Thursday, May 1, 2008

Bag Tag Clothing System

If you read my random fact about the system I use to let me know how many times I've worn my clothes and thought, "wow, she is truly weird," then stop right here. The rest of this post is not for you. For those of you who requested more information, here goes:

I can't remember exactly when I developed my clothing timekeeper system, but I think it was during my volunteer stint at a Benedictine monastery in western Oregon. Every morning I'd dress up for Mass, especially when I was helping with music ministry (I played the guitar and sang). After breakfast I'd return to my room and change into my rugged jeans and sweatshirts for outdoor or kitchen work. When I put the skirts and blouses back on their hangers I knew I had only worn them an hour or two and they could be worn several more times before they needed to be washed. But how many times? And how would I know when they had reached the quota? I needed some way to indicate how many times or how long I'd worn my clothes so I won't under or over wash them. So I dipped into a stash of bread bag tags and twist ties in the kitchen and devised a very simple way to label the clothes I'd worn:

  • white and yellow = one full day (up to sixteen hours)
  • blue and green = half day
  • red and orange = quarter day (four or fewer hours)

Different hangers call for different markers - while the bag tags slip easily over wire hangers, only twist ties will loop around the thick plastic ones. Then bag tags can be attached to the twist ties. As tags add up, I usually change them out for larger denominations (this is getting crazier as I type!). Two reds and a blue can be exchanged for a white (which I usually have an abundance of - white seems to be the most popular bread bag tag color).

Three is the arbitrary number of days I chose to prompt a washing, so when I wear a dress that already had two whites on its hanger, it goes into the hamper at the end of the day. Only hand wash, dry clean only, and outerwear (jackets and sweaters) clothes get worn more days.

This methodology certainly won't work for everyone; I am fortunate to sweat very little (on the other hand, I am almost always cold). But because I genuinely care about being a good steward of my clothing, the earth's resources (water and energy fuels), and our finances, I employ this system to limit the amount of clothing I wash each week.

But I'm not obsessive about it. If the tags fall on the floor, if I travel and have to take everything off of hangers, if I wear tshirts and shorts out of my dresser drawers and have no way to tag them when I put them back in...oh well!

Did I miss anything? Feel free to ask questions. Oh, and, for the record, I do not inflict this craziness upon my husband. He employs a "scatter things on the floor or drape them over the cabinet doors" system of clothing disorganization.


Adam said...

my only question is:

Do you buy bread based on what color of tab you need for your system?

I was wondering if David does this as well, but you so eloquently answered that question for me. Tell him that his system is quality and that I have employed a similar methodology in my in Greensboro.

God bless

Frances said...

LOL - no, we have an abundance of tags and twist ties and I am not concerned about gathering more. They rarely need replacement. The assortment I have now will probably last for years and years.

But if the bread bag tag makers ever came out with a really special color of tags, like teal or magenta or something, I might have to go after those... ;)

Diane said...

I like David's method...if it's on the floor or cabinet, it gets to be worn again before washing. Unfortunately, most of my clothes get food spilled on them or I kneel in dirt or something, so they need washing right away! Folks, she didn't get this from me!


David said...

I'm hiding from my nursing clothes are a food magnet. I haven't stooped so low as to hide clothes that might not pass Frances' test, but I have to admit that when I first saw Frances' system after we got married, I almost started twitching in fear. Now I shake my head, giggle, and try to refrain from pointing at my wife's closet (I broke down and surrendered the closet) and crying. God bless her. I love her, and I don't think our apartment would have have made it without her organizational skills while I'm in school.

*carrie* said...


Thanks for sharing more--I think this is so fascinating!

By the way, you won my book giveaway--yay! Please send me your mailing info.