Oh the task of doing laundry. You can either love it or hate it, but it has to be done for sure. We live in an apartment so there’s only so much room for laundry tasks, but we make it work. There are some features though that you don’t want to skimp on.
As an occupational therapist I work with individuals on figuring out ways to make this task easier whether it’s getting the clothes in/out of the machines, reaching items, or folding and putting the clothes away – there’s a lot that goes into this seemingly simple task.
Checkout all these tips and make yourself a stress free laundry zone – ha ok as stress free as possible.
1. Laundry area should be in a location without steps required for access.
There are numerous reasons why steps can make laundry difficult, but having NO steps makes it much easier to move clothes to/from other rooms.
It’s ideal to have the laundry area located on the main floor. If laundry is not in the same unit as its occupants, provide a space on site that’s easy to get to without having to go up and down stairs. This is easier for individuals as they’re carrying loads of laundry as well as for those who have trouble going up and down steps.
2. Laundry areas adjacent to the master bedroom are simply convenient.
The main source of laundry in many households is the master bedroom. If minimal travel through a home with loads of clothes – clean or dirty – is necessary, the home’s convenience and ease-of-use will be better.
3. Front-loaders are user-friendly for everyone.
Some individuals have difficulty leaning forward, down, and into a machine to reach clothing. Those seated or of short stature will have trouble seeing inside machines that are not front loaders.
4. Make sure the doors of the machines open away from each other.
Make sure machine doors don’t get in the way of transferring wet clothes from the washer into the dryer.
5. Push buttons are easy to operate.
Avoid machines with controls that require turning or pulling motions. This is helpful for individuals with limited hand/finger function, or anyone with full hands.
6. Displays should be easy to read, with good contrast and large type.
This increases usability for those who have difficulty with vision, and it’s helpful in areas with less than ideal lighting.
7. Stackable options may be good space savers, but aren’t always functional.
Some stackable washer/dryers may require someone to reach beyond what’s comfortable and/or easy in order to operate the controls and gather clothing from inside. Consider all users and plan for easy access from either a seated or standing position.
Pedestals (or any stand) can bring front-load washers and dryers to a height that works well for anyone seated or standing to operate the machines with greater ease. Front controls are easier to reach compared to traditional machines that require one to stretch across the top of the washer/dryer to operate. Clothing is also easier to gather and transfer from one machine to the next when easily reached.
9. Create enough floor space around the washer and dryer to move with ease.
Most laundry rooms are rather small, which makes it difficult to open the doors of washers and dryers with any room to spare. An area with an open 5×5’ (60×60”) of floor space provides all individuals the space needed to take care of the tasks at hand.
If a 5×5’ space isn’t realistic, 36-48” in front of the machines is also functional, even if that space extends into a hallway or another room.
10. Hanging storage should be reachable from a seated or standing position.
Whether you’re looking to put clothes on a hanger, store a coat on a hook, or place wet clothes up to dry, all storage should be easily reached. Low and high options create the most flexibility with a variety of members in the household. Anything less than 42” from the floor will be reachable by most everyone.
11. Laundry supplies should be easily reachable.
Soap, fabric softener, and stain remover should be stored in a safe and easily reachable location. This could be on low, open shelving or in cabinets with shelves that pull out or down. Items less than 42” from the floor will be reachable by most everyone.
Note: some supplies need to be out of reach of children. A cabinet with locking doors may be preferred, though inner contents should be at a reasonable height for all.
12. Plan for a place to sort or fold clothes.
This is useful in minimizing the effort and time spent with laundry. Avoid unnecessary bending or reaching due to less-than-ideal workspace heights.
14. Find an easy way to separate and sort laundry to keep organized.
Make it easy on yourself. Find a system that works to keep yourself from getting frustrated. Whether it’s a rolling cart with bags to divide the clothes, or baskets along the wall – make it easy to grab a bag of clothes and throw it in the wash without having to sort mounds of clothes at once.
14. Find an easy-to-use ironing surface. (If you iron :) )
Ironing surfaces can retract from another surface or fold down from the wall. It’s best if it can be kept out of the way when not in use.
15. Keep all supplies close at hand.
Hangers, irons, and other materials should be kept within reach of the areas where tasks take place.
Hardware needs to accommodate any level of ability, without requiring users to use a twisting, pinching, or gripping motion with their hands.
I’ve also created a Pinterest page with lots of laundry and mudroom ideas!
Have any other tips to make laundry easier? Send them along!
April is Occupational Therapy (OT) Month!
I’m blogging about important universal design tips for the home and community to increase the awareness and importance OT has in environmental modifications.
(Sketch: Dustin Harrell)