Saturday, January 23, 2010

Stump the Organizer Saturday! Organizing The Laundry Room


"My laundry room is really small and dark. My husband and kids leave their clothes all over the floor so it's hard to get the washer. I hate doing laundry but wading through stinky clothes is just gross. Any ideas to get my laundry room a little nicer?"

It sounds like one of the first things to do is tackle laundry collection. If family members are responsible for bringing their own laundry to the laundry room, then make it easy for them by putting a hamper right by the door. Also add a sorting hamper on wheels. Consider getting a hamper that has a hanger bar such as Whitmor's Supreme Laundry Center found at Stacks and Stacks. The addition of the bar over the sorting hamper provides a place to hang clothes directly from the dryer. Make sure the sorting hamper has wheels so you can move it around the room.

Ultimately, you will want your family to sort their laundry directly into the sorting hamper. Since your family is currently tossing their clothes on the floor, the first step is to simply encourage them to put the laundry into the hamper. After they master the first step, then teach them how to sort. Tell your family how helpful it is for them to put the laundry in the hamper - praise the positive a lot. Changing behavior in a step-by-step manner with praise is called shaping behavior, and it is a very powerful technique.

Of course if walking into the laundry room is like walking into the cave of doom, you'll need to lighten the place up. Light-colored paint and proper lighting can make a world of difference. Wall sconces will provide warmer lighting than the overhead florescent units and are much more attractive. Consider painting the floor with a paint specifically made for the basement floor (like an epoxy). One of my clients, an artist by trade, painted a window looking out to a field of flowers in her windowless laundry room. If a mural is beyond your painting skills, find a beautiful poster to hang on the wall. The point of the paint and the art is to transform the room into a place that you will feel comfortable in. The last creature comfort is a radio or small TV.

Yes, I am normally anti-multitasking, but you can get away with it when one of the tasks if fairly mindless and the other task is also simple. A little entertainment will make the time fly while you're working.

Make the room more efficient with a few additions.
* Add track shelves above the washer and dryer to hold laundry supplies.
* To preserve precious floor space, mount a drying rack on the wall over the sink. The Leifheit Telegant Mounted Clothes Dryer is sturdy and the rack disappears into the case when not in use (available at Amazon).
* An Elfa drawer system provides a place for each family member's clean laundry and the melamine top is the perfect place to fold laundry. The wire baskets can be removed so the clothes can be carried to each person's room. Use one drawer per person. Elfa is available at The Container Store. The annual Elfa sale is going on now so you can create your own custom drawer system and save 30% until the end of the month.

Truth be told, laundry is far from my favorite chore. I sort the laundry every day. If I see that one of the sorting bins is full, I do a load. Sometimes I do two loads and sometimes I have the day off (wa-hoo!). Dealing with a small amount of laundry on a daily basis is so much easier than dealing with a weekly mountain of laundry. I found the latter made me resentful while the former is just part of the routine.

Good luck Colleen! Thank you for your question. Colleen has nominated St. Jude's Children Hospital to the charity drawing.
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