Laundry room organization is essential if you want to actually keep clean clothes in your home on a regular basis, and at least somewhat enjoy the process.
Let’s face it, whether we like doing laundry or not, the washing has to get done.
When you’ve got a cluttered up, unorganized laundry or utility room doing laundry can feel like the most miserable of chores. So, why not take the time to improve the room and your mood while doing laundry, all at the same time?
Normally, every week of the challenge we focus on a different area of the home, but the laundry process actually takes place in a couple of locations in the house, so we’re working on it for two weeks.
This week the focus is on the laundry room itself, and what you do with all the dirty clothes you’ve got, during the process of washing, drying, folding, and returning the clean clothes back to their proper place.
Next week we’ll focus on the spaces in your home where you gather dirty clothes, and sort them.
Are you new here? The Laundry Room Organization Challenge is part of the 52 Week Home Organization Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren’t already a regular reader).
Before we begin the steps in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge, I wanted to address why everyone, whether you can do laundry in your home, or not, should work on at least parts of this challenge.
Whether you’ve got a large space devoted to doing laundry in your home, or just a corner of your basement or a closet in the hallway, if you’re lucky enough to have a washer and dryer in your home, you’ve got a laundry room.
Even if you must do your family’s laundry at a laundromat or elsewhere, you still will most likely deal with some laundry issues in your home that I’ll discuss below. Therefore, read this week’s challenge and see what you can work on now, and know that next week everyone will be involved in the second half of the challenge to get our laundry organized.
Step 1: Consider The Functions Of Your Laundry Room
The first step in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge is to think about the functions of your laundry room, to make sure you’ve got the equipment and supplies in the room that you need to accomplish those tasks and functions.
To a certain extent, considering the functions of this room are a no-brainer. Duh — you do laundry here.
However, first consider that there are several parts to the laundry process, so make sure you’re considering all the sub-functions this statement implies, including:
- Space for major appliances of washer and dryer
- Storage for laundry supplies
- Area for pre-treating and soaking items, for stain removal
- Drying area (for those clothes or other items that don’t go in the dryer)
- Laundry folding; and
Depending on the size of your laundry room, you might not be able to fit all these functions in here, but they all need to happen somewhere in your house, so during the challenge consider and make space for each of these functions somewhere in your home.
Further, when considering the additional functions that your laundry or utility room can play, first make sure it can fulfill its primary function for you — getting laundry cleaned. Only then can it also perform secondary functions, like storage for cleaning or bathroom supplies, or anything else.
Step 2: Declutter Your Laundry Room
Now that you’ve gotten clear, in your mind, on what the functions of your laundry room are, its time for the next step in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge -decluttering.
If you’ve fallen in a bad habit of using your laundry room to store random junk and clutter, but yet don’t have enough room to actually launder items in there easily, you’ve got to move stuff out that belongs elsewhere.
Prime items and areas to declutter from this room include:
- In open spaces around room, including around and on top of the washer and dryer
- Remove excess items from shelves and cabinets
- Empty bottles of detergent or other laundry supplies, or those which have expired (did you know chlorine bleach expires within about 6 months, for example?). You can check out this article with instructions for how to dispose of laundry supplies while decluttering, which also provides additional information about common expiration dates for many of these products.
- Clean clothes – the general rule (unless you have a family closet) is that they should not be stored in this room, since they’ll soon be confused with dirty ones just making more work for you when you rewash them over and over.
- Stray socks where you haven’t found the match in more than three months!
- Anything not serving one of the designated functions in the room, that should be placed elsewhere in your home.
Step 3: Organize Laundry Room Areas To Perform Functions Efficiently
Once you’ve cleared out all the stuff that doesn’t belong its time to set up and organize the stuff left in your laundry room so you can efficiently do the tasks required in this room.
We’re going to set up several stations or centers in the room, many with overlapping functions, to cover the activities listed below (remember, if you can’t fit one or more of these activities in your laundry room, make a place for it elsewhere in your home):
Laundry Supplies Storage
First, after decluttering unwanted products, gather up all the laundry supplies you’ve kept, and place them close to your washer and dryer.
Keep your supplies separated by type, and perhaps even place them in their order of use during the laundry process, such as laundry stain removers, then detergents, bleach and fabric softeners, for example.
I also suggest keeping a small sewing kit with your supplies to do minor clothing repairs before laundering an item.
One of the most common ways to organize these supplies is on shelves or in cabinets.
Common places to have laundry shelves or cabinets is above your washer and dryer, or on a wall close to them.
You may want to keep certain items together in a basket which is on the shelf, such as your stain removal kit and supplies. Further, many of these items may drip so it doesn’t hurt to keep even single items in dish pans or plastic tubs to prevent leaking.
If you don’t have room for shelves or cabinets, or still need additional room there are lots of ingenious storage solutions available, including:
- Utilizing the storage space between your washer and dryer (as shown above, on the right)
- Rolling laundry carts
- Wall or door organizers
- Organizers that hold supplies on the side of your washer or dryer
- Washer or dryer pedestal which also acts as a storage drawer
Remember, if you’ve got young kids in your home, you need to be careful about safety when storing laundry supplies. While some of the suggested places to store items I’ve mentioned above may be convenient, if they are kid accessible you need to think of somewhere else to put them, such as on a high shelf, or a cabinet with safety latches.
Stain Removal And Soaking Area
Having a laundry sink is a big plus in your utility room, since you can hand wash certain items in it, as well as use it for soaking stained items.
Even if you don’t have a sink though, you may want to have a table with a small tub on it that you can fill with water and detergent, for soaking when needed.
Again, make sure wherever you place this tub is secure, when filled with water, for safety reasons.
In addition, I suggest everyone put a small stain removal chart in their laundry room to reference as needed.
Even though you may do some of your drying in the dryer (although I know all of you don’t), there are often other items that need to be dried in a different way.
It is helpful to have an area set up in your laundry room for a folding drying rack, such as the one shown on the right.
Other possible ways to dry items include on a retractable clothes line, or up on hangers, hanging from a tension rod, to allow items to drip dry.
Folding & Hanging Areas
After your clothes are clean and dry, they need to be folded and put away.
To make this job as easy as possible create a center in your laundry room where you can fold clothes.
All that is needed for this is a flat surface, such as a laundry folding table, or a counter at a height which is comfortable to stand at.
However, if you don’t have a counter, consider getting a thin table to place next to the wall in the room, or getting a counter that fits over top of your front-loading appliances (this obviously won’t work for top loaders).
Often, things don’t just need to be folded though, but instead hung up. Have hangers close to the dryer so you can hang things up as you pull them out of the dryer, to avoid as much ironing later.
Further, this same hanging area can also be used for drying, or to hang clothes after they’ve been ironed.
The key to keeping this area organized is to move out the clean and/or pressed clothes once they are folded or hung up on a consistent and regular basis, and put them back where they belong.
Finally, you should have an ironing area, preferably in your laundry room. However, I understand that with small spaces such as many of these rooms, setting up a large ironing board can be too much.
If nothing else, store all your ironing supplies together, including the iron, ironing board, and any sizing or starch you use.
A handy place to keep these types of items out of the way, but still readily available for use, is on a less used wall, or behind the door (such as seen with this over-the-door iron holder on the right).
Step 4: Make Your Laundry Room Pretty & Inviting
The final step in the Laundry Room Organization Challenge is to do a few things to pretty up the room.
Typically, I don’t focus too much on decorating, and don’t mention such a step in these Challenges. However, this is an exception because I’ve found that my willingness to do laundry consistently is greatly enhanced by a nice place to do the task.
Good lighting is important for your laundry room anyway, since it helps with stain removal.
In addition, a cheery coat of paint, some curtains on the windows, or cute lettering or pictures on the wall can all really make the room feel like a place you’d like to spend time, and make the task more pleasurable.