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Chapter 8: Laundry

These universal design features will help eliminate the need to wear dirty clothes because laundry will be easy to manage.
Residential Universal Design Building Code, 2023 version. © The UD Project.

Section 8.1: Measurements

8.1.1 Floor space: ≥ 48 inches in front of appliances.

At least 48" (122cm) of floor space needs to be in front of the laundry machine(s). This space can be in a laundry room or part of another room/hallway if the machine(s) are in a closet.
At least 48″ (122cm) of floor space in front of all appliances and workspaces is ideal. This not only provides room for moving around easily while carrying items (such as loads of laundry), but it's necessary for people who use mobility equipment. Sometimes the space in front of an appliance will extend into a hallway or another room. That’s okay as long as the floor space is unobstructed.

8.1.2 Floor space: ≥ 18 inches between corners and appliances.

Washers and/or dryers need to be positioned a minimum of 18" (46cm) away from any corner. This includes the corners of door frames.
Corners can create reach problems for people who use a mobility device, particularly when it's difficult to align oneself properly for optimal usability. If a corner is too close to an appliance, anyone will have difficulty retrieving items that may fall between the gaps.

8.1.3 Floor space: 60-inch turning radius in laundry rooms.

If the laundry area is in a room (i.e., not in a closet), 5×5′ of floor space or a 60″ (152cm) turning radius is required.
This allows anyone who relies on extra support to move around easily and turn around completely without bumping into walls or appliances. While this is primarily accommodating to people who use wheelchairs, it also provides adequate room for turning with a laundry basket in hand or for two or more individuals working in the same space.

Section 8.2: Features

8.2.1 Located adjacent to the master bedroom.

The laundry area should be adjacent to the master bedroom.
Minimizing travel throughout a home with loads of clothes (clean or dirty) reduces fatigue and is easier to manage.

8.2.2 Front-load washer and dryer.

Side-by-side front-load washer and dryer -or- a combo washer/dryer.
Front-loaders are user-friendly for everyone. Some individuals have difficulty leaning forward, down, and into a machine to reach items inside. People who do tasks seated or are of short stature will have difficulty seeing inside top-load machines. Make sure the doors of side-by-side machines open away from each other. There's no need for doors to get in the way of transferring wet clothes from the washer into the dryer. Consider all users and plan for easy access from either a seated or standing position.

Stackable machines

These may be good space savers but aren't functional for the greatest amount of users. Some stackable washers/dryers may require someone to reach beyond what's comfortable and/or easy to operate the controls and gather clothing from inside.

8.2.3 Elevated machines.

Machine(s) should be on a pedestal, on a raised platform, or in cabinetry at least 8" (20cm) off the floor.
Pedestals reduce strain from excessive bending and reaching. Pedestals (or any stand) are used to bring front-load washers and dryers to a more comfortable height, which works well for anyone seated or standing to operate the machines with greater ease. Clothing is also easier to gather and transfer from one machine to the next when everything is easily reached.

8.2.4 Left-side washer, right-side dryer hookups.

The hookups for the washer should be located on the left, and the ones for the dryer on the right.
Washer and dryer hookups (water, electric, vent) should be located so the washing machine can be on the left & the dryer on the right. Most front-load washer doors swing open to the left and can't be reversed. If you have two front-load machines (ideal for universal design), the doors need to open away from each other, so it's easy to move clothes between each. If the doors open toward each other, they will get in the way.
The majority of front-load washers do not have reversible doors.

8.2.5 Folding and sorting area.

A place to fold or sort laundry should exist, ideally with clearance underneath for optional seated access. This workspace should either be at counter height (34-36" / 86-91cm) or adjustable with a minimum range of 30-42" (76-107cm).
This is useful to minimize the effort and time spent with laundry-related tasks that typically don't have a dedicated workspace elsewhere in the home.
If the washer & dryer are in a space that doesn't have adequate interior space for a folding and sorting area (e.g., a closet), this can exist elsewhere, though effort should be made to have this area as close as possible to the machine(s).

8.2.6 Sink in room or in close proximity.

A sink with clearance underneath for optional seated access should either be in the laundry room/area or in close proximity (e.g., in an adjacent bathroom or kitchen).
Specifications should comply with 5.2.1-5.2.6.
This is useful to minimize the effort and time spent on laundry-related tasks, especially with wet items that need to be transferred to the washing machine.
If the washer & dryer are in a space that doesn't have adequate interior space for a sink (e.g., a closet), this can exist elsewhere, though effort should be made to have a sink as close as possible to the machine(s).

8.2.7 Evenly lit.

Lighting should be strategically placed to illuminate the washer, dryer, and all work areas while minimizing shadows and glare.
Strategic lighting should minimize shadows and be designed to be as glare-free as possible in all task areas to provide maximum safety. It also encourages ease of doing desired tasks in the laundry room for sorting/folding clothes, managing spots on clothing, measuring detergent, and moving clothes from place to place.
Natural lighting:
Where possible, use windows. Natural light via skylights, sun tunnels/tubes, or clerestory windows will brighten spaces during the day while increasing mental health.
Indirect and low lighting:
The use of indirect ambient lighting and low lighting that illuminates the floor without visible bare bulbs or translucent covers (from a seated or standing position) is ideal. Indirect lighting reduces eye strain and is more calming than direct lighting.
The option to adjust the intensity of ambient lighting (e.g., with a dimmer) should be used wherever possible.

8.2.8 Everything within reach.

At least 75% of storage and other places where items are stored or organized should be located between 18-48" (46-122cm) from the floor.
You can never have enough storage for items dedicated to laundry. Make sure the most commonly used items can easily be reached by everyone.
Pull-down shelving exception:
If pull-down shelving or pull-down hanging storage is used for any storage over 60″ from the floor, the 75% requirement may be reduced to 50%.
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