I don’t have a huge kitchen, considering I have an otherwise fairly spacious four-bedroom suburban house. You enter it from the living room or the garage and always end up hitting the refrigerator with the door on your way in. The kitchen has skinny pantry cabinets on one side and the counters form a U shape. To the right is a tiny coat closet — which sits under the stairs, limiting the overall space — where I store the trash can and a recycling bin.
Even though my entire kitchen measures 100 square feet, I still make room for one non-traditional yet essential (to me!) item: a plastic laundry hamper. And I stash it in the dead space of my coat closet, right next to the trash can and recycling bin.
I started keeping a hamper in my kitchen because of the pandemic (which is also when I moved into this house). Dirty masks came home in backpacks and purses and I’d leave them at the foot of the stairs to take to the laundry room. Then, my puppy (another pandemic addition) would take it upon herself to eat them up, or, they’d get trodden on or kicked around and by the time I’d find them (if I did!) I didn’t know if they were clean or dirty. I was sick of the mask mess, so I stuck a hamper in the coat closet and started throwing masks and dish rags in there.
Soon random discarded t-shirts, sweatshirts, pee-soaked pants, and all other manners of “things needing washing” found their way to the kitchen hamper. My son has a propensity to remove his socks the moment he gets in the car after school so I started scooping those up (or, if I’m lucky, prompting him to) and getting them to the hamper. In the summer, pool towels or post-water fight towels had a receptacle here. In the winter, wet gloves got tossed in too.
When it reaches capacity or we run out of masks or dish rags, I take it upstairs and wash it all on hot since it’s the kind of stuff that’s dirty enough to require the sanitary cycle.
Making space for these gross things has made my house cleaner. And finding something that logically goes in the dead space of my imperfectly designed closet makes me feel like I’m using the space to the fullest potential. I was happy to hear that I’m not alone in this: My neighbor shared that she too stores a hamper in her kitchen, which she primarily fills with clothes that her toddler destroys after every meal. Barring a full remodel, I feel I am making the most of the kitchen space I have.
Whether it’s a kitchen hanging basket or mesh bag, mudroom hamper, or garage basket, many of us have a catch-all tool in our homes. What’s yours?