Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Stuff a Laundry Room into a Closet

Here is the "liberation from laundry" system I've taught moms for years. 

I designed our dream home with a DREAM laundry room. And then instead of building, we purchased a spec home, with a laundry CLOSET instead of a room.

So I went to work transforming our laundry closet into a super functional laundry “room”! 

It's amazing what a few simple shelves, bins, and a hanging rod can do to transform a closet.

Here is our empty laundry closet system. 
    This is our laundry system in use. This picture includes a couple bins missing in the picture above -- hand-me-downs and clothes that need a special wash cycle.

  • For clean laundry, each person gets their own labeled bin, plus a bin for for rags and a bin for towels and sheets.
  • For dirty laundry, there are bins for darks, lights, and whites.
  • I include a few other bins for clothes to give away, hand-me-down clothes to store in the basement, and clothes that need a special wash cycle like soaking or delicate cycle.
  • We use wall space to hang wire storage shelving for laundry supplies, and a nail in the wall to hold a sweater bag.  We use a "hang dry" sign with poster putty on the washer to remind us something in that batch needs to hang dry.

My philosophy is to make laundry as simple and quick as possible, so it won't be overwhelming and pile up. 

Here are my favorite tips to make laundry more quick and simple, and less overwhelming. I call it "liberation from laundry." 

I do very little folding!  

The mom's job is just to wash, dry, hang, and place in bins.  That's it. I DON'T fold and put all that laundry away every day.  That's the most overwhelming part that makes you walk to everyone's bedrooms each day.  So I hang anything I don't want wrinkled, and toss the rest into bins, like pajamas, underwear, socks, rags and towels. The hanging rod is also an easy place to hang dry clothes. 
I almost never put clothes away!  

Once a week each person takes his or her bin and hanging clothes and puts their own clothes away. My oldest two children do the towels and help with preschoolers’ clothes. We do this each Wednesday as part of morning chores. Another good time to do this is between family home evening and treats – you’ll be amazed at the family’s speed and cooperation when a treat is waiting!
Even a two- or three-year old can put away clothes if you make it easy enough.

  1. Place pictures on their drawers or bins.
  2. Teach them how, then do it with them until they’re old enough to do it on their own, around five years old. Of course it won’t look as good as when you do it, but remember you’re raising responsible children, not perfect drawers of clothing. An older child can be assigned to help a younger child. If your child helps draw, cut, or tape the labels on they’re more likely to put their clothes away.
I almost never mate socks!  

I buy a unique package of white socks for each person, toss those into their bin, and the owner puts them away. They don’t even have to mate their own because all their white socks match the rest. If the socks are hard to tell apart, use a laundry marker to initial the bottom of each sock. Some people use a different mesh zipper bag to wash each person’s socks. Others have family members pin each pair together, using clothes pins or safety pins. If several people wear the same size socks, buy lots of that type and have a shared sock bin in the bathroom or bedroom. Now only dress socks need to be mated, and each person can mate their own, because your job is to simply toss them in the owner’s bin.

I never fold dish towels or rags! 

Just toss them in the drawer – nobody else cares. In our house “spill rags” are stored in a low kitchen drawer and can be used for spilled juice, dusting, or cleaning. This saves nice dish towels from getting stained. If spill rags are stored with the rest they can be a certain color or marked with an “S.”  
Liberate yourself from washing towels every day.  

Replace towel rods with a row of hooks, then assign each person a hook and a towel. Once a week wash the batch of towels together and rehang. If somebody wants theirs washed more often, they can throw their own in the laundry. 
Having less clothes means feeling less overwhelmed. 

Help your child choose their ten favorite outfits (or any amount) for summer, and ten for winter. Placing a D.I. box in the laundry room makes it quick and easy to de-clutter clothes that are too small, stained, or torn.

Make laundry less overwhelming by doing it more often.  Laundry never piles up, gets mildewed, or wrinkled!  

It’s no longer overwhelming now that it takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to do a load or two each morning. The dreaded mountains of laundry are a thing of the past! You save time and wrinkles by hanging, folding, and tossing right when you take clothes out of the dryer.

Do a batch or two every morning.  Laundry never piles up, gets mildewed, or wrinkled. It’s no longer overwhelming now that it takes only a few minutes, so it’s easy to do a load or two each morning. The dreaded mountains of laundry are a thing of the past! You save time and wrinkles by hanging, folding, and tossing right when you take clothes out of the dryer. 

One mother of nine stays home every Monday and does all the laundry while she works on phone calls and paperwork. Another mom reserves Monday and Friday for laundry and cleaning, leaving the rest of the week open for errands and outings. 

Teach family members to empty their own pockets. 

Announce that Mom now gets to keep anything (money, treats) she finds in pockets.
Here's a trick not to forget rotating your laundry. 

Do you have a problem remembering to rotate your laundry, and then find smelly clothes days later?  Attach laundry to a daily task, like rotating a load after putting the baby down for naps and bedtime. Or after each meal. Another idea is to set a timer in your main living area, or use a timer on a digital watch if the dryer is too far away to hear the buzzer.
No more tangled hangers. 

If you don’t like hassling with tangled metal hangers replace them with sturdy plastic ones.  
I almost never iron!  

Here are three ways to prevent ironing: 1) remove clothes from of the dryer and hang them right away 2) buy wrinkle-free clothes 3) spray cotton clothes with a squirt bottle and smooth with hands to remove wrinkles 4) use a commercial wrinkle removal spray A way to find each person's hanging clothes faster. 

If you hang up most of your family’s clothing, make it easy to hang and to find each person’s clothes by dividing the hanging bar into sections using fun foam. Or assign each family member a different color of hangers. How to get all those hangers back from closets. 

Teach family members to hook hangers onto the hamper so they automatically go to the laundry room. No more searching for hangers when you need them. Another idea is to have family members bring their empty hangers back the day they put away their clean laundry. Teach family members to sort their own laundry. 

Have three different colored hampers: white, dark, and light. Or you may choose to havepeople use a central hamper, and you sort into piles or bins in the laundry room. Do whatever is easy for you. You might assign a child the job of bringing the hampers from aroundthe house into the laundry room, or you gather them as you pick up the house each morning. Teach family members to check clothing for spots. 

Store the pre-spot cleaner near the hamper, and spray spots when they’re fresh. Or place a small laundry bin nearby just for items that need pre-spot treatment. Teach children to do their own laundry starting around age 8-10. 

Do it with your children until they’re skilled. If your kids are too young, you can do one child’s laundry each day. I only wash whites a couple times a week (usually Mondays and Thursdays) and I often offer for the kids to bring me their white church shirts or blouses for those batches, because I don’t want my kids dealing with bleach. If you can spare a room, consider setting up a whole room as a laundry center and clothes closet for the whole family like the Duggars have.

Here's another great whole-room laundry system that my friend AnnMarie Norton  uses.


Tasha L. said...

Fabulous ideas! Thanks for sharing!

Amber said...

Awesome! We use throw anything that doesn't get dried into Mesh Lingerie Bags. That way, whoever moves clothes from the Washer to the Dryer knows to leave bags those aside.

Tina Hill said...

Love it ! For the closet style laundry room what size hanging pole and what size are the bins for each persons personal bin? Mom with five still at home and would so like to gain control over mountain of clean laundry
Thank you! !

Jenn said...

I did this! You've transformed t the way I do laundry and it is a hundred times easier!! Thanks so much for your ideas, they're fantastic!!

Becky Edwards said...

Jenn, I'm so glad you've found some good tips to help transform your laundry life! This has made a huge difference for me too! I'd love to see before and after pics if you want to send them!