why don’t more houses have a laundry chute?

pamslaundrychute
When we first moved to Seattle, we rented a 1947 house that had a laundry chute, and I cannot tell you how much I loved that thing. No hamper taking up space in the bathroom, no clothes overflowing onto the floor. Dirty linens just “disappeared” down a hatch built into our linens closet, and they were there waiting in the basement for us when it was time to do some laundry. It’s such an ingenious and simple device — just a trapdoor that opened into a small wooden chute in the basement — that I don’t get why I see them so infrequently in homes. Is it because people have laundry on the same floor as their living spaces? We plan to add a laundry chute when we upgrade our bathroom. Luckily, there are places online like This Old House, DIY Network, and eZine that will give us a step-by-step. –Mary T.

Photo via Pam at Retro Renovation, one of our favorite sites — the same vintage 1960s cubby that houses the laundry chute also has a built-in, fold-down bathroom scale!

From our partners

I think they went out of favor because they were considered a hazard to small children and could conduct fire or smoke up through a house. I thought they were actually illegal in new construction, but that could be just a regional thing?

sciencegeek

My next door neighbors when I was growing up, had a laundry shoot with doors in the bathroom and in the kitchen. When they extensively remodeled several years later, it was a struggle to keep the laundry shoot in the design, but they loved having it and insisted and it stayed.

I was always jealous of it as a kid: think of all the exciting things you could drop down it!

trebuchet

When we were looking at houses, I loved places with laundry chutes. My realtor told us that there is some fire hazard issues with them and that’s why we don’t see them anymore. Which is too bad because if I could put one in, I would!

Peggasus

My house now (a ranch basically, with a walkout lower level) has the laundry room on the main floor, but the house I grew up in had one. My brothers and I always had fun throwing stuff from the upstairs all the way down to the basement. Once my cousin even went down the one at his house! I’m sure my mother just appreciated the convenience of it, though, doing laundry for a family of six.

we have a laundry chute in our 1922 seattle home we just bought. Ours is at the bottom of our hallway linen cabinet…. perfect because dirty clothes drop is just a step away from the two main bedrooms and the bath.

Oana

Where I live, laundry chutes are not allowed by the building code, as they are seen as fire hazards, allowing fire to travel between floors too easily.

jenny

I like laundry chutes, but a lot of people don’t like letting clothes accumulate in a dank basement, nor lugging laundry upstairs. See for instance the rise of people putting the washer and dryer on the second floor.

Mary T

A fire hazard? Hmm, interesting. I imagine that is something that would be addressed with the new how-to’s, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to make them at all.

Mary T

Ah-ha! Fire hazard, or lazy builders? http://www.laundry-alternative.com/laundry_chute.html

Gina

Both of my grandmothers have laundry chutes in their homes and it was always one of my favorite things about visiting. One of the chutes was just a small square cut out of the bathroom floor (I suspect this chute may have been homemade). A handle was attached to the cut out and you could drop your clothes right onto the washing machine in the basement, then cover the hole back up. Or you could drop notes down to your cousin while you were “spying” on the grown-ups talking upstairs. I seem to remember a cousin small enough to squeeze through that hole as well. The basement ceiling was so low that it wasn’t a very big drop,although it was still dangerous. My other grandmother’s chute was a very long drop from a cabinet in the kichen. It was made a little bit safer by a flap you had to pull down after you opened the cabinet, but my mom said she and her siblings used to do some pretty dangerous stuff in it.

My grandmother’s house had one, I and used to love to send my stuffed animals down and then run to the basement to find them among the piles of clothes.

Mary Thomas

I agree! My parent’s house had a laundry chute and I can’t tell you how handy it was. And the fun we had throwing other things down there as well. But seriously, it is practical. Don’t know why they arent’ used more these days in new construction.

DJ

We have one in our current house. But friends in the neighborhood who are remodeling and wanted to put one back into their home were told no dice, they are considered a fire chute/hazard.

I LOVE ours. Fingers crossed it will only ever have laundry inside it.

Megan B.

We *thought* our recently purchased house had one at first, as there was an open duct in the basement from a closet upstairs. But, much to our delight, we discovered it was a duct out the roof from some previous tenant’s horticultural endeavours, if you know what I mean…. We’d like to turn it into a laundry chute someday, though.

Kristina

When we were buying this last time, we made sure the house we had had the option to install in a laundry chute. When it was time to go and get it done, we were told no because of fire codes in place.

I can imagine that is why more homes don’t have them.

shelterrific » Blog Archive » five things we learned last week

[...] 1) Laundry chutes are the sources of fond memories. Gina says: “Both of my grandmothers have laundry chutes in their homes and it was always one of my favorite things about visiting. One of the chutes was just a small square cut out of the bathroom floor (I suspect this chute may have been homemade). A handle was attached to the cut out and you could drop your clothes right onto the washing machine in the basement, then cover the hole back up. Or you could drop notes down to your cousin while you were ’spying’ on the grown-ups talking upstairs…” Read the rest of Gina’s reminiscences, and the pros and cons of laundry chutes, here. [...]

Sarah

When the kids were really small and we were doing laundry all the time, husband looked all over our 1990s house trying to find a spot to add one. No such luck! It would have been so nice.

Heather

We are building a house in Italy and I am driving the workmen nuts having them build a chute (out of a 30 cm sewar pipe!)… I am so excited!!!

CF

We recently moved into our 1920′s house and it has a laundry chute. very easy.
but some of our neighbors don’t have them because they were removed by the previous owners.
wonder why.