The Outfit Recycle Area

Bed 1

The Mister and I spent the first year of our marriage learning the ins and outs of living with someone of the opposite sex. For example, I learned about the Lights Out! initiative, wherein one turns off the lights immediately upon exiting a room. This initiative is nation-wide and also goes by “Are You Done in Here?”, “Here, Let Me Get That Light for You”, “sigh…”, and “Seriously, How Hard is it?”. Meanwhile, the Mister learned about the Outfit Recycle Area, also known as “The Foot of the Bed,” “The Treadmill” and, a favorite in planned communities less than 10 years old, “That Area with the Wing Back Chair and Table that is Supposed to be for Tea and a Book but, Let’s Face it, it’s Only Clean When You’re Taking Pictures for Your Blog.” (&#%@!! Mommy’s Trying to Take a Picture! for short.)

Bed 2

I did my best to explain the procedure. The clothes at the foot of the bed are not truly soiled, or they would be in the hamper. These clothes are in the in-between stage, kind of like a good girl the morning after prom: not dirty, but not exactly clean, either.

These are the clothes worn briefly, the multi-wear outfits. The clothing so “almost clean,” it would be a shame to toss them in with the dirty clothes. At the foot of the bed stay the pants that are cute enough to wear out on errands but too tight to wear at home where I do things like sit and bend. There are always two pairs in rotation, maybe three, just to keep options open. The shirts are challenging. In the winter, it’s not unusual to have a mountain of sweaters waiting for their shot. In the summer, the rotation is usually limited to those I wear inside the home: a t-shirt to clean in, a t-shirt that is cute enough to wear on a last minute errand, and a tank top for when it is hot and sleeves might trigger a dissociative mental break. Pajamas, always.

The Mister was a quick study (or defeated, whichever), but the end of the week(ish) transfer to the hamper threw him for a loop.

“Okay, I don’t get it. I thought you said those jeans were too clean for the hamper.”

“They were.” I tossed a shirt in the hamper after the jeans.


“But Buddy and Buster were on the bed and got dog hair on them. Now they are dirty enough that I can feel good about putting them in the wash.”

“So, basically, you’re too lazy to fold and hang your clean clothes, and instead you wait for the dogs to give you an excuse to toss them in the hamper.”

It takes them a while, but eventually they get it.

Bed 3

Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    Does The Mister franchise his Lights Out! initiative? We could use a refresher course out here, coupled with intensive one-on-one training for my husband. Even after 10 years together, he still has not taken it to heart.

  2. says

    As the daughter of an electrician, I was always schooled in the ways of the Lights Out! initiative. I am working to school my husband.

    I, too, do the clothes at the end of the bed. I also end up with towels, there, because I wear a towel around my wet head long after the point where I’d actually go back to the bathroom to hang it up. As long as I keep it to my side, The Husband is good with it.

  3. Mary says

    How refreshing!
    After reading so many blogs, I honestly thought I was the only one in the world with a mountain of re-wearable clothes on my dresser! And I do mean, a MOUNTAIN!
    First time poster, by the way ~ I am quite loving your blog!

  4. says

    My husband does this, I have to admit when you explain it in such detail it makes much more sense. I am pretty sure it still drives me crazy though. I have to let it slide because I have an aversion to putting away laundry. I wash dry and fold but something about putting it away makes me cringe, but the hubs doesn’t seem to mind putting it away. I think it has something to do with me being a non completer in anything. I love your blog by the way, I have scared my husband a few times by belting out loud some laughs without warning.

  5. Jill says

    Ah yes, I am familiar with all of this! As for the clothes, we have two cats who “hair up” the pile on the bed by the end of the week and make the clothes dirty enough to wash. I also have the errand pants/shirts situation going on. I’ve tried a fold and hide behind the pillows trick. It works…when I take 15 seconds to do it.

  6. says

    Holy goodness. This is totally me and my husband. To a T. He leaves the lights on……..always…….I pile my clothes until they are dirty enough to go in the wash. Wow. I’m glad we’re not the only ones.

  7. says

    So glad to know there’s a name for that spot at the foot of my bed (and in front of my closet, on top of my cedar chest, and on the bdroom chair). Here’s my question, though: I’m a neat-freak when it comes to just about anything else. But somehow, when I take my clothes off at the end of the day (and they’re not really dirty), I can’t make myself hang them up. Why? Surely there’s something psychological behind that…

  8. Mandy says

    This is one of my new favorite sentences ever:
    These clothes are in the in-between stage, kind of like a good girl the morning after prom: not dirty, but not exactly clean, either.


    Also, I have my own pile right in front of my dresser. I keep meaning to work on this issue…but I’m just so darn lazy!

  9. says

    Ha ha! I knew there was a good reason to put a chair in our bedroom… to hold the clothes in limbo of course. I too have stacks of clothing sitting about. I inherited this habit from my mother, though I do it because I have too many clothes for my drawer space. I also let rejects hang around until I have the guts to donate them. They sit. They wait. They linger. The piles slouch over and spill into walkways. Ah, indecision!

    And I totally understand the too dirty for the closet, not dirty enough for the hamper dilemma.

  10. says

    Also daughter of an electrician — so I’m the lights out girl. My son drives me crazy cause he puts his bedroom light ON in the middle of a sunny day!

    I too have the so-so pile of clothes, only mine hang on the empty rod in my new walk in closet. And when I say hang, I really mean tossed on top of the rod — there are no hangers involved whatsoever. :) Drives the husband batty.

  11. says

    Oh my gosh I love it!!!! I truly get it!!! (Don’t you love when that happens? When you truly connect with someone’s thoughts??)
    You forgot the other thing (at least in our house): When my curling iron slash hairdryer (it does both) is left on the bathroom counter, next to my eyeliner…it’s not the same as when he leaves his junk on the bathroom counter (usually whiskers-ha ha) or when he leaves the toilet paper (new roll) off the toilet paper roller!!!! We’ve been married for 16 years this month and some of this is just now coming out in the open. LOL I offered him a 2nd tutorial on the toilet paper roller and how the installation of the toilet paper works…he said only if I wanted a tutorial on how to put away my hair thingie (my word, not his) and make-up.

    • says

      I always leave my dryer and curling iron out, mainly because they are hot and I am ridiculously paranoid about starting a fire in the cabinets. It’s almost physically impossible for that to happen, but try telling my mind that! I used to be the same way about leaving the iron out, but I found the absolute best solution for that and now I can put it away smoking hot and not have to worry.

  12. Kendra says

    Ha! I drive my husband NUTS with the piles of clothes in the bedroom. Men just don’t understand what it takes to be a woman. At all.

    PS- You cannot leave off with a sentence like this … “but I found the absolute best solution for that and now I can put it away smoking hot and not have to worry.”

  13. says

    SO glad I am not the only one with the “staging” area at the foot of the bed in the shape of a mountain. Also, I’ve been trying to ignite that “Lights Out” initiative for the past 9 years. It hasn’t stuck yet and yet I try every single day. Great post yet again, Jules!

  14. says

    I’m a full fledged member of the Lights Out! club (thanks Dad!) and we’re clothing recyclers – yep I said we. My Mr. gets it.

    I am completely delusional about the immaculate state of our house which is aided by a completely mess free bed. No matter what chaos ensues around it, the bed is perfect every day. Our recycling area is a our beloved Ikea Poang chair (nursed both babies there and it was one of our first ‘serious’ purchases).

    • says

      I make my bed every day, unless I am DYING. I think it makes the room look so much better. But do I put the clothes away? Nope. I take the clothes OFF THE BED, make the bed, then put the clothes BACK ON THE BED.

      It makes no sense, even to me.

      p.s. There are few chairs more comfortable than the Poang chair!

  15. Nina says

    My mother taught me all about clothes recycling – although this was before the first Earth Day in the 1960’s, we didn’t use that excellent name for it!

    Kudos on the good girl/prom analogy. Priceless

  16. says

    I am so printing this out and posting it by the hamper for my husband. After ten years together, he still debates the logic of my system. Me, I debate the logic of why he would throw loose clothes in the hamper. Around and around we go.

  17. Brandi says

    OMG!! I am so glad to have someone else as obsessive as I am.. there’s really a fine line between clean and dirty (for some clothes), and as such, although I cannot just re-wash them, they are certainly not clean enough for their own spot in the closet.

    I too, have a space, well.. more than one. I am short…pretty short, so luckily I never have to actually move my “clothes at the foot of the bed”; I just organize them. At the foot of the bed we have PJ’s, pajama pants and other such paraphernalia,..then, on the chaise that I bought because I MUST have a reading nook in the bedroom I lay all newly washed clothes that have made it from the living room dryer/hanger to the bedroom, but not yet to their final destination, closet… on that chair also lies the “not yet dirty and not yet clean” categories along with the “must go to the cleaners” section… and last, but not least, on top of the antique chest are items that are getting closer to said closet, but again, not quite reached it. Also, when feeling frisky, I sometimes move clothes from chaise to chest, feeling that this will somehow make the room look cleaner, by putting all the clothes in the same area.
    Not so much.

    Why do men not understand this subject? Seriously, it’s so simple.

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