Laundry Chute

2010 February 21
by Otto

These days, it’s all the rage to put the washer/dryer near the bedrooms, which usually means an upper floor. From a modern convenience perspective, it makes a lot of sense. From a practical and environmental standpoint it’s a little more questionable.

Putting washing machines in the basement had a very practical reason: every once in a while, they leak. And when it’s on an upper floor, it can create an extraordinary mess. The environmental reason that we didn’t mind keeping the laundry away from the bedrooms is that we hang our laundry outside a good 90% of the time. So even if we’d put the laundry upstairs, we’d still be dragging the hamper full of wet clothes downstairs and outside. Or, given the convenience of everything on the upper floor, perhaps we’d use the dryer more.

Instead, Anne insisted we put in a laundry chute. It’s a fantastic solution to the dirty-clothes-in-the-bedroom problem and it eliminates half of the clothes lugging. Plus, it has the appeal of trap doors and hidden bedrooms: a laundry chute has such a wonderful retro feel that I approved of it on that basis alone.

Once we made sure to have the master bedroom straight above the basement laundry room, we discovered another bonus: the chute goes right by our first floor mudroom, so that when we come back from skiing and you want to unload your smelly socks, you can just dump them into the chute and off they go.

Another unexpected benefit was that the 2′ x 2′ opening that we left for the chute proved to be the perfect chase for our ERV ducts, our solar hot water piping, and the conduit for the wires we ran for our future photovoltaics – all the stuff that runs from the basement up to the attic. In the end, our laundry chute was about about 22′ wide by 18″ deep. Some photos:

the laundry chute opening in the upstairs master bathroom

the laundry chute opening in the upstairs master bathroom

the laundry chute in the mudroom

the laundry chute in the mudroom

in the laundry room in the basement, the chute will empty into a hamper

in the laundry room in the basement, the chute will empty into a hamper

3 Responses leave one →
  1. Ian permalink
    October 13, 2010

    What provisions were required from a fire and child safety perspective?

    I thought the laundry shoots went away due to either fire safety or child safety. I also like the idea – just wondering what restrictions they placed on you in order to satisfy building code.

    Thanks for the blog!

  2. Otto permalink*
    October 13, 2010

    That’s a great question and one I didn’t fully consider before construction. We had no problems with approval, and no one ever raised any questions during the approval process. Overall I am very happy with the laundry chute. Very convenient. The chute also had the unexpected bonus of providing an easy access for us to route pipes from the roof (solar hot water) to the basement.

    However, I wish I had considered a few things in advance. First, it channels sound from the basement upstairs. So careful with noisy basement appliances that you don’t want to hear upstairs! Second, I should have made it smaller, because there’s no need for an enormous chute, plus now I need to add a bar at the intake point so my child won’t crawl in and fall down.

    I suppose fire could be an issue, but I don’t think that is really that big a problem.

  3. Bippy permalink
    October 20, 2010

    Making the chute a little smaller would probably be wise, but I remember using my laundry chute as a kid like a vertical slide for hours upon hours when Mom wasn’t around. We just landed in a big, soft pile of dirty laundry. We had to be careful sliding down because there were a couple of nails that’d getcha if you weren’t cautious.

    Before you think that I’m waxing nostalgic about the good old days, I got my first internet connected computer when I was 12 and I’m not 30 yet :) . The house was built in 1920, so it had the laundry chute and build in ironing board, as well as other conviniences that modern homes don’t have (built in nook in the wall for a phone, with a phone book sized cubby underneath for phone books- every house in the neighborhood had those and it really was handy as hell).

    I think laundry chutes just went out of style because they were practical and expensive to put in, so like built in ironing boards, telephone nooks, and harvest gold appliances they fell out of fashion, were expensive for contractors to put in, so they stopped going into houses.

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