Laundry Hacks - the Drawer System

About: I am a Mad Scientist and IT gal with a passion for projects. I love figuring out puzzles, solving problems, and finding out new ways to get things done!
I hate doing laundry.  I was fortunate enough when I was growing up to not have to do my own laundry, that is, until my late teen years.  When I did start doing my laundry, there were a few things that bugged me about this seemingly simple task.
  1. Whenever the laundry basket was full, you have to sort out the different loads.
  2. If you do all your laundry whenever the laundry basket is full, invariably you end up
    • A few overstuffed loads (which won't clean your clothes as well) 
    • A few loads that are only half full (wasting water and detergent).
  3. If I didn't do laundry on a set date, I would forget until it was too late and would, without a doubt, run out of the all important socks and underwear at the most inopportune moment.
I discovered a system that simplifies the laundry process, solving all of my different clothes-washing pet peeves and streamlining it into my everyday life.  All it requires is a set of plastic storage drawers (I used several of the 3-drawer stackable ones from Sterillite for my husband and I, and they work great!)

Step 1: Sorting Your Laundry

Think about what different loads of laundry you do.  Everyone sorts their loads slightly differently, but my categories are:
  • Pants / Slacks
  • Blacks / Dark Colors
  • Brights / Whites
  • Delicates
Back in high school, I hated sorting my laundry when I had an overflowing pile in front of me.  It was too daunting of a task for me.  For whatever reason I did not have any actual laundry basket.  What I did have were several of the plastic stackable drawers, which I would use to sort my laundry into.  I discovered when I was in high school that the amount of dirty clothing you can shove into one of the plastic storage drawers until you can't shut it anymore is about the same size as a large (but not overfull!) load of laundry.

Soon, I discovered that if I just put the dirty clothes directly in the drawer for that load instead of in the pile of random laundry, I saved time and floor-space in my bedroom!  So I continued on and picked up the habit of putting my dirty laundry into drawers for the individual loads.

When we moved into The Bungalow, I brought several of my plastic stackable drawers and made 2 stacks, four drawers high, for me and my husband to sort our dirty clothes into.  Whenever we pick up our dirty clothes, we just automatically sort them into the individual drawer for that load.  It is a lot easier to sort as you go rather than all at once. 

Step 2: Built-In Reminder

When the drawer is full, it is time to do that load of laundry.  Simple as that!

It makes it a lot easier if you need to wash your pants once a week but have enough socks to last a few.  You only do the laundry that needs to be done, when you have a full load (which saves water!) and you don't even have to remind yourself to do it.  If you can't fit those slacks in the drawer, throw a load of pants in!

This system also works to make sure that the washing machine is not tied up by one person for an entire day - Usually you won't fill up all of your drawers at the same time!  Very helpful in case you run out of clean socks.

Once your laundry is washed, dried, and folded or hung up, simply stack in the drawer and carry back to the bedroom!

The drawers can act in every way as a normal laundry basket, just sized for only one load!  The stackable drawers take up the same space in a bedroom as an average laundry basket, and are much more useful.  If you don't have time to fold a finished load of laundry, you don't have to worry about needing an extra basket - Each load has it's own!

Step 3: Expanding for Multiple People

Right now, it is just my husband and I in the Bungalow, but this system can make laundry easier for larger households as well!

Here is an easy tip to use these drawers to streamline the laundry room.
  • Purchase each person their own color of drawer or Label the drawers with each person's name
  • When someone put a load in the washer or drier, they leave their drawer on top or on the floor nearby, just as they would with a normal laundry basket.
If a load gets left in the washer or drier, it is easily identified and can be placed in the drawer rather than on the floor, on top of the machine, etc, to be found by it's owners.  Since the individual drawers are much smaller than a normal laundry basket, this doesn't take up as much space as you might expect, even when you stack them several high - great for families with teenagers or college students with busy schedules.

In larger households it might be useful to set up a community set of drawers for things such as sheets, towels, dishrags, etc. and designate person to take care of one or more drawers.  This makes it easier to give a clear who-does-what around the house (and always make sure there are clean towels.)



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9 Discussions


2 years ago

I do this. I love it. I have each drawer clearly labeled and my son does just fine with it. Occasionally I will have to pull an item or 2 that hot put in the wrong load but it works very well for my house.


3 years ago

This is really awesome thank you!

Thanks for your comment! I can understand how this is not a long-term system, especially with young children - That is why I mentioned it is better for teenagers or college students. It does require a bit of responsibility in picking up after yourself.

However, it has been working for me for several years and has solved my bad habit of leaving piles everywhere and putting overstuffed loads in the washer. I did crack one drawer at some point, about a year or so ago, but duct tape has stood the test of time on that.

Ahhh duct tape <3 but If we teach the older kids to sort laundry they can have one in their room that can be brought to you when its full. If you have more than one set up you can wait for two drawers or three depending on the washers size. Clothes can be resorted and brought back in the drawers to be hung up. Different colors for different children with labels like "Lights (white pink yellow)" Darks (black red purple) "Jeans" will teach them for the future :]

I was actually looking for a use for these drawers not that long ago and I'm going to adapt this system :D Thank you!!

i am in the process of using these Sterilite drawers to upcycle a 20 byear oldold blacl lacquear entertainment center.. i took out the tv shelf and upper shelf . The sterilite i have is is 4 or 5 drawers and takes the whole interior space. i am going to have to reinforce it with a cable or maybe a rod through the rear.
i want to hang a flat screen tv on a piece of plywood with a couple strong hinges or a piano hinge , so it swings open like a door and i can use the drawers.Removal of the upper shelf reduced the stabiility, so it is either a cable or threaded rod to restabilize it so the flat screen can swing open daily. Laundry would be a perfect use for them too., so i wii keep an eye out for them on the large item pickup day


6 years ago on Introduction

I've been using a similar system for decades now. I started just with a set of shelves and a laundry basket on each shelf, then went to a set of wire baskets on a metal rack, which is much sturdier than plastic. When a basket is full, I just take the basket downstairs, run the laundry, put the folded laundry back in the basket and bring it upstairs to put in the drawers.

As for children, my six-year-old daughter had her own set of baskets and it was easy to teach her to put her clothes in there every day. In those days, we had to go to a laundromat, so we just stuck all the baskets in the car, took them to the laundromat, and had pizza while the wash cycle was going.


6 years ago on Introduction

I love this. It's so simple, yet it is an elegant solution.