Does your summer fun in the sun turn to loathing in the laundry room when you look at the mountains of dirty clothes? Does your dog think those piles are his personal bed? Warm weather typically brings on sand, sweat, and stains that may make you feel like you can never get out from under the piles of laundry. Here are some tips to help you quickly turn those clothes piles into smiles so you can enjoy more summertime fun.

Set up your laundry area for convenience. Make sure all the supplies you need are stored nearby. Pre-wash treatment, detergent, fabric softener, bleach, etc. should be within easy reach. Store these items on a shelf over the washer, in a bin on top of the dryer, in a nearby cabinet, or on a storage cart that fits between the washer and dryer. Other items you might want to have on hand include hangers, a rod to hang clothes, a drying rack (I use one that attaches to the wall so it doesn’t require any floor space) and a wastebasket (for tossing dryer lint).

Get the family to help. Have a dirty clothes hamper in each bedroom, and possibly each bathroom, into which each family member (including young children) is responsible for putting his or her dirty clothes. By having a hamper in each room, there’s no (good) excuse for leaving dirty clothes lying on the floor. Consider whether or not you want the hamper to have a lid, since opening a lid involves a seemingly simple, yet often ignored, extra step in getting dirty clothes where they belong. Family members should also be responsible for making sure that pockets are emptied, and socks are turned right side out before they go into the hamper. Your family can also help empty the dryer (even a 5 year-old can do this), fold, and put clean clothes away – more on this in a moment.

Place a separate sorting bin for each laundry category in your laundry room. Label the bins with the appropriate categories, such as whites, darks, towels, delicates etc. You can use separate hampers or laundry baskets for each category, hang separate laundry bags on hooks, or purchase a laundry sorter that has a number of separate compartments. Family members should be responsible for making sure that their dirty clothes hampers get emptied into the proper sorting bin by laundry day.

Use a separate "clean clothes" laundry basket for each household member. For space efficiency, consider stacking laundry baskets. Label each basket (or use different colors) for each family member. Place folded clean clothes into the appropriate baskets as you empty the dryer. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes to fold a dryer full of clothes, versus all the time you'd need to iron the things you dump into a basket, so fold them right away. Items that aren't affected by wrinkling can be placed into a single basket for other family members to sort. For example, socks and underwear can be placed in this one basket, and each family member becomes responsible for retrieving their own items. Everyone can help fold towels as well. Another option is to use a separately-labeled large mesh laundry bag for each person, into which they would place their dirty socks. The bags gets tossed into both the washer and dryer, and simply placed into the correct person's clean clothes basket when it is removed from the dryer. Of course this option eliminates the fun of hunting for missing socks.

Develop a routine for doing laundry. One option is to do a load every day or so, as needed. You might choose Monday for whites, Tuesday for bedding, etc. If you're ok with not being available to attend to the washer if there's a problem, wash a load overnight and then toss the clothes into the dryer first thing in the morning while you're getting dressed. Just be sure you have enough time to empty the dryer before you head out the door or get caught up in the rest of your day. If you're not concerned about sorting colors, sort loads by family member. Using this method, only one person's clothes are washed and dried together, so when they come out of the dryer, they can all go directly into that person's clean clothes basket with no additional sorting necessary. You might prefer to do it in one marathon session, devoting a day to doing all the laundry. No matter what your preference, just be sure you have a laundry routine that you can maintain.

Put clean clothes away. The job of laundry isn't finished until the clean clothes are put away. Everyone should be responsible for putting away their own clothes within a predetermined amount of time - once a week seems to work well in my house. If the clothes have an assigned place to go (e.g., undies in this drawer, pajamas in that drawer, t-shirts on a shelf in closet), putting them away should go fairly quickly.

Now that your laundry is sorted by everyone who wears clothes in your household, you have a simple routine for getting laundry done and clothes put away on a regular basis, enjoy your summer. And if your dog feels lost without his or her clothes pile to rest on, maybe it's time to buy a dog bed.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.