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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Great (Laundry) Debate

It seems The Great Debate is on: what is the best location for the laundry room?

You have probably read and heard the advantages of a second floor laundry. Proponents note that keeping the laundry near the bedrooms reduces laundry clutter that might build up waiting for a full load to be collected. It also reduces the distance for toting folded clothing back to bedrooms. While there is reason to place the laundry space near the bedrooms, being too far, especially on the second floor, may pose some problems.

The issues may be partially related to your stage of life. For a family with toddlers a second floor laundry becomes a real burden. With youngsters that age parents can hardly risk time for the bathroom. Leaving a little one, or ones, alone downstairs for 10 to 20 minutes while you stand alone in a remote part of your home folding laundry is dangerous. Alternatively, carrying a 20-lb wriggling toddler(s) up and down stairs so you can do laundry safely is much more difficult than simply carrying the laundry itself.

Laundering in a remote part of the house with older children is a little easier, but not much. For the parents of grade-schoolers the center of the home is usually “command central.” Most parents of school age children find themselves in the kitchen trying to supervise homework whilst preparing dinner in a rush between work and after-school activities. How can you take time to dash upstairs and fold a load of laundry (before it wrinkles!) when you are helping your second grader with his spelling drill? Who has time to iron clothing that has waited too long in the dryer?

I have lived the above scenario.  Most days I dashed upstairs, pulled the warm clothing out of the dryer and threw it over the loft railing to the sofa below.  Then I ran downstairs to fold while answering questions and making sure dinner didn’t burn.  Of course the laundry still had to be carried upstairs to be put away at the end of the day. There was no convenience in that arrangement!

Managing laundry clutter is only as good as your efforts to control it. Providing dirty clothes storage that is easily accessed by all family members is the key. How about making laundry deposits entertaining for children? I once equipped the bedroom of a 12-year-old with a backboard, hoop and laundry bag. His father happily reported that the ever-present challenge was enough to do the trick.

Regardless of your stage of life, interrupting first floor activities for the urgent timely requirements of folding fresh laundry isn’t a convenience. Unless the better part of your time at home is spent in an upstairs location, doesn’t a first floor laundry make more sense? Just some thoughts to consider before you make changes…

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