The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

The (Unexpected) Essential Item I Keep in My Small Kitchen

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?

The $9 Gadget That’ll Improve Dryer Performance and Keep Clothes Lint-Free

The $9 Gadget That’ll Improve Dryer Performance and Keep Clothes Lint-Free

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

You’ve probably been there — your dryer completes a cycle, and as you begin pulling the warm garments out, you find that they’re covered in irksome white fluff. To your horror, you realize you didn’t clean out the dryer vent after running that faux fur blanket. Or, maybe you’re just now discovering that your appliance even has a vent that requires cleaning. Don’t be embarrassed; at AT, we revel in the opportunity to share our favorite laundry hacks. From the best stain removers to editor-approved sheet detanglers and portable washing machines, we’re here to help turn one of the most tedious chores into a headache-free function.

With regards to lint buildup, yes, you should be cleaning your dryer vent gap semi-regularly and the outside tubing at least once a year to prevent clogging. Personally, I like to wipe my dryer’s vent every two-to-three cycles, as I’m perpetually wary of damaging the machine or having to subsequently lint-roll my dark clothes for ages. I was never sure exactly how to go about doing so, opting for a wet paper towel and awkwardly brushing the buildup off of the vent filter and into the trash can. But with the Holikme dryer vent cleaning kit from Amazon, this task now has a more streamlined system.

This two-piece kit is really just comprised of two wire brushes that are conveniently bristled and flexible enough to reach that difficult crevice at the front of your dryer. With more than 13,500 five-star reviews from buyers, it’s evident that the set guarantees a quick and straightforward solution. “This is perfect for the price… and you get 2 of them!” one reviewer shared. “The minute it arrived, I tried it and loved it! It got all the lint way down past the screen and scooped it out!” Each brush is 29 inches long and features a 4-inch wooden handle for easy maneuvering.

Not only will the kit help keep freshly washed and dried clothes as clean as possible, but it’ll also improve dryer performance, as not cleaning the vent and exhaust pipe can cause longer cycles, which can in turn increase utility bills. One reviewer can attest to this. “… Recently the dryer hadn’t been drying as well as it should have,” she shared. “I got so much lint out of the dryer where the lint trap goes that I was APPALLED!” Removing lint buildup can also help prevent fires, making this tool potentially life-saving. (No hyperbole here!)

Adding to this product’s many pluses, buyers lauded the kit for being surprisingly sturdy, the brushes’ wooden handles thick enough to withstand even the most severe bending. So it appears that for less than $10, you can be the proud owner of a tool that simultaneously keeps your fits looking fresh and prevents home disasters. Fire safety has never sounded so appealing!

The $18 Laundry Room Find I Wish I Discovered Years Ago

The $18 Laundry Room Find I Wish I Discovered Years Ago

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.

As a shopping writer, I’ve come across some pretty awesome products over the years. From a back-saving tub scrubber to a smart alarm clock that completely changed the way I sleep, these products have truly made a difference in the way I live my life. So, if anyone can attest to the fact that the perfect home item can truly be life-changing, it’s me. While visiting my 80-year-old aunt a couple of weeks back, I found her in the laundry room struggling to pick up one of those gallon-sized bottles of detergent (what can I say, the lady likes a good deal). Seeing her fuss around with the heavy bottle and frustrating pump nozzle, I immediately stepped in to help, much to her delight. I also began to wonder if there was something out there that could make getting to her laundry detergent a bit easier. One quick Google search later and I found the Skywin Laundry Detergent Holder Organizer.

Designed to store and help dispense oversized bottles of laundry detergent, these organizers are truly miracle workers. They consist of two pieces: a stand that sits at a downward angle to help get to every last drop of detergent and a security velcro strap outfitted with rubber grips to ensure your bottle doesn’t go anywhere. The best part? Set-up takes one minute. Simply run the velcro through each loop on the sides of the stand, slide your bottle between the velcro (there’s a lip that helps hold the bottle steady at the base), and secure the strap for a tight fit. Then, all that’s left to do is remove the cap, place it on the overflow plate at the front of the stand, and start dispensing. Easy-peasy!

The second I found these organizers, I overnighted a set to my aunt’s home as a surprise. When they arrived, I quietly put them together, placed her detergent and softener on the stands, and stored them in a handy metal cabinet she has right above the washing machine. As I took a step back, I said to myself, “Gosh, I wish I knew about these sooner.” Afterward, I called my aunt to the laundry room to show her and she was floored. She immediately opened the cabinet and let out a big, “Wow!” I watched as she played around with it and welcomed the big bear hug she gave me a thank you. A couple of days later she called me up to tell me once again how much she was loving the stands saying, “My back is so happy!” Needless to say, the stands were a win.

The Skywin Laundry Detergent Holder Organizer is normally $26, but right now you can get your hands on one for just $18. So if you’re tired of fumbling around with giant gallon-sized bottles of laundry detergent, give yourself (and your back) a break with one of these stands. You may just end up wondering how you ever lived without one, too.

Sarah M. Vazquez

SEO Commerce Editor

Sarah writes about all things shopping for Apartment Therapy, The Kitchn, and Cubby helping you find the best deals and the best products for you and your home. A Brooklyn-born Jersey Girl, she loves a good playlist, a good bagel, and her family (but not necessarily in that order).

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Bored With Your Laundry Routine? Try Hanging a Disco Ball, According to “The Laundry Guy”

Bored With Your Laundry Routine? Try Hanging a Disco Ball, According to “The Laundry Guy”

For many people, laundry is a dreaded household chore. Even after you’ve finished washing and drying your clothes, you still have to fold them and put them away — it’s seemingly never ending. But according to Patric Richardson (aka the Laundry Evangelist) of the Discovery+ series “The Laundry Guy,” it doesn’t have to be. Instead, he says these small tweaks to your washing routine can actually make laundry day your favorite day of the week! 

According to Richardson, sometimes you just need a change of perspective to get over your laundry day dread. “Ultimately, I believe we don’t have to do laundry, we get to do laundry,” he says. “If you see the act of washing clothes as taking care of your loved ones (including yourself) it is so much nicer.” 

If that’s not enough, he recommends trying to turn laundry day into an opportunity to relax. “Enjoy the process, add a few niceties like a drink and something to listen to, and maybe it won’t be your favorite chore, but it will be much easier,” he says. “You know, someone out there loves going to the dentist, so you can love laundry.”

Make your laundry room a fun space.

Instagram is full of photos of farm-style laundry rooms that favor light colors and minimalist decor, but Richardson says a distraction (and a dose of fun) might be exactly what your washroom needs in order to become a space you’ll enjoy going to. “Hang a disco ball in your laundry room, add something to listen to, and take a beverage,” he says. “If you tell everyone you are going to do laundry, they will leave you alone … I promise.”

No laundry room? No problem.

Don’t worry, you can still take advantage of Richardson’s tips even if you don’t have a laundry space of your own. “To customize a shared space, take some headphones, a snack, a big comfy throw or hoodie, and a killer book (“Laundry Love” for example),” he says, adding that the key is to make yourself comfy while you are waiting on the washer and dryer. “Many laundry spaces now have Wi-Fi, which makes things easier for sure, but you can always download your favorite laundry music or podcasts.” 

Richardson’s other favorite trick for those who rely on a laundromat to get their clothes clean: Turn it into an opportunity to socialize. Invite a friend so that you can catch up while you wait for your wash to get clean, or plan a call with a long-distance friend. 

Tackle it all in one day.

Okay, maybe Richardson’s tricks won’t make you love doing laundry, but they can certainly help improve the process. And if you follow just one tip, make it be this one: Get it all done in a single sitting. That means washing, drying, folding, and putting away all of your laundry on the same day. If you’ve turned your laundry space into a place you enjoy, doing it this way will really lighten your load (pun intended). 

Lauren Wellbank


Lauren Wellbank is a freelance writer with more than a decade of experience in the mortgage industry. Her writing has also appeared on HuffPost, Washington Post, Martha Stewart Living, and more. When she’s not writing she can be found spending time with her growing family in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania.

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