No matter how much you’re leaving the house, one thing never changes: There is always laundry to do. Take time now to organize your laundry room and make a dreaded chore a more pleasant and productive experience.
“I think the whole chore of laundry is very time consuming, so it is hard to get it done start to finish, which causes a lot of people to live out of their laundry basket, which is not ideal,” says Katie McAllister, a professional organizer in York.
But where do you start? And how do you keep things organized in your laundry room? Check out these tips to get you on the right track:
Use the space wisely
“Define the purpose of the space and stick to it,” says Camille Horine, CEO (that’s “chief enthusiastic organizer”) of Order & Space LLC in Lancaster.
McAllister suggests keeping only laundry-essential supplies in your laundry room.
She suggests detergent, softener or scent booster, bleach, a stain stick and dryer sheets, all of which can be corralled on a shelf above a side-by-side washer and dryer.
“Baskets or linen storage bins give a nice finished look for less-accessed items,” she says. “One-hand access is always the most efficient, though, so in a utility area like a laundry room, it’s OK to choose function over design.”
If you’re going for an aesthetically pleasing laundry room, choose a color scheme, Horine says.
“When choosing containers, make them the same color for continuity,” she says. “Personally, I like white for the laundry and an attractive large jar for the (detergent).”
Depending on your space, a narrow rolling cart might be a good choice to hold laundry supplies between the washer and dryer or between the wall and stackable machines.
McAllister also recommends putting a small wastebasket in your laundry room, to contain lint and any little items that come out of pockets.
Think about function
Make sure you have space and tools for various types of clothing, including room for delicates to hang dry and sweaters to dry flat, McAllister says.
“I love a rack that can fold off the wall and store away when not in use,” she says. “Many can do double duty — items can hang down but sweaters can lay flat on top. But a simple clothesline hung from hooks on each wall at a high enough height not to interfere with business works, too. And if the washer and dryer are side by side, a mesh flat dry platform can sit on top of the dryer with a box of dryer sheets tucked underneath.”
Treat your laundry well
“The lion’s share of the folding and organizing can happen outside of the laundry room, but as clothes are removed from the dryer, shirts should be smoothed flat to remove wrinkles or hung right away,” McAllister says. “Pants should be smoothed and lightly folded before laying in basket.”
A folding table is a great accessory, she says, but it’s not a necessity.
“I drape shirts over the door of the dryer as I dump underwear, socks, PJs, athletic wear into the basket and fold pants,” she says. “Then the shirts lay on top as one nice smooth pile. Find a clean place to smooth shirts that works for you.”
Stay on track
Whether you subscribe to the one-load-a-day camp or are more of a multiload, one-day marathoner, pick a schedule that works for your life and stick with it, McAllister says.
“I highly recommend setting a phone alarm unless your washer/dryer has a super insistent alarm of its own,” she says. “It prevents the one-load-a-dayers from returning tomorrow to wet clothes still in the washer that need to be rewashed (or, maybe worse, when you just tuck in and it dawns on you), and it keeps the marathon charging ahead in a timely fashion.”
She also suggests this tip for front-load washers: Open the soap drawer after use.
“My washer suggests leaving the front door of the washer cracked, but the soap drawer holds a ton of water, and opening that to let it evaporate into the air rather than the machine makes a huge difference in that mildew, stale smell they get,” she says. “I still run the cycle to clean the washer occasionally, but it stays quite fresh in between with this rule.”
Keep it organized
After you’ve put the work into organizing your laundry room, take time regularly to keep it tidy.
“One key habit — put things back where they belong,” Horine says. “Find a time of day or a rhythm in your week and make the task of putting things where they belong a pattern, a habit. Link it to something you already do, like when I make the bed in the morning, I take the dirty clothing to the laundry room. Or after my first cup of coffee, I warm the clothing that was in the dryer overnight and fold it before I do anything else. Link an action that signals the habit.”
Make it a place you want to be
Most people don’t love doing laundry, but you can make the chore less onerous by making the space inviting, Horine says.
“Place something you like to look at in your laundry room,” she says. “For example, I have a small, modern art print that was a gift years ago. It has a good vibe. I see it every time I load the laundry. Surround yourself by good energy even in the laundry.”
A little “cute” inspires us to keep a room looking nice, McAllister says, noting, “Cute matching bins, a cute picture or sign, a coat of floor paint on the concrete basement floor, a pretty magnet on the appliances, adding one little smile to the chore can really center you back to that feeling of accomplishment at how well you have organized and improved it, and give you the little boost to keep it maintained.”
With an organized laundry room, you can save time, save energy and save money by not buying duplicate items you already have, Horine says.
“Find what you’re looking for quickly and with ease,” she says. “Avoid the frustration of wasting time looking for the item you can’t find. Frustration is a negative emotion. Who needs it?”