I know this is just a small thing to write a post about, however it has helped us make the chore of laundry a little easier and it might help you too.
Nick and I tend to like a few of the same wardrobe basics : Black t-shirts, undershirts (aka tank tops, vests in the UK) and socks.
As for the t-shirts, I like men's cotton v-necks, which I mostly wear around the house, but will also put on under cardigans and button down shirts that I leave open. I like them loose and long so they skim over my hips, more like tunics than shirts. And my tunics become his workout t-shirts very easily.
For undershirts, which we wear around the house as tops in the warmer months and under our clothes during frosty times, we both like the Jockey brands ones. These are exactly the same for men and women, except that the men's ones have larger armholes than do the women's, so while he can wear (and stretch out) mine, I can't really wear his without showing more than I want to through those big armholes.
In socks, I prefer plain black ones, and while I have pairs specifically made for women, I like the fit of men's better. Even though my feet aren't particularly large (size 8 1/2 - 9), I find the one-size-fits all sizing in women's socks can feel too tight, especially the cotton ones that shrink after washing. So instead I look for the smaller size in men's -- Why do men's generally come in two sizing options while women's come in only one? Anyway, this leaves us with lots of socks that look the same.
So, all these black basics do certainly get all mixed up in the laundry. We've wasted far too much time asking "Is this one yours?", or searching through the other person's drawers looking for our own pieces, and now I wonder what took me so long to come up with this simple solution.
This summer I began marking my things with a small stitch of red embroidery thread, right as I take them out of the packaging. I just threaded a fairly long piece of thread onto a needle and use that until it's all used up, meaning you don't have to fuss with re-threading your needle every time. I timed myself and it takes about 50 seconds to mark an item -- that's less than a minute spent once, versus lots of minutes spent sorting clean clothes.
I don't imagine this needs much explaining but here are the basics : pass your needle through the back neck seam of your shirt or inside cuff of your socks, so it only catches one layer (so the thread won't be seen from the other side). Pull through, leaving a thread tail of about an inch and a half (enough so it's easy to tie a knot). You can pass the needle through the fabric again, as seen in the picture, or not. Tie a tight knot and clip the ends.
The system has worked out really well for us, so I thought I'd share it with you. We are a small household of two and we used to have plenty of clean-clothing-ownership to figure out, so I can imagine the mix-ups that go on in the laundry piles of larger families. In these cases each could be assigned their own colour and sorting clothes will become a breeze.
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