Monday, March 5, 2012

Spring Cleaning

This weekend was one of spring cleaning, inside and out.  Rob concentrated on cleaning around the barn with rented bobcat while I took care of the laundry room.

The installation of a new washer and dryer forced me to take a look at the way I was using my laundry room and how I could make it more user friendly.  Over the last year the laundry room has become the catch all room.  I'm the only person who goes in there regularly with a task and it has shelves which make it perfect for leaving something and forgetting it. 

When we moved into this house a little over a year ago we discovered that the space in the laundry room for the washer and dryer wasn't wide enough to hold a standard size side-by-side washer and dryer.  Rather than buying something when our appliances were working fine, we just left the washer pulled out into the room.  This made it inconvenient to move around and gave the room a cramped feeling. 

The other issue in this house is that there are no closets except in the bedrooms.  On our first floor the only closets are in the master bedroom.  With six family members and various guests that means lots of homeless coats during spring, fall and winter.  We decided the best fix would be to put a hanging rod up in the laundry room.  The rod would allow me to hang clothes as they came out of the dryer.  It would also give us a place to hang coats.  It was a great idea but it made the laundry room seem even more cramped and cluttered.

A few weeks ago my washer died.  Since the dryer was also twelve years old we decided to replace them both.  We purchased a stackable front-loading set in blue.  They really are pretty, for appliances.  For me being stackable is a much better feature than the color.  I now have a laundry room I can dance in.  It is huge!  Even the space provided for the washer and dryer is a little over half full. 

I was so thrilled with the potential for the room after getting the washer and dryer situated that I asked my husband to give me a little organizational training.  He's a skilled and trained Six Sigma black belt and I figured that it was good to get some expert help.  He gave me a 5S presentation and off I went.

I began by cleaning everything out of the room except the washer and dryer.  I designated an area to hold the things I wanted to keep in the laundry room after the cleaning was done. I labeled areas on the kitchen counter to help me sort things: kids, dad, misc., mom.  Put a box for things to be given away and a garbage can right outside the door and went to work.  The kids helped me get things out of the room and into the proper locations for sorting.  After we emptied the room we were amazed at all the stuff that we had been piling in there.

With the room empty, I wiped off all the shelves, swept and mopped the floor and washed the base boards.  Then I focused on the things that were to come back in the room and the most efficient arrangement.  As a result of my excellent 5S training I determined that the room was to be used for laundry, cleaning supplies and limited storage for things that are used regularly and need to be accessed easily.  All of the tools were banished.  Light bulbs found a new home under the sink.  The box of glasses that hadn't been unpacked was washed and put in a cabinet.  The craft boxes were sorted through and consolidated.  The four soft side coolers and two small coolers were reduced to two soft coolers and the rest were placed in the give box.  The pile of paper bags was taken to recycling.  After everything was on the shelves I still had room for laundry baskets on two of the shelves.  The amount of clutter we'd accumulated was impressive but the clear shelves were even more impressive.

We decided to rehang the clothes rod but placed in further in the nook where the washer and dryer are situated.  The coats hang on one side and the hanging clothes just taken out of the dryer hang on the other.  Putting the rod higher up and further into that recess allows us to hang things without feeling as if we are walking into a coat closet when we walk into the laundry room.

Rob says that the newly re-purposed laundry room has now become his safe place, a room of order where he can go and breath deeply when the chaos of four children and a farm get to him.  I am thankful that I have a washer and dryer and room to dance.

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