Once again the worlds of engineering and consumerism collide--this time in the form of laundry baskets. There are a surprising number of different laundry baskets to choose from, depending on factors such as volume of clothing, in-home or laundromat usage, portability and durability. Some laundry baskets may only cost one US dollar, while wheeled hampers for home use may cost $30 or more.
One of the oldest styles of laundry baskets still sold today is made from a woven wood called wicker. Wicker laundry baskets are extremely sturdy and can hold several pounds of dirty clothes, but they can also be heavy and cumbersome. The wicker weave provides ventilation for clothes removed from the dryer, but the moisture from wet clothing may eventually weaken the basket. Individual strands of wicker can also work loose, creating a potential hazard. Wicker laundry baskets are best for in-home laundry rooms, when wet clothes can be removed quickly.
Most laundry baskets sold today are made from molded plastic. The round versions have vertical and horizontal strapping for security and ventilation. The top opening is rounded over to eliminate sharp corners. Because the manufacturing process of round plastic laundry baskets is so inexpensive, they can be found in dollar stores and other deep discount outlets. These laundry baskets are stackable for easier storage and have generous handholds along the rim for carrying clothes. The main drawback with round laundry baskets, especially low-end models, is a tendency for individual straps to break under stress. Higher end laundry baskets such as Rubbermaid or Sterilite may use thicker plastics with rubberized reinforcement.
A variation on round plastic laundry baskets is the low profile rectangular model. These laundry baskets can hold an equivalent amount of clothing, but their height is noticeably lower than their round cousins. Consumers may puzzle over this feature until it's time to remove clothes from a front-loading washer or dryer. The door of the appliance should swing just above the rim of the basket. This allows users to place the basket directly under the dryer door and pull the clothing out en masse. With round laundry baskets, users may have to pull smaller batches out by hand and transfer them to the basket itself.
Many clothes hampers designed to hold dirty clothes until wash day can also double as laundry baskets. Some hamper models have wheels and handles for easier maneuvering. Hampers almost always feature more capacity than traditional laundry baskets, and clothes can be presorted into whites, permanent press or other specific washing categories. Mesh laundry bags can also double as a form of basket, but they don't offer the same level of stability. Recently, a form of self-standing mesh laundry bag has become popular for people who need to conserve as much living space as possible.