Keep Your Laundry Moving: Four Steps to Optimizing Your Laundry Room
Posted on July 12 2017
Organizing any workspace comes down to the basic principles of process improvement. It’s very simple, really. Evaluate the way things are done, look for wasted time or efforts, and eliminate them from your process. In a nutshell, “stop doing wasteful things.”
The laundry room is no different. This is a workstation in your home, just like the kitchen or your home office. Getting organized at home takes strategy, but it’s worth the effort. When individual spaces are treated as workstations, life gets a little simpler.
The laundry room is one of those spots in the house that often ends up multitasking. For some homes, the laundry room doubles as a mudroom or entryway into the house. For other homes, it is a standalone room that for some unknown reason is also a catch-all zone. These situations can be managed if we start to look at the laundry room as having a primary purpose that determines what lives there and what happens there.
If your laundry room actually does have more than one purpose, such as also being a rear entry to the house or a storage area, that’s fine – you simply need to address its organisation with the mindset of working around these primary and secondary purposes… and removing everything else. If it doesn’t actually need to be two things at once, it’s ok to let it just be a laundry room!
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the process of organising your laundry room like an actual workstation.
If you have no experience in a corporate or industrial setting, this example may take some imagination. But picture your laundry room as being the central hub for a company that is producing a product or providing a service. Everything else in the establishment comes through this one workstation to be processed and made presentable to the world. That makes for a lot of pressure to make sure that time and energy is well-managed in this workstation! You don’t want to waste time on unnecessary steps because the result will be a bottleneck that creates a backlog.
The reality is, your laundry room functions like this in a very real way. Think about it. Your family wears the clothes and uses the linens every single day! The dirty laundry makes its way from all corners of the house to this one central location with the goal of then being processed and made presentable, with everything being redistributed back to their homes, ideally before the next time they are needed.
For this to happen, your laundry room needs to be a focus for your optimization efforts. Here are some of our top decluttering tips for your laundry room:
Figure out what products you actually use and toss everything else.
When you realize there is a single detergent you tend to buy more of, and the rest just kind of accumulate in your laundry room, it’s time to optimize that wasted space. Either use up the stuff that’s not your favourite, or donate it, but get it out of there.
Make your space work for you, not against you. Figure out what you use the most, and make room to stock up. It’s the best feeling in the world when you get to the last drop or scoop… and simply reach up and open a new container, instead of letting the work pile up until you get a chance to pick up more.
Prioritize your processes and have the right set up.
The process for getting laundry through is not a complicated one. But if your laundry room has been doing double duty, it’s possible that the process is being hampered (pun intended) because of other tasks you’ve been trying to manage in the same space.
One mom realized she was sabotaging her laundry process by trying to sort the recycling in the same space – and there simply wasn’t enough room for both processes! An easy fix was to set up the recycling station somewhere else. Give laundry its due, and make it the priority over any other task that has been happening in this busy area of your home. Recycling, storing cleaning supplies, and having somewhere to kick off your shoes – these are all necessary, but whatever goes along with them can be cluttering up your laundry room. Move what you can so that bottleneck scenario isn’t a chronic problem.
Prepare your workstation with the tools of the trade.
A good space-saving tip is to mount a shelf with a stout rod beneath it for hanging those clean clothes. Keep your stock of products on the shelf, and other useful items – such as a bin in which you can toss items that your kids are outgrowing. It’s so satisfying to pull something out of the dryer that is starting to not quite fit anymore, and then toss it in your bun until it is time to make the next donation to the thrift store.
When you bring the dirty clothes and linens to the laundry room… bring empty hangers with you! Think about what happens sometimes when the dryer is finished. There are no empty hangers there waiting to be used… so you go to get some. You get side-tracked by something else on your way and a few hours later, you remember you were doing laundry.
This is referred to as “lag time.” Your dryer could have been running another cycle, but instead, it was doing… honestly, the closet’s job. It was storing clean clothes, although not very efficiently (unless you like the wrinkled look).
When the dryer is finished, if you have a rod right there with plenty of empty hangers, nothing prevents you from hanging everything up and putting them away right then and there. Don’t wait until you need something to have it available. A prepped workstation is a useful workstation. If you don’t have a place to hang clothes right above or next to your dryer, that’s the first order of business.
Another tip for organising the laundry room is to use collapsible laundry bins that can be out of the way when they aren’t needed. Hampers work great for sorting the dirty laundry, but in especially small laundry rooms, collapsible bins are nice for transporting freshly folded items to their end destination. When everything is delivered, simply fold up the bins and tuck them away. As much as you can, leave surfaces empty when your workstation is not in use so those surfaces are available the next time you need them.
Simplify your process.
That bin for gathering items you plan to donate can make a world of difference. Outgrown items that get put away take up valuable space in drawers and closets, and often create unnecessary work if they make it back in the laundry rotation by accident. Or perhaps they sit on your work surface, taking up valuable space there instead. Either way, you end up with the same result: more work as you shuffle stuff around and run the risk of them getting mixed back into your loads. This is often another major culprit for laundry backlog!
It all goes back to that mantra – “stop doing wasteful things.” If there isn’t sufficient room for putting away clean clothes, we procrastinate putting them away. If our surfaces are cluttered, we have to make room to work. Good processes are easy to complete. Make room for what is currently in use by getting everything else out of the way.
Make it easy to access what you need when you need it, make it easy to clean, and easy to put away.
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The bottom line is, it’s important to have clean clothes and linens. So make it easy to access what you need when you need it, make it easy to clean, and easy to put away.
How have your organized your laundry room? Share your tips below!