Help Daughter Take Care of Her Clothes

Updated on April 29, 2011
C.M. asks from Bartlett, IL
14 answers

I can't get my 9-year old to take care of her clothes. I think it's typical for most 9-year olds! She throws them everywhere, all over her floor, under her bed, in her closet. I bring her clean clothes and she shoves them at the foot of her bed where they fall on the floor and get wrinkled. She tosses them in drawers, hangs them on hangers messily, or just throws them up on a shelf in her closet.

Every night and morning it's a battle. She'll say she put her clothes away, but they are shoved in a drawer. She says she puts her dirty clothes in the hamper and they are all inside out (which I ask her to turn them rightside out) or around the hamper not IN the hamper. If I'm not standing over her nothing gets done. I"m getting tired of searching all over her room for hidden clothes when it's time to do the wash, coming into her room when she says she cleaned her clothes only to find them still on her floor.

I have several ideas for solutions.

1. Just let it be. If she wants to wear dirty, wrinkled clothes then she can.

2. Take away all clothes that haven't been taken care of. If she can't be bothered to put them away then she obviously doesn't care about them or she has too many. She can earn them back by taking care of what she has. I did this tonight, 3 days ago I had bought her a new outfit and asked her to hang it up. She didn't and it ended up shoved under her bed so I took it away.

3. Throw my hands up and make her do her own laundry and take care of all of it. She can sort, wash, dry, fold and if she ruins her clothes, then so be it. The only reason I haven't done this yet is it costs more water and electricity to run more loads of laundry. It's more cost efficient for me to do full loads of everyone's clothes.

Any suggestions? What has worked for you? I don't expect that clothes be put away perfectly or that they have to be in a certain drawer (although we do have drawers separated). I do think they should be put away so they don't get wrinkled or ruined and hung up properly. And she is supposed to take care of her clothes in the morning (put PJs up, change underwear, etc.) and at night (put dirty clothes in hamper, hang up anything that was washed that day). I don't think that's too much to ask of a 9-year old!

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the suggestions! I think she DOES have too many clothes, why care for clothes if she has more in the closet? We will be going through her closet and drawers today and getting rid of anything that doesn't fit or that she doesn't wear.

I am going to involve her in laundry. She often will stick her clean clothes in the hamper because she's too lazy to put them away. She will also change outfits several times a day and throw the thing that she wore for 1 hour in the laundry. I think by involving her in laundry and giving her more responsibility she will learn not to do those things because she's making more work for herself. So far I've just told her she cannot change her clothes without good reason because it makes more work for me. Well now it will make more work for her!

Hopefully she can develop her own systems that work for her, and I will help her.

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answers from Cleveland on

ya know, I was reading the other posts and there are a lot of good solutions, but really from my experience it's just a stage. My kids have always had the same laundry rules, since they were old enough to undress themselves. Dirty clothes in hamper, I will wash and fold them, but they hang them up and put them away in the proper drawer. It's been fine until recently, my 10 year old will pile all his clean stuff on the closet floor, rather than put it away, and then just wear whatever is on tip of the pile, well we do the laundry every day, there are 6 of us, so guess how often my son wears the same clothes, lol. he will lie and say he put them away, and there are always jammies on the floor or under his bed. Thankfully he changes into his jammies in the bathroom, so i just get a pile in there and don't have to hunt for what he wore that day.

I've tried all the same things you have, and it will work for a couple of days, but nothing sticks. i think it's just the preteen years, but I don't hunt for clothes in his room anymore, he can do that, and if that means something isn't clean when he wants it, or he runs out of jammies (i swear if this happens I will so make him borrow a pair from his sister, lol) then so be it.

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answers from Redding on

A 9 year old can do her own laundry.
She might actually care more about it if she does.

Anything not in the hamper doesn't get washed. No exceptions.
When she doesn't have her favorite shirt, or whatever, hmmmmm. Where is it? Why didn't it get washed?
If she doesn't put her clothes away and has to search for them? Hmmmm. Wonder where they are.
If she doesn't like them wrinkled because she didn't put them away, the natural question would can she do something about it?
Let HER find the answer to that question.
Don't take this the wrong way, I have a daughter too, but quit buying her clothes.
She has so many that she doesn't care for them.....don't buy MORE.
You can, without even saying anything or threatening, make sure she has enough for one week. Shirts, pants, socks, underwear, pajamas.
One set of something to wear for each day, for one week. No multiple choices. YOU choose 7 shirts, 7 pants, seven pairs of socks, panties and jammies.
Take the rest out of her room. Make her wash her own laundry for that week and if she doesn't put it away, fine. She can wear the same week's worth of things the next week. Don't give her more clothes or a choice unless she washes and puts one week of things away at a time.
It might sound mean, but to be honest, I think sometimes our kids get overwhelmed by the amount of clothes we provide them.
They have so much they can go a long time without even knowing where things are or if they're clean. Then....we buy them more.
Clean out her closet and drawers. Anything that doesn't fit or she doesn't like, donate it. Give her a manageable amount to deal with herself.
One week's worth of clothes.
That's it.
If she doesn't like it, and she probably won't, tell her that at least you know, at worst, both of you only have to deal with 7 days worth of things. If she can't keep track of that, then maybe she can only have 4 days worth of things to wash, fold and put away at a time.
You don't have to put it to her as a "punishment". You're just trying to help her "manage" things. If she has too much to manage, then you are just trying to make it more simple.
My son is 15 and has been doing his own laundry for years. Nurses at work were talking just the other day about their sons helping with the laundry for the household.
If boys can do it, so can girls.
Don't think of cost efficiency, etc. Don't let her wash a shirt at a time.
Give her a manageable amount per week.
Also, give her laundry chores for the rest of the family.
If the washer is getting loaded and there is nothing of hers going in or coming out, that's up to her. She still has to help. After all her efforts sorting, washing and folding and putting away, if she has nothing of her own to wear, she has no one else to blame but herself.
Like I say, don't harp on it, but laundry is a part of life and she either makes sure hers is done with everyone elses or done by herself...or she has no plethera of clothes to find under her bed to wear.
So far, the clothes situation is bothering you more than her.
Until it bothers her more, it's going to stay that way.

Best wishes.

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answers from Eugene on

Here is the solution. Three laundry baskets. Each one in a different color Clean, dirty, worn but still will be good another day. . This will eliminate the clean clothes from getting dirty or being allowed to fall on the floor.

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answers from Chicago on

The best advice my girlfriend ever gave me was stop sorting the laundry.
Just have them take their clothes off & go straight in to the washer.
No more sorting, no more searching.

It really has been a life saver!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

When I was about 10 I started to do my own laundry for the very reasons you are stating. I am one of 5 kids and it wasn't her job to go around and pick up all my clothes, iron them, and turn my clothes right side out. God I hated doing laundry. But you know what? My room was still a disaster. Sorry!! It was a disaster until....well...I still have a pile of clothes on my floor!! Close the door and let her take care of her laundry.

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answers from Austin on

So what if they are inside out? Jeans and bright colors should be washed inside out. Keeps more of the color. If you fold them, fold them inside out.. that is what I always did. My husband and daughter learned they needed to turn them right side out on their own and they do it..

I also never picked up clothing off of the floor. If it is not in the hamper, that means I will not wash it. To bad so sad, if you wanted to wear a certain shirt, but it never got washed. Not my fault.,

We found that our daughter did better with shelves for her clothes rather than dressers with drawers. She says she can just seem to keep them better organized and could see what she had better. .. She still does.
We had an elfa system for her closet here at home and up at school in her closet she has a shelving system made up of metal boxes turned on their sides. She rarely has clothing that needs to be hung up. She actually uses the drawers of her dresser up at school for her supplies and books..

And yes, once I could no longer stand to see her mistreat her clothing. I quit doing her laundry. She learned very quickly to do her own laundry. We found it worked great for all of us. If I was doing a load and had room, I would ask, "does anyone need darks washed?" And they did the same for me.

I also quit purchasing so many clothes for her. If she needed jeans, I would say, here is the money you go and find them, if it is not enough, use your own money for the difference. She tended to take better care of the clothing SHE picked out herself.
Give her more responsibility and see what happens. Our daughter always seemed to respond in a positive way, or would decide she would get with the program.

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answers from Seattle on

Well...we do something of a combo of #3 and none of the above. My 8yo has been doing his own laundry for 6 years, and without help for 3 or so (he couldn't reach the soap in on his own before apx age 5.) He does 2 loads a week, and his sheets once a week (so 3 loads total).

We do NOT, however, have evil hangers or dresser drawers. (ADHD household, with the byproduct of needing to be able to SEE our clothes / no patience needed to put them away in a way that is actually painful -the whole needing to see them thing). Instead all along the closet walls we have rounded hooks. At waist level for pants/shorts/ skirts... at neck level for shirts. Closing the door keeps the room from being messy, but just open the door and there they all are. The 3 drawers kiddo DOES have are for underwear, socks, & PJs (which all just get thrown in). And we don't match socks... but rather just buy about 40 of the exact same kind. We DO have a "tie" rack that is for hanging dresses and drycleaning (but the drycleaners put those clothes on hangers).

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answers from Chicago on

I have this same conversation with my sister and she's 20! I would suggest a combination of ideas 1 and 3. I'd say if she doesn't want to fold it and put it away nicely then she can wear the wrinkled clothing (but I wouldn't recommend being the stinky kid). I don't know if she is ready to do laundry completely on her own. I would say make it into something fun so that neither of you dread it... have her help you sort laundry and show her how to load the washer and pour the right amount of laundry detergent... etc... Maybe she just needs some mom time and you can make laundry time some quality time.

Something else I was just thinking about... each person is different about how they like their clothes folded, creased, in drawers or hung up... maybe try talking to her about how she likes to fold her clothes or what would be easiest for her - hanging everything up or putting it in the drawers. My niece is 6 (almost 7) and she doesn't care if it's in a laundry basket or hamper or dresser drawer... so I took 7 baskets one for each day of the week and put them on shelves in her closet and it's her job to make sure she has a clean outfit for each day. I think it is easier for her to see it on a day to day thing instead of a dresser or closet being empty and full thing. That hasn't helped with the clothes on the floor but she will put them in her hamper if I tell her I'm doing laundry and that's the only day I'm washing anything so if she wants something cleaned she has to put it in there that day or it won't get washed; sometimes it is just a skirt or pants as the rest are still on the floor and sometimes she puts everything in it...

I hope that helps! Good luck!

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answers from Sacramento on

I started when my girls were young (2 or 3) by having them put their clothes in the hamper as soon as they took them off. At that age, I would let them sort the socks just out of the dryer and then take them and put them away. As they have gotten older, I slowly added more tasks related to doing the laundry (such as sorting the laundry into lights and darks, learning how much laundry can go into the washer, and adding the correct amount of laundry soap). My 8 year old knows how to do the laundry from sorting it to loading the washer to putting the clothes in the dryer, to folding and putting it away, and she can iron simple pieces. When they do all the hard work related to caring for their clothes, they take better care of the clothes. My advice would be to make laundry be a part of her daily or weekly routine so she has some ownership. Also, I do agree with you that if she can't put away her clothes or they are "crammed" into drawers, maybe she has too many clothes. Winter clothes are bulkier anyway, but maybe if you go through once a month or so and remove clothes that are missing buttons, torn, stained, she doesn't ever wear, or no longer fit her, then you will both have an easier time of it. Good luck!!

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answers from Kalamazoo on

When you tell her to put away her clean laundry, she needs to report to you when it's done and then you go check to make sure. If she has done basically a good job (maybe missed a few things) tell her what to fix and then thats that. IF she has done a poor job and clothes are shoved under beds etc, then dish out a punishment.
My kids are 6 and 8. I do laundry on Fridays - it takes most of the day to wash 6 or loads. Our laundry room is in the basement, so as clothes come out of the dryer, I fold them and put them in each persons basket. Then I carry them upstairs. Sat morning after breakfast (and their Ninjutsu class) the first thing they are to do is to put away their laundry. This must be done before they can play the Wii or computer games (both they are only allowed to do on the weekend, so they really look forward to it). When they are done, I go check. By now, they know what is expected and they know I WILL check afterwards. If they have hidden clothes, then they can't play the Wii - simple and effective. I do agree that a 9 yr old could wash her own clothes too. We are planning on moving this summer and if we have a main floor laundry, the kids will start doing their own and they are excited about it!!

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answers from Chicago on

My 8 yr old was like that so I just made her in charge of her own laundry. We put a step stool in the laundry room, showed her how to work it and told her it was her job now. I put in only two rules - she can't wear dirty clothes and I don't want to see clothes on the floor.

We also moved her dresser into the closet so all the clothes were in one spot and hidden from me. If they are a mess I honestly don't care anymore. Just wasn't a battle I wanted to fight.

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answers from Chicago on

What did she do when you took the new outfit away?
As far as what I did, I used to say 'there's the Febreeze, have at it'



answers from Oklahoma City on

she's old enough for taking care of her clothes, my DD is 7 and after a few weeks of been on top of her telling her to pick them up from the floor and under the bed, she's doing just fine I havent tell her again, now my issue is shoes!!!!
my advise is to do whetever its fits you jst keep trying until she get it!!!
at 9 I was able to clean bathrooms, laundry and dishes!!
my DD hate to fold clothes now, but she use to love it ,2 years ago...



answers from San Diego on

yeah i was that kid... and i still struggle with it(well picking up in general). i hate laundry especially now that i have 2 kids and a husband. lol what irony i do clothes everyday. i wonder if she is that way with all her belongings or just clothes. maybe have a cleanup chart with a reward at the end of the task you ask. such as 1st week all the dirty clothes in the hamper, then the following week all the clean clothes in drawers, then maybe hang the clothes up each week bump up the expectation and the reward. ask her what reward she would like, stay up late one night, pick favorite movie, a slumber party for a couple friends etc. post in her room big and obvisious so she can look at that reward and decide whether its worth it to clean up or not. good luck from "that kid" now turned mom lol

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