Organize Your Laundry Room

by Shannon Bartlett

Laundry RoomLaundry is the chore we all have to face at some point, but the task very few of us love.

Whether your motto is, "a load a day" or "attack...and pray you reach the peak someday," an organized laundry room can make the task easier and quicker and hopefully more enjoyable.

Even though laundry is one of the most basic household chores, most of us treat the laundry room like an outcast. It gets less love, planning and money than any other area of the home (unless you're Martha Stewart).

Do you enter your laundry room with disgust and dread, already geared up for the worst? Let's give it a few hours of loving attention and transform that area into one you'll want to use.

The first thing you need to do is take a look around and remove the stuff that doesn't belong in there. You might be surprised how much larger the space becomes once toys, ice chests and other misplaced items return to their proper spots. This doesn't give you license to create a new pile of clutter someplace else, however.

Next choose an organizing system that makes sense to you. I prefer color coding. My sorting bins are navy blue, beige and a soft coral.

Now you're ready to get started. Try these ideas out for fit.

Cover the Basics

Your laundry room might be the size of a closet or a spacious room. If you're working with a small space, organizing can be a snap with installing some shelves or cabinets above the washer and dryer. With a larger space, you have more room for imagination. These items should be a part of every efficient laundry room.

Washer and dryer: These might be side-by-side or a stacked unit. The rest of your room will flow around the big stars of the laundry scene.

Bins or bags: You'll need a place for the dirty clothes to accumulate. Contrary to popular belief, they don't actually breed in the laundry room.

Three bins or bags can separate white, dark and delicate laundry. Color code your bins and even a tot can sort dirty clothes into the right spot.

If your child still has accidents, consider adding a wet bucket to your sorting theme.

Shelves or cabinets: Designate one shelf for detergent, stain removal products and cleansers. Arrange things so you have most frequently used items easily accessible. Group similar items together; for example if you use a toothbrush and stain remover on the kids' clothes, place both in a small basket or bin.

Have a separate shelf for the iron and miscellaneous. No matter how careful you are, one day the detergent will tip over and gum up your iron if they share a shelf.

Ironing board: Depending on the available room, your ironing board could fold up or be a regular feature on the floor. Add a high stool and you can iron in comfort.

Hanging rack: If you hate ironing, take clothes out of the dryer onto a hanger as soon as they're dry. You might save hours of ironing and you will gain an out-of-the-way upper shelf to store odds and ends.

Drying rack: You might need a space to dry sweaters and delicate clothing. This can be a fold down screen or even a rack you put above the dryer.

Folding table: Before you add a folding table to your laundry room, answer this question honestly. Are you the type who uses a folding table to fold laundry or do you tend to use it to store laundry? If the table won't become the next site for Mt. Laundry, then plan one into your design.

If you opt out of the folding table, your ironing board can do double duty and be neatly put away when not in use.

Going Green in the Laundry Room

Green cleaning supplies: Make your own detergent or cleaning supplies. You could choose to buy products that are environmentally friendly, too.

Line dry: Don't air your dirty laundry in public, line dry the clean stuff out in the fresh air. Is the weather too cold or rainy? You can use a rack or line in the house.

Share your bounty: We all accumulate clothes that don't fit, especially when we have kids who insist on growing like weeds! Make sharing this bounty easier with a bin especially for "doesn't fit; give away" clothing.

What are some of your best tips for organizing your laundry room? May these tips bring some zen and balance to your washing cyclone.