Set Up an Efficient Laundry Room

How to organize your laundry-room space so you can get the most out of it.

Photo by William Abranowicz

Transporting and Sorting

Few moments are more absurd than the times you beg your loved ones for their dirty laundry. That's why you should put a few receptacles in strategic locations that will make transporting and sorting clothes easier, says Linda Cobb, author of Talking Dirty Laundry With the Queen of Clean.

  • A hamper, a basket, or a bin should go in each family member's bedroom or bathroom. Even if you can't get every family member to do his or her wash, you can save time by giving everyone a portable receptacle. Make sure the hamper has soft edges that won't mar paint or chip doorjambs.
  • Set up a central three-bin sorter in the laundry room where people bring their individual hampers. Laundry that doesn't make its way to the sorter doesn't get washed. (If your child's jeans du jour are left dirty, it's not your problem.) Any family member over four feet tall should be able to separate lights and darks. Hand-washables go into the third bin.
  • Keep dry cleaning away from the laundry room to avoid confusion. A bag with handles, kept in the closet, works well.


Dabbing, Pouring, Restoring

Keep everything you need near the washer, on a shelf preferably at eye level. If you don't have room, try a rolling caddie that slides between the washer and dryer.

  • Arrange products from left to right in the order you use them. For example, start with stain removers, then follow with bleaches and detergent, then fabric softener, and lastly spray-on starch and distilled water for ironing. Be sure to keep bleach and ammonia (this includes many window cleaners) away from each other; when mixed, they can produce toxic fumes.
  • Boxes or baskets on the shelf make grouped items more accessible and less likely to topple over and leak. For example, keep stain removers, both commercial and homemade, in one box.
  • Consider corralling all wardrobe-related items (sewing supplies, shoe polish, spot remover) on this one shelf. If there is room, rags, paper towels, and household-hint books can find a home here, too.