Organizing Your Laundry Roomback
I am Cathy Thompson, a Major Mom Liberator. At Major Mom, we are passionate about restoring order and serenity to your home. We want families to experience the joy of living and working in organized environments. Our solutions are customized, achievable, and sustainable for all rooms in your home. Today we are talking about laundry rooms. In just saying the words “laundry room,” emotions are triggered.
I looked up the definition for laundry, and here is what Webster says:
1) A room for doing the family wash.
2) Clothes or linens that have been or are to be laundered.
Do you realize that this is the only room of the home that is associated with a chore? Think about it, Dining Room, Family or Living Room, Bathroom, Bedroom, even the kitchen. It isn’t called the Dishes Room. All the other rooms of the house have positive or neutral descriptions. The Laundry room refers to a task, which for many people is not the most enjoyable on the to-do list.
Let’s take a moment to personify the laundry room – He is usually dirty, smelly, can be hard to get along with, and never leaves you alone. To be honest, no one really likes him. He is the underdog of all rooms of the house. So, he doesn’t really get the attention and love that he needs. Aww, I feel some compassion from my insides developing. Do you? I have always rooted for the underdog. Our time today is going to be focused on helping this underdog experience a victory.
The key to success in the laundry room is creating an organized environment. Many times, people put too much pressure on the laundry room to be more that it is able to be – storing way too many items there and demanding too much from the already burdened area. Laundry rooms end up being the catch all room. We want to keep it as simple as possible.
Let’s begin with picturing what the ideal laundry area for you would include. Here are some questions to consider for your vision: Where do you sort clothes to be laundered? Do you want to be able to fold laundry in this area? Do you have clothes that need to be air dried or ironed? Where are these tasks performed?
What does your picture NOT include? We have to identify what we don’t like about our current space in order to make the right changes. Remove what does not fit your vision.
Now that we have a picture in our minds, we need to come up with a plan. You want to have a system for gathering and sorting the dirty clothes. If your family has each member responsible for collecting their own dirty clothes, perhaps each person has their own hamper. You need to consider age, location, schedules . . . what works for you? Will you put the hamper in the closet, the hallway, the bathroom, the laundry room? In our previous home, we had a walk-in closet. Our system was a laundry sorter with 3 hanging bags and a shelf with a rod to hang clothes to be ironed. Then we moved to a home with no walk in closet. The sorting cart had to go. Likewise, in our previous home, our kids were younger and shared a bedroom. The room was already full so their hamper was in the bathroom which had more than enough space for it. Our current home has a small bathroom with no room for a hamper. When you move locations or your family-dynamics change, so does your laundry system. If you go to a Laundromat or need to leave your living space, you still need to develop a plan for your laundry. What items do you need? Hamper, laundry basket, ironing board, laundry supplies? In the planning stage, we get our big items in place first.
Next, we proceed with our S.T.E.P.S. – that is “S”, “T”, “E”, “P”, “S”. The first “S” is Sort. Gather all the laundry supplies and sort them into categories. This may at first seem like a simple directive. But, let’s take into consideration those of you who have recently moved. Let me give you an example. I was working with a friend setting up her laundry area a few months after moving. She had her detergents and supplies, but I noticed there were still some boxes in her garage to be unpacked. After walking around in the garage briefly, we found a box that had been packed from her previous location and it was full of laundry room items. At first this can be a fun find – wow, who knew. But, it soon turned into a mess. One of the liquid detergents was punctured from the move and had a slow leak. It had stopped in the box it was packed in, so at first we didn’t know where the mess was coming from. After removing it from the box and placing it in on the floor where the other items were sorted, we were able to see which product was leaking. Luckily, we were on an easy to clean surface, not carpet. I recommend sorting in a non-carpeted area or on an easy to clean surface just in case bottles, boxes, or sprays fall and spill.
After your sort is complete, you are on the “T” in S.T.E.P.S., the Treasure step. Keep only what you are using. If you have an upgraded washer and dryer and can no longer use the old detergent, move that out of your laundry room. A neighbor or friend would be happy to receive it. If you have a product you cannot use because it irritates your skin or you hate the smell, allow someone else to use it. Get it out of your space. Refer back to the vision of the space you pictured in your mind. Do these items fit into the picture?
The “E” in S.T.E.P.S. is “Establish a home”. After you have the items for your laundry room, you need to establish homes for them. Here are some more things to consider: hangers, trash can, buttons or small sewing kit for those mending needs that appear doing laundry, a home for all the things removed from pockets before going into the wash (i.e., a lost and found for your laundry room). Consider the flow of your laundry needs and establish homes accordingly. For example, stain fighting supplies first, detergents next, fabric softeners third. Also consider who is using the area. Establish homes in easy to reach areas if children need to access the items.
Next, “put everything away”, the “P” in S.T.E.P.S. If you decided that you want to put all your stain remover items into one place, a basket or bin keeps them from falling over and creating a domino effect. One product that I discovered and have in my own laundry room is called an iron caddy. It is available in a number of stores and in a variety of types. The caddy may be an over the door caddy or a wall mount. It is a space-saving solution that holds the iron and the board. Some have a basket area that can hold the starch too. Another item that I have discovered and is on my wish list is called an “over-the washer shelf”. It is also available in stores and online. The shelf is half deep - just enough to close the gap between the washer and the wall. It not only provides additional storage, but it also acts as a net for those items that fall off a higher shelf, land behind the washer/dryer, and are next to impossible to retrieve.
The last “S” in S.T.E.P.S. is “start new habits”. Here are some tips to make the laundry process easier. Develop a schedule to doing your laundry. One load a day, or every other day is much easier than saving it all for one day. Write up the schedule and post it on your laundry room wall – it can be per person, per load type, whatever you decide. Include basic laundry directions for the type of load so all members of the household can use it as a reference sheet.
If you have the case of the missing socks in your household, one solution is to wash socks in a small mesh bag for delicates.
If you’ve ever forgotten about a stain and realized after it came out of the dryer that you did not treat it properly, here is a tip for you. Keep rubber bands or clothes pins next to your laundry sorting system. Use one of those to mark the spot of the stain so it can be treated.
If your family has dry cleaning items, have a designated bin for dry cleaning.
To save time on ironing or to avoid it completely, hang or fold your clothes immediately coming out from the dryer. After my husband and I married, I started this with my husbands’ trousers. I immediately took one pair of pants out at a time, folded them on the seam and hung them over the hanger. Once, a single friend of mine was over and saw me doing this with his pants. She was amazed. She thought his pants were dry cleaned or ironed. I smiled and took pride in my time and money saving method of hanging pants as soon as one came out of the dryer.
Finally, here are a few decorating tips – I call this bonus material. Paint one of the walls of your room a fun color to brighten up the space. Bring in a small rug to warm up the floor area. If the room is large enough, hang a photo or picture to bring a little décor into the room.
I hope our time today has helped you recognize why you may have had some negative feelings associated with the laundry room. After explaining our Methods and tips I hope you feel set up for victory. Laundry will always be a chore. Creating and maintaining an organized laundry room and developing systems for your laundry will help make the task more enjoyable for you and the entire household. Remember, getting organized is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Don’t delay, get organized today!