I recently started taking care of a six-month-old baby a couple times a week. I felt a little out of practice since my youngest will be turning 10 soon. We haven’t had to deal with bottles, baby toys, pacifiers, bibs or tiny socks in years. My house is less than baby proof or even baby-friendly, but we make it work. In fact, we make it work quite well, which makes me wonder why in the world I thought I ever needed all the fancy gadgets and newest equipment to be a good mom. So far, my new little buddy has been quite content in second hand clothes, a used stroller and borrowed pack and plays. He is happy and healthy without the high price tag.
One afternoon last week, my 14-year-old daughter was helping me unload the dishwasher. Laying on the top rack was a small lingerie bag filled with bottle parts and baby toys.
“What’s this?” she asked handling the zippered mesh bag. “Don’t you usually use this to wash your bras and stuff in the washing machine?”
“Yeah, but I didn’t want all those little things to fall to the bottom of the dishwasher,” I replied, emptying the now sterile contents, “so I made do.”
That little transaction got me thinking about all the times I have “made do” over the years. In fact, many times with this simple and inexpensive helper, the lingerie mesh bag. They come in a variety of sizes, from round to square, from a small bra size to big enough for a favorite sweater size. Although some have a draw-string closure, I prefer those with a covered zipper. They are less likely to open and empty their contents. Plus, having a covered zipper keeps the bag from catching on other fabrics in the wash.
Here’s a list of some great ways to utilize those mesh bags for things other than washing your unmentionables.
- Sock sorter : Give each of your children a mesh bag of their own for their dirty socks. Then, when you pull out your laundry, you’ll have clean and presorted socks that your children can fold themselves.
- Wardrobe helper: Do you have a child that has a hard time picking out what clothes to wear in the morning? What if you took some time on the weekend to fill a mesh bag with a complete outfit? You could help them choose a bottom, a top, socks, underwear and even accessories to store in one of those lingerie bags. Make one for each day of the week and your child will easily be able to grab the outfit of their choice and get dressed on their own without all the hassle or mess.
- Sports: I’ve washed shin guards, knee pads and wrist bands in these bags so they don’t get separated and keep Velcro from catching on other fabrics. In the larger sweater-sized bags, I wash bundles of gymnastics leotards or swim team suits to lower the risk of snagging or stretching.
- Toys and other small items: The top rack of your dishwasher is perfect for a bag full of Legos, teething toys, bottle nipples, medicine cups, water bottle tops, reusable straws, pretend food from your child’s kitchen set, tiny plates and utensils or anything else you would like to sanitize but is too small to stay put without falling through the wire racks or not strong enough to withstand the heat of the bottom rack.
- Packing: Give each family member their own set of mesh bags for underwear, socks and undershirts. This way they are easy to find, already sorted per family member and not likely to get ruffled through by airport security if they look through your bag. It also makes packing and unpacking a snap when you aren’t searching for all those easily lost items.
- Water toys: The last time we went to Kensington Beach, I packed all the sand toys in large mesh bags. When we were done for the day, I was able to easily rinse off the sand and let everything air dry. Plus, everything gets stored together, making it easier to pack up the next time we head to the beach. This would probably be a great way to store bath toys, small pool toys and water guns. The mesh bag would easily hang from a simple hook on the wall for quick drying and accessibility.
- Extra storage: Tired of searching for that missing bathing suit bottom, your favorite sports bra or the matching belt to your best dress? Store all those little things in mesh bags and then thread them on a hanger to hang in your closet. You’ll never dig through an over stuffed drawer again.
- Mud room: Keep a mesh bag for mittens, hats, and scarves. You could either hang them on hangers in your closet or hang from hooks on the wall for easy access. I keep them in a Sterilite 3-Drawer Wide Cart on wheels that fits right inside our coat closet. It’s also a great way to occasionally wash these items that tend to smell musty after a season of sledding and snow ball fights.
- Laundry room: Last but not least, you can’t forget the one room in the house these little treasures were meant for in the first place. I like to wash anything I don’t want put in the dryer in a mesh bag so I don’t forget it was in the wash and mistakenly shrink my favorite t-shirt or sweater. It’s also proven to be a great way to wash baby bibs and not find the Velcro tabs stuck to anything.
Share some of your great ideas on how to re-purpose a lingerie bag!