It seems like the laundry room, as a space for cleaning clothing, should be a clean space. So why does my laundry room tend to accumulate so much stuff and get so dirty?
I don't entirely know the answer to that question. Our laundry room is the basement, so I think it picks up more dirt than I imagine an upstairs laundry room would, but I couldn't say for sure. Mostly, it's probably just my fault. If you want to keep a space neat and clean, it requires some effort.
I use my laundry room to wash and dry laundry, line dry laundry (we line dry almost all of our clothing), and to store things. One corner of the room is sort of a bathroom. If your house has only one real bathroom and a toilet in the laundry room, you'd accept that, too. I have a sewing machine down there that I don't use because it's never accessible. Who wants to add a cleaning project to a sewing project? Not me.
The laundry room before I cleaned:
Here's I tackled my messy laundry room:
- Set goals for the project. Think about how you use the space and what you'd like to be able to do there. My goals were to get rid of as much stuff as possible, clean all the surfaces, and better organize the stuff I kept.
- Clear the room as much as possible. First, I took out all the easy stuff, such as clean laundry that should go upstairs, trash, and move-able things, like my drying rack This made it easier to work through everything else.
- Divide the room into segments. This helps make the project seem less overwhelming. My segments were: 1) shelves by the door, 2) sewing table and surrounding area, 3) bathroom area and washer and dryer, 4) folding table, cabinets, and floor underneath, and 5) the large filing cabinet. I hoped to get through them all over the course of the week, but ended up doing everything in one day. If I had been thinking about doing the entire room, though, I don't think I would have started.
- Clean surfaces as you go. I wiped down shelves and swept floors as I went. I also took out the trash and recycling (from the file cabinets) as I filled the containers, and I moved everything to be given away or donated to another area of the basement.
- Organize and declutter. This was the big challenge! I asked myself what I needed to keep and got rid of the rest. Everything fits into the space now, with a little room to spare. Some things went up to the attic, such as a box of gift wrapping supplies I found. I think I could declutter more with a second go-round, which I may do sometime soon.
- Wash curtains and walls, and consider decorating if you haven't already. You spend time in this room so it's nice to feel comfortable. Washing the curtains really freshened the room. Thanks to my new hanging ironing area organizer and the access to an outlet the removal of the file cabinet gave me, I was able to easily iron them, too.
- Improve the space. If you don't already have them, consider adding big organizational tools to your laundry room, such as cabinets and a clothes hanging rack. If I find myself repeatedly wishing I had a tool, I go ahead and buy it.
And here are the results:
All in all, I find the space much more inviting now, and a more pleasing area to work in. I know where my things are, so I won't have to do as much searching when I take on a project.
You can easily see from the pictures that our laundry room is in a semi-finished state. We built it shortly after we moved in so we could have parties in our basement and the only finished walls are on the outside of the room. Someday we'll probably get around to hanging drywall inside and maybe painting the floor, but it's not a high priority now.
All said and done, this project took me about six hours and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. All that remains is getting the stuff I'm giving away and donating out of the basement. This can be a tricky step, one I've screwed up in the past. It's too easy to let the donation pile sit there for weeks on end. Lucky for me, my husband doesn't mind running loads to the thrift store near our house so whatever I haven't given away by this time next week, I'll box up for donation.
I made a bunch of trips to the recycling dumpster with papers from the filing cabinet, taking things out as I went so I wouldn't have a lot of trips at the end. And I'm happy to report that I no longer need the filing cabinet! I re-homed some files to other places, but the main difference was throwing things out. It's amazing what I kept over time. I guess I thought I was in pre-Internet days, when hard copies of things were needed.
I found a box of files marked "old files" that hadn't been touched since we moved into this house eight years ago. It was covered in dryer lint. I threw it out without even going through the files. Sheesh.