A linen closet is either your best friend or your worst enemy, depending on your relationship status with organization. If you’ve set your relationship to “it’s complicated,” these tips and tricks will help you live a gracious and happy life with a linen closet that’s well organized. As a bonus, it doesn’t snore or hog the bed!
Step 1: Purge Unnecessary Items
If you’re like most folks, you use only about 20% of the items in your linen closet. So, I’m betting you have more than you really need! Because of that, these things are taking up valuable space and making your linen closet a cluttered, crowded mess. Let’s cut that visual clutter out right now!
The first thing you must do is purge unnecessary items. Gather up all your towels, sheets, quilts, tablecloths, placemats, and other things you’d store in your linen closet. Remove anything that’s old, worn, and stained. No one wants those towels hanging around! Move them to your cleaning cupboard to use as rags, donate to a local animal shelter (but be sure to check their guidelines first), or take them to a donation center if items are in good condition.
Then, Marie Kondo style, sort through what’s left and ask yourself:
- Do I / will I use this?
- Does this bring me joy?
- Am I keeping this item for sentimental reasons?
Once you’ve gone through every item, separate your things into four sections. Items that:
- You use regularly.
- You want to keep (for sentimental reasons).
- Need special storage (like Great-Grandma Rose’s lace table cloth that you use every year but has special laundering and care needs).
- Are seasonal items.
You may also like: How to Declutter Your Home in One Day (Yes, Really!)
Step 2: Clean and Sort
Now that your linen closet is completely empty, give it a thorough cleaning before putting your linens back in.
Wipe down all surfaces with a damp cloth. If you’re using an antique armoire or another delicate piece of furniture as a linen closet, dust with a dry cloth instead. Change shelf lining paper (I adore using scented paper). If you must repaint your closet, do so on a warm, dry day and wait at least 48 hours for the paint to cure before placing anything back inside.
While you’re waiting for your freshly-wiped shelves to dry, sort through your linens.
You may want to group things based on:
- Color – group all colors together.
- Fabric – group like fabrics together (silks, cottons, lace, etc).
- Season – group based on when, seasonally, things get used.
- Type – group all categories together (bath towels, washcloths, sheets, pillows, etc).
- Activity – group based on how often something gets used.
Now, prepare to return your items to the linen closet or move them elsewhere in your home.
- Launder items that need freshening.
- Separate your heirloom linens (as you know, they need special treatment)!
- Donate or upcycle anything you have decided not to keep for its intended use.
- Move seasonal and occasional items into storage (if possible) or another spot in the house. For example: your holiday tablecloths and placemats could be stored with your holiday table settings in your dining room china cupboard.
You may also like: Three Steps to Decluttering your Home for the New Year
Step 3: Put Items in their Proper Place
Your linen closet is dry, re-lined, and ready for you to replace your items!
I organize my closet by type and activity. I keep the items I use often in the front of the closet at eye level. Beach towels, while being a type of towel, aren’t used often, so they go in the back behind my regular towels. Separate bedding into sizes (all queen and all king together). Place frequently-used sets on top.
A Few Ways to Organize Your Linen Closet
Personally, I love the look of an elegantly organized linen closet with every item neatly stacked, like in a fine store, so I opt for clear dividers placed between each row to prevent it from toppling over. Then, I’ve added brass labels to the shelf at the front of each divider to highlight where each category goes.
If there’s lots of space between your shelves and they’re immobile, try using coated wire shelves like these to give you vertical space. That way you can easily grab things from your closet without disturbing items on the bottom of the pile.
Perhaps you’re more into baskets (and less into folding things and placing them back in your linen closet just so!) purchase matching baskets large enough to store your items without wrinkling them. You can do as we’ve highlighted in this post and clip a printed label to the outside of the basket with a clothespin.
A Note on Folding and Storing Particular Items
Antique and heirloom linens: wrap in acid-free tissue paper or hang antique linens (like tablecloths) on a non-wire hanger.
Sheets: fold and store in their matching pillowcase.
Towels: fold into thirds and then a rectangle. Place on your shelf with the folds facing toward you so you have a clean view.
Quilts and comforters: group by type or season and place behind more commonly-used bedding.
Occasional items: placed into storage bags and stored either at the top or back of the closet so they don’t take up space where you’d want to have frequently-used linens. This goes for bulky items, too.
You may also like: Bathroom Organization Ideas
I love the touch of elegance and ease that a well-organized linen closet adds to my life. It may seem trivial, but it really does reduce stress and frustration, especially when I don’t have to worry that things will fall over, be wrinkled, or misplaced. (There’s enough frustration in a partnership, trust me!)
I hope having an organized linen closet makes you feel the same and adds a note of grace to your everyday routine! And, if you want to see the original inspiration for this post, click here to read The Well Organized Linen Closet!