During this week's challenge we'll organize linen closet or cabinets, so you can easily find the items you need among your collection of fabrics items for use in and around your home.
There are three main types of linens I'll be discussing, and helping you organize this week.
The types are separated by what room they're used in, and include:
Are you new here? The Organize Linen Closet Or Cabinet Challenge is part of the 52 Weeks To An Organized Home Challenge. (Click the link to learn how to join us for free for future and past challenges if you aren't already a regular reader).
The first step in this week's challenge is to declutter and get rid of excess linens.
The items you should focus on decluttering include:
1. Bath towels, hand towels, and wash cloths
2. Sheets and pillowcase sets
4. Blankets and quilts; and
5. Tablecloths, napkins, and placemats
Obviously, get rid of anything you no longer use or love, and any items that are excessively worn or damaged.
However, after that it gets tricky trying to figure out what to keep and what to donate or use in another way.
Make your own hanging shelves in closet
with KangaRoom Complete Linen Closet
[Available on Amazon.com]
A good rule of thumb for bath linens is to keep two complete sets, which include a bath and hand towel, along with a wash cloth, for each family member, and an additional two sets (at least) for use by guests.
For bedroom linens the rule of thumb is two sets of sheets (which include fitted and top sheet, and pillowcases) for each bed and guest bed in your home.
With the popularity of air mattresses these days, make sure you include these beds within your count of how many sets of sheets and blankets to keep, for use by guests.
Finally, for table linens, there is no specific rule of thumb, but instead it is more dependent on how much entertaining you do, how many different varieties you have for holidays or other occasions, and finally, and most importantly, how much room you can devote to such items.
Remember, if you don't use something at least yearly though you should seriously consider whether it deserves a place in your home.
If, on the other hand, the items are no longer in good condition either dispose of them, or better yet, make them into rags, use them in the garage for washing and drying your car, or to dry off pets after a bath.
Such older linens that you're repurposing should be held in a separate location, such as the garage or utility room, instead of with your good linens in your linen cabinet or closet, so they don't get mixed up and used for the wrong purpose.
Quilt or blanket rack keeps warmth near at
moments notice [Available on Amazon.com]
The second step in the Organize Linen Closet or Cabinet Challenge is to decide where you'll store your linens.
If you can store them all together, such as in a large linen closet or cabinet, this can be convenient for putting things away after you launder them.
However, this set up is not possible for everyone, and depends partially on how your living and storage spaces are set up in your home.
If you can't store everything together I would suggest storing items close to where they'll be used instead, such as bathroom linens in the bathroom, sheet sets in the bedroom they'll be used in, etc.
Personally I think that even if you have most things located in one location you may want to keep a few linens in strategic places throughout your home, such as extra towels in the bathroom at all times, and blankets close to the couch or bed for snuggling up at a moments notice.
Shelf dividers can help separate small items, such as
wash cloths & hand towels [Available on Amazon.com]
Once you've decided where you'll store all your linens, the next step in the Organize Linen Closet Challenge is to get this space ready to hold all the items you'll place there.
For example, if needed, clear out shelf or drawer space in each room you'll be storing items, so you have an uncramped space to put these items.
Further, if you've got a whole closet to work with, make sure you have your shelves spaced well to hold the types of items you'll place there.
For example, sheet sets are not very bulky, and having too many stacked on top of each other just makes a mess. Therefore, you can have a small shelf clearance for these shelves, such as 10 inches or so.
The next bulkiest item are towels, which require about 16 inches of space between shelves.
Finally, comforters, blankets and pillows are all quite bulky, and you'll need at least 18 inches of space, or more, between shelves for such items.
The next step in the Organize Linen Closet or Cabinet Challenge is to sort all your linens, and then begin putting them onto the shelves or into the drawers you'll be using.
It is best to sort your linens by type first, such as into the categories of sheet sets, towels, comforters and blankets, and table linens. Then, begin sorting and organizing within those categories as follows:
Group the sheets according to which bedroom, or bedrooms, they will be used in.
Then, to avoid the problem of searching for all the parts in the sheet set (I find that maddening, don't you?) keep the set completely together. The easiest way to do this, I've found, is to place the entire set inside one of the pillowcases of the set. It is like a built in bag to hold all the set together!
Group all the towels together that go in a particular bathroom.
Then, sort and organize them by size so everyone can easily find a washcloth, bath towel, etc. when needed.
Blanket bag with breathable panels
[Available on Amazon.com]
These will most likely be stored on the lower shelves, since those are generally the shelves with the largest clearance.
Group them by bedroom, and place the heaviest ones on the bottom, and lighter ones on top.
If you don't use them often you may want to place them in a loose bag, which allows some air circulation (such as the one shown to the left), to keep them from getting dusty.
I don't suggest space bags for this shorter-term storage, since such bags compress the comforter or blanket and make it less fluffy, and letting air circulation in is important for keeping the blankets smelling fresh.
Sort all of your table linens, first by type, such as tablecloths, placemats, napkins, etc. You can then also sort by any other criteria make sense for your collection, such as what types of occasions or holidays they will be used for.
The key to storing these items, if you're folding them, is to lay them out with as few folds as possible so you don't have to iron them as much before use. As discussed more in the Dining Room Organization Challenge, you may want to hang them (especially tablecloths) where possible to lessen creasing.
Finally, here are some general instructions for organizing all these items in your linen closet.
First, develop a system that allows you rotate all your linens use. If you always use one set of sheets, for instance, it will begin to get worn and faded more quickly than if you rotate them with the other set, resulting in more even wear.
I suggest always using the set on the top of the stack, and when you are replacing them into the cabinet or closet, place the freshly laundered linens on the bottom of the pile.
Second, if you can, it is helpful to label the edges of the shelves of your linen cabinet or closet with some basic information so anyone can place the items in their right spot. Plus, it will help you grab the right linens when you're searching quickly.
White bathroom linen cabinet
[Available on Amazon.com]
When making the most of the space you have available to store linens you may want to consider using some of these storage solution ideas I've listed below.
In regard to organization of these spaces in general, you may want to create your own shelf space if none exists, such as using hanging shelves in a closet (as shown above), or purchasing a small linen cabinet or linen tower for a specific room, most often the bathroom (such as the white one on the right).
In regard to blankets and quilts, don't forget about blanket chests, and racks to keep items stored while not in use, but still quite handy to grab when needed.
Then, to keep piles of linens from toppling over on shelves, and to keep items from gettig to crammed together, it is a good idea to use shelf dividers (pictured above), especially for stacks of smaller items such as wash cloths and hand towels.
If you don't want to use shelf dividers, another possibility is to use open storage containers on the shelves, such as baskets or foldable boxes, to place linens into.
Finally, if you'll be storing items long term, place your linens in moth-resistant bags to keep them in good condition.
I would love to know how this week's Organize Linen Closet Or Cabinet Challenge is going. You can tell me your progress or give me more ideas for how you've organized this area of your home in the comments below.
I also would love to see before and after pictures of your linen cabinets, closets, or chests, once you've completed the challenge. Submit your pictures (up to four per submission) and blog posts and get featured in the Creative Storage Solutions Hall of Fame. You've worked hard to get organized, so now here's your chance to show off!
We're working on our homes slowly, one area at a time, so don't get too distracted from this week's Organize Linen Cabinet Challenge. However, I know some of you love to know what's coming next, so I'll tell you.
Once we've got our linens, towels, and other fabric in order, it's time to tackle organizing the master bedroom closet.
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