Stylish laundry storage solutions

Wednesday May 27 2020

You can get a hamper in just about any shade of colour, either plain or with a screen print on it. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


They told us not to air our dirty laundry. What they did not tell us is where we should store it before we’re ready to wash it.

The days of thoughtlessly storing your dirty laundry in a bucket, a shopping bag or flinging it mindlessly to a dark corner of your bedroom are long gone.

There are storage solutions these days that meet the needs of everyone, including bachelors and bachelorettes, as well as families of any size.

There is a selection of laundry storage solutions to choose from, but we have narrowed them down to three broad categories.

Let us look at each one from the angle of functionality, aesthetics and price.

Any of these laundry baskets can also double up as storage baskets for toys, clothes, books and other odds and ends. They can also be used as planters or trash bins.


Laundry hampers

These are made from heavy-duty cotton. Think of the canvas that is used to drape luggage in the back of a lorry.

Or the material used for tents or garden umbrellas. Another favoured material is mesh.

Some hampers come with handles made from rope-like threads intertwined together or from artificial leather, others are without handles.

They usually have a wire or softwood ribbing to give it structure, sturdiness and keep it upright. Others are made to be foldable. Most are without lids.

You can get a hamper in just about any shade of colour, either plain or with a screen print on it (the newspaper print readily comes to mind. And those adorable child-like animal prints).

This variety of colours and prints combined with the texture of the heavy-duty cotton makes them most aesthetically pleasing – they really do style up laundry storage.

They can also come in different shapes such as square, oval and circle. Some are fitted with a removable lining to transport the dirty laundry from your bedroom to the laundry area.

The flipside to these stylish hampers is that they tend to collect and show dirt on the areas with frequent contact.

These are the handles, the wire ribbing and the bottom. Washing them with detergent ruins the fabric and fades the print (remember that it is a screen print, so the ink has only gone onto the surface of the fabric).

A lot of care must, therefore, be taken for their maintenance. Use a gentle bar soap and plain water for an all-round gentle scrub and avoid spot cleaning.

Dry them indoors, or away from direct sunlight. Ensure it dries well to avoid moulding. Do not wash it in a machine.

Laundry hampers range from Sh800 for the small ones to as much as Sh5,000 for the larger ones.

Plastic baskets

These are the most commonly used in Kenyan homes. They are made from heavy-duty plastic, others are made from artificial rattan, making it appear like the all-natural material.

Most locally available plastic laundry baskets are either round or oval in shape. They stand to the maximum standard height of two and a half feet. Lids are much loved.

Out of the three options, plastic laundry baskets do the best with functionality. They are relatively hardy – they can withstand daily manipulation, they neither stain nor fade, rarely do they collapse from over-use and never do they react in any way to water exposure. Direct sunlight weakens them though.

Despite these endearing functional qualities, stylists tend to give them a no-no because they may appear cheap and are not aesthetically pleasing.

However, with the right eye to style, I believe you can tick a majority of these boxes.

Plastic laundry baskets are non-biodegradable, but are the most pocket-friendly of the laundry baskets. Unless you are going for international brands, you will not find a large family-size basket for anything more than Sh1,000.

Natural-material baskets

These are hand-woven from natural material such as wicker, palm tree branches and sisal.

The natural material of these baskets adds distinctive texture to your laundry storage. This texture is both visually and aesthetically pleasing.

When you run your hands over these natural materials though, there is a danger of stubborn splinters poking into your skin.

It matters not how superior the craftsmanship is, it is just the nature of the materials. Lids are usually a forgotten option.

These baskets do relatively well with daily manipulation – the wicker and palm tree branches harden with time, giving you more value for your shilling, as long as it is not exposed to moisture, sisal baskets also do pretty well over time.

Remember, however, that this is a laundry basket so exposure to water may be inevitable when you move the basket to the laundry room to sort the laundry instead of doing it in the bedroom.

Natural materials do poorly when exposed to water. Sisal, for example, is irreversibly ruined. Wicker and palm tree can be dried in the sun, but unless they had been layered with a coat of protective varnish, the water can cause permanent moulding that ultimately ruins the basket.

The recommended way of keeping them clean is to dust them regularly with a dry cloth.

Most of these natural-material baskets are made to customised orders. You can, however, get lucky to find some ready-for-sale.

Their bespoke nature combined with their natural material adds more thousands to their pricing. Depending on their size, they range from between Sh2,500 to Sh5,000.