How to Organize Your Linen Closet

First let me ask you, what kinds of things do you put in your linen closet?

Why? Because I go through these exercises right along with you before I post them. When I approached my “organized” linen closet, I realized that it wasn’t really as organized as it could be. It’s pretty large and I live in an older home with limited closet space, so any extra space I had I used for alternative things such as overflow toiletries, food, diapers, cleaning supplies, you name it. But I started looking around and I have linen type things spread around the house that really belong in the linen closet! And some of the things in the linen closet could go into the rooms they were associated with, such as diapers in my daughter’s room. So I reorganized my linen closet primarily for linens and a few other things.

So let’s talk about organizing your linen closet and we’ll start with the primary item, linens.

It’s a good idea to remove everything from your closet to truly see what you have. Doing it all at one time always scares me though. I’m afraid I’ll get interrupted by the kids so I tend to remove things in large sections to work on instead of all at once. Group like items together: pillows, blankets, towels, sheets, etc.

organized linen closet

Purge those excess items. Yup, we’re decluttering again! You shouldn’t need more than three sets of towels per person in your home, especially if you keep up with the laundry ( see my laundry tips ). You also shouldn’t need more than two sets of sheets per bed, maybe three.

Shelving If your shelves are adjustable, great. Mine aren’t so I deal with what I have, but they’re just about right at 11 inches of space on each. Basically, you want your linens to stack in small sturdy stacks, not wasting any space but still having enough room for items to breath and not turn stale, and so that you can pull things out without the entire stack coming down on top of you. Once you see what you want to store in your closet, you can customize your closet with the ton of items on the market these days to organize closets. You can use any assortment of shelf dividers, pretty baskets, bins, wire shelving, etc. to store items in a way that works best for you.

Wipe down your shelves and line them if you desire.

Use the highest shelf for items that aren’t used often such as guest bedding (at least at my house), extra pillows and comforters. It’s also best to put these items into zippered bags to help protect them from dust and moisture. Previously on my top shelf I had a miscellaneous of cleaning supplies and toiletries that I have moved and instead collected the guest linens from around the house and put them up there.

Everyday items should be stored where they’re most convenient. Less used and out of season items should be stored in the backs, sides or harder to reach areas of your closet.

Bath towels I have three sets of bath towels, hand towels and wash cloths per adult, though we never use the third set. It does come in handy though when we have guests. I do also keep two sets of towels specifically for guests. I stack the bath towels two high. Next to one stack of towels I stack all six of the hand towels and all six of the wash clothes. The towels are on the easiest shelf to reach since they’re used the most out of the linen closet. I put the complete guest set in its own little stack off to the side.

Folding towels I think everyone has their own preferred way of folding towels. Please do what works best for you and the closet space you’re working with. Interestingly, I don’t fold towels how I was taught as a child. I prefer to fold bath towels down the center long ways. Then I fold it in half end-to-end. Then I fold it again in thirds. The first third I fold in is the edges, and then again. That leaves all but one side of the folded towel a smooth edge. I place them on the shelf with the exposed edges facing the back so all you see is the smooth roll at the front. It’s similar to rolling them, but folded in thirds. Hand towels I fold once length wise, then in half and in half again. They’re too small to try folding into thirds. Wash clothes I fold into a square.

Children’s bath towels These I fold as best as possible (those little hoods make them not lay quite right). They have their own stack on an easy to reach shelf. I have two bath towels per child and one spare.

Beach towels These I fold similarly to the bath towels and they also have their own little stack on a shelf but somewhat less convenient to reach since we don’t use them as often. I have one towel per person in the family and a couple spares.

Bed sheets I know you’ll see recommendations to only have three sets of sheets per bed, but here’s my situation. I LOVE flannel sheets for the cooler months. So I have two sets of flannel sheets and two sets of regular sheets for my bed. The two off season sets I store toward the hard to reach sides of my linen closet (you may have room in the back to hide off season sheets). So technically, I have two sets of sheets in use at any time. I can’t see needing any more than that since I run the laundry almost daily. One set is on, the other is cleaned and back in the linen closet ready to be switched out. I also have two sets of sheets for each of the children’s beds. I have each set of bedding neatly stacked together (fitted sheet, flat sheet, pillow cases on the top). Sheet sets are nicely stacked in the closet where I’m able to reach them. Rotate your sheets so they’re worn consistently.

Tablecloths Well, honestly, I don’t personally own one! One way you can store them is to fold them lengthwise and hang them on a hanger, or you can fold them and place them on a shelf along with place mats, runners, napkins and other special table settings.

Keep your closet smelling great. The fresh scent of clean towels and sheets can ware off eventually, so help them along by stashing some air fresheners in the closet. You can find any number of options to help freshen your closet such as sachets filled with beautiful fragrances, cedar chips, scented shelf liners or even simply tucking a fabric softener sheet in your closet!

What if you run out of room? If you have a linen closet on the smaller size, your goal should be to fit your daily use linens in there. You can then figure out another place to store less used and off season linens. Another thing you can do if you have storage space available in the various bedrooms is to store the linens for that room or bathroom in it! It would actually be quite convenient when you think about it. You can use other closets, storage chests, or a spare drawer just to give a few examples of alternate places to store those extra linens.

What if you have extra room? Then consider yourself lucky! You can now “rent out” that extra space to other items around the home that you’d like to store out of site and yet be convenient. Depending on where your linen closet is in relation to the other rooms in your home, that extra space could store extra canned goods, paper towels and toilet paper, cleaning supplies, you name it! Be creative. What is it that you wish you had more space for? Are there items tucked away in a garage or basement that you wish were more convenient?

I am pleased that my linen closet is better organized and is more focused on being a linen closet. However, I doubt this will be the last time I organize it! Sometimes I can’t help myself from wanting to reorganize things. As you can see, there is a little extra breathing space than is needed which calculates into more closet space eventually. I like having all my guest linens in the closet now. Previously they were in my daughter’s closet and we had to make sure we got everything we needed prior to her going to sleep. Besides, she may want to use her closet more as she gets older.

Good luck on your linen closet organizing adventure and enjoy!


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