This Simple Decluttering Trick Totally Changed the Way I Shop for Clothes for My Family

published Jun 29, 2022
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Big wardrobe with clothes in sterile dressing room
Credit: Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock

I love to read about different decluttering strategies. Because it’s such a subjective and psychologically fraught cleaning task for so many people, it takes trying on many methods to find something that penetrates all the guilt and waffling that’s so often involved in letting things go. 

I’ve found that not only do different mindsets or approaches work at different times in my life, but that the effective strategies can vary based on the type of item I’m decluttering. For instance, the idea of not keeping duplicates works really well for me in the kitchen, especially with smaller tools that clutter up drawers, like extra peelers or sets of measuring cups. 

So I like to “collect” as many strategies as I can. One idea that I recently added to my decluttering arsenal came from a book called “Declutter Like a Mother” by Allie Casazza. She told a story about a friend who did fewer dishes because she only had exactly the number of dishes she needed for her family. Each time they used a plate or cup, they washed it right then and there. 

The idea was extended to clothes and I’ve distilled the notion into my own little motto: “If we have fewer clothes, we’ll do less laundry.”

I know what you’re thinking: Doesn’t having fewer clothes mean doing more laundry? At first glance, it does seem that if you run out of clothes to wear faster, you’re going to end up doing more laundry. You might be doing it more often, yes, but this is the very thing that keeps you from having to climb the laundry Mount Everest that’s there when you run out of a much bigger stash of clothing. Instead, you’re dealing with a modest amount that takes much less time to wash, dry, fold, and put away. 

This realization has drastically affected not only my ability to thin out each of our wardrobes, but how I shop for clothes. I now approach maintaining each family member’s clothing stash based on a roughly five- to seven-day rotation of our most-commonly worn clothes, by season, with a few extras thrown in like dressier options and outerwear. For instance, for the summer for my five-year-old son, I will have about five shorts, five t-shirts, five undies, and five pairs of socks.

In addition, when I shop for clothes, I only buy what I need to fill in any gaps in this small but ultra manageable collection. By sticking to tight parameters of only what we need, we’re forced to do laundry before the pile ever gets overwhelming or the task become a total weekend time suck. Has a decluttering strategy changed the way you live? Tell me about it in the comments!