Linen closets don't get a lot of love. They get forgotten. The stuff inside them, over time, gets put away in a rush.
But you'd be surprised how quickly and easily they get whipped back into shape! Whether your linen closet needs an organization refresher or a major cleanup, here are five easy steps to put things in order.
Tidying up: 5 Easy Steps for the Linen Closet
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Step 1: Pull everything out.
If you’re like us and you store both medicines and extra linens in this closet, put the linens on your bed and the medicines and cleaning supplies on your kitchen table or counter. Use a laundry basket or some shoe boxes to move all the boxes of bandages and medicines.
I'm a little embarrassed by this, but here are my "before" pictures.
Step 2: Sort the linens.
How many towels do you really need? We don’t have room to store towels in the bathrooms, so our extra towels and guest towels get stored in the linen closet. First, make a stack of the ones you really like. Separate the hand towels from the wash cloths and bath sheets.
Are there any that are discolored? Sometimes facial cleansers have peroxide ingredients that can bleach colored towels. You might find some that have been stained by makeup. Would you put them out for a guest? If not, then put them in a stack that won’t go back in this closet.
Do you have sheets in this closet? Are there any that are no longer used? I found some flannel sheets in our closet, but since my husband has vetoed flannel as too hot to sleep on, and we don’t have another queen sized bed, it was time to let them go.
How many sets of sheets do you really need for each bed? Two sets should be sufficient for the master bed, and one for any guest bed– one to be on the bed, and one to have ready for laundry day. For kids’ beds, I recommend having two or three – one to be on the bed and one as a backup for laundry time, plus or minus a specialty set. My kids each have a set of flannel sheets for our chilly northwest winters.
Can your sheets be stored in the room where they will be used? If there’s no room in each bedroom closet, you might consider utilizing under-bed drawers or storage crates to keep sheets close to their beds.
Any sheets or towels that you won’t be keeping can be donated. Your local animal shelter or veterinary hospital can always use extra towels for kennels. We’ve also turned stained or torn towels into “dog towels.” These get used on bath days or to wipe muddy paws as they come back inside the house. If your towels and sheets are in good shape, check into local emergency shelters or simply visit your nearest thrift store.
Now check out those linens...
Step 3: Go through the medicines and first aid supplies.
Can you combine anything to get rid of two packages of the same thing? I don’t know how we ended up with so many boxes of bandages, but I combined them and was able to toss three empty boxes. I found two nearly empty bottles of children’s allergy medicine at the back of the medicine shelf, and we don’t even use that kind of medicine anymore. Those got thrown away.
Are any medicines expired? Get rid of them! Any shampoos or soaps you were gifted but don’t use? Do you have a collection of hotel toiletries? See if your local emergency shelter will take them, or if you don’t have that many, do what I’ve done in the past – take them to the office and put them in the kitchen with a note saying, “free to good home.” You’d be surprised at how quickly stuff disappears at work.
As you’re going through these things, put like items together. This will help you organize them when you put away what’s staying. Categories might be, first aid supplies, oral health items, travel sizes, cold medicines and pain relievers, etc.
Step 4: Store what you’re keeping so you can see it and it gets used.
I love these little three-drawer Rubbermaid containers. I use a smaller one in my sewing area, one for medicines in the linen closet, and each of the kids has one for their craft supplies. They are great for increasing your vertical storage while making everything accessible. Place groupings in your drawers. For example, you might have “travel size items” in one drawer, pain relievers and cold medicines in another, and first aid or oral health items in a third.
Professional organizers each have their favorite way of folding towels to store them. You can roll them, you can flat fold and stack them… whatever way you decide, just make it easy to see what you have. I recommend keeping hand towels together, wash cloths in a separate stack, and then bath towels. This makes it easy to grab clean towels out according to set, and also it just looks neater on the shelf when things that are the same approximate size are together.
Step 5: Give yourself permission to replace worn items.
We all have priorities when it comes to finances. But if you’ve honestly got towels that have seen better days and you wouldn’t put them out for your mother-in-law, then give yourself permission to buy a new set. I’ve found great quality towels at bargain prices at Costco and Target, and I’m considering trying some of the Amazon towels, too. With about $25, you can touch soft washcloths in your shower, and not those old, scratchy ones.
The same goes for sheets. You don’t have to spend a fortune to sleep on something that feels good and looks good, too. This is a great time of year to catch sales on bath and bedding items. Put it in your budget to replace a thing or two, and you’ll be happier the next time you lay down at night or when you have guests over and you're not cringing as you set out the towels.
Here's the final result of those medications.
It went surprisingly fast. You can do this!
Watch for my other organizational posts coming this month as we start to get organized in the new year! You may also be interested in these other helpful organizational posts from the other bloggers in this organizational challenge:
- Real Life Closet Organization Ideas - Love Our Real Life
- 4 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Keep Clothes Closets Mess Free - Sunflower Mom
- The Unexpected Tool for a Perfectly Organized Linen Closet - Single Girls DIY
- 5 tips for an Organized Laundry Room Closet - Busy Lifestyle Gal