Clean Up Your Cleanup Zones

Make chore time more pleasant by tidying up your laundry room and updating cleaning tools

By Laura Gaskill / Courtesy of

Cleaning house is hard enough work already. Why make it even less pleasant by putting up with ratty scrub brushes, worn-out rags and disorganized, cluttered cleaning spaces? From the laundry room to beneath the sink, get your spaces and cleaning tools shipshape with these eight ideas. And while it may be a stretch to think this will inspire you to clean, at least you can feel good knowing that starting cleaning tasks will be a bit easier.

1. Spruce up the laundry zone. The tops of the washer and dryer seem to attract all sorts of clutter and gunk, like spilled detergent, empty boxes of dryer sheets, lint balls and pocket change. Remove everything from atop your appliances, give the tops a good wiping down and put back only the fresh, full containers of laundry supplies you need. A few decorative details here can make a big difference — place your detergent on a tray with an empty jam jar for change, or corral your stain-fighting products in a pretty bin.

2. Keep in-progress laundry contained. If your method of sorting laundry involves dumping everything on the floor, it may be time for an upgrade. A trio of laundry baskets for whites, darks and delicate items should do the trick.

3. Swap out plastics for tools made from natural materials. Dusters made from natural materials, like feathers and wool, are so much more attractive than plastic versions and work just as well — why not splurge on a few? Hung on a neat wooden Shaker-style peg rack, they will make your laundry room look very Downton Abbey.

4. Put together your own caddy for cleaning supplies. A nice enamelware bucket (new or vintage) makes a practical home for an assortment of hardworking cleaning supplies, and looks nice and neat, even if you have to leave it sitting out.

5. Replace worn rags, sponges and scrub brushes. Who wants to clean with an old, stained rag or a ratty brush? Toss out the old, worn-out cleaning materials in your drawers and cupboards, and replace them with a fresh stack of soft rags, microfiber cloths, sponges and scrubbers.

6. Whistle while you work with a wireless radio. A small radio or an iPod dock makes a wonderful addition to any space in your home where you spend a lot of time doing chores. Put on high-energy music for cleaning, or listen to a fascinating podcast or audio book while slogging through a longer project (like folding a mountain of laundry).

7. Invest in pretty baskets. The right containers for the job make cleaning up easier and more appealing. Choose woven baskets with a cloth lining for storing small and delicate items, and larger unlined woven baskets for toting laundry.

8. Tidy up the sink. The counters on either side of the kitchen sink tend to get cluttered with all sorts of nonsense — those nails that never made it back to the toolkit, half-empty bottles of soap, kids’ art supplies — so start by clearing away what doesn’t need to be there. If washing dishes is not your favorite task, make sure you have dish soap that smells fantastic in a nice reusable container, a clean and clear area for drying, and a vase of flowers to cheer you up.

Tell us: What helps you get through your least favorite household chores?