Kids and laundry go together like a washer and dryer. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Kids and laundry go together like a washer and dryer. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Some practical tips — not pipe dreams — for a laundry room makeover

If you get frustrated about home design, just remind yourself that old-but-clean is better than new-and-unkempt.

I will never take owning a washing machine and dryer for granted. But even with my very own laundry room, my family’s laundry situation had become annoying.

I could write a doctoral thesis on our complicated fabric care rules due to allergies, gym clothes and the need for high-powered stain fighters. Gone are the days when I could scoop up whatever item I found on the floor and toss it into the barrel, which is why there were often piles of dirty clothes on our laundry room floor.

Since we have a high-efficiency front loader, it takes an hour to wash each load. The washing machine runs from the moment I wake up, until well after dinner. For the most part, my kids do their own laundry; but instead of making things simpler, this adds another level of complexity. Sometimes my husband and I will be tucked in bed at 10 p.m., and hear the washing machine turn on, right next to our bedroom. Teenage working hours don’t necessarily sync up with ours.

In April, I decided to stop being annoyed and figure out a way to solve our laundry problems once and for all. I looked at home decor magazines for inspiration, but they all showed the front loader washer with the door closed, which frankly, ticked me off. Anyone with a front loader knows you need to leave the door ajar when not in use or it will grow mildew. Don’t sell me a laundry room fantasy! Give me actual tips that will help.

Whenever I become frustrated about home design, I remind myself that old-but-clean is better than new-and-unkempt. So I tossed the home decor magazines and went to work deep cleaning my laundry room. I found old sponges, extra light bulbs, Halloween decorations, surge protectors and a whole shelf devoted to making slime.

My daughter hasn’t made slime in two years. There were many things to purge. Once all the junk was gone, I had room to store my detergents in the cabinets. Once the detergents were in the cabinets, the top of the washer and dryer were clear. It had only been an hour, but I was already making visible progress.

My next step was to purchase small laundry hampers that fit on top of the washing machine for really gross clothes that can’t touch each other, like rags and workout clothes. I bought new hampers for the kids, too, and gave them a stern lecture about not leaving their clothes on the ground.

The before and after transformation was satisfying. The final touch was artwork for the wall that made me smile. My laundry room didn’t look like a home decor magazine, but it was functional and clean. Two months later, it still looks that way. It’s a bad place to search for slime ingredients, but a great place to wash clothes.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as Jennifer Bardsley Author. Email her at teachingmybabytoread@gmail.com.

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