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Tips on how to get — and keep — your linen closet organized


Linen closets are workhorse spaces: small areas that get a lot of use and are often overstuffed with sheets, table linens, towels, pillows, extra toiletries and medicine. Having to dig through all of that just to find a clean towel or pillowcase is the opposite of simplifying your life. Take heart, though. With a few simple changes, these cluttered utilitarian spaces can be transformed into neat, tidy and functional storage areas. Here are five steps that will help you create a linen restockingsystem that works for you and your family.

Clean and count.

First, take everything out of the closet and divide the items by category: sheet sets, towels, pillows, etc. Wipe down all the shelves. Then, count the number and type of beds in your home. You should have two sets of sheets for each bed, and possibly one or two extra sets for emergencies and/or inflatable beds. If you have extra pieces that don’t belong to matching sets or that you no longer use, gather them for donation to a pet shelter or an organization that helps families in need. If they are stained, ripped or fraying, don’t donate them. Toss them out or cut them into rags. Next, inventory your towels. Keep two sets of towels per person and two sets of guest towels. Extra towels, including worn-out beach towels, can be donated to your local animal shelter or rescue organization, or they can be used to mop up spills and water leaks or for cleaning or pets.

Label and fold

Put sheet sets together, and use a permanent marker to label tags with an initial denoting the bed size. If there is no tag to label, write on the corner of the sheet. (No one will see this, and it makes it easier to keep sets together.) Store the ones you use most frequently at or near eye level, and label the shelf below each set. Shelf dividers can keep sets stacked and neatly divided


How to get kids involved in keeping their rooms organized

There is no one best way to fold sheets and towels, but be consistent. Towels can be stored in sets or by type, but sheets are best stored in sets. Some people store sheet sets inside a pillowcase. I prefer to stack them, with the flat sheet on the bottom, the fitted sheet in the middle and pillowcases on top. To fold fitted sheets, I match up the “corners,” rather than the bottom of the bands, and fold just as you would a flat sheet.

Toiletries and more

Sort bottles and miscellaneous small items into three categories: toiletries, medication and first-aid supplies. Throw away anything that’s expired, and use labeled bins to group remaining items. Although it’s smart to stock up a bit on items such as shampoo and conditioner, soap, and toothbrushes and toothpaste, try not to go overboard. It’s best to only buy as much as you can neatly store at a given time. If you do buy in bulk, keep a few items in your linen closet, and store the rest in a guest room closet or with other overflow items on shelves in your basement. If shelf space is at a premium, try an over-the-door shoe hanger to keep pieces organized and visible.


Most people don’t have a large enough linen closet to accommodate all their bed linens, blankets, comforters, pillows and towels. If your space is small, consider storing sheets in each bedroom’s closet instead. Bulky comforters, blankets and extra pillows can be stored in under-the-bed bins or bags. Or they can be vacuum-sealed in special bags to compress them, then stored in a chest or another closet.

Replacing and restocking

Sheets and pillows don’t last forever. Experts recommend replacing those that are used regularly every two to three years. January is a good time to take inventory of your linens and towels, because many home goods stores have sales on these items. For bed linens and towels, stick to a one-in, one-out policy. To extend the life of your pillows, use a pillow protector under your pillowcase and wash it regularly. To make sheets and towels last longer, use a gentle detergent and wash them in cold water.

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