How to Organize a Laundry Room for Sustainability

Today’s post is sponsored by IKEA. Thank you for supporting the occasional sponsored post that helps support this site and all of the gingham-ness you see here.

Cleaning and Laundry Supplies Go Gingham

There’s a saying that my brother taught me in German, and in English it goes like this: order must be. Yes, I’ll take order, please. Make mine a double. It’s how I like everything to be. Orderly. Efficient. Resourceful. Sustainable. It’s especially true when it comes to laundry and cleaning.

Keeping items handy for laundry and making it easy for my family to sort, hang dry, and fold to put away (hopefully!) is what my version of order is. If I want my husband and kids to run combined loads in the washing machine for efficiency and to use drying racks instead of the clothes dryer, I have to keep it simple.

Cleaning and laundry Go Gingham

Likewise, keeping ingredients handy for me to make our cleaning supplies is an absolute. It’s too easy for me to consider buying already made glass cleaner or liquid hand soap or paper towels when I know we need some at home and I’m feeling lazy. Keeping everything within reach is how I combat my desire to reach for the already made solution – which consists of mostly water. While I know I’m wasting money, more importantly, I’m wasting resources – more plastic, more containers, more trash.

Here are my tried and true methods for keeping order – it must be – and how to organize a laundry room for sustainability. Let’s just say maximum sustainability, shall we?

By the way, all of the products showcased here are from IKEA. IKEA is committed to designing products that are sustainably made and that help consumers live more sustainably at home. I really like that commitment. They encourage smart, conscious decisions to help the environment and their products look good, too. You know that matters to me!

How to Organize a Laundry Room for Sustainability

1. Sort dirty laundry into labeled baskets

Sorting dirty laundry Go Gingham

Sorting dirty laundry is one of the best ways to gauge whether there’s a full load of wash or not. I use the basket to help in judging the amount. These TORKIS baskets in bright green have handles that are just the right size for a label to let my people know which basket the clothes go into. Sorting items into different baskets keeps the washer from being run when it shouldn’t be. Water and resources aren’t wasted when appliances are run less often.

Even young children can sort dirty laundry – that’s how my kids learned to do their own wash – by sorting laundry. Having baskets clearly marked helps kids and spouses alike. We only run one load of whites a week in our home but my kids both have dirty laundry baskets in the laundry room for their clothing. They are very particular about their clothing (huh, can’t imagine where that comes from!) and take care of their own laundry and don’t like it when I get involved with their clothes. Actually, I like that, too.

2. Use pails for laundry that’s smelly or wet

Laundry hamper Go Gingham

Without going into many details, my teenagers are known for leaving giant piles of laundry (could be clean or it could be dirty – at this point, we’re not sure) in their rooms and if it’s dirty, it can smell. My husband and I say nothing about these piles because, why would we? It’s their laundry and their rooms but with these KNODD stainless steel buckets those teenagers can put the laundry in the pail and put the lid on. Done. We don’t see it and we don’t smell it.

We also have one of these KNODD buckets on the side porch. It has been known to rain in the winter and since we workout in the rain all winter long, it’s easy to strip the wet workout gear off and toss it into the bucket for transporting to the laundry room. No more dripping all over the house with wet workout gear. (Read more about working out all winter HERE.)

3. Keep drying racks handy and ready to move around

Hanging laundry on rack Go Gingham

While I love old wooden drying racks for drying clothing, they can’t be moved around. Sometimes a drying rack in the dining room on cold winter days is exactly what is needed. Washed woolen sweaters can take a week or more to dry in the basement but not in the dining room.

The metal MULIG drying rack can be used inside or outside. They’re incredibly balanced, too. I was surprised at how the rack didn’t tip when I place two wet bath mats at one end and nothing at the other. Added bonus? They come with hooks to add to the side of the rack to get the most out of drying space.

4. Add more drying space without wrinkles

Hanging laundry Go Gingham

Sometimes a drying rack isn’t enough so then you need the very cute (notice the eyes?) PRESSA for your drying needs. PRESSA is like an octopus that can accommodate lots in a small amount of space. With all those clips, the options are limitless. Holding scarves, workout gear, dedicates – you name it. My swimming gear is hanging on it right now.

PRESSA is incredibly efficient. I’m sending one back to college with my son when he gets home next week. Using this cute little drying rack for hanging wet clothes in a small amount of space is what this is made for!

5. Wall mounted drying racks for towels or on porches

Sustainable laundry drying Go Gingham

These GRUNDTAL stainless steel drying racks couldn’t look anymore stylish – and they’re adjustable! Honestly, there are so many spots I’d like to mount this rack. It’s an adjustable rack so that it goes from 26″ to 47″ and I’d really like it next to my kitchen sink! How often do you need a dry towel next to the kitchen sink?

On our porch it’s just right for hats or jackets that need wearing when attending our backyard chickens. Yes, we call it ‘farm gear’ but it’s really only rainy weather stuff.

6. When it’s dry, put it in a basket – and put it away – hopefully!

Clean laundry baskets Go Gingham

I gave up years ago folding laundry for my kids and putting it away for them. Hey, they need to know how to do it, right? After clothing hangs in the laundry room, it can get taken down from the lines and placed in the clean laundry baskets. Instead of asking me where the clean soccer uniform might be, kids know it’s on the line or in their basket.

These BLASKA 10 gallon laundry baskets are sturdy with handles that will last rather than break after using it a few times. Downside? The laundry does not fold itself and jump into these baskets or put itself away. Can’t help you there.

7. Keep cleaning supplies, cleaning rags, and soap making supplies handy  – and in reusable glass dispensers

Soap and wash cloths Go Gingham

Since I make liquid hand soap in gallon batches, I need cute soap dispensers. (Here’s how to make 1 gallon of liquid hand soap from 1 bar of soap.) These BESTAENDE dispensers are just right for homemade soaps or store bought soaps and lotions – from the bulk department. Skip the plastic and go with these because they are so cute and so sustainable!

Don’t forget to grab a package of KRAMA wash cloths, too. They are just right when replacing paper towels with reusable wash cloths. (Here’s how to eliminate paper towels.) These wash cloths come with loops on the corner for hanging, too.

8. Put it on a cute cart and add flowers

Cleaning and laundry Go Gingham

Yes, we are talking about laundry, cleaning, and drying but let’s keep it cute, right? Flowers from the garden in sweet little SOCKER pots on these RASKOG carts look fresh and clean, don’t they?

The RASKOG carts are easy to assemble (just ask my husband!) and can be moved around to where they’re needed. The middle shelf is adjustable, too, which is great for gallon jugs of concentrated laundry and cleaning supplies.

It’s best when laundry and cleaning can be done orderly but if it can be done with a method that looks good and is reasonably priced, I’m all for it. Yes, it’s true that “order must be” but I like mine with flowers on a rolling cart, don’t you?

Thank you to IKEA for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that help support Go Gingham.

How do you like to organize the laundry area? Do you use drying racks?

Spring Chickens and Laying Eggs

Chickens Go Gingham

Baby chicks Go Gingham

Last spring, we got a new flock of baby chicks. Well, three chicks. That’s all we’re allowed in the city. This past week, we finally had our first three-egg day. Hens take a break from laying in the winter and then with longer days comes more light. With more light on their eyes, chickens get into egg laying.

Everyone in the family was so happy when the last hen began laying. I had just started talking about chicken stew and the next thing you know, a three-egg day. While we eat meat, no one wanted to slaughter, process the chicken, and eat it. We took a vote and it was a no go. Well, I voted yes but was out numbered.

Backyard Chickens Go Gingham

Chickens aren’t really smart enough to know when their fate is being discussed. You know the saying ‘bird brain?’ Well, it is very true.

Since it’s still freezing cold (relatively speaking for Portland) outside, I was thinking about a warming batch of chicken noodle soup. (Here’s the recipe for chicken noodle soup.)

Homemade chicken noodle soup from Go Gingham

Of course, if it was too late for soups, I would have opted for an oven roasted whole chicken, with leftovers. Anyone can roast a whole chicken in the oven, by the way. My teenage son tested the recipe for me so I know it can be done. (Here’s the recipe for the oven roasted whole chicken and here’s the recipe for making chicken broth with it when you’re done.)

What to do with leftovers from roasting a chicken? Of course I’d make the best ever curry chicken salad sandwiches. These are best served with fresh arugula. But, not arugula from our garden. Those plants, while still producing are from last year, and the leaves are too tough. They belong in stir fry or tossed into freshly drained hot pasta that’s been drizzled with olive oil. (Here’s the recipe for curry chicken salad.)

Curry Chicken Salad Go Gingham

Yes, I’m thrilled with the eggs from those backyard girls. There’s nothing quite like farm fresh eggs. Don’t forget to save the egg shells in the freezer for planting with tomatoes or using them around plants in the garden to keep pesky slugs at bay.

Go Gingham: Egg shells in the garden

Whether you eat eggs, raise chickens, or grow vegetables, everything can and should be used more than once. I like to be resourceful – and use and reuse. Please consider doing the same.

What’s your favorite chicken or egg recipe? Do you garden with egg shells?

Eating Clean with Amie

Eating Clean Amie Valpone

I’m so excited for my friend, Amie Valpone, who is launching her cookbook this week! Cooking whole foods at home is the only way to get and stay healthy and Amie has spent 10-years doing just that – and solving her chronic illness. In her book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body, she shares her secrets.

Amie and I met years ago at a blogger conference. We’ve also worked together on several projects for Earthbound Farm Organic. Amie is believer in not only eating healthy + clean but also making your own cleaning products. You could say we’re on the same “page” for living + eating well to improve your health.

NoriWraps Amie Valpone

Plus, Amie is adorable! She and I used to work for the same company – Polo/Ralph Lauren. Of course, not at the same time. When I began working for Uncle Ralphie (as we fondly refer to him around here), Amie was in the third grade! So, let’s not do the math on that.

Amie Valpone at Farm
I snapped this photo of Amie when we visited Earthbound Farm together.

Amie is sharing a recipe from her book. I hope you’ll make it.

Sunrise Nori Wraps
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Japanese
Author: Amie Valpone
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Amie says that if you love California rolls, you’ll love these nori wraps. The tahini dressing is truly addictive—you’re going to want to dress everything in it—and the cabbage provides a nice crunch.
  • 4 nori seaweed sheets
  • ¼ small head red cabbage very thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
  • 1 small yellow summer squash, julienned
  • 1 small cucumber, julienned
  • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • 1 recipe Spicy Tahini Drizzle
  • Spicy Tahini Drizzle
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 ¼ tablespoons chickpea miso paste
  • 1 tablespoon raw tahini
  • 2 medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Water, as needed to thin the drizzle
  1. Place the nori sheets on a flat surface.
  2. Divide the cabbage, carrot, squash, cucumber, and avocado among the sheets.
  3. Top each pile of vegetables with a heaping tablespoon of the Spicy Tahini Drizzle, and then roll up the nori sheets into a tube shape.
Spicy Tahini Drizzle
  1. Combine all of the ingredients except the water in a blender. Blend, adding water 1 teaspoon at a time as you go, until the mixture becomes a thin sauce.
If possible, use a food processor to slice the cabbage so you can get it super thin. Also, make sure the vegetable strips are all the same width and length so that they don’t hang over the edges of the nori sheets; this will make rolling up the wraps easier. Use leftover tahini drizzle as a dressing for salads or as a dip for crudités.

I hope you’ll check out Amie’s book. She’s worked really hard to get herself healthy and to put together this book. Go check it out!

Good luck, Amie – xoxo!!

Katie Couric and I are Fed Up

Are you fed up? Go Gingham

Are you fed up? Go Gingham

Have you ever watched a documentary that made such an impact, you can’t stop thinking about it? I recently watched the film “Fed Up” and I can’t stop thinking about it. (Get it from the library – they have it.)

It’s sad because you’ll meet kids who probably won’t live to see their 50th birthdays. It made me cry to see these young teenagers ages 12, 13, and 14 who have health problems that middle age people usually suffer from.

Honestly, “food” companies should be ashamed of themselves. Truly. I’m using quote marks because what they are selling in grocery stores barely qualifies as actual food. It’s not what I would call “real food” and it’s unacceptable that it’s even legal or allowed.

Here’s what I learned: Sugar is worse than we ever imagined and it is hidden in every “food” item at the grocery store. Our bodies don’t know what to do with all that sugar and it’s killing us. Nutrition fact labels aren’t helping either.

On the nutrition facts listed on the back of food packages, every category has the amount in grams and the percent of daily values, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Go grab a food item and look at the back. I’ll wait.

Here’s my example: The “Clif Builder’s 20g Protein Bar” that I have in front of me lists the serving size, calories, and calories from fat.

Next comes the chart that shows the amount/serving. If I read “Total Fat” it shows 10 grams. The percentage of “Daily Value” or “%DV” of that fat tells me that it’s 15%. Eating this bar will give me 15% of my daily total fat. That’s what I will consume when I eat this bar. Every nutrition fact has an amount listed – cholesterol, sodium, potassium, total carb, etc., and the %DV. Every fact except when we get to sugars.

Sugars? It shows the grams but no listing of the “%DV” or what amount is acceptable in a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Why not? That amount would probably be it. No more sugar for you.With all the sugar (don’t be fooled – not all sugars are called sugar) spelled out, we’d stop. We would demand that food companies quit adding so much sugar to the food.

Imagine looking at the back of a can of soda and seeing that in a small drink, you were drinking more that what was good for you for a day. It would be right there. It should be there but it’s not.

All that sugar is terrible for us. We are not meant to consume sugar in every drink, every meal, every condiment – every everything.

Now I can’t stop myself from looking at the back of food packaging to see what the amount of daily value for sugar is in the package. I’ve never noticed before that it’s missing.

It boils my blood.

It’s why I cook everything at home because that is the only way to eat healthy, real food. You know what’s in your food when you make it yourself.

Watch the movie. Don’t buy fake food. Cooking and eating healthy, real food on a budget can be done. Check the Environmental Working Group’s Good Food on a Tight Budget for more tips.