5 Laundry Room Essentials
Overwhelmed by laundry? Domestic CEO has the 5 things you need to make laundry day a cinch.
In theory, a laundry room is the place where laundry gets cleaned, folded, and distributed to all members of the family. It symbolizes order, freshness, and a new start with clean clothes. In reality, it’s often the room where a pile of dirty clothes grows on the floor and the mountain of clean clothes grows on top of the dryer for each family member to sift through when they need a specific shirt. Instead of symbolizing cleanliness and order, the room often looks like the aftermath of a small tornado..
The house where my husband and I live has a great big laundry room, but not everyone has that luxury, especially if you live in a big city or on a farm, like I did growing up. In fact, to this day the washer and dryer are still sitting in my parents’ kitchen. Regardless, there are a few key things that every laundry room (or space) should have to make the laundering process as quick and easy as possible. Today, I’ll be giving suggestions that I use in my home, as well as in the homes of my clients at Moxie Girl Household Assistants. I’ll also give you modifications in case you live in an old farm house or small apartment and don’t have a whole room for doing laundry. The tips will still apply, they’ll just look a little different:
Tip #1: A Hamper Divided
This first item is something that likely doesn’t stay in the laundry room. Most of us keep our hampers in the closet, bedroom, or bathroom where we take off our clothes. If you don’t, that’s a bonus tip: Keep your hamper right next to where you change so you can immediately throw the dirties in the hamper and avoid a pile-up situation. It takes the same amount of energy as tossing them on the floor, but you don’t have to waste time later picking everything up and doing the sniff test to determine if it needs to be washed.
If your dirty clothes already go straight into a hamper, make laundry day as easy as possible by sorting your clothes before you toss them in. It takes no extra time to put whites in a white bin and colors in a colors bin. This little step will save you 5-10 minutes of sorting per person on laundry day. It’s a little change that makes a big difference.
See also: Laundry 101
This technique can be applied to little ones, too. As soon as your child knows his colors, you can teach him to put the whites in one bin and everything else in another. Not only will it save you time when doing the family’s laundry, but it’s also the first step in his learning to do laundry for himself. Think of it as early training to keep your child from having a load of whites end up pink when he goes off to college. Speaking of college, if you have any recent grads or college-age kids on your gift list, check our new ebook, Quick and Dirty Tips for Life After College. In it, I and 11 other Quick and Dirty Tips experts give real world advice on everything from getting a job to stocking your kitchen. It’s just $3.99 and available on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble.
Tip #2: Rack ‘Em!
We all have items that shouldn’t go through the dryer, but we don’t all have good ways for them to dry. Laying clothes out over a couch or dining room table is just inviting clutter into your common areas. Besides, wet clothes on wood furniture and dark, wet clothes on cloth furniture are disasters waiting to happen. Don’t risk having a warped dining room table or a jean-shaped blue stain on to your cream colored couch. Get a drying rack.
If you have the space, a wall-mounted rack is ideal. Get a handful of plastic hangers, some for shirts and some with clips for hanging pants, and you are ready for almost every hang-dry item. Added bonus: When you’re done doing laundry, the top of the drying rack is a great place to store your laundry baskets. It keeps them accessible, but out of the way.
If you don’t have a dedicated laundry room, you still have options for hang-drying. My mom had a giant drying rack that she pulled out every Saturday. For a few hours each weekend, the rack would come out of its hiding spot behind a dresser and stand in the living room covered in clothes. As soon as the clothes were dry, they came off and the rack went away. You could also use the shower curtain rod in the bathroom. Just like with the wall-mounted rack, use plastic hangers and clips to hang your items along the rod.
Tip #3: Counter Space is Key
Counter space in a laundry room is invaluable, as long as you use it correctly. If you’re using it as a place to pile up clean clothes for your family to forage through each morning when they’re getting dressed, you’re wasting a great opportunity. There’s a better way. When you pull your clothes out of the dryer, put them into a basket, not the top of the counter. Then, bring the basket onto the counter, pull the items out to be folded one by one, and put into neat sorted piles on the counter. By storing the clean clothes in a basket until you have a chance to fold them, you’ll keep the chaos contained and reduce your risk of losing small items to the Sock Monster.
If you don’t have counter space in your laundry area, simply dedicate a clean spot in your home for folding laundry. When I was little, my mom used to give me the basket of clean clothes on the floor of our living room and I would fold while watching cartoons. This can be a great option, as long as you don’t have indoor pets and vacuum on a regular basis. Otherwise, a coffee or dining table will work better.
Tip #4: One Basket Per Person
Once you’re done folding, the little stacks of clean clothes can be placed into a basket for each person in the house. Whether you have 2 or 12 people living in your home, I recommend having a basket for each person. That way, when everything is folded, you can grab the basket and take it straight to the room of the wearer. You can put everything away, or if you want to divide the chores (as Mighty Mommy recommends), require each family member to put away their own clothes. This may take a little incentivizing in the beginning, especially for teenagers, but you can make it part of their allowance—an empty basket for a few bucks. Just make sure to keep cash on hand so they can get an immediate reward, and double check that the clothes are actually put away, not just thrown in a pile in the bottom of the closet. (I’ve seen it all, folks.)
Tip #5: Commitment and Routine
Finally, the most important things you need to keep your laundry room tidy are commitment and routine. No matter how great of a setup you have, or how many amazing laundry gadgets you own, if you aren’t committed to doing the laundry all the way through, you’re going to have a disaster. Before you even start a load, make sure that you’ll have the time to dry, fold, and put it away that same day. I allow myself to watch trashy TV while the washer and dryer are running, and I fold during the commercials. It’s my way of rewarding myself for making sure our clothes are taken care of. Or you could follow Mighty Mommy’s example and listen to audiobooks or podcasts while you’re doing the laundry. Whatever you decide to do, come up with a way to make laundry day fun, and I promise those 3 (or 10) loads won’t seem so bad.
Now that you know the 5 things every laundry room needs, all you need is a little motivation to get started. Kick everyone out of the house, put on some music or guilty pleasure TV, and get started. In no time, you’ll have a solid routine that will keep your spouse from asking, “Where’s my shirt?” and a tidy laundry room that’ll make your friends and neighbors jealous.
Until next time, I’m the Domestic CEO, helping you love your home.