Laundry sensors

  • Admin

    I just came up with an idea for a sensor.. In our house, we have 3 large drawers for dirty laundry, with sorting baskets inside. One for White, one for red and one for other colors.

    The problem is that some people in the household (mainly the two eldest kids, aged 19 and 21), doesn't know when it's time to do laundry, they fill up one of the baskets to the brim, and beyond, even though they know how to start the washing machine. My idea is to add a small sensor inside the drawer cabinet, that detects if the basket is full and then cuts internet to the whole house, until it's fixed, it should only take 1 or 2 attempts before the said persons figures things out, and start to do the laundry by themselves.

    Now for the actual sensor, I have thought of a simple laser / light sensor mounted in the back of the drawer cabinet, that bounces off the back of the drawer front, and if the line of sight is blocked, report this to the home automation. There is 5-10 cm from the top of the basket, to the top of the drawer front / table top, so there should be some space for electronics. Alternative mount a ultrasonic distance sensor above the basket, but it could potentially be knocked off, if the basket get's filled too much.

    As a secondary thing, when people take out the clean laundry from the dryer, they just put it on top of a table, and thinks that "Someone else is going to fold it, and put it aside". I have thought about a simple ultrasonic distance sensor, that detects distance from the ceiling to the table above the dryer. If the distance is below a certain point, it alerts the home automation setup.

    Only issue I fear coming up, is the WAF, as I think that she wouldn't approve of the "disciplinary punishment" πŸ˜‰

    Any other thoughts about the above sensors?

  • I think this is the most difficult part in the whole tasks in our household...
    The kids will soon learn to leave the dirty laundry somewhere else, so the baskets are empty and there are internet (tryk avler modtryk).
    I somehow think old-fashioned dog/punishment training are working - what will happen if the don't get their clothes laundered and it's left dirty?!?

    Now being serious, can you do something with a strain-gauge, so you can measure the weight of the basket, if it's placed inside the cabinet on a shelf? then you can to improve WAF add a "false" shelf, that the loadcell/ strain-gauge is lying below, so that it actually are hidden

    Help to understand strain gauge and load cells:

  • Admin

    Strain gauge could be an option, but is probably a bit over the top, so much that I won't be coming around to it before the kids move out πŸ™‚

    The laundry is their own problem, Neither I or my wife enter their rooms to pick up their dirty laundry, they are adults now, so they have to figure things out by themselves πŸ™‚ (their younger siblings is another story, they are 10 and 8, so we still cater a bit for them).

    The whole contraption can be hidden inside the drawer, the only thing that is visible is a patch of some sort of reflective material on the inside of the drawer front, and a box in the back of the cupboard / closet (the laundry sorting station is made up of ikea kitchen elements, with large full height drawers..)

  • @tbowmo I grinned when reading this! πŸ˜‰

    I would try an infra red beam and try that first as it will have a longer service life than any laser I know.
    Also, don't cut wifi to the whole house as you will 'punish' everyone else too (though it might generate some peer pressure it might also start a war).

    You could set up a camera to catch the culprit and then send the photo and 'suitable advice' to their phone along with a message about posting it to their social media sites if corrective action is not taken. Hah!

  • Admin


    My plan is to disable internet access for user and guest vlans (the complete vlan, both wifi and wired). I think that it's our 21year old son that is most likely to fill up the laundry basket, he also use the most of his free time with online gaming, and his room is next to the laundry room. I think that he will be pretty quick figuring out that laundry piles will block his internet πŸ™‚

    Actually he volunteered to be on the laundry team, last time we had a "planning meeting" where we had the different tasks in the household up for discussion. The only issue is that I think that he forgot about this.

    anyways, started out ordering some infrared beam sensors (adafruit ADA2168), that I can play around with..

  • I would simply endured.
    Once clean clothes go away and they will go out of the house dirty, smelly or naked...
    Then they empty basket sure.

  • @tbowmo IR beam sensors can be used in many applications including security, so I doubt that you'll regret that decision!

    But if that doesn't work I can only suggest a cattle prod.


  • Hardware Contributor

    Hello @tbowmo,

    for the drawers I think the best would be a ToF sensor, you can check the VL53L0X for "medium" distance (2m in theory, 1m practical use in daylight) which I think will be perfect for laundry drawer, there are very cheap board on AliExpress.
    It is a very precise i2c sensor and with a low duty cycle you can have a very low power consumption and run on batteries. Opposite to "classic" proximity sensors it doesn't measure based on quantity of light reflected but based on time the light takes to come back, so all you need is to have a tiny amount of light reflected back to make a measurement.
    It could be place on top of each sorting basket to tell you if it's full or even how much each of them is filled.

  • Admin


    That's an interesting chip indeed.. And could also prove useful (how filled is the basket at current time) and collect it in influxdb for some nice graphing πŸ™‚ Could also be used above the table to detect if excessive amounts of clean laundry has been put there, instead of being folded, and distributed to the different persons in the house..

    Just need to make something durable so that the sensor isn't destroyed if someone decides to overfill the basket, and force the drawer in.

    a couple of sensors put into the buy now on ebay πŸ™‚

  • Admin


    Perhaps, but we are a large household (6 persons, where 4 is above 18), so laundry has to be done on a regular basis, and just filling the baskets isn't an option.

  • Hardware Contributor

    @tbowmo said in Laundry sensors:

    Just need to make something durable so that the sensor isn't destroyed if someone decides to overfill the basket, and force the drawer in.

    You just need to put it recessed inside an enclosure, it doesn't need a very wide aperture.

    For using above the table except if you have a low ceiling it won't do the job properly, in theory it's up to 2m but with daylight I couldn't detect non-reflective things further than 1m. If you have a relatively dark room you can measure further but it must be dark with a very reflective surface to really reach the claimed 2m.
    There's a VL53L1X with twice the range that is more expensive (close to 10$ with shipping it seems) and that will likely use way more power. I've never tried it, but I think I will soon as I really want to buy one now πŸ˜„

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