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Martha recently turned a closet into a laundry room that's every bit as functional as a much larger space. A few smart strategies made it doable -- and now the frequent tasks of washing, ironing, and folding are less of a chore and more of a pleasure. Whether you're just sprucing up your laundry area or planning a total redo, you can borrow these ideas for your own home.
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Laundry Room Basics
This compact space has everything you need and makes the most of every inch. Above the washer and dryer, sturdy, deep shelving holds the soaps, cleaning supplies, and towels that are used often; each shelving unit has a handy row of pegs for hanging items. A cabinet in the corner provides more storage -- and a surface for folding. An oversize homemade ironing board tops the washer and dryer, giving plenty of room for pressing tablecloths and other large linens; a smaller board is good for shirtsleeves and collars.
Laundry-storage two-door cabinet, in Picket Fence, $329, and Solutions single entryway shelves with pegs, in Picket Fence, $69 each, by Martha Stewart Living, homedecorators.com.
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Martha prefers unscented laundry products, but if you like a little fragrance, make it something you really love. Buy unscented dryer sheets and add a drop or two of organic essential oil in your favorite scent.
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Hang It Up
The laundry room can house other supplies, too. Simple Shaker-style pegs provide spots for items like brushes and dustpans; keeping everything visible and within reach makes sense when it comes to cleaning.
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Spots have met their match! Corral everything you need to treat stains in one bin or tray. Pour cleaners and solvents into clear bottles and make sure you label them clearly, and keep a stain-removal guide nearby.
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Open shelving keeps everything accessible but also in view -- so why not decant boxes of laundry detergent and other cleaning supplies into good-looking containers? This way, you can also buy products in bulk and keep a more manageable amount on hand.
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Any rips or loose buttons should be fixed before the item is washed -- keeping a small sewing kit in the laundry area will help make this happen. Stock spools of thread in neutrals and colors you wear most, as well as sewing basics.
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Laundry Tip: Whiter Whites
Keep your whites nice and bright by washing them regularly in oxygen bleach (gentler than the chlorine kind). Check fabric labels for washing instructions first, but in general, sturdy fabrics should be washed in hot water.
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Laundry Tip: Dark Denim
To keep jeans from looking faded, turn them inside out before you wash them to protect the fabric from abrasion. Use a liquid detergent and cold or warm water. Wash them with similar colors -- the indigo dye can bleed into the water.
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Laundry Tip: Towel Care
Skip the fabric softener for towels -- it makes them less absorbent. Also avoid using chlorine bleach, which can be damaging to fibers. Wash towels on their own (so they don't transfer lint to clothes) in warm or hot water, dry them on medium heat, and remove and fold them immediately.
Plush bath towels, by Martha Stewart Collection, 30" by
54", in Mist Gray, $18 each, macys.com.
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A large ironing board makes it a cinch to press linens. And it's easy to make your own in just the right size to fit on a tabletop or your washer and dryer, as Martha has done in this space. Rubber feet on the bottom keep it from sliding around, and protect the surface it's on.
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