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Which is better? 7 days’ worth of clothing or 3 weeks’ worth of clothing?

by respaced on December 7, 2010

I was once involved in a conversation about how many pieces of clothing your children need. Many of the moms said 3 weeks’ worth, in case you don’t have time to do laundry in that time period. I advocated only about 7-10 days’ worth. Why?

It’s all about the laundry.

See, most of the moms (and dads) I work with hate doing laundry. And since they hate doing laundry, they put off doing laundry for as long as they can. They can do this, because like the women I was discussing this issue with, their kids have about 3 weeks’ worth of clothes.

The problem is, if you try to do 2-3 weeks’ worth of laundry all at once, you will literally end up spending all day washing, drying, sorting, folding and putting away clothes. Four people in a family, who each wear 4 articles of clothing a day create 16 dirty articles of clothing a day. 16 articles a day x 21 days = 336 articles of clothing to wash on Laundry Day. The average washing machine can hold 25 articles of clothing, so that means you will have 13 loads of laundry to do. And that’s before we add in towels, sheets and table linens.

Are you actually going to do 13-15 loads of laundry in one day?

Most people understandably don’t want to spend all day on one task, so the laundry ends up unfinished by day’s end.

That explains why most of the homes I go into have small mountains of dirty laundry in the bedrooms and in the laundry room. That’s also how you end up with family members picking our clean clothes to wear from the permanent heap of clothes stacked on your (insert one:) dining room table, couch, bed, top of the dryer or floor. That’s how that permanent heap of clothes got there in the first place. That’s why these families complain that they can never stay on top of the laundry. It’s impossible!

On the other hand, having fewer clothes forces you to be more proactive about laundry, because if you don’t do it frequently, you will have nothing to wear. Having fewer clothes also means fewer clothes to leave in a pile on the floor in your kids’ (or your own) bedroom. Bedrooms thus stay tidier with fewer clothes. Laundry becomes more manageable with fewer clothes.

So that’s why I advocate having no more than 7-10 days’ worth of clothing for the kids, and ideally, for yourself as well. Do a few loads of laundry a week (which will take about 3 hours) instead of doing 13 loads of laundry once every 3 weeks (which will take Lord-knows-how-many hours). You will be so glad you did.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Stan Horst December 8, 2010 at 11:28 am

Agreed! The biggest problem of laundry is that it can build up so much as to be completely overwhelming! By limiting to fewer articles, laundry will have to be done more often, and therefore will not be so much to do at once.

Stan Horst


MaryJo December 9, 2010 at 9:52 pm

Yes, EXACTLY! Thanks for reading and commenting!


Maria April 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

I am just SO glad I'm not the only person with a "laundry couch" 🙁


MaryJo April 5, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Hi Maria,

No, you are definitely not the only one with the laundry couch! 🙂 It's so common! Even my laundry piles up from time to time, and I have just one kid. Let's face it — doing laundry is utterly boring. That's why I'm a big believer in keeping it as simple and painless as possible.


Melanie October 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm

I thought it was just me. However, it sounds like my problem is a bit different. I do laundry almost every day, but we have more clothes than could possibly be put away. I end up with laundry baskets of clean clothes and nowhere to put them. That’s what brought me here.


respaced October 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm

Hi Melanie, I’m sorry to hear about your struggles with laundry. The way I see it, putting clothes away is also part of doing laundry. In my mind, “doing laundry” starts the minute a dirty piece of clothing hits the floor or hamper and ends the minute it gets put back in the drawer, all clean and folded. So I suspect reducing the amount of clothing you own will give you more space to put away clean clothes. Having just 7-10 days’ worth of clothing is adequate for almost everyone. If you only have that much and there’s still not enough room, maybe you simply need another dresser or to rearrange your closet. I hope you get some relief from your laundry dilemma. Take care and thanks for reading/commenting.


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