There’s a Good Reason Laundry Baskets Have Holes, and It’s Probably Not What You Think

published May 24, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Africa Studio/Shutterstock

We all have those important philosophical questions that keep us up at night. For me, many of those musings happen to revolve around household chores. For example: Why does my sink magically fill up with dishes 30 minutes after I empty it? (The answer: Kids.) Lately, though, my big question has revolved around the laundry room. Namely, why the heck do laundry baskets have holes? 

Here’s my train of thought: Wouldn’t it be easier if laundry baskets were just big, solid plastic tubs so we could also use them to pre-treat or pre-wash dirty stuff? Since they’re not, the holes must play a specific purpose, hopefully one that benefits the laundry experience in some way.

My first thought was that the holes exist for ventilation. (You, too?) But since your laundry is already dry by the time you put it in the basket, that doesn’t make much sense.

To get the scoop on this Very Important Issue, I asked my favorite laundry expert, Patric Richardson, author of “Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore.” His response totally surprised me but also made complete sense. Ready for it? The holes in laundry baskets make them lighter and easier to carry when they’re full of clothes. I’m embarrassed my 2 a.m. brain didn’t come up with that observation!

Richardson’s assumption makes even more sense if you think back to the original laundry baskets — literal, woven baskets with natural holes between the fibers. When manufacturers started to create cheaper, plastic alternatives, Richardson tells me, they likely tried to mimic actual baskets by adding holes to them. What you end up with is a lightweight, easy-to-clean alternative to the traditional woven baskets of yore.

Hamper holes, he told me, probably serve a similar purpose — but my assumption about ventilation might also apply there, since you’re throwing sweaty clothes and wet towels in them. Plus, for me, the cutouts provide a quick picture of how full the hamper is. 

The only downside to those holes bespeckling your basket? Your laundry carrier isn’t a versatile piece. You really can’t use it for much else but carrying, i.e., as a wash tub or for apple bobbing. (But you can buy laundry baskets without holes if you do need one that doubles as a wash bin.)

In my very humble opinion, though, the pros outweigh the cons — but thankfully, not literally. I’ll be thanking my lucky stars for those holes next time I lug a heavy load of clean laundry up the stairs.

This post was originally published on Apartment Therapy. Read it there: Um, Why Do Laundry Baskets Have Holes?