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Do You Have CLERTY Clothes?

It's time to come clean about how often you do laundry and if you have clerty clothes?

This may be a bit of a controversial topic for some, but I'm going to go there... Do you have clerty clothes?

What does clerty mean, you ask? Well, I just finished Erin Rooney Doland's new book: Never Too Busy to Cure Clutter: Simplify Your Life One Minute at a Time, and she enlightened me to this term. Clerty refers to clothes you've worn that aren't completely clean, but aren't dirty enough to be put in the hamper. Hence you combine the words clean and dirty and you get clerty.

I always seem to have these clothes around and now I'm so happy I have a label for them!

  • I have a medical appointment and I put on a nicer outfit to meet with the doctor, but then take it off when I get home.

  • I put my son in his church clothes for an hour-long service but change him into his play clothes afterward.

  • I put on loungewear for a few hours after getting home from work before I get in my pajamas.

  • My husband puts on jeans to run a few errands on a Saturday. (Okay, that one sounds like he doesn't wear pants. He does! They're usually work pants with holes in them as he's usually working on a home project.)

See what I mean how clerty clothes can add up?

Now you might be thinking, well why don't you just wash them anyway? One of my friends is a trauma nurse and feels this way. Her relationship with germs and dirt is similar to my relationship with clutter and junk; they must be eliminated! I understand that to an extent. But, just like it's okay to put clutter in a maybe pile to be decided on later, I think it should be okay to put clerty clothes in a holding space until good and dirty. Not too mention all these clerty clothes would add up to a big ol' pile of laundry and if you're not good about staying on top of your wash, Mt. Laundry could be overwhelming.

Now this can open up a whole can of worms because everyone's measure of when an article of clothing is dirty can be different. See, I told you this might get a little controversial!

Denim aficionado and Levi & Strauss Co. CEO, Chip Bergh, admits to never washing his jeans. He reports keeping them out of the laundry helps maintain their shape and color.

Then there's Khloe Kardashian, reality television star, who says she washes her sheets every two days.  She also washes and bleaches her towels after each use. 

Am I now going to launch into a how to/frequency guide to laundering your clothing and linens? No, no I am not. There are plenty of Internet articles and guides out there for that.

What I will say is it's important to have an organized system for dealing with your clerty clothes. Here are my tips:

  1. Keep them separated from your unworn, clean clothes.

  2. Designate a spot in your closet to put them so you have a consistent location for them to be stored.

  3. A hook or valet rod might be helpful as they use vertical space and it prevents too many clerty clothes from piling up.  You could even put them on different colored hangers to make them stand out.

  4. Make a plan for the next time you'll wear the clerty item so it doesn't hang there indefinitely.

  5. Keep a bottle of wrinkle release spray close by to get out the creases so it's presentable enough for your next wearing.

  6. Create family rules around when a clerty item will be laundered. I.e. After three wearings, when a stain develops, if it's not worn after 10 days, etc.

Clerty clothes can be a sensitive topic for many. I think it's a highly individualized concept and things such as cultural differences, family norms, and personal preferences can play a part. Just like I don't judge clients' spaces and clutter build-up, I don't judge their clothing and laundry baskets!

Feel free to come clean about your clerty clothes in the comments!

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