Lost Without Laundry
Whether your washer and dryer are in a dank corner of your basement or in their own bright room off your bedroom suite, let’s face it: The work that is done in that space keeps your household humming along. Most of us buy detergent and softener, and don’t give much thought about other items that will make washing and drying our household textiles simpler and safer. Following are some terrific products that will help your laundry appliances—and your clothes—last for a long time to come.
Washing machines leak—not routinely, but often enough to make precaution worthwhile. After all, it’s never easy or cheap to undo the effects of water damage. The wise course? Equip your laundry room or basement washer with a leak alarm. That way, if the washer (or utility sink) springs a leak, you can snap into action to limit the damage.
However, be aware that the most basic leak alarms come with a severe limitation: If you’re not at home to hear the alarm sound, you’re out of luck. Opt instead for a smart leak detector like this one from Moen. When triggered, the device delivers an alert to your smartphone, so you get the information you need, right when you need it, wherever you happen to be.
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A water hammer arrestor is not as high-tech an option as a smart leak detector, but it can help prevent the chance of a leak, and you know what they say about an ounce (or washer full) of prevention. The pipes that bring water into the washer are subject to quick changes in pressure when the machine stops filling. The pressure surges can cause cracks in pipes and joints over time, especially if the pipe is made of plastic.
The pressure also causes water hammer, which is a loud noise caused by pipes banging each time the water shuts off. Water hammer arrestors like these brass ones from Solimeta feature an air-filled cylinder to absorb the jolt of sudden washer pressure changes on the hot and cold lines. Adding one to each of your washer’s supply lines can stop the hammering and prolong the life of the pipes.
Brush It Off
It’s part of your weekly laundry routine: Before turning on the dryer, you take a moment to clear the lint filter, aware that failing to do so reduces energy efficiency and heightens the risk of fire. Just don’t forget that lint also collects in the vent pipe that carries exhaust from the dryer to the outdoors. Twice a year, make it a point to eliminate any vent blockages with an all-in-one cleaning kit.
Field-tested by pros, the Gardus LintEater Rotary Dryer Vent Cleaning System comes with everything you need to get the job done with relative ease—not least because its components hook up to a standard cordless drill, saving you the hassle and sweat of doing it the laborious, old-fashioned way.
After a few rounds in the washing machine, delicate clothing like lingerie, hosiery, and lace-detailed shirts can show signs of damage—blame it on high water temperatures and rough spin cycles. Protecting your delicates is as simple as throwing them into mesh bags such as these from Bagail.
The five wash bags, which come in three different sizes, are made of durable polyester fiber to effectively prevent snags, stretching, and tears. The bags will pay for themselves, saving you money by extending the life of your clothes.
De-wrinkling your clothing is a must for maintaining a polished or professional wardrobe, but the supplies used to do the job take up precious real estate on laundry room shelves or in cabinets. With the mDesign Ironing Board Holder, you can get back your storage space by keeping everything in one convenient location.
The sturdy bottom hooks provide a place to hang your ironing board, while the steel basket can store your iron, detergent, clothespins, and more. Position the holder on your laundry room door or against a wall, thus improving the room’s functionality and stretching the limits of your storage space.
The care instructions on clothing labels can be baffling. Clothing labels are written in their own language, which means instead of reading “wash in cold water” or “dry clean only,” you’ll be faced with weird symbols you can’t decipher. You just wanted to throw in a quick load before your next errand, but unless you can decode those laundry instructions, you’ll be left hoping you didn’t just ruin your favorite shirt.
The confusion ends with this decorative yet practical sign. It adds a nice touch to your laundry room while also helping you figure out what those tiny drawings mean.
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Wrinkles Be Gone
Get rid of the bulky iron and ironing board when you replace them with the PurSteam Handheld Steamer for Clothes. This tiny wonder gets the creases out of your clothing in mere minutes. Simply fill the chamber with water, plug it in, and turn on the switch. Within a few seconds you’ll have wrinkle-fighting steam.
The steamer’s small size and weight makes it easy to operate, and it’s a nice size for travel. It’ll also take up little storage space in your laundry room.
When you have no room to pop open a folding ironing board and no patience for the setup and storage required with each use, the Houseables Ironing Blanket poses a simpler solution: Lose the legs. This heat-resistant padded mat wraps over flat metal surfaces (like, say, the top of your washer or dryer) to turn them into temporary ironing boards.
Secured by its heavy-duty corner magnets, it won’t budge during laundry duties until you’re ready to roll up, fold, or hang the 32½-inch by 18¼-inch blanket for next time. Houseables’ flexible design is so convenient both at home and on the road that you’ll soon be saying “so long” to your squeaky ironing board.
The beauty of front-loading washers and dryers is that they are as space-smart as they are energy efficient. Homeowners can stack them in a closet or set them side by side and reclaim the space atop the appliances as if they are countertops. When you opt for using the tops of your laundry room appliances though, you need to take care that you don’t lose clean laundry to the dust behind the machines while you sort socks and fold towels.
Enter the Haus Maus Original Laundry Guard: Held in place along the edges of your adjacent machines by rare earth magnets, the 8-inch-tall plastic screen completely contains whatever you dump on top. If you one day decide to stack them, you can fold the modular design into a smaller configuration to fit atop the set—great for storing surplus bottles without worrying about one falling off any of the sides and out of reach.
If your laundry room countertops aren’t at least occasionally smeared with detergent and fabric softener, you either don’t do laundry or you’re using the Tidy-Cup. These simple yet genius drip trays snap onto the spout of your liquid detergent dispenser, giving you a place to set your measuring cup and a trap for catching leaks or spills. When drips do happen, simply unsnap the Tidy-Cup, rinse it under the tap, and replace it so it can continue to keep your laundry room free of sticky messes.
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Wash and Fold
If you’re lucky enough to have a spacious laundry room, congrats; you probably have ample space to store a bulky, cumbersome laundry basket. For the rest of us, it takes skill to squeeze that basket into a small space. That’s where the SAMMART collapsible laundry basket is your best friend. When you need it, it performs just like any other full-size laundry basket—and when you don’t, it folds flat for storing between the washer and the wall, behind a closet door, or just about anywhere you have a few extra inches. Plus, it comes in several colors, just for fun.
Go green by hand-drying clothes, or at least have a safe place to hang delicates that can’t go into the dryer. As more people prefer to save energy by letting clothes air-dry, they can find plenty of choices for portable clothes drying racks to sit right in the laundry room. This Honey-Can-Do folding rack offers 46 linear feet of drying space, including a mesh shelf to keep hand-dry sweaters fresh while they sit.
The rack even has special spots for drying shoes, and it folds up when not in use to fit right behind a door or next to the dryer. The coated steel rack can keep delicates safe and fresh after each wash.
The last thing you want to do is fry your washing machine or electric dryer. An appliance surge protector can keep power ups and downs on a more even keel. Brownouts and generators can affect power flow and cause damaging spikes in power. You might have a surge protector power strip for your electronics, but it’s a good idea to protect your washer, dryer, and refrigerator, especially if they’re new or high-end models. These surge protectors go right into the outlet, as it’s not a good idea to run a power strip along the floor of a laundry room.
The Lavamatic surge protector reconnects your appliance only after the voltage value returns to an appropriate range to prevent appliance damage. Lights on the protector let you know the voltage status to help protect against problems from low or high voltage. This two-pack includes a surge protector for your washer and a bonus refrigerator or freezer model. If you use an electric dryer, look for a surge protector designed for 220-volt appliances.
All prices are accurate as of the last content update on January 21, 2022.
If you must do laundry (and you must), you might as well make the chore as easy as possible. We've rounded up the best buys to make your laundry room safer, cleaner, and more productive. Even better? They can all be had for a bargain. Go now!