Laundry Room Lighting 101

Laundry Room Lighting 101

You'll see a lot of lighting tips for your kitchen and bathroom, but let's not forget about the laundry room.  Laundry rooms are one of the most varied of residential rooms. Some are closets; some are expansive rooms. Some are in basements; some are upstairs. So, what do all the different kinds of laundry rooms have in common? You guessed it: A need for quality lighting.  

Let's start with natural light. When you think of detergent commercials, don’t you imagine lots of sunlight? Open air and natural light suggest freshness, while the opposite – darkness and trapped air – would be horrible ways to convince viewers that your detergent will cleanse their lives.

That’s what the whole laundry enterprise is all about, right? Fresh starts can’t happen with dirty clothes. Every day is a new beginning, and everyone wants to start the day feeling good, confident, and optimistic. Laundry day makes that happen. However, as big of a deal as laundry is, we wish we didn’t have to deal with it at all. Since we do have to deal with it, we should at least have well lighted laundry rooms.

Natural sunlight is the best kind of light for cleaning clothes because in it you can easily assess how dirty or clean something is. Stains and the lack thereof are very easily detectable in natural light. Sometimes, natural light isn’t an option.  Either because the laundry room is subterranean or otherwise windowless. Obviously, in the image below, natural light is not an option. Yet, the color temperature of the ceiling light is neutral enough to make this laundry room bearable while another, poorer lighting choice could have made this tiny laundry room annoying to visit and kind of scary.

Lindus Construction/Midwest LeafGuard

If natural is not an option, how should you light your laundry room? For any type of laundry room, there are some fundamental guidelines.

Consider choosing lights with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of as close to 100 as possible. A light source’s CRI is, in effect, a metric by which to compare the ability of artificial light to render color as well as the sun. 100 is the maximum CRI. Some lamps, like low-pressure sodium lamps, can actually have really low CRIs, while there are now some LED lights with CRIs of 95 – 98. If the sun isn’t shining in your laundry room, there are plenty of excellent options that closely match natural light’s ability to render color and help you keep your clothes clean and fresh as can be.

Layer Your Lighting

Layering your light pretty much means that you should think about general light, accent lighting, and task lighting. In the main section of a house, this might look like mini recessed ceiling lights with square bronze trim, elegant track lighting to spotlight a painting or picture, and a reading light by the chair or some under cabinet lights illuminating the bar counter.

Generally speaking, laundry areas are on the smaller side and are too focused on practicality for decorations that would benefit from accent lighting. The two kinds of lighting you’ll find in laundry areas are ambient overhead lighting and task lighting, and this scheme usually takes the form of a ceiling light or two and under cabinet lighting.

Lindus Construction/Midwest LeafGuard

Creative Options

We've discussed the main guidelines for achieving decent light in your laundry room by utilizing and replicating natural light and layering the light, at least between general and task lighting. You can follow these guidelines to a T, and still get creative and original with laundry room lighting. What about a semi flush mount ceiling light or even a bright chandelier for overhead light? What about LED Flex Strips used for cove lighting or over-cabinet lighting to provide some interesting general light? As long as your task lighting situation is on point, you can play with the ambient light a little. Remember that you want all of your lights to have a color temperature close to that of the sun.

For those with laundry rooms deep in the caverns of unfinished basements, you  might be looking for just simple, adequate lighting. These folks are more concerned  with safety and convenience. For treacherous or dark laundry rooms, occupancy sensor and vacancy sensor lighting can save the day. There are some great options out there for high quality motion sensor lights, and any light that can be controlled by a switch, generally speaking, can be controlled by a motion sensor switch. That’s right, for lots of people, just changing the kind of light switch can make a major impact on how you feel about your laundry room.

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