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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Laundry Psychology: It’s a Wash

By Dr. Laundry April 23, 2007

Although I find the subject of laundry fascinating, I understand that laundry to most people is typically just a necessary chore to have clean clothes to wear.

Have you ever considered the way someone does laundry might tell a lot about his or her personality? I know at our house this is definitely true. Observe closely the next time your significant other, roommate or friend throws those clothes in the machine. Or how he/she prepares for the Great Weekly Laundry Day.

Of course, there are many ways to interpret what a person’s laundry habits could mean. For example, falling back on the there’s-no-more-clean-underwear-left trigger as motivation to do laundry could signify a procrastinator. On the other hand, it could also mean this person focuses on what he/she considers more important in life, such as family and friends.

What about the “pre-sorter” with separate baskets for whites, lights and darks? Incredibly particular and unbending, or organized and efficient, wanting to get the chore out of the way? And then there’s the live-out-of-the-laundry-basket sort. Maybe they fold; maybe they don’t. Never mind that the shirts don’t make it into the drawer. An adventurous, free-spirited attitude? Or unconcerned about the future?

Everyone has their own style, but what happens when two opposing habits must live together in harmony? Here are some tips on how to cope:


  • Pre-Sorter meets Heap-On-The-Floor: Actually, having three separate baskets that are easy to access might win over Heap-On-The-Floor to a Sort-As-You-Go type and help him/her to “clean up” their act. If not, designate a space for Heap that has a door. If you can’t see it, don’t worry about it.

  • One-A-Day Launderer vs. No-More-Underwear: To keep the peace, One-A-Day should never be tempted to include No-More-Underwear’s wash in the daily load. Instead, No More could offer to wash One-A-Day’s few items during his/her major laundry extravaganza, consisting of weeks of pile-up.

  • To Fold or Not To Fold: The Folder could initiate an educational campaign aimed at the Non-Folder. Be gentle. Emphasize the benefits, such as not having to iron so much and easier to find; hopefully you will have success!