If you have an active family and a busy life, it’s likely that your laundry space is an active place as well. It can also be the collection point for clutter, not just dirty laundry but clothes needing repair, shoes, and cleaning supplies. If you’re spending too much time digging through clutter before you can wash, dry, and fold, it may be time to organize your laundry space.
Laundry rooms come in a variety of sizes, from no more than closet space to a luxuriously large room. How you organize this space depends a lot on its size, but the steps are the same:
- Identify uses. This may seem obvious, but making this decision first will help you unclutter your laundry room, get it organized, and keep it that way. Depending on its size, your laundry space may also be a handy place for pet supplies or household storage or gift-wrapping. Clearly identify the purposes for this space, and make the decision to use it only for those purposes.
- Unclutter. Once you’re clear on how you want to use your laundry space, make an appointment with yourself – and keep it – to clear out the room completely. Use a hallway, another room close by, or the middle of the floor as your “staging” area, but be sure to remove all objects that are moveable (not the washer, dryer, or other large items that are extremely heavy or bolted to the wall or floor). To unclutter, sort all items into piles: Keep, Donate, Trash. When you’ve sorted everything, throw away the Trash pile, and move the Donate pile into another room. Sort the Keep pile into the categories of use you identified in the first step (for example, Laundry, Pet Supplies, Gift Wrapping).
- Get organized. Take a look at your “Keep” items in their respective categories, and determine what kind of access and storage you need for each set of supplies. For example, you’ll want to keep laundry washing- and drying-related items near the washer and dryer, on easy-to-reach shelves if you have room for them. During your “unclutter” step, you may have found multiples of some items – be sure to keep them together so that you gradually use them before buying more. This is also the step when you’ll find out just how much room you have in this space for your intended uses, and what additional storage needs you may have to keep the equipment and supplies you need for those uses. See SpaceSavers for items to help you organize your small laundry room, StacksandStacks for items suitable for any size space.
- Form habits. Once you have your laundry space organized, your work isn’t quite finished. If there are other people in your household, you’ll want to involve them in organizing the laundry room or, at the very least, inform them of what you’ve decided and teach them how to help you keep it uncluttered and used only for the purposes you’ve identified. Make it a habit to return items you use to their places: bottles of detergent, clothes baskets, ironing supplies, hangers. When you’re doing laundry, make it a habit to fold and/or iron dried items as soon as possible (less wrinkling!), and remove and put away folded/ironed items immediately to avoid a pile-up in the laundry room. Help your family members make it a habit to “help” you sort laundry so you don’t have to do it all at once: provide a hamper or basket for each family member’s clothing, or set up a set of hampers with labels to help your family to sort: Darks, Lights/Whites, Delicates, Special Handling (needs repairs, unusual stain, shouldn’t go in the dryer).
P.S. Don’t forget to take your Donate pile to a local charity. If you itemize deductions, ask for a receipt to use when preparing your next tax return.
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