Why I Encourage My Kids to Root Through the Hamper

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I’m pretty certain that my laundry breeds at night while I sleep.  It’s a never ending cycle of starting the dryer again and again to get the wrinkles out of a week old load and rewashing a smelly load because I let it sit too long in the washer. I carry baskets full from the laundry room to the living room with the plan to catch up with the Kardashians while I fold, only to quickly stash it back in the laundry room to hide when a visitor shows up unexpectedly. Then there’s the Hamper Diving.

I freely admit it.  I encourage my kids to root through the hamper and sniff clothes to see if they’re wearable. Let’s face it, there are times when it’s been two weeks since I really did any real laundry and there’s just nothing left in the closet.  All the clothes are tied up in the washer or dryer, clean in the baskets or dirty in the hamper and my kids are wearing underwear two sizes too small.  Or no underwear.  True story…

I have four daughters.  They’re relatively clean and often after a fashion try-on session, only wear their outfit for an hour.  Then it ends up…you guessed, in the hamper.  I would estimate that 50% of the clothes in our hampers are not dirty, 25% never worn or only worn for a short time.  I’m really hoping that there are other Moms out there who deal with this same conundrum.

In the past I would painstakingly dig through the hamper while sorting laundry, deeply inhaling on each piece that looked relatively clean and searching for the ever-elusive skid marks.  If it passed the “smell and skid” test, I would fold or hang it and put it away. As you can imagine, this got really frustrating and I was tired of smelling so many pairs of underwear.

As time has gone on and my mothering skills have sharpened, my answer to no clean clothes is, “Go look in the hamper.”  At first, my girls were highly offended that I would suggest that they pilfer through dirty clothes to find something to wear.  Nowadays, it’s a fact of life and totally commonplace to look for something to wear in the hamper if there doesn’t appear to be anything suitable in the closet.

There are more reasons and benefits for hamper diving than my general disdain for laundry.  I remember as a child, my Dad showed me how to fold my pajamas and put them under my pillow to wear the next night.  It was about more than being lazy.  It was about being careful with our resources.  We didn’t have a ton a pajamas or a lot of money.  Whenever we wore our clothes or pajamas more than once, we were saving money and time.boy on washer

  1.   The clothes lasted longer because they were getting washed less.
  2. We saved money on detergent, water and electricity by doing less laundry.
  3. My Mom saved oodles of time because there was less laundry to fold and put away.


One unexpected benefit in our family is that our kids now pay closer attention to the laundry and what they do with clothes after they wear them.  They know that they’ll have to dig through the hamper for their favorite shorts in a couple days, so they save themselves some time and effort by folding them and putting them away if they’re not dirty.  Can you hear the choruses of angels?!?!  I actually taught my kids a lesson!  I beam with pride and nearly shed a tear each time I go to put laundry away and see my four year old’s rudimentary folding job on her jeans that she put away after wearing a short time that morning. I pinch myself when we get home after church on Sunday and my girls run to their room to hang their dresses back in the closet.


the-kardashiansAside from the obvious benefits of simply doing less laundry and smelling less crotches of Dora underwear, we’re learning to shrink our carbon footprint and stretch our resources further.  My kids are learning to take responsibility for themselves and their clothes and I’m spending less time with Kardashians. Everyone wins.  I highly recommend that everyone encourage their children to root through the hamper.









Hamper Image courtesy of Natara / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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