Let’s throw open the laundry doors

30 April 2018
May - week 1 in The Simple Home

“Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you. You have to win it.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

There is a kind of simple elegance in using and cleaning household linens. Clothes, sheets, towels, curtains and kitchen linens always look better when they’re well cared for. When I see them in homes I visit, fresh and neatly stored away, especially when they have quite an age to them, I get the feeling there is a lot of love in that home. My aim is to have a clean house, clothes and linens, but I know that it can take a lot of time to achieve that consistently. The answer is to make the laundry room your cleaning headquarters. If your laundry room is organised to support your general cleaning tasks, it will go a long way to helping you keep a clean house and stay on top of the laundry. 

If you organise your laundry and feel good about the products you make and use, if you understand your fabrics and have effective ways of dealing with cleaning problems, you’ll not only get through the washing more efficiently, you’ll be able to use the laundry room as the cleaning headquarters of your home. So let’s throw open the laundry doors and make friends with what’s in there.

Most of us have a small room or area in the house set aside for laundry and cleaning. It’s easy to shut the door on that room and go in only when you have to, but I encourage you to liberate yourself and the laundry room. You might not like cleaing, but unless you pay to have it done for you, cleaning and washing are a part of life. All of us prefer wearing clean clothes and living in a clean home. So to help you do those cleaning tasks, accept laundry as a part of what you do, organise your work space, create a cleaning stockpile, set up your cleaners, buckets and brushes, and take control of your washing and cleaning. When you have an organised space to work in, with everything you need to carry out your cleaning, you’ll probably spend less time doing so; you’ll have a clean house and clean clothes and more time to do the things you love doing.

I also encourage you to use homemade cleaners. They’re as effective as commercial cleaners; they’re easy to make; they’re much cheaper than anything you’ll buy at the supermarket and there will be far fewer chemicals in your home. You'll find a post about commonly used homemade household cleaners here. 

Cleaning and Organising the Laundry Room
Organising everything to maximise efficiency will help you stay on top of your laundry and cleaning more than anything else. So let’s start by cleaning the room, purging all those old, unsafe products you’ll never use and reintroducing the things you will keep in an organised manner. Most laundry rooms have a few things in common: 
  • Washing machine
  • Tumble dryer
  • Work bench 
  • Ironing board and iron
  • Drying rack/s
  • Dirty clothes hamper/s
  • Shelf space or cupboard
  • Rag bag
  • Floor-cleaning equipment such as broom, mop, bucket, vacuum cleaner
  • Large sink for cleaning and soaking
But even if you only have a washing machine and a shelf under the kitchen bench or in the bathroom, the area still needs to be clean and organised. In fact, smaller spaces must be better organised than larger spaces, as clutter will prevent you finding what you need. If your washing machine is in the kitchen, you’ll have to be careful not to spill laundry products near food. Find a small basket or plastic tub and store all your laundry products in it, away from your food prep area.

Make sure you dispose of all old and unwanted chemicals in a responsible manner. If you have something toxic or a large amount of any chemical, check with your local Council or PlanetArk’s website, about safe disposal methods. 

Customising your Laundry Room 
Now that everything is spotless, it’s time to customise the room to how you work and to help you get through your washing and cleaning. Have a good look at the space you have available, and reorganise it for maximum efficiency as you bring everything back in. But also make it a room you feel good in: don’t be afraid to add some artwork, children’s paintings or pretty shelf liners.

Keep all your cleaning tools, products and materials in the laundry. Organise your laundry liquids and powders and the ingredients you use to make them so you know what's there. Have a look under all the sinks in your house to see what cleaning equipment is lurking in there, and move everything except your dishwashing gear and your cleaning kits into the laundry. Then you and those you live with know all your cleaners and cleaning chemicals are in the one place. 

Using rags
Over the course of your lifetime, you’ll save hundreds of dollars by cutting up old towels, sheets, tea towels and T-shirts to make cleaning rags. Anything made from cotton or linen is suitable, and because they’re old and well used, they’ll be seasoned, absorbent and soft.

The wonderful thing about recycling household linens as rags is that you can use them for both wet and dry tasks, making your cleaning days easier, and you can just throw them in with the regular wash when you’re done. If there is a particularly nasty spill or the dog throws up, you can use the rags to completely clean and dry the carpet, then throw all the rags out. Don’t wash a rag that you’ve used for wiping up vomit or faeces – it will take too much of your time to deal with that rag properly, and it’s unhygienic to put it in with the regular washing.

Cut the old towels and sheets into squares with pinking shears or scissors and pack them into your rag bag, or a small basket stored on the shelf.  There is a post about creating a rag collection and making a ragbag here.