This Is Your Sign to Upgrade That Old Plastic Bin to One of the Best Laundry Baskets
Woven wicker, leather details, dyed fabrics, and more.
Published Mar 12, 2022 1:09 AM
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No one likes to schlep piles of soiled sheets, towels, and clothes to and from the laundry room. Trying to keep everything together in one giant heap without dropping a sock or two is nearly impossible—which is where the best laundry baskets come in handy.
But we’re not talking about the plastic eyesores that you’ve been toting around since your dorm-room days. The best laundry baskets (and hampers!) don’t have to be stowed in your closet, taking up precious storage space. These containers are chic enough to keep out on display 24-7—and some of our favorites even include a lid for those of us who tend to let the laundry pile up. Whether you need something light to transport bedding and a bag of dryer balls to and from the laundry room; a stationary catchall to hide clothing clutter; or a place to sort your darks, brights, and delicates, you’ll be surprised to discover that our top picks are as pretty as they are practical.
- Best fabric: Kept Home Mavis & Osburn Laundry Hamper
- Best woven: Crate & Barrel Wicker Laundry Basket
- Best paper: Uashmama Modular Snap & Separate Laundry Bags
- Best metal: Yamazaki Wood Handle Round Baskets
- Best wood: Marie Kondo Shoji Bamboo Hamper
- Best wheels: Rejuvenation Steele Canvas Laundry System
- Best kids: Crate & Kids Corner Hamper
Best Fabric: Kept Home Mavis & Osburn Laundry Hamper
Size: 14.5-by-27.7 inches | Colors: Black or white | Free shipping: No
Why we chose it: Nestles neatly in a tidy bedroom.
We’re drawn to the simplicity of this utilitarian update on the hamper. The cloth laundry bag hangs from a recycled steel structure with aged leather and brass buckles, which can easily be unfastened to haul dirty loads to the wash. Though minimalist in construction, the high-quality, natural, and durable materials elevate it to luxury status, and the pared-down palette—it comes in black or white—makes it a corner chameleon that works with any style. The color choice also comes with a choice of material: The black bag features a linen exterior and cotton canvas liner, whereas the white bag is 100 percent cotton. Both are prone to wrinkling, but the team at Mavis & Osburn notes the fix is as easy as giving the bag a quick ironing.
What we like:
- Naturally durable materials
- Steel made in the U.S.
- Wrinkles easily
Best Woven: Crate & Barrel Wicker Laundry Basket
Size: 24-by-13 inches | Colors: Neutrals | Free shipping: Yes
Why we chose it: A vintage-inspired classic that adds a textural touch to any room.
We’d argue that wicker is the original laundry basket material. This rattan option is reinforced with a matte lacquer coating, sturdy loop handles, and a removable cotton liner, so you don’t have to worry about it buckling under a weighted load (it’s capable of carrying up to 20 pounds). The design is multipurpose, pretty enough to display in a living room, where it can hold wool blankets within reach for nap time. Wicker and wicker-look baskets are a favorite of DIYer Ursula Carmona, who used the material in her own renovation to add a bit of warmth.
What we like:
- Removable liner
- Best for transporting single loads
Best Paper: Uashmama Modular Snap & Separate Laundry Bags
Size: 23-by-10 inches | Colors: Charcoal, white, stone, blush, olive, brown, blue | Free shipping: Yes, on orders $149-plus
Why we chose it: Snap-on sorting with an eco-friendly material.
Yes, this hamper is really made from paper, though it looks and feels more like leather and is incredibly sturdy but still lightweight (and washable). The tall, narrow silhouette fits in nicely where space is tight, and while many reviewers note that the hampers work well in closets, they’re so stylish it would almost be a shame to hide them from view. Instead opt for hampers in one or two statement-making colors; with the modular interlocking system, you can snap them together, then pull them apart and shuffle them from room to room via their canvas handles.
What we like:
- Eco-friendly material
- Seven color choices
- Snap-on labels
- Can look misshapen
Best Metal: Yamazaki Wood Handle Round Baskets
Size: 17.7-by-15 inches | Colors: White and wood | Free shipping: Yes, via West Elm
Why we chose it: Easily achieve serenity come laundry day.
This powder-coated steel basket promotes airflow, meaning your laundry is less likely to harbor mold and mildew if you happen to procrastinate on laundry day (or forget to move over a damp load). But don’t let the lightweight frame fool you: This hamper can hold up to 22 pounds, so it won’t snap or falter if you’re tackling a heavier load like bedding and towels. And if it does get a little dirty or stained, all you have to do is wipe it down with a damp cloth to make it look good as new.
What we like:
- Smart and streamlined
- Light and sturdy
- Easy returns within 30-day window
- Available at a variety of retailers
Best Wood: Marie Kondo Shoji Bamboo Hamper
Size: 22-by-24 inches | Color: Brown and cream | Free shipping: Yes, on orders over $75
Why we chose it: A bamboo design by the queen of organizing that’s sure to spark joy.
Wood always looks timeless, and the same holds true for one of the best laundry hampers we found. The lattice-like exterior is made from bamboo, a renewable resource, and inspired by Japanese shoji screens. The hinged lid hides away your laundry, and a divided liner inside keeps everything organized. And while it isn’t machine washable, the liner is coated with a lamination, so all you have to do is wipe it clean.
What we like:
- Removable liner
- Integrated handles
- Made from renewable materials
- Liner isn’t machine washable
- Wood may warp in a steamy bathroom
Best Wheels: Rejuvenation Steele Canvas Laundry System
Size: 27.5-by-38.5 inches | Colors: Neutrals | Free shipping: No
Why we chose it: For wheeling around large, heavy loads all at once.
For big families or those lucky enough to have a large laundry room, we can’t recommend a wheeled hamper enough. The Steele Canvas Laundry System features a designated space for your whites, darks, delicates, and more, depending on whether you opt for the double or triple configuration (and if your loads are heavy enough that they need to be pushed, we say the bigger the better). Wheels are also a great feature if your laundry room happens to be on the same floor as your bedroom(s), so you can easily load up without hurting your back. Plus you can’t go wrong with this system’s combination of durable cotton and steel and its generous 20-inch depth.
What we like:
- Two or three dividers
- Caster wheels
- Made in the U.S.
- Priciest on the list
Best Kids: Crate & Kids Corner Hamper
Size: 32-by-15 inches | Color: Orange or white | Free shipping: Depends
Why we chose it: Not just kid-size but corner-size, too.
Not every laundry basket or hamper has to be overly bulky, and if you can’t afford to give up too much floor space, this hamper could be the answer. The stylish steel frame in a bright orange or neutral white is designed to fit in the oddest of spaces, which is why our city-dwelling editors have eyed it for themselves (even though our very own chief content officer, Kate Berry, designed it with kids in mind). The canvas bag is attached with easy-to-snap buttons, so you can simply remove it and tote it to the wash come laundry day.
What we like:
- Ideal for small spaces
- Liner is hand-wash only
How We Chose These Products
For expert advice (and recommendations) on what to look for in the best laundry baskets and hampers, we reached out to storage consultant Jakia Muhammad of Sole Organizer, who is a big proponent of establishing a laundry system that works best for your lifestyle, as well as DIYer Ursula Carmona, whose own laundry room setup we’ve been swooning over since it was first unveiled. And for a bit of technical knowledge, we consulted the laundry specialists Dirty Labs’s chief scientist, Dr. Pete He.
Our Shopping Checklist
What’s the difference between a laundry basket and a hamper? “A laundry basket is a smaller container often placed on a table or bench. A hamper is larger, stand-alone, and usually placed on the floor,” explains He.
But size isn’t the only difference between the two, which is why Muhammad employs the use of both. Laundry baskets are for transporting, whether it’s to the washer or from the dryer to the folding area. Hampers, on the other hand, are used to separate and store laundry. What type of vessel you’ll need, then, is really dependent on where and how you do your laundry. Do you only do laundry for yourself? Or are you responsible for an entire household? Is your laundry area close by and easily accessible, or do you need to transport loads from place to place? On our list, you’ll be able to find the best hamper or laundry basket for every need, from the simple, classic wicker basket to a multi-compartment system complete with wheels.
Sometimes simplest isn’t best. Muhammad, for instance, is a fan of sectional hampers; additional compartments, she argues, makes separating clothes easy. “Washing clothes isn’t the problem for me; sorting is,” she says. “If I were to use one hamper for all of my clothes, then I’d have to remove everything and separate them.” Presorting, however, eliminates that extra step.
“Laundry baskets and hampers are made of a wide variety of materials, such as wood, bamboo, plastic, and metal. Some hampers offer detachable or nondetachable liners inside the container, and the liners can be made of cotton or synthetic fibers, silk, wool, or leather,” shares He. “I prefer a laundry basket or hamper made of nonplastic materials, since plastic will most likely end up in landfills or our oceans at the end of use.”
Removable liners are a plus; they’re sometimes washable and can help protect laundry from the basket’s external material. (Wicker, for instance, while aesthetically pleasing, can become brittle over time, breaking and flaking, even snagging clothes.) Detachable liners are also helpful for portability—you can leave your hamper in place but tote the bag with a handle or two to your washer and dryer, especially useful if you have to travel up or down a flight of stairs. If you’re on the same floor, why not take a cue from the laundromat? Wheeled carts are incredibly convenient for heavy or large loads and can prevent your linens from ending up on the floor.
Size can also have a direct influence on your laundry lifestyle: A smaller basket will warrant more frequent loads, whereas hampers (especially the oversize, multi-compartment kind) can delay laundry day a bit longer. If you’re a person who tends to do bigger loads every once in a while, you’ll probably benefit from the larger options on our list rather than a corner hamper or portable basket.
Q: My hamper is starting to, um, smell. Any advice on how to freshen it up?
While we love a removable fabric liner, it’s a material that can easily absorb smells over time. Especially if you happen to routinely wash soiled socks and workout sets, your liner can start to take on the same stinky scent of the gym. That’s why He prefers machine washable cotton. “Since our clothes, sheets, and rugs are loaded with ‘biological stains’ such as body oils, sweat, foods, blood, pet urine, etc., they can easily get spoiled, attract bacteria, and thus release malodors and smells,” notes He. “Detachable liners can be washed regularly to avoid persistent odors that can develop. I recommend avoiding hampers or liners made of non–machine washable fabrics like wool, leather, and silk for this reason. These protein-based materials may even get spoiled by the biological stains themselves.”
To avoid having to wash liners as regularly as your laundry, however, Muhammad loves scented sachets. “I store them inside of a pocket that is sewn into the laundry bag that I use. This definitely helps to minimize or even keep away any unpleasant smells,” she shares.
And once a month, Jelina Saliu, president of Safely—the newly launched plant-based cleaning supplies company that makes our favorite glass cleaner—and cofounder of The Laundress will spray her canvas bag down with a universal cleaner to dispel odors.
Q: What if I don’t have room to put a laundry basket anywhere?
Super-small–space dwellers, take note: If you don’t have the floor space for a wide hamper or bulky basket, Muhammad recommends hanging a laundry bag over your door, whether it’s in a bedroom, bathroom, or tiny laundry room. Her cotton solution just needs a couple of Command hooks, and you’re good to go.
The Last Word
“Manufacturers today are getting creative with their hamper and basket materials. You’ll see everything: plastic, canvas, wicker, cotton, mesh, metal—the list goes on,” notes Saliu on the best laundry baskets. “I’ve always gravitated toward canvas, preferably with a lid, for many reasons: durability, breathability, and style, of course.”