There are a few places in our home I haven’t or don’t intentionally share. At the top of the list — our small laundry room pass-through. A big, beautiful laundry room with cabinets, countertops, and quirky wallpaper is definitely a “one-day dream” but do we have that? No. But, I think a lot of us are in the same boat. Today’s post isn’t about a crazy, before and after laundry room renovation that suddenly turned into a spread of a magazine. But, after addressing our biggest challenges, I am sharing how I’ve made our small space work way more efficiently. Along with our challenges — which I hope are relatable to many of you — I’m sharing small laundry room organization ideas whether you have the same layout as me, or maybe something even more confined. While our laundry room definitely saw a “glow-up” over the past year, the improvement is more budget friendly and outfitted with a custom Elfa system in lieu of custom cabinetry. While there were some aesthetic improvements with the organizational improvements, by default, this space is all about function. Read on to see how I transformed our space with minimal adjustments that made a major difference!
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Small Laundry Room Pass Through Challenges
Before we jump into all the solutions, let’s chat about the layout and our efficiency struggles I wanted to address.
- We opted for a top load washer when we moved in — we had been told that especially with the units being upstairs, coupled with stories of front-loader regrets when it came to leaks and smell, we thought this was the safest bet. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was that a top loader would also essentially abolish the possibility of adding a countertop at a later date, if we chose.
- A single wire rack didn’t cut it. There was tons of wasted space above and below and the shelf was so shallow, I could barely stand on my tippy toes to reach anything.
- Between our bathroom (which connects to the laundry room), bedroom, hallway and laundry room, we have an insane number of doors — all that open into each other. At one point, I wanted to look into adding a barn door or pocket door to our bedroom door to keep it from opening into the bathroom and blocking the laundry room, but it hasn’t been as much of a budgetary priority as other projects. But, especially with the swing-out dryer door, it’s always been a challenge getting dirty laundry into the room and taking the clean laundry out while managing to open and close doors to shimmy through.
- Our laundry room is a pass-through with the door frames butting up against the wall, opposite the machines. There is no forgiveness and not even an inch to spare for hooks or a slender shelf. We are solely confined to working within the 33″ of depth in the space where the units are.
- Our attic access is in the laundry room, via pull-down door and stairs. You don’t even want to see the door magic that has to happen to get that thing unfolded haha.
- I wanted storage for the surmounting boxes that didn’t close and various heavy bottles and all the cardboard and plastic that seemed to constantly remain in disarray. Due to lack of storage space, I actually had TWO separate accidents where bottles of detergent fell off the dryer during extra “active” cycles. Not a fun clean-up either time haha.
While this project actually started just before Eliza arrived, I only finished it about a month ago. Coincidentally (if you follow me on Instagram stories, you probably saw this), our washing machine bit the dust in March. A repairman determined it was done done so I scrambled to do some quick research and get another set ordered. *We ordered via Costco but we actually went with THESE units, based on customer ratings and seeming to have everything I needed. Once again, while I considered a front-loader for a moment, I decided the last thing I needed was another door opening outward in this tight space. We’ve had the units in full use now for two months and so far, I love them. Way quicker than our previous set, efficient and while the drum is REALLY big, it’s actually easier to access than my former washing machine that I could barely reach the bottom.
Small Laundry Room Organization: Before & After
So what did our small laundry room look like before? Well, take a look…
And today, well, not only does it look better but it is actually working for us better! Here’s what our pass through looks like now.
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Let’s break it down! I mentioned that virtually nothing was done exclusively for aesthetics but I did do an easy flush mount lighting switch. I got a fantastic deal on this fixture from PB Kids, but unfortunately, it’s no longer available. Like I said, this project actually started a year ago, haha. And by the way, along with PB Kids, I also find a lot of non-teen-exclusive furnishings and fixtures at PB Teen. If you’ve never given them consideration, check them out for lighting and curtain rods, especially, next time you’re in the market 😉 I did find an incredibly similar flush mount HERE.
Small Laundry Room Shelving
When it came to shelving, I ordered everything to be custom sized for the space. Considerations I had to take into account were:
- What did I want to be able to store on the shelves?
- Did I want to be able to hang clothes?
- How could I make most use of the space, wasting as little as possible?
- At what height were my washer and dryer units and further, at what height did I need to clear when my washing machine lid opened upward?
- For spacing shelves, what were the tallest bottles/containers I would need to fit? (we shop in bulk from Costco for our detergent)
- Was I storing things in the laundry room that shouldn’t be stored in there? Were there things I wasn’t storing in there that I would benefit from storing in there?
- Was there space to be able to utilize the side walls?
I addressed each of these as I planned the configuration. Ultimately, I determined I didn’t need to be able to hang long clothes, but I did still want a bar to store extra hangers (and to be able to hang Eliza’s air-dry items). As silly as it is, I actually take far better care of Eliza’s clothes than mine and Dave’s — there isn’t much of hers that goes in the dryer while I operate total opposite for our clothes, haha.
Small Laundry Room Organization Ideas & Improvements
Aside from configuring shelving to give us more storage and flat surface space, there were lots of little improvements, too. I mentioned earlier in the post what a struggle it was to get in and out of the space with laundry. While a lot of that can be credited to the 3094590 doors that open into each other, the oversized, hard plastic basket didn’t make things any easier. The width spanned almost the entire doorway with zero give and required two hands — tough when you rely on at least one hand to open and close doors to maneuver through. I ordered THIS oversized woven rope laundry basket and OMG, while it was such a simple change, it may have been one of the biggest efficiency improvements we made. It’s lightweight, malleable to get through doorways, even larger than the previous hamper, and I can easily cinch it and carry it with one hand… like a bag. If you’ve never tried a fabric tote for laundry, especially if you’re working in a confined space, do yourself a favor and treat yourself.
If you’ve checked out my other organization posts (like my pantry, HERE), I firmly believe that you don’t have to de-contain and re-contain everything you have. While there are benefits to some, that isn’t the case with all items, and that goes for the laundry room, too. In addition to not even being able to reach my detergents before, there were a lot of items that were in original containers that were also frustrating. My OxiClean was in a bag, without a seal, in a box, that didn’t shut. I had huge, economy sized bags of baking soda that were unwieldy and bulky and my vinegar was shared between the laundry and kitchen. I also had stain removers with nozzles that didn’t work, so they were never used. I took inventory of my “problem children” to address while establishing which laundry solutions were fine, as-is. Here’s a peek of the before, albeit even a little more tidy than usual (yes, I know that’s sad, haha)…
And here’s the after.
Everything was assigned a proper bin or proper container, in a proper position. Because these shelves are much deeper than my prior shelves (which allows me to be able to reach everything without stretching my arms across the machines as much), I wanted to be conscious about not storing items out of reach, in the back, that needed to be accessed easily. THESE handled baskets — which I’ve used in the pantry, also — allow me to be able to store things deeper, but with the ability to be removed easily.
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I actually don’t have a hand-held label maker; as I’ve always done with files and labels, I printed these directly from my computer, using these clear Avery label sheets.
Full admission — while I was making my labels, my bleach wrapper was coming off so I went ahead and peeled it and added a label for bleach. This is totally unnecessary (haha) and I didn’t do the same for my detergent — just my permanent fixtures and staples.
If you a ratty dryer sheet box, stop and check this out. When I organized Eliza’s nursery dresser (HERE), I ordered this OXO wipe dispenser because the need was real there. I love my OXO Pop canisters and other OXO brand products so I took a chance; I loved it so much and it worked so well that I ordered a second for Eliza’s other wipes, and decided to try the dispenser in the laundry room, for dryer sheets. It. Works. Like. A. Charm. One sheet every time and no more mess. You can find the dispenser HERE.
I used the OXO bulk cereal dispenser for storing and pouring white vinegar (HERE) and used the (I believe) 6 qt. POP canisters for baking soda and OxiClean, coupled with THESE scoops. Long-time readers, you know my stance on POP canisters, why they’re my fav, and how most competitors just don’t seem to come close to the efficiency and build of these. 😉 If you’ve never tried them, you can try one of their variety packs HERE.
Aside from the glass bottle of Dawn (contained in a handled basket), I don’t like the idea of using glass containers on shelves — the same goes for my pantry. I’m self-admittedly 100% prone to accidents so substantial alternatives are better for me.
Those stain removers with broken nozzles — I used these inexpensive clear spray bottles and transferred the formulas over. If your bottled solutions have zero issue, this is totally unnecessary but I do like how they fit together in their respective baskets. Solutions that were in fine condition, I left alone.
I’ve had this collapsible laundry basket for a few years and while I prefer my new fabric basket as my primary, it’s a good back-up that takes up virtually no space. It can also hang on the wall or door and is incredibly thin. The woven basket below contains towels and cloths for cleaning.
Small Laundry Room Utility Board Organization
As far as other space I was able to take advantage of — well, while the main shelves are deep, taking up wall space, I was able to add a unit with small shelves and a board over to the side. Before, I had the ironing board and step stool sandwiched beside the dryer.
Here’s how the solution turned out.
I added our back-stock of soap with no home to the top shelf, and brought in all those random laundry-esque items that were formerly housed in a junk drawer or random cabinet. The utility board is fully customizable with clear bins, rods, hooks, etc. I even dedicated a place for pocket change and spare buttons that come on new clothes (which admittedly, I’ve always tossed because I didn’t know where to put them). I do now 😉 (You can see how I added a utility board to my gift wrap door organizer in THIS post.) The bottom bar has adjustable hooks to hang heavy duty items; I used it for my ironing board and mesh laundry bag for delicates.
You can find the small bin label clips HERE.
I also have hooks that store wrapped extension cords and the shelf holds my steamer and iron, perfectly and out of the way. There’s still plenty of room across the entire unit to add, should there be a need.
I used two simple, heavy duty door hooks to hold our step stool; it’s slim so it can accomodate the stool, even when the door is wide open, against the wall. Aside from a fire extinguisher, the area next to the dryer is now 100% clear.
If you don’t have a convenient trash-can, definitely consider a lint drop of some sort; we actually keep a trash can just on the other side of the door so it isn’t necessary for our space.
It may not be the custom cabineted goddess of my dreams but our small laundry room is finally efficient — and aside from the unexpected washer/dryer replacement, was achieved without a ton of expense. If you’re struggling through some of the same laundry room layout frustrations as me, making a list of challenges and ideas to address them helps a ton. Focus on the function rather than letting the “pretty” take precedence and you’ll probably find some aesthetic wins along the way. For more projects, reveals, and organization ideas, subscribe to my emails HERE and never miss a thing!
Other Posts You May Be Interested In
See the full organization gallery HERE.
See Room Reveals & Befores & Afters HERE.
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Note: All shelving is custom fit. You can build your own online or in store HERE.
Rug – 2’x3′ // White Rope Laundry Basket // Dryer Sheet (Wipe) Dispenser // Light Fixture (SIMILAR) // OXO Pourer (dispenser for vinegar, technically for cereal) // OXO POP Containers (6 qt.) // OXO Clear Scoops // Clear Handled Baskets // Woven Lidded Basket (SIMILAR) // Door Hooks // Clear Spray Bottle // Clear Glass Bottle // Clear Printer Labels // Slim Velvet Hangers (full sized) // Slim Velvet Hangers (child sized) // Mesh Laundry Bag // Collapsible Plastic & Rubber Laundry Basket // Iron // Steamer // Ironing Board Cover // Step Stool (SIMILAR) // Label Holders (on utility board)