Skip to main content

It’s remarkable how intimidating a pile of unwashed laundry can be. That mound of jeans, shirts, socks, and towels represents what could be hours of sorting, schlepping, folding, and stowing. And those hours may well be some you’d rather spend on something else.

If we have to do laundry (and we do), we might as well try to have a little fun with it. That starts with the space in which we tend to this ubiquitous chore. Our environment can have a powerful effect on our mood, and so improving our laundry space can be the first step in mitigating the dread of this necessary bit of adulting.

This is what I had in mind when we bought our house. Before we moved in, I painted the inside of every closet—as well as the one wall I could easily reach in our laundry room—white. I wanted to bring as much light into these spaces as possible, so that I’d be more inclined to keep them neat and use them well. In both cases, my plan worked like a charm. They felt clean from the get-go, and so I’ve been more motivated to keep them that way.

If you don’t have your own laundry room, fear not. The following inexpensive, do-most-of-them-right-now ways to make your laundry space more lovely are applicable whether you own or rent, and can be adjusted for those who take their wash to a laundromat.

01. Wipe down your machines and your bottle of detergent

In an age-old episode of Full House, Danny Tanner is mocked by his family for vacuuming his vacuum. Years later, I finally see he was on to something. When the space in which you clean is light, bright, and tidy, you’re more inclined to clean with purpose and intention. Wiping down the tops of your machines and scrubbing away any soap spills down the side of your detergent bottle keeps your space ship-shape. Cleanliness has proven psychological benefits, which can help keep you motivated to switch that load and get it put away!

02. Add a rug in front of the machines or where you fold

Sometimes laundry is tough to enjoy because we’re not physically comfortable in the space. If your feet are cold or your back aches when you stand to sort, add a squishy rug to your space. Seek out a soothing monochromatic option or have some fun with a pattern. Ours is one we already had from a few apartments back, so using it here freed up some storage space as well.

If the machines you use aren’t your own, go for the same effect by dedicating a supportive pair of slippers or moccasins for your laundry trips.

03. Find a cute way to dispose of lint

Dryer lint isn’t pretty, but the way you contain it can be. Rather than a big, open garbage can, I added a cute, tiny garbage can with a flip-up lid to my laundry room. Even though it’s small, it rarely needs to be emptied, and it never gets to overflowing. It’s one of those things that just makes me happy to look at.

04. Add a quote you love

Take a more direct approach to motivation with art that makes you smile, whether because it’s funny, sweet, or retro chic. If you use shared machines, try this tip for where you store, sort, or fold your laundry back at your place.

05. Fake greenery for the win

Laundry machines are often in basements, which means adding plant life would be a lost cause. But even if they’re fake, fern fronds or orchid blossoms can give us mental cues that calm and comfort us—something renters may find their neighbors appreciate, too. Plus, apart from the occasional dusting, they don’t require any maintenance!

06. Keep hangers and/or clothespins at the ready

The more prepared you are to complete a task, the more likely it is to get done. Create a system for your space by keeping a drying rack, hangers, and clothespins ready to report for duty. That might mean buying an extra set of hangers or pins to rotate, or that you consistently carry them to the laundry room when you bring in your load. It may seem like more work in the moment, but the more carefully you care for the items that don’t go in the dryer when they first come out of the wash, the sooner they’ll be ready to wear again.

We’re not saying laundry is necessarily going to become your favorite task—although anything is possible—but it can be something you approach with more intention, and so more joy. Welcoming yourself into a better-prepared space allows you to begin to enjoy this chore from start to finish.