stuff means more time. Nancy I like your example it can be applied to everything.
        Then those items I choose to keep around…like crafts, can take up my time and energy.

        June 27, 2014 at 7:01 am

        Yes, time & energy–that’s it. Paring down can be hard, but it can also save you so much of these in the long run. Thanks!

        • July 11, 2014 at 4:18 pm

          I am the same way – I wear my same favorites over and over again – when I’m getting low on things to wear, it’s time to do some laundry! No overwhelming piles and mounds to fold.

          My kids do their own laundry which helps out a ton.

          July 16, 2014 at 10:44 am

          Great idea to have your kids do their own laundry!!

          • July 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm

            I often wonder about having the kids do their laundry…not even so much to have it help me out but because I think they should know how and because I think it is important for them to help out with household chores…But so far I still wind up doing it all, for a variety of reasons. I need to work harder at finding a way to get the kids involved!

            • August 12, 2014 at 10:32 pm

              With my boys, I have started with one task within the scope of laundry. It was put away. Now we are at fold and put away. When they were preschoolers, we built the habit of put dirty laundry into the hamper. They each have their own. Next may be learning how to pre-treat stains. Then it could be load/unload the dryer. My experience has proved successful adding a new task every year or two. By junior high they should be able to independently do it on their own!

              August 13, 2014 at 6:40 am

              Teresa, that is a great way to get them involved, step by step. Thanks for the advice!

              • September 24, 2014 at 11:57 pm

                Nancy, I love this and have learned a minimalist approach to clothes is such a blessing, actually! I’m curious what your fall/winter lineup is?

                September 25, 2014 at 6:18 pm

                Hi Jennifer. Thanks! I had to go in my closet & count. :-) However, my fall/winter wardrobe is in flux now, for a variety of reasons, so I expect to toss or donate a bunch and get some new things in, & when I’m done to have fewer items. But for now, I have 12 sweaters (of all kinds–heavy ones for cold weather only, plus lighter ones I wear more often), 4 pairs of jeans/casual pants, 2 pairs of trousers/dressier pants, & 9 long- or 3/4-sleeve shirts. Also, one pair of flannel-lined jeans that I keep promising myself I won’t wear (they are hideous) but I always do because they are so warm! Plus, I have a bunch of tanks & various kinds of silk & other long underwear. In the winter, I wear a lot of layers!