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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

My Laundry Room: The Good, the Bad, and My Wish List

My laundry room is a working space. It doesn't look like those seen in magazine spreads, featuring images of gorgeous rooms to be shown off to guests. Nonetheless, I'm extremely grateful to have a laundry room. For the eight years that we lived in rentals, I hauled our laundry to a nearby laundromat on a twice-a-week basis, even with all of our babies in cloth diapers. So, to even have a spot in the house where a washer and dryer could be hooked up is fantastic. I'll tell you a little more about my laundry room, some of the frugal things that transpire in there, and what I'd like to change about it.

The Good

My laundry room is between the kitchen and the garage, which makes it easily accessible for my work.

The laundry room also has a half-bath attached which is primarily used for visitors. 

I think the previous owners used these hooks on the wall for jackets, hats and scarves. We use them for a variety of hanging needs -- hanging some of our laundry to dry, the occasional umbrella, and to hang a couple of bags to hold dirty rags and used latex gloves until I can wash a load.

About the latex gloves -- we're continuing to wear gloves when we go out to get necessities, unload the trunk of groceries from curbside pick-ups, travel on public transportation, work in-person for my daughters, as well as when cleaning the house. I bought 2 boxes of gloves in the spring. When I realized how quickly we were going through them all, I began washing them after each wearing. 

After we use a pair of gloves, we put them in the bag on the wall hook along with the cleaning rags. Rags and gloves get washed in hot water together. The gloves are pulled out of the washer and placed on top of the dryer to air dry, while the rags dry in the dryer. After the gloves have dried, I put them in a jar labeled "clean gloves" which normally is kept on a stand by the door. We don't want to use up supply that is needed by health care workers, so are willing to wash, dry, and reuse the gloves that we did buy. Wearing gloves may seem like overkill, but no one really knows how the new variants are more contagious, just that they are. Our family chooses to be more cautious.

Our washer and dryer are 26 year-old Maytags, made back when Maytags really were Maytags. Who remembers the lonely Maytag repairman? The guy was lonely because he was rarely called out for repairs. My husband has done the very few repairs that have been necessary. We intend to keep these running for as long as possible. 

There's a 5-inch gap between the two units. Not terribly attractive, but this is where we stash the tabletop ironing board, a sweater drying rack, a broom, and the Swiffer mop. I'm trying to make use of the available space.

There are two jugs of laundry detergent/soap kept on the dryer. The smaller one (yellow cap) is commercial detergent that my daughter bought in order to keep her newest white t-shirt white. The larger one is full of homemade soap. I melt a bar of ivory soap in a pot of water on the stove, then I thin with lots of water and add a small amount of commercial detergent or liquid dish soap to boost cleaning effectiveness. (We acquired a bunch of samples of fragrance-free detergent last year. I add 2 sample packs to each bottle of melted soap.) My husband says he prefers the homemade soap mixture. I prefer it on towels, sheets, underwear, socks, and t-shirts. It keeps those items super soft. I should mention, we have soft water here. I suspect that melted bar soap would not clean as well in hard water.

This is one of two laundry racks. We keep the other in a corner of the kitchen for drying sweaters, large plastic bags, and tablecloths. In summer, I use both of the racks to dry additional items in the sun on the deck.

The cabinet in the laundry room is an all-purpose cleaning supply and household stuff cabinet. 

These are our cleaning rags. They include worn clothing items, old bathroom and kitchen towels, and a couple of microfiber towels. I don't bother to fold them simply because I'd rather do other things with my time. I just stuff them into the space -- it works for us.

As you can see, I have an assortment of cleaning supplies, from bars of soap, hand sanitizers and rubbing alcohol, to Mrs. Meyer's sprays, bath and tile sprays, sponges, and jugs of bleach.

On the bottom shelf is a rubbermaid container used for making bleach wipes for wiping the knobs and switches in our house. There's a pair of heavy duty gloves sitting on top of the container for wearing when using the bleach wipes. 

The previous owners had painted the laundry room blue. About a dozen years ago, I painted the walls pale yellow and trim white. With so many of our days feeling dark to me in the PNW, I thought pale yellow would feel like the sun was shining, even when it's not.

The Bad

The laundry room is small and doesn't have a door to close off its noise from the rest of the house.

The access to the powder room is through the laundry room.

The only counter area for folding clean laundry is on top of the washer and dryer. And clean, dry laundry often sits in a basket on the floor for days before any of it is folded.

There's no space for a sorting area, so we keep our dirty laundry in other spots in the house. But maybe that's a good thing, as guests have to go through the laundry room to access the half-bath.

It needs something to liven it up.

I need to organize the cabinet space better. The second to the bottom shelf has cans of paint, car stuff, and other items that could really be stored elsewhere. I just need to do the work.

My Wish List

I'd like to add some shelves or a cabinet on the wall above the dryer. Any suggestions?

I'd also like a larger window above the washer. The current window is small and a bit high on the wall.

And I'd like a better storage place for the mop and broom, perhaps on the inside of the door of the tall cabinet.

Obviously, I'd love a larger laundry room, with space for a waist-high countertop and a bench to sit and take off shoes or boots. But that's much more than is possible, given our space.

Tell me about your laundry space -- the good, the bad, and your wish list.


  1. My previous home has a small laundry area that was shared with a toilet and shower and sink. It has a door to the outside for easy clothesline access. The home we are in now has the laundry room in the basement but it has a clothes folding table that we also use as a sewing/mending table and my sewing machine sits under the table where a chair can also get pushed into. We have used that table as a study table as well. I have a full sized door for access under the steps in that room also that I use to store luggage, cleaning supplies and now my new food storage area. Next to that room is the space for the furnace, hot water heater, water pump access, water softener and now my office is there too. I share my space with the kitty litter box as well. I've made a nice cozy office down there. I also have a sliding door to shut if I need privacy for a meeting. This is all on one half of the basement. The other half is finished with a bathroom with a toilet and shower and sink. It has a living room area on one end and a bed on the other end but no door for privacy. My son lived there for many years until he moved into his own home at Thanksgiving week. That room also has a full sized for and steps going up to access the backyard. We don't use that door because it doesn't close well. Someday, we need to get that looked at.

    I love the tour of your laundry room, Lili, it just shows that plain can be good and workable. I don't mind my small house because as the kids leave it becomes big again.


    1. Hi Alice,
      I love that you've been able to set up office space for your work-from-home. I've never lived in a house with a basement. But I can imagine a basement offers lots of workspace for all kinds of projects.
      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Our laundry room works okay for us. It's in a busy area in that there are doors to the backyard, a bathroom, the kitchen, and the basement all in the area. The rest of the house is pretty well designed, so I don't know why they made this choke point with all of the doors. We've taken the door to the basement off to help with things.

    When we moved, we consolidated all of the cleaning products into the closet associated with the laundry room. Although, we have to carry them different places sometimes, it still works better for us than to have them scattered about the house. The closet was originally set up as a clothes closet but we converted it into a cleaning closet. Along with the cleaning supplies, it also has the brooms, mops, and vacuum cleaner. There is no place to fold clothes, but I am pretty good about taking them promptly out of the dryer to fold them on my bed. The threat of the clothes wrinkling and then needing additional attention motivates me to fold them in a timely manner.

    We installed a couple of long open shelves above the washer and dryer that house all kinds of things like indoor tools, paper towels, etc. They look messy, but function reasonably well. I'm not sure of the age of the washer and dryer, but they are older. We plan to keep them as long as we can in that they work much better than the newer models we left at our old house.

    As for improvements, the dryer vent hose pushes the dryer into the room and makes the back door tight to open and close. I'm not sure if we can get a different vent or not. The ceiling is stained from a chimney leak and walls are definitely worse for the wear. The whole room needs to be painted. We have a laundry sink between the washer and dryer and I would like to get a board to lay on top of it to have a surface to work on. I sometimes use that area to do some potting and that would help a lot.

    But right now, we are going to focus on our kitchen. Redoing it to make it more functional for us was one of the first things we were going to do when we moved in. Well, it's four years later, and we're going to move forward. We hope that by the time we get all of the planning done, the COVID problems will have died down some and we've feel okay about having workers in our house. And as part of the kitchen redo, the laundry room floor will probably change since they all flow together.

    1. Hi Live and Learn,
      A work sink would be a good addition to my own laundry room, if there was space. I like that your work sink also provides a spot for potting plants.

      Our kitchen was also at the top of our priority list when we moved in, and rightly so, given how much time and work goes on in a kitchen compared to other rooms of the house. Good luck with your plans!

  3. Haha, laundry room. My washer and dryer are in our unfinished basement. We have frequent problems with the washer becoming unbalanced and yes, we've tried all the tricks to keep it balanced. It is what it is. Our concrete floor is not level so that adds to the issues. Like L&L mentioned, our washer and dryer are older but our plumber told me to keep them running as long as possible as the new models don't work as well. If it sounds like laundry is a challenge, it is! But I'm grateful to have them in my house and we make it work.

    Lili, my basement is painted a golden color and my living room is the palest shade of yellow imaginable. I did it that way for the same reason you did, to bring warmth and light on our frequent overcast days.

    1. Hi Kris,
      Keeping our washer and dryer running as long as possible has been our plan, too, for the same reason. I love the look of newer front-loaders, but I don't want to forfeit reliability for appearance. Good luck to you on the balance issues. I would imagine that the washer in the basement, away from other home areas, means that you don't discover the washer is off balance until you go downstairs thinking you'll transfer the load to the dryer, then discover the wash cycle isn't done after all.

      I forget that your area also has a lot of overcast days. I think warm wall colors help.
      Thanks for sharing!

  4. Our washer and dryer were in the basement before and in the beginning I liked the exercise I got from going up and down the stairs. After a while, my knees were not as happy with the arrangement. The washer drained into a sink and then the water was pumped up and out of the house. In the beginning, the pump didn't work on automatic as it was supposed to, so the previous owners had installed a switch to turn on with each load. As you can guess, we were not used to having an extra switch to turn on, so we forgot more than once and had big floods as a result. After a couple of those, we installed a new pump that started automatically. That was better, but occasionally it failed, too. I am happy now that our washer empties with a gravity flow and doesn't have to be pumped up and out.

    1. Oh my goodness, Live and Learn. I just know we would have flooded a basement every week if I'd had to remember to flip a switch, let alone other members of the family having to remember that very important detail.

  5. For the past 20 years, I have only had full size stackable washer and dryer in a closet. As much as I would have loved a laundry room, especially when we had 5 kids home, it forces me to get clothes out of the dryer and put away asap. I try to minimize extra work - take out of dryer, fold, put away - because I don't like to do laundry at all. I guess I'm lazy that way! If I had a laundry room I would probably get lax. Yours looks great - could you put a rod above your washer and dryer and only use the right side to hang clothes? That way you wouldn't block the window. I guess it would depend on how tall you are also :)

    1. Hi Ruthie,
      Oh, that must have been difficult at times with 5 kids and such a small laundry space.
      A rod is a great idea, thank you!


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