You may have noticed that in my laundry articles I have referred a few times to my clothing lists without going into detail about the lists themselves. This is a response to the inquiries I have received about the lists. It explains what the list is and how it works, I have provided my lists as an example and explained the process of developing the list in case you want to create your own.
The clothing list was developed using several different lists and by observing my own family’s needs. The philosophy behind the list is simple: there is a minimum amount of clothing that my children need. Having more than that doesn’t improve their quality of life, and managing an excess is a burden for our family. The list serves two very important purposes for me. First it gives me a frame work to enable me to see when we have too much. The second is that it makes planning of my children’s clothing needs a breeze.
Creating my first list:
When I gave birth to my fifth child my mother and father-in-law stayed at our home with the other children. My mother-in-law made the observation that we own too many clothes. And we did. Between school uniforms for my oldest, the endless boxes and bags gifted to us by friends and family and our own purchases for the children our closets were stuffed, drawers overflowing and the laundry baskets bursting at the seems. The laundry cycle was broken, mostly because it was overloaded. I had to do something. I was quick to admit that my mother-in-law was correct and that a large part of the laundry issue was the amount of clothing we owned, but I really didn’t feel that I had a sense of what to do about it.
We had just finished purchasing school uniforms for my oldest and as I looked at the list I had a small inspiration. If I could make a list for uniforms for school surely I could apply that basic concept to clothing as a whole. Then came the realization that somewhere online a list like what I wanted probably existed. But I couldn’t find one. The closest I came was a list of the bare necessities for children in foster care or the lists for children attending boarding school or camp. But these all helped me figure out what was needed.
I came up with the following items:
Short Sleeve Shirt
Long sleeve shirt
Turtle Neck/ Sweat shirt
Nice dress up:
Dress or nice outfit
light weight Jacket
Sports and athletics:
As needed for sports or lessons (might include martial arts uniform, ballet leotard, or sports uniform)
I wanted to be sure that I covered the basic needs of my children for the full year. This base list covers all ages. From this list for any individual child I knock out those things that don’t apply to them, then I work on the quantities.
Figuring out the quantities:
Once I had the master list the next thing to consider was the laundry cycle. Typically the longest an item will be in my laundry cycle is four days. An item worn the day I wash the type of clothing the item is will be washed again within four days. For example: Hannah wears her favorite pink top on Tuesday. Tuesday I am washing light weight light-colored clothing the top she is wearing belongs in so it isn’t in that load. If Hannah puts her top in the laundry Tuesday night I won’t wash light-colored lights again until Thursday or Friday and it will be folded and in her drawer again by Friday or Saturday.
Every family’s wash cycle is different. It is determined by the type of clothing your family wear, the number of people in your family, your load size and the time you spend on laundry. The larger your family the more laundry you have, but the less time it takes to accumulate a full load of any particular type. The more consistent the type of clothing your family wears the less time between that type of load. If you have four boys who live in jeans you might find you wash denim every two days and whites once a week, in this case you would need three jeans for each boy but they would need seven pairs of socks and underwear
Your cycle will be the major determining factor in how many items you need of each type. Basically you need clothing equal to the number of days between washes plus one. If you wash everything everyday you need two changes of clothing, but if you wash each load once a week you need eight. Since I wash almost everything in four days my family has five days worth of clothing. Other things you might consider are: Do you have multiple clothing changes per day (infants?) Are you consistent in your laundry cycle? Do you have religious or personal times that you can’t do laundry during? Do you wash some loads more frequently than others?
An example of adding quantities:
Let me show you an example of how I go from the general list to a specific list for a child. Let’s look at Hannah. She is a six year old girl who loves pink and frills and takes ballet and swim lessons.
First, I knock out all the items that aren’t appropriate for her age and gender. Gone are the baby things, the nylons for a teen girl, the shirt and tie for the boy. I add in the leotard, tights and slippers for ballet.
Second, I go through and fill in the things that we just need one of, dress clothing, coats and shoes among others.
Third, I figure five days clothing on some things, like underwear, which are worn each day. Other items I split the five days over two or more seasonal options, for instance 2-3 long sleeve shirts plus 2-3 turtle necks or swear shirts. For pajamas, at this age I default to two as we wear them more than one night in a row. I also include notes on some items, like the note that at least one pair of tights be nice for mass.
Finally, I go in and finish the list by adding two slips, three to four bloomers and two pair of dance tights (so we won’t be scrambling if one pair has a run on dance lesson day) The final result can be seen below:
Short Sleeve Shirt 2-3
Long sleeve shirt 2-3
Turtle Neck/ Sweat shirt 2-3
Skort/Skirts/Jumper 2-3 (per season)
Dress coat 1
Nice dress up:
Dress or nice outfit 1
tights 2-3, one day pair for mass
Underwear/panties – 5
Undershirt – 5
Rain coat 1
light weight Jacket 1
Warm coat 1
winter Hat 1
sun hat 1
Sports and athletics:
athletic shorts 2
Sweat pants 1
Sweat shirt 1
ballet slippers 1
casual shoes 1
Hiking boots 1
Rain boots 1
Winter boots 1
dress shoes 1
athletic shoes 1
Each age has special consideration. Babies go through more clothing a day and some mothers wash their clothing separately. Toddlers and pre-schools might have more nighttime accidents and need extra changes of pajamas. School age children tend to need an extra pair of basics (jeans, shorts etc.) because of their tendency to get messy outside. Teens may have more definite taste considerations, work or school uniforms and or hand washables. You know your family and nothing can substitute for your own judgment, but hopefully this creates a starting place for you if you are interested in the clothing inventory list system.