Organize Laundry Room

This article explains how to organize the laundry room. Even though it is a purely functional and utilitarian space, laundry room is an integral part of a house. Considering the amount of time we spend in this room, organizing it in such a way that we can have all the supplies when we need them, will make the laundry chores easier.

Please read my article on tips before you organize the laundry room. That article will help you get through these tasks a whole lot easier and keep your results once you are done.

Set realistic goals and split tasks into small chunks before you organize the laundry room. This way you can complete them in a reasonable amount of time and make progress. Set time limits (1 to 2 hr maximum) for each session of work. Do what you can in that time limit. Then, wait for the next day or weekend, otherwise you will be exhausted. Also look at what you have accomplished and enjoy it. That will inspire and motivate you.

Your first task when you organize the laundry room should be clearing items in open areas as explained in article Home Organization Tips (when you begin). Separate them into five categories. You can further divide “Keep Items” into different categories to avoid sorting them again later. For example, laundry supplies, ironing supplies etc.

A laundry room could be a room all on its own or part of a room like the utility room or mudroom. Sometimes it is just a closet.

Essentials in a laundry room are washer, dryer, laundry detergent, bleach, stain remover, fabric softener, dryer sheets, a drying rack (for drip drying clothing that cannot go in the dryer), clothespins, iron and ironing board, a waste basket and some plastic grocery bags to line the waste basket with. Storing plastic grocery bags in a tall container like antibacterial wipes container will save space, look uncluttered and save you some money (no need to buy a separate storage container).

You can also store vacuum cleaner, mops, brooms etc. in this room if you don’t have a broom closet. Utilize the wall space when you organize the laundry room, especially if the room is small, by using a wall mount clip bar (available at home improvement stores for under $10) to store mops and brooms.

If you have a sink with a base cabinet or a utility tub in this room, you can store laundry supplies like laundry detergent, bleach etc. inside the cabinet or under the utility tub. Install a retractable or an accordion style clothes drying rack (under $20 and available at supermarkets) on the wall above the sink to drip dry clothes. This allows you to fold it flat when not in use. If you don’t have a sink, install the drying rack in the bathroom over the tub or shower. Another option is a portable accordion rack that can fit inside a tub/shower or can be placed over a drain in the utility room and folds flat for easy storing.

If you have upper cabinets use the bottom shelves of these cabinets for storage of laundry supplies. You can also store extra towels, light bulbs, batteries etc. on the top shelves since you don’t need them as often as laundry supplies. Group clothespins, batteries, light bulbs etc. together in boxes, label them and stack with the labeled side facing you. You can reuse shoeboxes or cardboard shipping boxes for these. If your cabinets are short and have only one shelf, use it for laundry supplies and use the left over space for extra batteries, light bulbs etc.

If you have both sink and upper cabinets, use the upper cabinets for laundry supplies, extra towels, light bulbs, batteries etc. and use the sink base cabinet for pet needs like food, toys, grooming tools, medicines, bath supplies etc. Except for the food, store each of these categories in plastic boxes and label them. Stack them inside the cabinet with the label side facing you and based on how often they are used with the most often used box on top. You can also reuse shoeboxes or cardboard shipping boxes for these. It is a good idea to store bath supplies in a plastic box or container so they won’t get wet.

If you don’t have a sink and any storage, consider installing cabinets above the washer and dryer to store supplies especially if you or someone you know is handy. This will save valuable floor space if the room is small or if you have a laundry closet instead of a laundry room. If you have floor space, you can use it for a table to fold clothes or even ironing.

If you are not handy or if you are in a temporary situation like renting and have no storage space, here are a couple of space saving solutions to organize the laundry room.

First option is a slim laundry cart. It is a 3-tier cart that is designed to fit in small spaces like between the washer and dryer or washer/dryer and the wall if you have 8 inches of space. This will hold all your supplies like detergent, bleach, fabric softener, dryer sheets and even iron, handheld steamer etc. within easy reach. Because it has casters you can easily pull it out to get to the things in the back. This cart costs under $20 and is available at supermarkets. It provides ample storage for laundry supplies and takes only minimal floor space.

If you don’t have any floor space for this cart, second option is a laundry shelf which mounts over the top of washer or dryer to store laundry supplies. This costs under $15. This also is available at supermarkets. You can get one for the dryer also and store iron, handheld steamer and spray starch on it. This shelf utilizes an otherwise unused and wasted space.

You can use this even when you have cabinets and use the cabinet space for extra linens, towels, paper towels, bath tissues, household cleaning supplies etc. and also for the boxes of light bulbs and batteries I mentioned earlier.

Usually there is 3 to 4 feet of space in front of the washer and dryer to accommodate their doors (when you open and close). Use this space to sort the clothes before washing. Otherwise sort them in the bedrooms (or wherever laundry is kept) beforehand and bring one load at a time to the laundry area.

Besides washing and drying, a laundry room also serves related purposes like folding and ironing.

Use the counter top if you have one, to fold and even iron clothes. If you don’t have a counter top, a table is a great option if you have the space. Otherwise use the top of the washer/dryer to fold clothes. Another option is to use the beds in the respective bedrooms where the clothes go.

If you don’t have the space for a table, use an ironing board. You can fold the ironing board and store it between the wall and the washer or dryer. If you don’t have the space to put a traditional free standing ironing board in the laundry room for ironing, you can use a table/counter top one with an iron rest (under $20) and use the top of the washer or dryer as the table top. This board also folds flat like the free standing unit and can be stored between the wall and the washer or dryer. Over the door ironing boards are more expensive. They are available at supermarkets for around $40.

Over the door ironing board organizers (available at super markets for under $15) will hold all your ironing supplies (like ironing board, iron, spray bottles etc.) in one place within easy reach saving you time.

If ironing board is not an option, consider getting an ironing mat (also called ironing blanket, available at supermarkets for under $15). Put it on top of the washer or dryer to iron clothes. You can roll it and keep it to one side of the washer/dryer after use.

Allow time for folding and ironing chores also when doing the laundry. Don’t leave piles of washed clothes in or on top of the dryer or in laundry baskets/hampers. Fold and put them away in their appropriate locations right away. If you do this as soon as one load is done drying, it will be manageable. Leave the clothes to be ironed/steamed in a hamper. You can iron/steam them together when you are done with all the loads. You will save energy this way too as you don’t have to heat up the iron or steamer again and again.

A garment rack is a great addition to any laundry room. You can use it to steam garments and also hang ironed ones while ironing or steaming other ones. Use a folding garment rack when space is limited.

If you have a stacked unit washer and dryer and no space to store supplies, store them in the nearest closet. Use a bedroom to iron/steam clothes. You can store the steamer and ironing supplies in the bedroom closet.

If your laundry room is also a mud room, please also read my foyer article for organizing ideas regarding jackets, shoes, winter accessories etc.

Useful Tips when you organize the laundry room:

  1. If your laundry room is on a different floor than the bedrooms (like a basement), use a light weight hamper with handles like a pop up hamper instead of a bulky plastic laundry basket. This will make it safer and easier to carry heavy loads of clothes up and down the stairs.
  2. If your laundry room is part of the utility room with concrete floor, put carpet or vinyl flooring remnants on the floor. This will not only keep your feet warm but also keep your clothes clean if they fall on the floor while taking them out of the washer/dryer.

Once you organize the laundry room, it will not only make the chores easier but also save you a lot of time. But don't forget maintenance.

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