How can I make the washer and dryer easily accessible to the elderly?

Eleanor Pella
by Eleanor Pella

We just redid our kitchen making the decision to stay in our home for another 10 years rather than moving into a senior community. But the washer/dryer are still downstairs in the basement. I need help either to put a stacker w/d in a upstairs closet OR make the basement laundry a happier place to visit. THANKS. Think of this as DYI for the aging.

  10 answers
  • Ann Ann on Nov 27, 2018

    we all have your problem Eleanor! bring it up if you have the space

  • Virginia Virginia on Nov 27, 2018

    Getting up and down steps is a big concern for aging people. I'm sure if you bought a stacker that the store you got it from would have installation service.

    That said, measure your space carefully, down to the quarter inch, and take those measurements with you to the store. Width, height, and depth of usable closet space. Then talk to the seller about what is appropriate for that space and any installation requirements for the washer and dryer.

    To make your basement a friendlier place, you first have to get to it. And I wonder if an electric lift chair could be installed to the basement. That way you could get to and from the basement and have the use of it.

  • Joyceawhitt Joyceawhitt on Nov 27, 2018

    My daughter just moved into a tiny house and they purchased a washer and dryer combo (in one machine) and she said that it was smaller than the washer that she had in her house. If you can find something like this you don't need to switch from the washer to the dryer. Hope it helps

  • Robbie Odom Robbie Odom on Nov 28, 2018

    My son has had the stackable washer/dryer combo in two apartments. He's had to slightly reduce the size of the loads, but has been satisfied with them. If you can't move it upstairs, maybe a milk crate or something similar that you could slide down/up the stairs with laundry. I would attach a rope to it, that way you could let it down/up and then climb the steps. Good luck!

  • Susan Susan on Nov 28, 2018

    Before you move anything upstairs make sure you talk to a plumber about hot and cold water lines and your drain (to the sewer lines). That alone could cost THOUSANDS of dollars.

    • Eleanor Pella Eleanor Pella on Nov 28, 2018

      We have well water but this change WOULD require plumbing. Fortunately our basement ceiling is “open” and it’s easy for Workman to find & re-arrange.

      We also have a chair lift for my husband but guess I need to start using it to transport things down to the sundry area. Plus, it’s time to make my “work” area look nicer!

      Thanks for your foresight with the plumbing costs.

  • Oliva Oliva on Nov 28, 2018

    Putting your front loading machines on plinths will safe your back, as you age. Top loaders can be hard on the elderly, due to weight of wet clothes, and difficulty reaching bottom of washer tub.

    Before moving w/d upstairs, insure the spin cycle won't result in "walking" due to vibration, which can cause major water damage if supply lines break, and to flooring, caused by friction.

    If you keep these in the basement, increase your lighting. Aging eyes need more light.

    Those with cataracts are very sensitive to glare, so use matte finishes on nearby areas. Have a large table nearby to fold clothing/sheets. Install a clothes line or folding dryer rack that's easily accessible.

    Pay attention to flooring surfaces to avoid tripping and falls.

    Place a multi tiered rack with manageable weight bottles/packages of detergents, clearly marked in larger letters.

    Purchase measuring cups with handles easily used by those with dexterity issues/arthritis.

    Use colored dots on the machines for "start" button, heat temps, etc., as some lettering can be too small for aging eyes.

    A dryer with an interior, front lint trap is more easily accessed than one at top, rear of dryer.

    • See 4 previous
    • Oliva Oliva on Nov 30, 2018

      Hi, Eleanor,

      I forgot to add that you can install motion activated lights so the person isn't trying to reach light switches that may be beyond their reach, or too difficult for arthritic hands to manage.

      Also, this has little to do with laundry, but insure your hot water tank temperature is set below 120 degrees to avoid burns when using the faucets throughout your home.

  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on Sep 02, 2021

    Washer and dryer pedestals are a handy way to get the opening up higher - especially if you have front-loaders.

  • I would use a small apartment sized stackable set and put it in a closet.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Sep 01, 2023

    We have a slab foundation and really appreciate that, our w/d is a stack-able unit and in the bedroom, how convenient is that? So easy to take off , put in the hamper and just do the wash and love to hang out to air dry.

  • Deb K Deb K on Sep 02, 2023

    Hi Eleanor, hope this helps you out. You can move it upstairs and stack it, or you can think about a chair that will take you up and down the stairs with the laundry basket