You know those detergent commercials where a woman opens her linen closet and breathes in a deep whiff of freshness… and all the hope that it implies? If that image of organization makes you laugh uncontrollably or even hide your face in shame, we’ve got the lowdown on linen closets to make your reality more like the fantasy.
Begin by clearing it all out and sorting through the mess of towels and sheets, blankets, pillows, and table linens.
Determine what is worth keeping and what should be retired.
When the shelves are completely emptied, wipe down each shelf and dry them thoroughly.
Then, before putting anything away, group your linens together by set and, if you like to be super organized, then by room as well. To be truthful, I don’t do this, but it is helpful in really large homes or if you have sets that are used only in one room, and one room only.
When you know what to put back in, first consider where to put it all so each category is logically accessible based on how often you reach for it. Everyday items should be kept at eye level, and items used less frequently can be placed up top shelf (in zippered bags, to keep them dust-free). Don’t overstuff shelves so that there’s no room to reach in and slide out what you want.
Ideally, linen closet shelves should be adjustable, so you can configure a height of about 10 inches for short, manageable stacks of sheets and table linens, and 12 to 16 inch shelves for towels. At the top or the closet, shelf heights of 18 inches or more can hold bulky comforters and extra pillows. If your shelves are fixed, the easy addition of shelf dividers and wire baskets that hang from the shelf edge offer customized storage options, depending on what your personal linen collections require. You may need to relearn how to fold something so it fits your particular closet shelves better.
When everything has a home, it’s time to get to labeling. Why label? Because if there’s a slight chance that anyone else puts something away, you want that person to know where to place the linens. So, Labeling your shelves is key to maintaining the order you’ve just created. Items should be easily identified at a glance so you never waste time hunting for what you need. Similarly, you shouldn’t have to open a box or drawer to find out what it is inside. Use removable adhesive labels or cardholders to clearly mark each box and/or shelf. Hangtags are great for wire baskets that don’t offer a place for peel-and-stick labels. We like to buy pretty paper, print the label and then laminate them for stability.
Important Organizing Tips for Your Linen Closets
Before you start putting everything away again, consider applying these tips:
- Fold towels and bulkier items in thirds, for easier stacking. The uniform appearance brings instant organization to your shelves. If your space is narrow, rolling towels creates extra space and still looks tidy.
- Store sheet sets tucked into a matching pillowcase to keep them neat and easy to find. Or, place the fitted sheet and pillowcases inside the flat sheet, so it is one tight bundle. If you prefer to see each item in a set, consider cinching stacks with coordinating ribbon. Folding linens with tissue in between helps avoid wrinkles.
- If you have antique tablecloths in storage, use acid-free tissue paper to prevent fabrics from discoloring. Line shelves with it, or wrap the antique linens individually to prevent them from yellowing. Ideally that will be placed inside a plain white pillowcase for keeping them clean.
- Inside the closet door is a great place to create prime storage and an opportunity to make decorative linens that would otherwise be hiding on shelves visible. Hang an over the door towel racks to keep linens neatly displayed.
- Shop in other rooms of your house for organizational items to repurpose. Office trays make the perfect shallow storage for make up and toiletries, and wire pan racks can be used to keep stacks of sheets from toppling over.
- Linens become stale in storage so place a box of baking soda on a shelf to absorb odors and use several cedar blocks throughout the closet for their aroma and to help deter moths. Give them a light sanding every couple of months to refresh their scent. Sachets also work to add subtle fragrance to linens and keep boxes smelling fresh.
Whether you have dedicated built-in storage or a freestanding armoire, you can turn your linen closet into a breath of fresh air and banish the mayhem of a closet-turned-catchall. Make transforming your closet your weekend project and share your before and after photos with us! Tell us what frustrates you about your linen storage or which solutions have worked for you in the comments below.