Blog, Kitchen and Surround

Finding Pantry Space in a Laundry Room

Combining a pantry with a laundry room is one of the most logical ways to be efficient with food storage space. Laundry room / pantry combos are the smart way to stretch space in homes.

Spoiler alert: a pantry can be combined with any room in the house, even the bedroom. When there is no pantry, people get creative (or maybe a little desperate!) and find ways to make it happen. Butler pantries and walk in pantries can share space with laundry rooms (and utility and mudrooms while we are at it).

When you think of it, the laundry is a “doing” room, and the pantry is all storage. By putting “doing” and storage together into one, you’ve just saved an entire room in your house!

Read on about the special considerations when combining food storage with other rooms.

Laundry room off of kitchen with overflow pantry storage.

Can you have a pantry and laundry room together?

A pantry can be combined with a laundry room to share food storage space with laundry task space. Food should be stored separately from laundry detergents and cleaning chemicals in the same room, to avoid absorbing chemical smells.

Can I store food in my laundry room?

Food can be stored in a laundry room, as long as it is not adjacent to cleaning supplies. Some foods will absorb smells around them. Flour is especially susceptible to absorbing detergent smells.

One Christmas I received a generous assorted home-baked cookie plate from a friend. I sadly had to toss out the whole thing after tasting the first bite. The other family members had the same experience. Flour stored next to laundry detergent was highly suspected in tainting the cookies with a foul taste.

Getting flour storage right is a big deal. I dedicated an entire article to it, Finding the Perfect Flour Container. Not only does it cover finding the right size container, every recommended container is air tight.

I wouldn’t worry about canned food or food in glass jars taking on soap odors. Consider decanting any boxed food without an interior sealed wrapper into air tight containers. Things like rice, potato flakes, noodles, and tea bags are open to flavor contamination. Once sealed bags are opened, they should not be put back in laundry room space.

If you are limited on pantry space, you can take your chances with how fast opened food will take on soap odors. The rule still stands with flour, keep it away from laundry soap! I am assuming that this applies more specifically to powdered laundry detergent. Another choice is to put the powdered detergent into its own glass jar or tin container. There are several cute laundry detergent storage containers on Amazon to enhance any laundry room decor theme.

The classic laundry room pantry combo

I don’t really know if there is as “classic” laundry room pantry combo. “Efficiency apartment” comes to mind for laundry/pantry combos (see the photo below). No one would ever question putting the two rooms together in that living situation. The featured image at the top of this page is a very standard case: a pantry closet sharing space within the laundry room.

When I ran out of pantry space (I had a small 4.5 x 5.5 walk-in, a metal-wired shelf was purchased for an empty wall in the laundry room. The whole family loves it. It gets the overflow of small kitchen appliances I have accumulated (and accessories, thank you InstantPot).  I recently tacked on a small, narrow tower of shelves someone no longer needed. I think I finally hit the sweet spot for storage (until the next latest and greatest Christmas appliance comes out!).

Laundry pantry combo in small home/efficiency apartment.

If you don’t have a closet and don’t want to use open shelving, freestanding pantry cabinets are your friend. Decor-satisfying colors, styles, and features can elevate the laundry room to a classy level. Who says the laundry room has to be dumpy?

That’s what I like about putting a pantry in a full-sized laundry room, being easily able to access pantry space. Most people already lean on laundry rooms for a little extra space. Who hasn’t randomly thrown grocery items in there at one time or another?

Special considerations when sharing pantry and laundry space

Although pantry and laundry space play well together, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • store food separate from cleaning supplies
  • don’t block access to pantry space
  • allow enough room for laundry baskets and handling laundry tasks
  • washer and dryer can generate heat; keep the laundry room as cool as possible
  • a chest freezer can double as laundry folding space

One point to emphasize, some people have no option but to vent a clothes dryer right back in the same space with an indoor dryer vent. This will definitely add heat and moisture into the laundry room space. Make sure to examine the laundry room when the dryer is running to see if this is truly a good idea to share food storage space.

Can you have a laundry room in a butler’s pantry?

A butler’s pantry should only be combined with a laundry room if it is a casual butler’s pantry or if the pantry space will be hidden, such as a closet with a pantry door.

The term “butler’s pantry” has really become blurred in the last few decades. Chances are, enter a conversation on what defines a butler’s pantry and the forthcoming opinions will be waaaay different. For the sake of argument, let’s say that butler’s pantries are in two different categories: fancy decor + fancy dishes supporting a fancy dining room OR everyday side room (more of a support room to the main kitchen).

Pantry cabinets blend in with laundry room

Coming from the fancy angle, who would ever put a laundry room in one of the nicer rooms in the home? There is one time when it makes sense: the laundry space is hidden behind a door. This is not uncommon. Imagine a luxury apartment, maybe a couple lives there without kids or a single person. Space is restricted, but the priority could be on fine dining or cooking. Laundry needs are minimal and can fit behind a door.

In scenario 2, the butler’s pantry is just an every day spot (maybe even a dump spot) off the side of the kitchen. There may be an extra fridge or microwave in there. It’s just the opposite of the fancy butler’s pantry – its already a casual situation. My impression of a butler’s pantry is one that features counters compared to a more traditional shelving-based pantry, and cabinets to hide everything.

The attitude becomes completely different. If done right (and kept tidy) the laundry space can be out in the open, sharing room with this laid-back style of butler’s pantry. The argument begs to ask, “is the laundry room sharing space with the pantry, or the pantry sharing space with the laundry room?”

In the picture below, a butler’s pantry / closet pantry are introduced prior to the laundry room space just beyond the doorway. The doorway defines a boundary between the two work spaces. Many closed doors are used to keep the area looking clean and tidy.

Can a walk in pantry be combined with a laundry room?

A walk in pantry and laundry room can be combined. Best practice is to clearly define the space between food storage and laundry zones. Food storage should be stored separately from laundry detergents and cleaning chemicals to avoid absorbing chemical smells.

Remember what I said in the above section about a traditional “shelf-based” pantry? A walk-in pantry is more heavily weighted to open storage shelves rather than closed in cabinets, like a butler’s pantry. Shelf-based pantries are both an efficiency and budget strategy.

With that said, walk-in pantries are less formal than even the every day, side support room butler’s pantry. It will likely be more welcoming to sharing a laundry room than other spaces.

Can you put a utility room, pantry, and laundry room together?

My answer stands, you can always add a pantry where it is most needed and space is available. The only limitation is in the personal preferences of the homeowner.

Laundry rooms and utility rooms are perfect mates together; a pantry also can share this space well.

Pantry closet in laundry room shared with utility space.

Can you combine a mudroom, pantry, and laundry room?

The mudroom, pantry, and laundry rooms are natural spaces to combine together. The efficiency of sharing the space helps to maximize floor plans.

Some people might call these three the “trifecta” in house design layout. Lately, I’ve been poring over house plans, and it is quite impressive the clever ways that this triad can fit together in 1600-2000 sq. ft. home layouts.

In fact, a mudroom entry with easy access to the pantry is beyond smart. If you’ve ever heard of a “Costco door” it allows the home owner to go from garage to pantry directly. Placing the mudroom in the floorplan before a pantry is even better, in my regards.

Here in the Midwest, tracking in snow or mud from a rainy day is common – having a mudroom is essential when cold and rainy weather gear are required. I can’t even imagine living without one when bringing in the groceries!

In conclusion

Laundry design layout is just as important as pantry design. In small kitchens and houses that lack space, it is the obvious route to combine pantry space with other hard-working rooms in the house.

How about you? Did you come up with a solution that you are satisfied with? Please share in the comments below!