Moving into a new home gives you the opportunity to create successful systems from the start. One of the best ways to keep a household running smoothly is to have a well-stocked (but not over-stocked) linen closet.
1. Cut the Clutter
Minimize clutter and maximize your space by keeping only what you need and actually use. Review everything! Consider limiting the linen closet to towels and bedding before adding anything else. If possible, move cleaning rags and other supplies to the laundry room or bathroom cabinets.
Most households can make do with two complete sets of sheets per bed and two pillowcases for each pillow: one set for "wash" and one for "wear," with an extra “emergency” set for kids' beds. If your family prefers summer-weight and winter-weight sheets, having two sets per bed per season is fine, but if you’re short on space, you can store off-season items elsewhere in lidded tubs or nylon duffel bags.
Eliminate random extras like pillowcases that don't match any sheet sets or fitted sheets without flat mates. If you have more linens than you actually use, donate extras to charity. (Overly worn or stained towels can be donated to animal shelters.) Alternatively, stockpile excess towels and linens for future college or camp use in a lidded tub.
2. Divide and Conquer
Think of the closet in terms of zones, then sort by shelf – sheets on one level, towels on the next, etc., with short, tidy stacks for each item type. Tall stacks tumble, and tightly packed fibers don't breathe! If you have multiple bed sizes in your home, make separate stacks for sheets and blankets for twin, full, queen and/or king beds.
Keep matched sheet sets together. After laundering, fold matching fitted and flat sheets and pillowcases together. For guest room bedding, if you have the urge to get fancy, tie the entire set with inexpensive grosgrain ribbon, making a pretty package.
Sort and store towels by type (bath sheets, bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, beach towels, and “pet” towels); only subdivide by color if you have the patience. The goal is to make your linen closet functional, not photo-ready.
If your closet is deep enough, and you need an abundance of items, take the extra minute to store freshly laundered towels at the back, and move back stacks forward. Rotating ensures even wear-and-tear. Again, if your closet is deep rather than high or wide, keep off-season items (like flannel sheets in summer, beach towels in winter) behind current everyday bedding; when seasons change, rotate the front and back stacks. Otherwise, store off-season items on a much higher (or lower) shelf so you’re using your “prime real estate” for what you access the most often.
3. Accommodate the Extras
If you will be keeping non-linens in the linen closet, sort by categories (like cosmetics, toiletries, gadgets, cleaning supplies, First Aid) and store in plastic dishpans; they'll easily slide forward like drawers but keep clutter from spreading. Be sure to keep chemicals out of the reach of little ones.
Store lightweight but cumbersome or infrequently used items (like extra comforters, quilts and pillows) on the highest shelves, preferably in zippered bags to protect them from humidity and allergens. See-through bags are best; label opaque ones so you don't forget what you own. Stock lesser-used items like vaporizers, and bulk supplies of bathroom and facial tissue, on the closet floor.
Fold bath sheets and towels in half, and half again, and then in thirds, hand towels in thirds and then in half, and washcloths in quarters—then stack like items together. Folding each similarly sized towel the same makes more space. Match edges, and store with the folded (smooth) side facing out for a tidy look. If space is at a premium, roll smaller towels and stock them vertically, spa-style, in baskets.
Don't feel obligated to keep all bedding in the linen closet. Blankets used solely for forts and playtime can be stored in lidded tubs in the playroom; extra pillows can be piled on a guest room bed or on shelves in bedroom closets.
Tightly roll indoor (slumber-party) sleeping bags and tie them with extra-long shoelaces so you can store them vertically or horizontally on high shelves or the closet floor.
4. Make Time for Maintenance
Take a moment or two when you put your laundry away to straighten things up, and you won’t need to organize your linen closet very often. Keep a donation bin near your laundry room so worse-for-wear items won’t go back into the linen closet.
Label the front edges of shelves (with a label maker or masking tape) so everyone in the house knows how (and where) to put things away properly.
Store only lightweight items on the closet floor to make mopping or vacuuming the linen closet easier.
Julie Bestry is a Chattanooga-based Certified Professional Organizer, speaker, and author who helps individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress, and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems. For information on how Julie can turn your chaos into serenity, visit her at Best Results Organizing.
WE HOPE THESE IDEAS AND TIPS ARE INSPIRATIONAL. PLEASE CALL ME WITH ANY OF YOUR HOME BUYING OR SELLING NEEDS AND QUESTIONS. (423-421-9192)