The laundry closet is a curious corner of the home. It accumulates lint, papers, single socks in search of their mates, buttons, overflow storage and – strangely enough – shoes. Whenever something needs to be hidden quickly, it gets stored on top of the washer and dryer. When laundry day arrives, the additional labor associated with even just getting to the machines makes the entire process frustrating. Although you declare time and again that this would be the very last washing day that you would have to clean and organize the laundry closet before doing laundry, the clutter still accumulates. What’s the reluctant organizer to do? Easy!
Empty the laundry closet. Take out everything, including the machines. You’ll be in for some surprises. I remember finding a particularly well-hidden holiday present next to the washer once (three years after that particular Christmas season had passed); too bad it was intended for my youngster when he was still in diapers.
A blank canvas? Is the paint in good shape or are the walls dingy and the ceiling in even worse shape? Now is a good time to either wash down the walls, wallpaper or primer and paint. Take a look at the floor next; is it in good repair or does it call out for a new sheet of linoleum?
Pegboard is your friend. Unless you want to incur the expense of hanging wood shelves or cabinetry, consider adding pegboard. Cleaning and organizing a laundry room does not have to expensive when you rely on steel pegboard panels that hold hook-in shelves. Best of all, the pegs make the entire storage area adjustable. Whether you buy at the big box warehouse store — where the laundry detergent is sold in huge containers — or you prefer the smaller grocery store sizes, pegboard shelving is the most forgiving and can be adjusted on a whim. Hang it behind the washing machine and the dryer, next to the appliances or wherever else there may be room in the laundry closet.
The three-box approach. When the machines are once again safely ensconced in the laundry closet, take a good look at the remainder of the junk, clutter and items you took out. Separate the items into three boxes: trash and recycling, stuff for the kids to go through and the ‘get to it later pile.’ If you’re like me, the odds are good that you have some half-empty, almost-empty and backup dryer sheet boxes and liquid fabric softener as well as detergent samples. Consolidate where you can and toss the stuff that has gotten gooey. Give the kids an ultimatum to look through the box with their stuff by dinner or it’s gone. Give yourself a month before dealing with the ‘get to it later’ box. If you can put it into a closet and not once look inside or take out something, it’s most likely useless and it should be donated, recycled or thrown away.
Doors: the wasted space. If you still encounter the weekly struggle with the ironing board, consider investing in a hanging model that you could attach to the laundry closet door. Depending on the door setup, you should be able to open the closet door completely and unfold the board. Even if there is no ironing to do, the surface does double duty as a folding station.
Let there be light. Another reason why the laundry closet frequently turns into overflow central is directly related to the lack of illumination. Darkness covers a multitude of clutter and the single bulb with the drawstring does not inspire order. Buy some nicer lights that can plug in or are battery operated; an attractively lit laundry closet is much less likely to once again end up on the receiving end of the family’s clutter.
More by Sylvia Cochran:
Organize Your Home in a Week and Remove Clutter in 30 Minutes a Day
How to Clean a Dishwasher, Smells and All
Room-by-Room Cleaning Solutions for the Domestic Goddess in Training