How to simplify laundry

How to simplify kids' clothes

The psychology behind kids' clothes, why we have so much and how to find the balance between way too many and not enough


Decluttering kids' clothes is one of the top requests I get from moms, and what they need help with.

I personally believe that creating our kids' wardrobes is about as personal as our political and religious beliefs. Seriously, it's an emotionally charged topic in the decluttering world for a lot of different reasons. Those reasons are all deeply personal. 

I believe this is such an emotionally charged topic because it's overwhelming. So many moms (maybe even you since you're reading this) are completely overwhelmed by laundry. The piles, the never ending dirty clothes and process of washing, drying, putting away. It has literally brought me to tears before because it was so overwhelming. 

Another reason it's so emotionally charged is because it is confusing.

There is just so much of it. We have to consider so many factors. Kids' ages, seasons, sizes, various needs, potential just in case and future scenarios (and siblings). Guilt associations because we were gifted them in the form of hand me downs. It's confusing to know what to keep and not keep, or how much, and for how long.

It's also just a very personal journey.

Often times the clothes we have, buy and keep are closely tied to our money stories. Were we broke and could only afford second hand. There is nothing wrong with this by the way, but if you're like me I had a lot of shame surrounding this.

We want people to think we are financially secure so we spend way too much on brand new clothes.

Maybe you grew up poor so feel the need to keep them all, or compulsively thrift shop and have way too many. We remember when our kids were teeny tiny and wearing the outfits and it's hard to let go of.

Variety, or feel pressure from our social circles to have an outfit for every occasion and the list goes on and on. 

It's an emotional process, not a practical one. 

Decluttering kid's clothes is not simple for a lot of reasons, and it is actually not a practical process – it's an emotional one. 

In my own personal journey in decluttering, and coaching hundreds of moms through this process I have learned some universal truths about decluttering clothes. There are also some universal myths. I'll call them “fact and fiction” just for fun in here.

I believe that as mothers we should not accept that overwhelming laundry is a way of life.

It's common, but that doesn't mean it's normal or that it has to be that way forever. I know because I have five kids, and I don't have laundry piles and I very rarely fall behind.

No, we don't wear the same things over and over.

Yes, I splurge on the cute matching little girl outfits for my youngest two daughters (and sometimes the oldest one wants to match too). 

tara matching
kaylee cheetah

Laundry fact #1

Too much clothing is your main issue, not “not enough”. We see it when we get disappointed that consignment stores don't take our very nice, basically new, hardly ever worn clothing because they already have too much. 

There is evidence of this by the very hard reality that most of us are drowning in hand me downs from well meaning friends and family. Many of us have been the scapegoat for that family member downsizing their stored clothes into our home. Or maybe you have gifted your 3 bins of clothes you haven't opened in three years to a friend. 

I know this makes me sound like a sour patch about hand me downs. To be clear, I am not against generosity, and making good use out of perfectly good items. I have just seen enough to know that as a society we have a huge imbalance of supply and demand. We demand more than we can ever possibly use.

How do I think we change this? We view clothing as a consumable item – because they are.

Clothes are not meant to last forever.

If we buy less with the intention of wearing them out, overall consumption levels would decrease. So will laundry burden for moms.

I store baby clothes in shallow fabric bins. I find that the clothing is small enough to fit, easy to keep in my closet, and keeps me on track with responsible consumption amounts.

Laundry fiction #1

Weather, seasons and geography does not mean and automatic death sentence for you and your laundry situation. In the past seven years I have lived in Alaska, Florida, Idaho, SoCal. Now  I am in the midwest and you do not need to be overwhelmed by laundry if you want to be prepared for seasons. 

This is probably the most commonly held belief about clothes. So common in fact that even my friends who lived in SoCal with me, said they had too many clothes to be prepared for the weather. The weather that is always perfect. That my friend is telling – this myth has been busted. 

Now, where I live yesterday it was 80. Today it is 38 and last night it dipped below freezing. I understand weather. What I understand even more is being strategic and intentional with how I buy my kids' clothes. 

Laundry fact #2

Without an inventory of what you have, it will never really work for you. Especially if you have multiple kids, and are trying to save what you have for the younger (or future) kids. I know because I have tried.

What would happen is boxes, bins and bags stacked in a closet, under the bed or in the basement. Unlabeled, unsure of what it was – sizes, seasons. It was just in there. 

The worst part about that? I was buying in advance and saving it all to save me time and money. Because I wasn't keeping track of what I had I would forget what I had, pull it out at the wrong time, miss the size/season. Then I would still have to buy more.

Keeping an inventory is essential. 

Laundry fiction #2

You need to have clothes for every single occasion, event, or function. The fact might be that you WANT them, which is okay. But to drown in laundry because you feel societal pressure is not worth it. You don't need outfits for every holiday. It's okay to repeat church outfits. 

If you want to have that kind of variety though, enjoy it! Sometimes I do feel extra extra and want to splurge on a cute matching mom and me (times three because three girls) outfit. But it's because I want to. 

So how do you start deciding what to keep and not keep?

Ask yourself what purpose you want the clothes in your life to serve. I know it sounds kind of silly but really? How are your wardrobes going to align with your values? Remember when I said this is an emotional process? It is.

For my older kids (tweens and a teen) the clothes we buy them are a creative expression and extension of their personalities. That's an important purpose for kids coming into their own. 

For my toddlers and babies the clothes I buy are to keep them clothed, and are aligned with my values of being a better and more mindful consumer. And for me to have my last hurrah of fun with all the cute and super extra girl outfits while they still let me do all the choosing of their clothes. 

How much TIME do you want to spend managing clothes?

If the answer is a whole lot less than you are right now, check out Clothes Decluttering 101. You will declutter your clothes in no time, and save yourself a ton of time, money and energy! 


Even if you have little time, energy or day to day support