What’s the best place for your washer and dryer? I’m a fan of putting them near bedrooms and bathrooms where there is easy access to where dirty clothes are taken off and clean clothes are stored. But there are also some benefits to locating the laundry room in other parts of the house, such as the near the kitchen, in a mudroom, in a hallway closet, or even a basement. This week we’ll talk about the benefits and disadvantages of locating your laundry room in different areas of the house.
Before we get to that, I want to sincerely thank popsicle puppy for your iTunes/Apple Podcasts 5 star rating and review. I’m so humbled by your kind words. He or she says, in part, "I have been working in the construction field for 10 years now and I wish I could rebuild some of my projects with the information I have gleaned from you!" That’s one of my favorite reviews ever! Thank you so much.
Let’s start with the place that become popular for washers and dryer back when most women were housewives and didn’t work outside of the home...
Off the Kitchen
Because much of a woman’s day was spent in, and around the kitchen, homebuilders often located the laundry room off the kitchen so women could multitask, and wash and dry clothes between other tasks like cooking and cleaning the kitchen.
If you spend lots of time in and around the kitchen cooking, cleaning, hanging out, and helping your kids while they’re doing homework at the kitchen island, then locating your laundry room off the kitchen could be the best place for you, for the exact reason it was a good idea for housewives back in the day: multitasking. With your laundry room near the kitchen, you can get loads of laundry done (see that play on words?) while you’re doing other things. And you’ll be within earshot of the washer and dryer buzzer so you’ll know immediately when cycles have ended, and you can transfer clothes.
As convenient as having the washer and dryer near the kitchen can be for some people, it’s not the most practical location for those who spend little time in the kitchen. And if your home has two or more stories, putting your laundry room on the main floor, off the kitchen means you’ll have to go up and down the stairs to get to upstairs bedrooms and bathrooms for clothing, linen storage and hampers. A laundry chute could help with getting the clothes down to the main floor laundry room, but you’ll still have to carry clean clothes back upstairs.
Another disadvantage? Washers and dryers can be loud and that noise could interfere with your kitchen conversations, quiet homework time or music, podcasts or tv shows that you enjoy while in your kitchen. To help with the noise, though, you can have sound-proofing fiberglass, or mineral wool insulation installed around the laundry area.
Many laundry rooms off the kitchen are located in mudrooms adjacent to the kitchen. So let’s talk more specifically about having the washer and dryer in the mudroom.
In a Mudroom
Putting the washer and dryer in the mudroom, whether the mudroom is near the kitchen or not, is a favorite location for many designers and homeowners. A mudroom/laundry room combination is especially practical for homes where family members get particularly dirty from work, sports or hobbies. Those grubby clothes can be taken off and put immediately into the washer before those family members can track that dirt through the rest of the house. And for those who live in rainy or snowy climates, unsoiled but wet clothing can go directly into a mudroom dryer.
Putting the washer and dryer in the mudroom makes a lot of sense since the mudroom is dedicated to storage of soiled items such as shoes. Plus the mudroom is typically out of view of guests, so having a couple piles or baskets of laundry on the mudroom floor isn’t a big deal, if you have enough floor space.
A laundry room/mudroom combo seems like a no brainer. But for some people, it might not work so well— if your mudroom is far away from most bedrooms, for example. Taking clothes up and down stairs, or to the other side of the house, could make laundry a chore that you dread even more. A mudroom/laundry room combination might also be a bad idea if you don’t like the idea of intermingling muddy boots with clean clothes. But, keep in mind, if you have enough space in the mudroom, you can have a separate area dedicated just to hanging, drying and folding clean clothes.
Now we’ve covered washers and dryers off the kitchen. Have you ever thought putting your washer and dryer in the kitchen?
In the Kitchen
Locating the washer and dryer directly in the kitchen is popular in parts of Europe, and in very small homes that don’t have the space for a separate laundry area. Sometimes, especially in Europe, a single combination washer and dryer unit is placed under the counter. This combination unit washes and dries. Many of these combo units are the size of a standard dishwasher so they fit under a standard countertop easily. Washer dryer combos are common not only in Europe, but also in Asia, and on houseboats and RVs.
You can also put a standard-sized washer and dryer in a kitchen closet. My washer and dryer were in a kitchen closet when I lived in a small townhouse in Virginia. It wasn’t ideal, but it did allow me to do laundry in my own home instead of having to go to the laundromat. You can also consider hiding the washer and dryer behind cabinetry for a streamlined look.
Putting the laundry area in the kitchen is budget friendly option since water lines are already in that space. It’s a great solution for those on a tight budget, those building very small or tiny homes, or for single people or couples who don’t do much laundry.
One of the biggest disadvantages of putting the washer and dryer in the kitchen is that there is often not enough space to do laundry comfortably. Because the kitchen is often the hub of the home, the floor space that is needed for baskets and piles of sorted laundry can block traffic going into and out of the kitchen. Plus, the washer and dryer will take up valuable storage and prep space that could be used for countertops and cupboards. Finally you might have to buy smaller, compact units to fit into your kitchen, which could be okay if there is only one or two of you in the house, but not practical for larger families .
Next on our list…
In a Hallway Closet
Hallways are a good place to locate the washer and dryer because hallways are often centrally located near bedrooms and bathrooms, where clothes storage and hampers are found. Hallway washers and dryers are a great space saving option. And hallway laundry closets are really convenient for those of you who don’t spend a ton of time in the kitchen. Plus, this location is very convenient if you have kids, so as they get older, they do easily do their own laundry (let them practice adulting).
Probably the biggest disadvantage is putting your washer and dryer in a hallway is that you won’t have a lot of room to sort dirty laundry or store clean piles of laundry until you have time to fold. And there isn’t a ton of room for folding. Piles of laundry in a hallway can block traffic and be seen by visitors.
If your hallway laundry room is on the main floor and most of your bedrooms are on another floor, you could be taking several trips up and down the stairs. For that reason, If you can, choose a hallway that’s near most of your occupied bedrooms.
Lastly, noise from the washer and dryer could disturb napping children or studying teens. Sound dampening insulation can again help in this situation.
One of the newest places that I’ve seen laundry rooms in recent years is...
In or Off the Master Suite
If only you, or only you and a spouse or partner will live in your new home, locating the laundry room off the master bedroom suite is one of the most practical locations you can choose. This is especially true if you spend a lot of time in your master.
You might choose to locate the washer and dryer in a laundry room off the master bedroom or bathroom, or directly in the master closet. It doesn’t get much easier than taking your clothes from your master bedroom or bathroom hamper, turning a corner and putting those dirty clothes in the washer. Then simply pulling clothes out of the dryer, folding them and walking a few steps to put them away.
This is not the best option if you tend to do laundry late at night because the noise may wake up your spouse or partner. Again, sound proofing insulation will help with this.
Putting the home’s laundry room in your master suite area may not work for your household if you have children who are, or will soon be, old enough to do their own laundry. You wouldn’t want your kids cutting through your bedroom or bathroom every time they want to wash clothes. What you could do, though, is locate the laundry room in a space that is accessible from your master area and from a public space like a hallway. That way, children can easily get to the washer and dryer without disturbing you.
Alternatively, (and this is one of my favorite options if you have the budget) you can have a laundry room in your master suite area, and put a second washer and dryer in a hall or bathroom closet near your children’s rooms. This would work especially well if you are building a forever home and have older children who will be moving out in the not-so-distant future. That way, you’ll have the convenience of your master laundry area forever, and you can sell the kid’s washer and dryer once they've move out. Or you can leave their washer and dryer there so when they are adults, they will have the option of doing laundry in their own space whenever they visit.
Next on a list is an unusual place for a washer and dryer in the US, but a place that is commonly used for a laundry area in other parts of the world…
In the Bathroom
In Europe and Asia, where space is not as plentiful as it is in the US, it’s not unusual to find a washer and dryer, or washer/dryer combo unit inside a bathroom. If you don’t have a lot of extra space, this might be a good solution for you too. You can hide units inside a bathroom closet so the appliances don’t get a lot of unwanted visual attention.
A guest bathroom, kid’s bathroom or oversized powder room could all work. And remember, this might be the perfect solution for a second laundry area if you want your main washer and dryer to be close to your master suite.
Since there is limited space in most bathrooms, a laundry area inside a bathroom is not ideal for busy bathrooms shared by several family members, for small bathrooms where a basket of laundry could significantly block traffic, or if doing laundry near the toilet grosses you out.
Now let’s to an area where many people have their washer and dryer… In the Basement
The basement became the default laundry area many decades ago. With little consideration for practicality, many homeowners put their washer and dryer in the basement because there is plenty of extra space there and because that’s what everybody else did. A finished basement can be a great option for a laundry room. It’s out of the way of guests and family traffic, and you don’t have to worry about the noise of the units (unless you have bedrooms in the basement).
But if you have a spooky, dark and dingy basement, doing laundry down there is no fun. And then there is the impractically of having to go up and down one, and often two flights of steps to get to hampers, dressers and closets. And because basement washers and dryers are a lot of times far away from where you spend most of your time, you will not be able to easily hear buzzers when the cycles end.
There are some people who like having the washer and dryer in the basement— usually people who have always had a basement laundry room. And that’s fine. Do what works for you. But consider making the space bright and pretty with lighting and decor so doing laundry is not such so dreaded.
This last space is an uncommon place to put the washer and dryer, but it could work, in a pinch.
In the Garage
Sometimes the garage is the only space you have to put a washer and dryer. Not the best place since the garage is unconditioned space that can get uncomfortably hot or cold in many parts of the country. And garages aren’t exactly the cleanest places, so you’ll have to be careful not to soil your clean laundry. But, if the garage is the only free space you have for your washer and dryer, go for it.
As with everything, choose an option that will work best for your current and future household situations. But let’s be grateful that we’re even having to make this choice. Because if you’ve ever had to regularly go to a laundromat, like I did as a little girl, you can appreciate having a washer and dryer anywhere in your house.
Please remember that the purpose of this podcast is simply to educate and inform. It is not a substitute for professional advice. The information that you hear is based the only on the opinions, research and experiences of my guests and myself. That information might be incomplete and it’s subject to change, so it may not apply to your project. In addition, building codes and requirements vary from region to region, so always consult a professional about specific recommendations for your home.