Skip to Content

Why Don’t Houses have Laundry Chutes Any More? Alternative Solutions?

A photo of a modern laundry room.

Modern homes generally do not have laundry chutes. This is primarily due to the change in home trends over the last few decades.

Modern homes (especially with multiple floors or levels) have laundry rooms and bedrooms on the same floor. This saves us time to run up and down the basement.

Also, when we look at modern washers and dryers, we will see that they have the ability to clean clothes without wasting much energy. In short, they are highly energy efficient.

Thanks to household disinfecting products, we can be sure that our loved ones do not get in contact with infections.

If we look at homes in big cities, having a basement is almost always a luxury. With apartments getting smaller, and builders using innovative design techniques to save space, laundry chutes are almost a thing of the past.

I recall, as a child, my grandparents had a laundry chute in their big house. The chute was nicely positioned on the wall, just above the laundry basket. Sometimes it is nostalgic and surprising to think about how residential homes no longer have these laundry chutes.

What is a laundry chute?

It is a duct or tube that essentially runs from one end of the home to another. The premise behind using a laundry chute is to allow us to drop laundry from a higher level (say Floor 2) to the basement (or Floor 1) where the washing machine and dryer are installed.

In order to do this effectively, the laundry chute must be installed at a steep angle. This will prevent dirty clothes from sticking along their length. Generally, the laundry chute’s bottom is installed into the ceiling of the basement.

In order to avoid fire-related issues, the chute should not be placed in the washing machine or dryer. I have seen that hotels and larger buildings use humongous rolling bins to collect laundry when it drops off the laundry chute.

I have also observed that the design of the chute depends on the building itself. Also, some chutes can have more than one opening throughout the dwelling to collect laundry from different parts of the building.

“Installing a laundry chute requires planning, never more than when retrofitting a chute into an existing house. So before getting your heart set on one, review these project pointers on siting, design, and safety.”

I’d still love to talk about how one can install a laundry chute. A laundry chute definitely saves time and energy, with fewer trips to the basement. The first thing to do is to open the wall for the chute.

Removing the baseboard using a utility knife does the job well.

I have used a reciprocating saw or handsaw to cut out the base plate between the studs though. Cutting a hole through the plywood floor is the next step. I’d then install a 2×4 block between the studs for the door of the laundry.

I have always believed that the hallway is the best place to install a laundry chute. Installing a chute is easier if the wall is parallel to the floor. The next step is to install a metal duct.

This can be done by snapping rectangular duct pieces together and using metal-cutting snips to expand the opening. The next important thing is to duct-tape the joint between the two pieces on the inside and on the edges of all openings.

This will ensure that clothes do not attract sharp edges. A galvanized heating duct does the job well of making the chute.

What would I use to install a laundry chute? Tools such as a drill bit set, drywall saw, a reciprocating saw,  a 4-in-1 screwdriver, a tape measure, a taping knife, a utility knife, and tin snips can make the entire process faster and more efficient.

Other things such as drywall and drywall compound, duct tape, laundry chute door, metal duct, sandpaper, paint, primer, and sheet metal screws are also required to complete the DIY laundry chute installation.

The biggest advantage of using a laundry chute is that we can throw laundry down to the machine without having to run up and down. And the biggest downside of using a chute is that it is expensive.

Alternatives to Laundry Chutes

A laundry room with washer and dryer.

Now that we have talked about what a laundry chute is and how we can install it in our homes, let’s dive into some more efficient solutions. These chutes work well if the house has multiple floors (especially a basement).

For smaller homes, a regular washer or dryer does the job. It is important to note that laundry chutes are not energy efficient. Given their size and complexity, they require a lot of upfront investment (unless we go the DIY route).

I am sure that this post will bring memories from those times when we would visit our grandparents and enjoy throwing laundry down the laundry chute. Good old times!

More House Plans