If doing laundry is not one of your favorite activities, you’re not alone! Many people struggle with the processes involved with doing laundry from getting all the laundry collected to getting it clean and returned to where it belongs. Doing laundry has been referred to “the real Neverending Story,” and one online commenter summed it up this way: “Don’t you just love those 12 seconds when the laundry is done?”
Make your laundry room a priority with storage and organization solutions that make it work for you
If you struggle with developing a workable laundry room system that doesn’t drive you crazy, here are five tips from Tailored Living® that can help make laundry day more efficient whether it’s a once-a-week event or a daily occurrence at your house.
Tip One: Clean machines speed up the process
Have you ever opened your washer to do a load and an unpleasant smell wafted out? That certainly doesn’t put you in the mood to do laundry since the smell will certainly transfer to any clothes you attempt to wash. The smell can be the result of a residue build-up from soaps, dirt, and hard-water minerals that create a bacterial breeding ground, or it could be from wet clothes left in the washer until they get stinky. A washer that never dries out can develop mold in seen and unseen places. Taking steps to keep your washer and dryer clean and ready will eliminate that stress when it’s time to do laundry.
For a clean washer
You should give your washing machine a deep-clean bath every three to six months, empty of any clothes, with a manufacturer-recommended cleaner like Tide’s Washing Machine Cleaner or the household cleaning standby— white vinegar. White vinegar makes a powerful cleaning agent for both top-loading and front-loading washers but check your manufacturer’s recommendations first. (If you’ve lost the manual that came with your machine, look it up online by style or model number.) Some models may prefer chlorine bleach, so in that case use only one-half cup bleach with these same instructions.
- Select the hot water setting and “extra rinse” if your machine has the option, or plan to manually set a second hot water rinse.
- For top-loading washers, add four cups white vinegar and let the drum fill, then stop the cycle and let the vinegar and water sit for at least an hour, then continue to end of cycle, with two rinses.
- For front-loading washers, add two cups white vinegar to the bleach dispenser and let the wash cycle complete, with the additional rinse.
- Use a soft cloth and white vinegar to wipe down the bleach and fabric softener dispensers, lid inside and hinges, using an old toothbrush or small paintbrush to get into all the nooks and crannies. Clean any rubber seals with soapy water.
- To prevent moisture buildup, it’s a good idea to leave the washer lid open so it can dry out completely inside.
Clean machines is the first step to a more enjoyable laundry experience
For an efficient dryer
The two biggest issues with a dryer are clothes left behind and lint, both being problematic. Clothes left behind, especially if still damp, will mildew and make your dryer smell (plus, you’ll ruin the clothes). Lint buildup will lessen your dryer’s efficiency by making it work harder to dry the clothes and it can become a fire hazard over time.
- Always clear the lint trap either before or after every dryer load. A wastebasket in the laundry room makes it quick and easy to toss the mess.
- Additionally, a flexible dryer vent cleaner brush or accessory vacuum cleaner wand will let you remove deeper, internal lint.
- Occasionally wash the lint trap to remove residue from fabric softeners or soap by scrubbing it in the sink with vinegar, water, and a soft brush. Let it dry before replacing in the dryer.
- With a sponge or microfiber cloth, wipe out the drum and the door with a water/vinegar mixture, including the seal that can attract and hold lint.
Tip Two: Develop a system for doing the laundry
Some families have a scheduled laundry day when everything for the week gets washed by mom … if it’s in the hampers. Other households have each person randomly doing their own laundry. Some moms prefer to do it all, collecting, laundering, and returning to ensure it’s all done right. There are even those who do laundry only when there is nothing clean to wear, resulting in marathon laundry weekends and the question with no good answer, “Is this too dirty to wear?” Whatever system works for your family, establishing parameters and organization will make laundry day less stressful for everyone.
- Laundry baskets in bedrooms or the closets make it easy for each person to be responsible to collect all their dirty laundry.
- Set laundry baskets out in the hall on laundry day along with all the empty hangers or bring the baskets to the laundry room if mom’s doing the washing.
- Install hampers or baskets in the laundry room for everyone to deposit their dirty clothes daily. Have a hamper/laundry basket per person or multiple sorting hampers for darks, whites, delicates, dry cleaning, heavily soiled work clothes or uniforms, and pet blankets.
- Where everyone does their own laundry, having a schedule posted can help avoid conflicts: Mom gets Saturday morning, kids one night a week each, etc.
- Post a “how-to” chart showing settings and temperatures for different fabrics and colors as well as how to properly use the machines.
Tip Three: Have all laundry products readily available
Nothing is more frustrating than discovering there’s no laundry soap or fabric softener when you’re ready to do the laundry. By keeping all your laundry essentials together, you’ll be able to keep track of what you have and what you’re running low on, so you’ll never run out. Storing them close to the machines eliminates carrying containers around. Whether you have a small or large laundry room/area, Tailored Living can maximize your space for efficiency so you can make quick work of doing the laundry. Utilizing upper and lower cabinets, drawers, shelves and hanging space, make chaos disappear.
- With a stacked washer and dryer or side by side, custom storage cabinets can turn available space into handy, convenient storage, above, below, and all around your appliances.
- Keep laundry products like soap, fabric softener, stain removers, and bleach handy, but out of sight behind cabinet doors where small children and pets can’t reach.
- Make deep cabinets practical with pullout shelves that provide easy access to all that’s stored.
- Adjustable shelves let you accommodate industrial and super-size detergent boxes as well as shorter spray bottles and smaller items.
- Always stock a backup. When you open a new laundry detergent or fabric softener, put that item on the grocery list so there’s always a spare.
Enclosed cabinets can keep all your laundry essentials safely within reach and hidden from view for a clean and clutter-free laundry room
Tip Four: Space to work, including sorting, folding, and hanging
Without workspace, doing laundry is complicated many times over. You’re left with the floor and the top of the machines as your sorting and folding areas. That might work for sorting dirty clothes but, past that point, the floor is not your friend once things have been washed. Built-in countertops or a folding table you can hide away when not in use create comfortable space for sorting, folding, and stacking clean laundry, letting you move smoothly from task to task.
- Countertop workspace for folding and sorting lets clothes go straight from the dryer to “distribution stacks,” so you only have to handle things once.
- Use hanging rods for air drying and holding clothes on hangers for family members to collect and take to their rooms.
- Hanging space in the laundry room provides quick storage for clothes as you’re working, including permanent hanging rods and hooks or portable racks you can wheel about.
- Hang-dry items require space and time to dry properly and hanging items right out of the dryer eliminate wrinkles and ironing.
- Don’t send clothes that need repair back to the bedrooms, have a basket set aside for needed repairs or a sewing kit in the laundry room for fixing buttons and hems on the spot.
Tip Five: How to remove pesky stains
It goes without saying that stains are the bane of laundry day. Nothing can derail your momentum like a mustard stain on a favorite shirt. The only thing worse than finding a stain as you’re sorting is finding a stain as you are removing clothes from the dryer. Dryer heat can set stains, making them permanent. Checking for stains as you load the washer is critical so you can pretreat stains prior to washing. All stains are not created equal, and oil-based stains require different treatment than blood, baby formula, or adhesives. For a comprehensive Stain Removal Guide, you can thank the American Cleaning Institute®, or opt for a Stain Removal Cheat Sheet, short enough to post in your laundry room.
- Post a stain removal chart inside the cabinet door where laundry products and stain removers are kept for quick reference.
- Deal with a stain as quickly as early as possible because the less time a stain has to soak in, the easier it will be to remove.
- Always check the care labels if unsure how to clean specific items, especially if dealing with stains.
- An integrated laundry sink makes it easier to soak or pre-treat stains as well as rinse heavily soiled items before they go into the washer.
- Have sufficient lighting in the laundry area so you can clearly see colors and stains. Add under-cabinet LED lights over the countertops.
Laundry day your way
Don’t let the task of laundry run rings around you (no pun intended), you can control all the processes with innovative storage and organization solutions that fit the way you work. Your local Tailored Living consultant can help you design space that will streamline laundry at your house. Call 866-712-3404 to schedule a free, in-home consultation or virtual* consultation or go online to www.tailoredliving.com to find a designer near you and make laundry day stress a thing of the past.
*Virtual consultations may not be available at every location