Where Should I Put the Laundry Room?

Woman folding linens in a laundry room

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When planning on adding a laundry room, you might be faced with the dilemma of where to locate the room. Your laundry room's location must strike a perfect balance in ways that may seem contradictory. It should be convenient, yet not be so close to living areas that noise becomes an issue. It should be spacious enough for big appliances and for handling clothes, yet not so large as to steal room from the house's living areas. Above all, your laundry room must tap into a range of utilities and access points that can be difficult to move or extend. Yet you want maximum flexibility with placement of the laundry room.

Main Considerations

Utilities

Of all of the factors that will shift your laundry room from one area to another, the placement of utilities is the most important. Locating a laundry room at or near electrical and plumbing points, plus a venting location, will save you considerable amounts of money, time, and aggravation.

  • Electrical: All dryers, both gas and electrical, require electricity. Gas dryers typically require a 120V, 3-prong electrical outlet. Electric dryers require a 240V, 30-amp electric outlet. Washers require a 120V, AC only, 15- or 20-amp, fused electrical outlet. These electrical hookups should be within 4 to 6 feet of the appliances. All power must be grounded and all outlets should be three-prong.
  • Plumbing (Water Supply): Clothes washers require both hot and cold water valves, clean and corrosive-free and within 6 feet of the intended hookup location.
  • Drain System: Washers require a drain system in the form of a floor drain, wall standpipe, floor standpipe, or a laundry tub.
  • Ducting: All dryers must duct out through an exterior wall or the roof to the outdoors. Some rigid metal ducts with no bends can extend as far as 120 feet to the outside. Generally, though, the best rule of thumb is to keep the dryer duct as short and straight as possible.
  • Gas: Natural gas dryers require a natural gas line; no liquid propane hookups are allowed.

Space

Count on using at least 30 inches width and 35 inches depth per machine. Add another 5 1/2 inches behind the dryer for the dryer vent.

Sturdy, Level Floor

Your laundry room must have a floor sturdy enough to support a minimum weight of 200 pounds. You will also need to take into consideration the combined weight of a companion appliance. Keep the slope of the floor to 1-inch or less across the width of the appliance.

Convenience

A laundry room that is located too far away from living and working areas such as the kitchen is inconvenient and adds even more work to laundry day. Keep the laundry room within a realistic distance of the areas of the house where you work and relax.

Safety Concerns

As long as you properly set up the washer and dryer and keep them well-maintained, operational safety should not be an issue. Especially be vigilant about keeping the dryer vent clean, clear, and flowing. Make sure that any stackable washer and dryer unit is installed properly to avoid toppling. If carrying bulky, heavy clothing is at all an issue for you, prioritize ground-level placement of the laundry room over one located in the basement or on upper floors.

Layout Options

Location, too, depends on the intended laundry room layout. Galley-style laundry room layouts are long and narrow, and they use the least amount of room and work well on the other side of the kitchen walls. The downside to this type of layout is that the working room is minimal.

L-shaped and U-shaped laundry rooms give you the greatest range of options in terms of washer and dryer location, storage, and working room. Yet you do need a wider space for the L-shaped room to accommodate an extra section of countertop and cabinets. For the U-shaped laundry room, the space needs to be even wider to make room for an entire U-shape of cabinets and countertops, plus even more room if you want to put a clothes folding table in the middle of the room.

Potential Locations

Dedicated Laundry Room

If your house already has a dedicated laundry room with all of the required hookups, it is strongly recommended that you locate your laundry room there. All of the difficult, expensive work—establishing drainage, electrical, and water supply points—has already been done for you.

If you are balking at locating your laundry room in this space, it is often easier and less expensive to take care of those concerns rather than move the laundry room elsewhere. If the dedicated laundry space is too small, consider removing a wall to expand the room. If the space is next to a quiet area, consider replacing the interior hollow-core door with a soundproof solid door.

Basement

Basements are often used for laundry rooms since they offer more space than the ground floor or upper levels. Also, putting the laundry room in the basement lets you maximize space in the living areas upstairs. In the event of flooding, water is contained in the basement, away from living areas.

Above, Below, or Near a Kitchen or a Bathroom

Kitchens and bathrooms share some similarities with laundry rooms in terms of utilities. Both kitchens and bathrooms have hot and cold water supply lines, as well as drainage systems.