Today's mission is to declutter tablecloths, napkins and placemats.
This mission is designed to be done during the Organizing Dining Room Challenge, which is part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge here on the site. That's because we often store these types of items in the dining room, or pull them out when entertaining guests, although certainly some of these linens may be everyday use items as well.
As usual, I'm not suggesting you get rid of all of your table linens, but often these are items we tend to accumulate too many of.
Of course, only you can decide how many is too many, and it depends on a lot of factors including how often you use them, and how much space you have to store them.
Use this mission as an opportunity to be honest about how much you currently use them, and if you don't want to get rid of them but you don't use them often make a concerted effort to use these linens more often. Who says save them for a special occasion? Enjoy them!
For example, one reader, Debra, made the decision to use only cloth napkins in her home. She explained, "I only use cloth napkins. I have to do laundry anyway so it's easy to just throw them in the laundry. I only use 100% cotton, and all different colors. Very pretty."
So definitely consider using them as an alternative to getting rid of them. But, some of the no brainers to declutter include those you don't like, don't ever seem to use, not even on special occasions (and can't foresee using in the future -- honestly), and those that are too stained or damaged.
Below I've shown some more pictures from readers who've already done this mission to get you motivated and inspired to tackle your own table linens. Once you've done the mission too don't forget to submit your photos here to show me what you've gotten rid of and I'll add the best images to the page!
Something I didn't really know before I began running this decluttering mission is how many people really love to collect and use cloth napkins, of every sort and variety.
They really are very pretty, and you can easily accumulate a lot of different colors and patterns, as well as have napkins for basically every holiday and season.
Above is an example of one reader's napkin collection, sent in by a reader, Meredith. She said, "I decided to organize and sort through my linens. I'm sort of a collector and use them often, but in looking at my handiwork, I may be a bit obsessed! These are my solid napkins only."
Answering how many napkins you really need to keep is tough, because there are so many factors involved in the decision.
However, the minimum number you need is helpful to know, and here's the formula to figure that out. The minimum is enough napkins so that each person who normally eats in your home has a clean napkin at every meal, for the whole day, plus a few extra for guests, spills or major accidents. Then when you know how many you need for one day, you multiply that number by the number of days worth of napkins you want to have before you need to wash them, with a maximum of waiting one week between washings.
Here's an example of how this works in practice. In this example you eat only dinner each day with cloth napkins, but neither breakfast nor lunch, and there are four people in the household. You do laundry every other day, and so would like 2-3 days worth of cloth napkins available for use. In this scenario for each day you need four napkins, plus two additional napkins for guests (for a total of six), and then multiply that sum by three (to allow washing every three days), for a total of 18 napkins.
Choosing to have more cloth napkins than that is totally up to you, and just depends if you've got the space to store them without it being clutter. Be sure you will regularly use any that you do keep, because otherwise they're also clutter.
Here's a before and after photo, below, from a reader, Valerie, who did this mission.
Valerie said, "I went through all the napkins today and discarded 5 bags. Someone impersonating my hubby walked by and said 'wow, you cleared out a lot.' If it were truly my hubby he would have said 'do you really need to keep that many?'"
I think you did a great job Valerie, and woo hoo for getting rid of 5 bags worth of cloth napkins! Now you'll be able to find and use the ones you've kept much more easily.
When you're decluttering, don't forget the holiday linens. Often we have special tablecloths, or napkins, or placemats that we use just for a special occasion.
If you use them each year I'm not suggesting you get rid of them if you have room to store them. BUT, if you've got more than you can use, or you never end up using them and honestly don't foresee yourself changing that habit in the future, out they should go!
That's what a reader, Julli did recently. She sent in this before and after picture and explained, "Overwhelmed by my clutter! So, I need to start somewhere! Before pic of Christmas linen's, and then after."
Great job Julli! It feels great to start decluttering so you feel less overwhelmed!
Just pick and choose the ones you want to do, that will make a big impact in your home. But if you want someone else to tell you the order you can also grab the 15 minute daily decluttering mission calendars and follow along as we all get our homes clutter free together!