Clothes and Laundry, How a DeafBlind Does It

Reading Time: 10 minutes

It’s a sad fact that people hold whoever happens to be with us accountable for how we look. For example, there was a time when it was fashionable to not match your socks, but whenever I’d intentionally not match my socks people would wonder why the sighted person with me hadn’t told me they didn’t match. So, I try to look well-put-together when I go out in public. That means that my clothes need to match well, be clean, and not wrinkled.

Not being able to see colors presents challenges to matching outfits and sorting laundry. There are systems available on sites like MaxiAids and LS&S Products that purport to help with this. For example, there are buttons you can snap onto the tags of clothes with braille letters, one side representing color and the other side representing patterns. However, I do not find these systems useful. For example, I’m told that just because a shirt is blue doesn’t mean it necessarily matches a blue skirt. Once after being told that brown matches everything because it’s a neutral color, I tried putting on a brown pair of shorts with a pink T-shirt and was told they didn’t go great together because of the specific shades of brown and pink. Shades within the same color family can sometimes clash with each other. So, I’ve designed my own system for matching clothes and sorting laundry.

Matching outfits

As a one-time project, I asked my mom or a friend who is sighted to go through my wardrobe with me and match up all my outfits. Each pair of pants, shorts, or skirt is lettered by the alphabet. We used fabric puff paint to make the braille symbol for that letter near the tag on the waist of all pants or skirts. Then all shirts that match it have the same letter near the tag on the neck of the shirt. For example, a pale blue skirt with light green and blue embroidered flowers that goes with a green tank top with an off-white sweater are marked a. A light pink sweater that goes with a black and white polka dot skirt is marked c. A shirt with puffed sleeves that matches a patterned green skirt is marked l. I have outfits for every letter from a through o. Some shirts match more than one skirt or pair of pants, so these shirts have more than one letter marked near the tag. It is important that you pre-wash clothes without fabric softener before marking them or the puff paint won’t stick well. I personally never use fabric softener, so any clothes hanging clean in my closet are ready to go. Here’s a link to a good Puff Paint.

I do not mark underclothes, such as underwear, slips or bras, as these are not meant to be seen. I buy neutral colors, like gray, white, or brown. I try to avoid black or other colors like pink because these, under the right conditions, can show through some outer clothing materials. I also personally do not mark pajamas or sweatpants and sweatshirts, because I do not care if they match when I am lounging at home.

As for socks, well, they’re unfortunately a lost cause. I’ve tried using sock locks – a ring that you put a pair of socks through once you pull them off your feet before you toss them in the laundry. They’re meant to keep matching pairs together as they go through the wash, and different shapes like square and round sock locks theoretically can help you identify different colors. However, I’ve repeatedly had socks come out of their locks in the wash, rendering them useless. Repeatedly pinning them together and unpinning them to wear them creates holes in the socks. It would be cool if I could use magnetic clips to hold matched pairs together, but I haven’t seen such an invention yet. So, I’ve surrendered myself to buying only white socks and do not try to match them beyond the type of sock (crew vs dress socks, for example). I just found sock clips that I might try the next time I go shopping, but I haven’t tried them yet to know if I can recommend them or not. This is what I am looking at, Sock Clips. If you find a good way to match socks, please do let me know.

Sorting laundry

Personally, I do not sort my everyday clothes or my towels. For these two loads, I care only that they are clean. I do sort light-colored from dark-colored good clothes, however. In order to do that, I put a safety pin above the tag of each piece of clothing. Straight pins mean light-colored; curved pins mean dark-colored; mini pins mean hand-wash and line-dry only. Here are links to the types of pins I use:

I use a pillowcase as a laundry bag. One pillowcase holds about one load of clothes. I find that much easier to carry than a laundry basket. I sort towels in one, jeans and everyday shirts in another, light-colored good clothes in a third, dark-colored good clothes in a fourth, and underclothes and socks in the last one. I wash all everyday clothes on the Perma press, warm setting; all good clothes on the delicates/gentle, cold setting; and the rest on the normal, hot setting. I will often wash underclothes and socks by themselves on the normal, cold setting and then add towels and give the underclothes a second wash with the towels on the normal, hot setting.

Measuring soap can be tricky. My normal technique of dipping a finger over the rim of a cup while pouring to feel when liquid reaches the top doesn’t always work with slimy or sticky liquids like soap, at least for me. Once I get a little bit of soap on my finger, I don’t feel soap in the cup. I have the same problem with some other liquids like cooking oil, honey and molasses. So, the easiest solution was to use premeasured, dissolving soap packets like these, Lundary Pods. They feel like little pillows, and you just drop one in the bottom of the washer before loading your dirty clothes. The water will dissolve it and it will distribute as the machine agitates the water. No mess! Recently, I switched to a liquid soap from My Green Fills because of my sensitive skin and desire to move away from household chemicals, but it does get messy in measuring sometimes. I keep a piece of paper towel handy while measuring liquid soap so I can wipe my finger dry frequently and feel the contents of my measuring cup.

I personally never use fabric softener or dryer sheets. I do not like the smell or the chemical nature of these products. In winter when my clothes get a lot of static in them, I will put some white vinegar in the same spot fabric softener goes so that it will be added to the rinse water. Once the clothes are dry, they do not smell like vinegar and it does help draw the static out of them. Using wool dryer balls, possibly with a couple drops of good-smelling essential oils, will also help with static and fresh scent. I personally love tangerine essential oil for this purpose.

Another reason I love using pillowcases for laundry bags is that I just toss them in the wash along with the clothes that were in them. Then once done in the dryer, I put the clean clothes back into the now clean pillowcase to carry upstairs. I used scrap fabric to mark each laundry bag. For example, the bag used for towels has a piece from an old face towel sewn over the rim of the pillowcase. The everyday clothes bag has a piece from an old pair of jeans marking the top edge, and the underclothes bag has an old sock to mark it. My light-colored good clothes bag has a scrap piece from an old light-colored button-down shirt and my dark-colored clothes have no marking. I also have a small, dedicated bag for hand-washing clothes. This bag was a sheet set that came packaged in and although it is pillowcase material it is much smaller. Most of the pieces that go in here are small, such as cloth face masks or pads that go under my G-tube; I only have one or two shirts and such that I hand-wash. When the bags are lined up waiting to be filled and I’m changing clothes in a hurry, those markers have really helped prevent me from making the mistake of dropping my clothes into the wrong bag. I made a point of sewing the scrap material draped over the rim rather than just on the front of the bag. This way when I grab the rim, pulling the pillowcase open to drop clothes in, I immediately feel the marker under my hand.

Wrinkles and Stains

Once I learned how to iron, I found that was not complicated to do. At first, I set my iron in a metal bread loaf pan when not actively using it so that I wouldn’t accidentally touch the hot plate while spreading the garment out on the ironing board. But as I gained practice, I stopped doing that. Some irons call for a gadget called a cord minder to keep the cord out of the way, but the irons I’ve personally had always had a small one built in already that worked well enough for me. If you need one, here is a link to Cord Minder. However, I no longer use iron. Now I use a homemade no-wrinkles spray. Mix one tablespoon of white vinegar with one teaspoon of cheap, good-smelling hair conditioner. I like kiwi-lime VO5 , personally.

Although I included a link to the hair conditioner I like to use on Amazon, you might consider checking your local Wal-Mart or Meijer’s for it. I’ve seen it sold there for less than $2 a bottle whereas on Amazon it is over $7. Mix that mixture into 1 cup of water in a spray bottle and shake well before each use. Then hang your garment up and using hands, pull it tight. Mist very LIGHTLY so as to dampen, not saturate, the fabric. Smooth out wrinkles with hands while damp and let it air dry. That method works just as well as ironing for me and the nice thing is it’s portable. When travelling, clothes always come out of my suitcase wrinkled, but I can easily pack a small bottle of spray and take care of it there.

As for stains, those are particularly challenging for me. Some people have had good success with laundry enzymes in the washer alongside the soap, but my experience has been that those eat holes in some of my clothes at the site of stains. Another option is to carry a stain stick with you and rub it over anything that gets on your clothes immediately at the time it happens. The challenge, however, is that I don’t always know when I’ve dripped food on my shirt or otherwise caused a potential stain at the time it happens, and I still rely on sighted friends to tell me about it. Here is a pocket-sized stain stick . Beyond that, I haven’t found a good way to treat stains except to ask a trusted friend to check clothes at the end of the day.


I do not have a chest of drawers but do have a nice-sized hanging closet with a strong metal rod. So, I bought these hanging drawers at Walmart. It has five drawers that go into an open-front soft frame that hangs on two hooks on the same rod as the hanging clothes.

In these drawers I put my underclothes, pajamas, socks, and sweatpants. I hung these drawers in the middle of my closet. My everyday clothes and jeans are hung on the left side and my good clothes and skirts on the right side. I have “ladder” hangers which have 5 rungs for pants or 5 rungs with clips for skirts. There are “ladder” hangers for shirts too, but I personally don’t have any of those.

I find these much easier to work with than the wire hangers and hangers with cardboard tubes on the bottom, and they save space in my closet. Being able to arrange clothes vertically means the hangers are spaced more loosely across the closet rod, leaving space for me to be able to reach in and feel the clothes or identify what letter they are marked with without taking them off the hanger.

All of my shoes are in my coat closet by my front door. I have a hanging organizer for my shoes as well. Many hanging shoe organizers are open both at the front and back, but I specifically searched out one that was open only at the front. I kept having shoes fall out the back side before I got the right organizer. Here is a link to the one I have hanging organizer . Note mine is one intended for children because I have tiny feet and therefore very small shoes, but they do offer an adult size.

I do not have any two pairs of shoes that are alike. I basically only have one pair of tennis shoes, one pair of camel-colored sandals, and one pair of black patent leather dress shoes that I wear regularly, so picking out the right shoes for my outfit has never been a problem for me. I also do not have any coats that are alike.

Wrapping up

Taking care of your appearance without vision means doing things a little differently. Sometimes it calls for a little bit of creativity, but that doesn’t make it any less doable. I’m always proud to answer, “I did!” When people comment on how nice my outfit is and ask who dressed me. Yes, people do ask that! Now hopefully with these tips and tricks, this will help you to organize your clothes and do laundry that you can be proud of.

Products List

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Products List Description of products.
Puff Paint. Puff paint is used to give a tactile feel. Think 3d paint that a Blind person can feel with their hands. Very useful fot many different ways to label or identify things.
Sock Clips. Socks clisp are great for keeping your socks clipped together while in the wash and dryer. If a Blind person take off their socks, put them in the sock clips, then they will be together when the wash and dry is completed. In this case, they stay as a pair.
Straight pin “Straight pin to catagorize your clothes Straight pin to categorize your clothes
Curved pin “Curved pin to categorize your clothes
Mini pin “Mini pin to categorize your clothes
Lundary Pods. Laundry pods take out the hassle of measuring out laundry detergent for each load. Just grab one or two and put it in the wash. It will self-dissolve during the wash.
Wool dryer balls Wool dryer balls reduce wrinkles, speed up drying times, and soften clothes. Recommended to use 4 balls per load.
Tangerine essential oil: A good scent to use of many options.
Cord Minder. A cord minder will keep the cord away from the iron so you will not get it gtwisted or place your iron on the cord.
kiwi-lime VO5 Another great oil that have a wonderful scent.
pocket-sized stain stick Pocket stain stick to always have with nearby to help keep your clothes clean.
hanging drawers If you have enough closet space, having this in your closet will free up space in your room.
Laddar hanger for pants Laddar hanger for pants is a great way to keep it neat and organized.
Laddar hanger for skirts Laddar hanger for skirts is a great way to keep it neat and organized.
Laddar hanger for shirts Laddar hanger for shirts is a great way to keep it neat and organized.
hanging organizer Hanger organizer will keep your closet looking neat and keep thing better organized.
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By Jen Hawkins

Jen is totally blind and deaf with bilateral cochlear implants. She received her high school education from Hadley School for the Blind and is currently training to do accessibility testing for digital content. She lives independently with her second service dog, Ray. Jen enjoys cooking, reading historical fiction, and animals, especially turtles.