Simplify Your Linen Closet

Simplify Your Linen Closet -

This post is part of the Monday series on simplifying that inspired my book, Your Simple Home Handbook. The series began with 10 Reasons to Start Simplifying Now.

What happens when you open your linen closet door?

Do you see a vertically-organized world of calm, horizontal lines?

Or do you see chaos?

If the latter, then today’s simplifying mission is for you!

I can think of two cardinal rules when it comes to simplifying your linen closet.

Rule #1: The linen closet is for linens

Just because there’s a door in front doesn’t mean you can stash junk in your closet. So put your cleaning bucket under the kitchen sink and find permanent homes for any other randoms that have moved in.

If you end up with extra space after you simplify your towels and sheets then go ahead and move some items back in if need be. We keep suitcases in ours. But just a thought–don’t let it be anything with a strong smell, like the dirty clothes hamper. You want your linens to smell fresh!

Rule #2: The linen closet is for linens you actually need, not for every sheet or towel you ever acquired

So how many linens to keep? I think that depends on your family’s needs. You may be able to get away with just one sheet set per bed, but if you have small children (or a cat who forgets where her litterbox is, as ours did yesterday), it might be nice to have extras for a quick change.

However, I bet you’d be safe with no more than two sheet sets for each regularly-used bed in the house. Guest beds probably only need one set.

For towels, have one for each person in the house, with a few extras for guests or laundry days.

Pillows? One per head. Extras for each additional guest your house can sleep.

With these rules in mind, it’s time to simplify!

Pull everything out of the linen closet and lay items on the bed. Make sure you have a matching number of flat sheets and fitted. Inventory your extra blankets. Do you have too many to comfortably fit in the closet? Any ratty ones you can get rid of?

You know the drill: donate the excess!

You might consider keeping extra pillowcases, though, because there are lots of uses for those. Like,

  • Giving to your kids to use as dirty laundry bags (which can be washed each time with their clothes)
  • Using as a shoe bag for trips
  • Storing off-season clothes (my friend who works in theater costuming tells me that clothes need to breathe, so cloth storage is better than plastic)

Wipe off the shelves before replacing items. I like to have everything folded the same way, with layers facing towards the back of the closet (as in the top picture). Visual peace.

I keep matching fitted and flat sheets together, but my mom likes to keep flats in one stack and fitteds in another. Do what works for you(:

For a finishing touch, tuck something that smells nice in between the stacks. My aromatic item is a box of lemon-scented soap.

When to break rule #1:

Break the first rule if space is an issue in your house and the linens are actually the smaller percent of what’s in the closet. If you truly need that space for something else, then there are other ways to store your linens. Check Craigslist or a thrift store for a piece of furniture that you can use as storage, such as:

  • A chest at the foot of the bed
  • A hollow ottoman
  • A small chest of drawers (kept inside the bedroom closet, if there’s room, or in a hallway)
  • A cloth-lined wicker clothes hamper
  • Cloth storage boxes that can slide under the bed

Another option would be to store an extra sheet set in each individual bedroom. Set aside one dresser drawer for the sheets and a spare blanket. Extra pillows could be “stored” on beds as pillow shams, and then claimed when guests stay over and need the couch.

You can keep towels under the bathroom counter. (Since you’ve already simplified that zone, right?)

When to break rule #2:

Hmm. Never. Unless you’re planning on opening a bed and breakfast.

Now answer that first question: what happens when you open your linen closet door?

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