Skip to main content

How Martha Stewart organizes the laundry room

By Martha Stewart, Martha Stewart Living
updated 9:57 AM EST, Fri January 17, 2014
Lightweight baskets are great for transporting folded laundry to the appropriate closets or rooms. Lightweight baskets are great for transporting folded laundry to the appropriate closets or rooms.
Martha Stewart's laundry room tips
An organized laundry room
Decanted detergent
Mending kit
DIY scent
Stain-removal kit
  • Martha Stewart says its time to update laundry room design to make it practical and attractive
  • She made a pantry closet in her farm's guesthouse into a laundry workroom
  • Martha Stewart offers more ideas for whiter whites, darker denim and soft towels

For more of Martha Stewart's advice on organizing your laundry room, see "Build a streamlined laundry room."

(CNN) -- The laundry room at 86 Elm Place in Nutley, New Jersey, where I grew up, was an uncomplicated and multipurpose space in the basement of our house.

It was a real room in an otherwise mostly unfinished space. It had two deep soapstone laundry sinks, a wringer washing machine (later replaced with an electric top loader and a gas dryer), a large chest-type freezer, an old four-burner gas stove, a small upright refrigerator, and many shelves, on which were stored cleaning products, Mason jars, oversize pots and pans, and some simple kitchen equipment for canning and preserving.

Martha Stewart Living: 19 tips for perfect laundry every time

My brother Erik and I spent a lot of time in the laundry room—we soldered metal, we stretched skins from the animals he had trapped, and we built things. I mixed gesso for gilding projects, and I helped Mother dry Dad's socks on metal sock forms and Mom's kid gloves on beautiful size 7 glove stretchers. These days, even when laundry-room activities are clearly focused on just caring for and maintaining clothes, it can be hard to keep the space organized.

But that will change when you outfit the laundry room or closet with a few key supplies and adopt some smart strategies. It can be fitted with stackable appliances, and sinks can be built into clever storage cabinets containing everything one needs for the tasks of washing, ironing, folding, and sorting.

Martha Stewart Living: 35 pantry staples for healthy eating

I recently finished a project in just such a small space, a pantry closet off the kitchen in the guesthouse at my farm. I am thrilled with the result: a windowed, well-apportioned workroom that allows me to do everything a larger laundry room would except for big ironing projects, which can be done easily enough in the adjacent hallway.

I have a complete set of cleaning and washing and ironing tools and supplies, a good folding table, and excellent sturdy shelving to hold heavier items like soap canisters, cleaning kits, and even extra towels and linens.

Martha Stewart Living: 21 ways to decorate your home on a budget

I suggest that you revisit your laundry room's design and make alterations that will indeed turn the frequent tasks of washing, ironing, steaming, and folding into more of a pleasure and less of a chore. You may even opt for a brand-new redesign. Many kitchen cabinetmakers are building cabinets, shelving, and brackets that can be used for other installations, such as in mudrooms, flower rooms, craft rooms, and, yes, even laundry rooms! I've highlighted some of my favorite details. I hope they help you to re-imagine your own laundry room, no matter how big or small the space.

Martha Stewart Living: Curb your food cravings with yoga

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Keeping it clean

For garments that look and feel good as new, think before you wash. Just follow my tips for handling a few common laundry conundrums:

Whiter whites

You can never bring white linens back to their original whiteness, but oxygen bleach (gentler than chlorine varieties) will maintain the color and lift stains. Check fabric labels before you begin. presoak extra-dirty whites in bleach. Add more to the wash with the detergent. use hot water.

Martha Stewart Living: 15 kitchen shortcuts that will change the way you cook

Dark denim

Use a liquid detergent, and set the water temperature to cold or warm to keep jeans and other denims from fading. Turning items inside out will also help preserve their colors, by protecting the garments from abrasion. Wash them with similar colors—the indigo dye can bleed into the water.

Martha Stewart Living: Don't shelve these clever bookshelf decorating ideas

The softest towels

Proper care from the outset keeps towels soft longer. Stay away from fabric softener— it actually reduces absorbency. And avoid using chlorine bleach on white towels, which can be damaging. dry towels on medium heat, and remove them and fold immediately.

Part of complete coverage on
CNN Living reflects your life. From advice for modern parents to the freshest news in food: It's all here.
Summer is practically synonymous with cooking food over the fire and sharing it with friends and family. Here's how to grill great food, step-by-step.
updated 9:16 AM EDT, Mon July 14, 2014
Do you wish you could outsource the summer cooking, cleaning and camp planning associated with kids? You can.
updated 8:08 AM EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
In April, Carol Rossetti began a personal project to continue practicing her drawing technique, "while saying something worthy."
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Wed June 25, 2014
"Obvious Child" has all the story arcs for romantic-comedy gold, but one of the film's major topics isn't often broached in theaters: abortion.
updated 2:45 PM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
A teen planned to build a tiny house with her parents for a school project, but after her father's sudden death, more powerful lessons emerged.
updated 12:15 PM EDT, Thu May 8, 2014
Our mothers and the women we look up to offer our first lessons in beauty and personal maintenance. What do they tell us about loving our gray hair?
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Fri May 23, 2014
rings matrimony
When a partner is terminally ill, do you still go through with the wedding? Meet people who said 'I do' with a future in doubt.
updated 5:40 PM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
You have a new home or your first apartment and dozens of crazy ideas to make it look the way you want. But what's your decorating style?