In most homes, the laundry room is an afterthought. Guests rarely see this cramped and noisy space, and even family members don’t linger there. You might be tempted to deal with laundry room clutter by closing the door on it. However, when the laundry room gets so disorganized that closing the door isn’t an option, it’s time to streamline. While you may not retreat to the laundry room to curl up with a good book, you can transform it into a more functional space with these tips on how to clear laundry room clutter.
Tip 1: Get Your Wardrobe Under Control
The first step to gain the upper hand in the battle against clutter is to reduce it throughout your home, not just where you do the laundry. It’s impossible to tackle a cluttered laundry room when you have nowhere to store clothing once it’s clean. In summer, sweaters aren’t just laundry you haven’t yet done; they’re clutter. If the bulk of your organization problem is off-season clothing, it’s time to clean out those closets and make room for more.
Organization expert and author Julie Morgenstern has a formula for dealing with household clutter: the SPACE system: Sort, Purge, Assign a Home, Containerize and Equalize. While it may be tricky to sort some items, it’s easy to separate clothing by season. Purge items you and family members no longer wear or have outgrown. Most households need the most help with the third step, Assign a Home.
Space is already at a premium in your laundry room, so don’t crowd it with coats in the summer and beach towels in the winter; that only exacerbates the clutter problem. The SPACE system doesn’t specify where you designate a place for your items; if you’ve run out of room, search for self-storage options online to find your closet away from home. Keep off-season wardrobes in a storage unit to free your closets to hold clothes that are in season. Once you find room for your off-season clothes, the last two steps of the SPACE method become easy.
Tip 2: Contain Clutter
The “C” in Morgenstern’s system, Containerize, is especially important in a laundry area. Closed containers hide your collection of laundry essentials to give the room a more organized appearance. For boxes of detergent and bottles of bleach, choose open-topped containers and baskets that fit on shelving. Lined baskets or canvas containers do more than keep laundry supplies convenient; they also make the inevitable dusting of powder detergent or drips of fabric softener easy to clean. Pick containers with sides high enough to enable items to stand upright to prevent spills.
Containers corral small items such as stain sticks and laundry markers that might otherwise migrate to other parts of the house. They also serve the opposite purpose: to give small items that come into the laundry room a temporary home until their owners reclaim them. Set aside a box or basket as a lost and found to hold lone socks, pocket change, rock collections and other small things that wind up in the laundry room.
Tip 3: Store Vertically
Even if you have the luxury of a full basement or other large area for your laundry room, that space is rarely organized effectively. Keep everything in a vertical storage system that holds everything in one place so you don’t have to reach and roam. Designer Kevin Sharkey with Martha Stewart Living draws on tools throughout the house to organize his laundry room shelves. Wall-mounted shelves from utility rooms double as holders for laundry basics and sewing kits. Bracketed bookshelves from the den form perfect frames for neat stacks of folded linens. The bathroom’s towel rack becomes a holding area for freshly laundered cotton shirts. “The bar can also be helpful when you’re ironing; hang pressed shirts as you work,” suggests Sharkey.
Tip 4: Separate Spaces Visually in Multi-Use Laundry Rooms
Doing laundry isn’t all that happens in the laundry room. This all-purpose space might also function as a mudroom, bathroom, basement or sewing area. While a large room may have curtains or walls to screen laundry facilities, smaller spaces rely on visual separation to achieve the same effect. Delineate clear work spaces for multiple uses to make keeping both areas more organized.
Use containers that keep everything neat as a visual divider for a multi-purpose space. Store laundry items in containers of one color and use another color to keep sewing materials or craft supplies. Paint walls in different colors to maintain visual separation that helps keep items organized. Use rugs to define areas set aside for other purposes.
Tip 5: Consider Space-Saving Appliances
Washers and dryers are major space-takers. Some apartments and small homes can’t accommodate standard appliances and also allow room for you to fold and sort. With too little space, it’s almost impossible to stay clutter-free. Reclaim that space by switching to new appliances with smaller footprints.
This Southern Living article from Sloan Schmidtke shows how a stacked washer and dryer unit tucks into a small space even in a tiny room. All-in-one units are another possibility that free up square footage. When you have room to handle all your laundry-related tasks in one area, the rest of your home stays neater, too.