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19 March 2008

Folding and ironing

I have a mad secret - I like folding and sorting. Of all the crazy things to develop a liking for!

I'm always looking for low tech ways to do my house work and folding clothes and household linens is just about the lowest of low tech. It's just me and the item - no irons, no machines of any kind, all I need is a firm and steady surface. I came to this fork in the road when I realised how much I disliked ironing. Folding seemed to be my best option. Folding gave me close to wrinkle-free clothes without the involvement of an appliance.

There are tricks to effective folding and it starts with the way you hang wet clothes on the line. The clothes must be hung out well, after being shaken to have creases and folds removed. Then they need to be pegged securely in areas that are not noticed - so for skirts and jeans, this is on the waistband, for dresses, jumpers and T shirts I peg under the sleeve. Sometimes I hang shirts and dresses on clothes hangers. When the item is hanging, I smooth it out and make sure there are no areas that have been caught up or tucked in. I want everything to dry without too many creases and hanging in the same way they'll be used when dry.

I need to fold as soon as I take the clothes from the line - leaving them in a basket for a few hours (or days) is not an option. When I leave them, they need ironing. My routine now is to take the clothes, towels, pillow slips, dishcloths, sheets etc from the line and put them into the basket which is taken inside to the kitchen table. Piece by piece I place an item on the table, lay it flat, spread it out with my hands and make sure there are no folds, smoothing out creases. Then they are folded as well as I can manage, with each fold in the process being smoothed out with my flat hands, so if there are four folds in one item, it has been smoothed out four times. I try to fold edge to edge, corner to corner. If your corners are out, the clothes won't hang well.

The only things I'm ironing now are Hanno's cotton shirts, some trousers, some of my linen tops and skirts and some pillowslips (because I like them ironed). If I hang and fold well, I don't have to iron jeans. I take each piece as it comes, if it looks creased because I haven't shaken it before hanging on the line or I've missed a sleeve twist, I iron it. It's not rocket science - it's judgement by eye.

This has been an easy way to simplify my laundry routines. I've given up the need to have perfectly pressed clothes and am happy with the result I get with this method. It's much easier and less time consuming than ironing everything, no matter what. Best of all though it's a gentle and simple routine that is quite enjoyable.


  1. Well, you hang, dry and fold exactly the way I used to up until we moved (I don't have a laundry line in the USA yet), and not only that but you have my Tefal iron. Only, yours appears to be in one piece. LOL~

    I have a secret liking for folding and sorting too. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Rhonda, you're not the only one to enjoy all the sorting and folding! I'm very careful to shake out my washing etc, and peg carefully. However, one thing I have noticed since switching to homemade laundry powder, is the creases are far more noticeable, and even hard to iron out with a full steam iron. I'm not sure which of the three ingredients in the powder would make the laundry sort of stiffer - any thoughts? I don't mind ironing, but do need to be in the mood!! Diana x

  3. Hi,
    This is exactly how I do it!
    My husband has some shirts with his suits that need to look good, but I almost always manage to get by without ironing!
    I set the spinning cycle on the washing machine on a lower setting, so the clothes stay more wet. That reduces the amount of wrinkles.
    I also heard from a trick I haven't tried myself yet:
    hang the shirt on a clotheshanger, close all the buttons. Then hang the shirt upside down on the clothesline. The weight of the hanger will make the shirt smooth...

    bye, Annemarie from the Netherlands (I never commented before)

  4. Hello Rhonda Jean, I too, dislike ironing. My mother always said there must be better things to do on a sunny afternoon or evening or whenever she found herself with a pile of crumpled clothes LOL.
    I have never heard of the trick with the hanger in the shirt. Thankyou Annemarie.
    I have been folding but perhaps my hanging out could do with a makeover. Thankyou Rhonda Jean.
    Julie x.

  5. I dislike ironing so always try to hang thing well on the line outside.

    I was told that if something hangs on you from the top, peg it by the bottom, if it hangs below, peg it from the top. It generally works.


  6. I hardly ever iron anything -- only a few dress shirts and occasionally a dress. I love hanging my clothes out to dry but I must confess that I hate folding! It is so easy to let it pile up but I am determined not to do this! I fold everything as soon as possible!

    One thing that has helped my family keep up with the laundry is that we did a major purge with our clothing. Each one of the four of us had sooo many clothes. We ruthlessly went through our clothes and kept only the things we wore. This has helped so much! Thanks for your article!


  7. I hang things carefully. I can't say I fold them that carefully, or punctually. I tend to leave the folding til my son has gone to bed, otherwise I have to fold the same thing many times. We all have different priorities, and looking pressed isn't one of mine, much to my mother's disappointment. I don't even mind ironing, but that's possibly because I only ever do very small amounts of it (funerals, job interviews, and fabric before cutting).

    I don't buy anything much that I wouldn't be prepared to wear rumpled.

  8. I too, dislike ironing however, I am lucky in that my husband will do the ironing (and he makes a better job of it than I do :) I also hang everything on the line carefully and pull out the creases.
    I also hang shirts and t-shirts on clothes hangers (I give the garment a really good shake first) I always fold the washing as I take it off the line, and then I go and put it away, otherwise it just sits there and gets creased.

    I use homemade laundry powder and liquid as well, but I don't put the borax in as we use the grey water, I have found that my clothes feel softer, so maybe it is the borax??


  9. Rhonda - like moey, your hanging & folding methods are the same as mine. There's nothing worse than seeing the way DH hangs things out....although he is slowly coming to my way of thinking. I enjoy hanging, drying & folding nappies - the simple act reminds me of some of our lifestyle choices and I love the smell of clean laundry dried in the sun. Lisa x

  10. Funny thing. I only stopped ironing EVEYTHING last week when we were going through the heat wave (I'm in Adelaide) and I couldn't bear any more heat from anything, not even an iron. I was sick of having to look in the basket for clothes, so I started setting my machine on a very low spin and tried to hang as neat as possible then hung things up or folded and put away as soon as they were dry!! Such bliss! I only iron my hubbys work shirts as he needs them (every morning, but I don't mind ironing ONE item).

    Glad to know you all feel the same.

  11. The way you do it is also exactly how my mother taught me and how I still do it every day! We don't own a dryer and I hardly ever iron. :-)
    Christine from the NL (just like Annemarie, seems like we're the two Dutchies from the stats you posted, Rhonda)

  12. I do more or less the same as well except that I fold as I'm taking off the line (or, given our weather more usually the clothes horse). I have lots of shirts for work made from crinkly style material which not only don't need ironing, they'd be ruined if I did iron them. Happy days. I don't think I've ever ironed a pair of jeans except for when I spent some time once working for my sister, who ran an ironing service. We also used to sometimes get knickers and socks to iron, which I thought was mad. Crazy what some people are prepared to pay for.

  13. Wow, freaky! Here I am admiring Rhonda's ways and wishing I was more like her, when this article shows I do my laundry in the same way! I HATE ironing, and I'm not one of those clean-pressed kind of people, so aside from hubby's work shirts, very little is ironed. I prefer my jeans to be a little crumpled round the edges, but as long as I hand the clothes well and get all the creases out then, I never have a problem with them.

    Thanks for the inspiration again Rhonda :-)

    Fiona x

  14. I never knew that a high spin cycle would cause more wrinkles. Maybe that's my problem because I seem to have alot of clothes that come out of the washer all twisted up. The high spin is great if you use the dryer as it cuts down on the dry time and saves energy. I will try the low cycle on my next load. I dry most of my clothes inside on hangers or a clothes rack at this time of year. I usually only iron DH work shirts and my cotton shirts in the warm weather. I love all the tips.


  15. I too hate to iron! I am looking forward to the spring when I can get back outside to my clothesline! There is nothing like the fresh crispness of clothes dried on the line.
    By the way, I love those napkins Rhonda! ;)


  16. I fold jeans, Cargo pants etc before they go into the drier that way they come out pressed. My mother used to do this. Although she ironed nearly everything even pajamas and it would drive the rest of us batty. Really you won't need to iron pajamas.

    I stopped ironing except for work shirts, Sunday best sometimes thanks to having small children under foot. I'd hate to see them burned so I rarely do it and if I do I do it after bed time.


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