If every time you hear the word avalanche you think of what happens when you open your linen closet, it is probably time to consider using a better form of organization. Sure it is easy to grab that towel when it falls on your head, but it can be impossible to find anything else that you’re looking for. So take an hour or so and follow these instructions. Be sure to stand back when you open the door.
Get That Linen Closet Organized
1. Empty the closet
Take everything out of your linen closet and place it on the floor beside you. Try to sort the items as you remove them and put them into piles based on type: sheets, towels, washcloths, napkins, etc. If you have toiletries in your closet, you can place them in a box or bin so you don’t risk spilling them in the hallway as you organize.
2. Streamline your linens
Now that you’ve got all of your linens in piles, it should be easy to sort through them. Get rid of any items that are stained or full of holes – or at least delegate them to rag duty. Then take any items that you haven’t used in the path month and either donate them to charity or put them in zippered plastic bags (to repel both insects and water) to store at the back of the closet or in the attic.
Then turn to the toiletries. Get rid of any products that are expired and those products that are partly used up but will in all likelihood never be used again (such as that disastrous color-enriching shampoo that made your hair turn green). If you have unopened cosmetics or beauty products that you have no need for, give them to a friend or donate them to a charity, such as a women’s shelter.
* If you realistically will never use a linen item again – such as the puce tablecloth you got as a wedding gift, do yourself a favor and donate it to Goodwill. Don’t leave it in your attic or the back of your closet. It will just to take up space.
3. Clean your closet’s shelves
Without all of the clutter in the closet, it is easy to access the shelves. This being the case, it is the perfect time to clean them. First, clean up any spills, stains or dust with a sponge or rag dipped in water and a couple drops of dish detergent. Then rinse the soap off of each shelf by wiping it again with a clean sponge or rag dipped in lukewarm water and dry the shelves with a cloth or towel. (Don’t put the wet towel back in the closet!)
4. Line your shelves with paper
To keep your linens fresh and smelling good, you should line the shelves of your closet with paper. A good type of paper to use is acid-free tissue paper, but basically any type of paper will suffice. The main point of the paper is for it to absorb any moisture from the shelf. If you already have paper on your shelves, you may want to replace it with new.
5. Return the linens to the closet
When you return the linens to their home, you want to do it in an organized fashion. First, put any of the items you placed in plastic bags in step two in the back of the closet or on the floor. Then, looking at the piles of linens you have made, determine which items are the ones you use most, such as your favorite bath towels, and put them on the shelves that will be the most convenient to you so you can grab them quickly. Put the lesser used items, like beach towels and sheets that are reserved for guests only, on the very top or very bottom of the closet.
Fold all of your linens neatly and keep them in their piles by size and type. If your shelves are small, you can stack smaller items on top of larger items, but be careful not to make the piles too tall or they may topple over. The one exception to the size rule is that you should put all of the parts of each sheet set (fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcases) together in the same pile so that you won’t have to hunt for all of the pieces when you go to make the bed.
If space is a problem for you, you can try a couple of things. First, put really bulky items, like thick blankets and pillows, in plastic bags, such as Space Bags, and vacuum seal them. This won’t harm the linens at all, but it will make them take up a lot less space. Second, take your towels, sheets and washcloths and roll them up like you would a sleeping bag, then place them on the shelf with one of the ends facing out. Also, see if there is anything you can store somewhere else besides the linen closet. For example, put your kids’ towels under the sink in their bathroom instead.
6. Return the toiletries to the closet
Instead of just throwing them back in the closet and creating a potential for a new mess, head to a home improvement store, or even a discount store like Target, and buy plastic, cloth or wire containers you can use to separate them out. For example, use one bin for hair products, one for toothpaste, etc. Then you can simply take the bin down when you need something instead of digging through the entire shelf.
7. Freshen up
Once you’ve got everything neatly back in your linen closet, you can add an air freshener as a finishing touch if you so desire. You can go with the old standby, a box of baking soda, or add a fancier home air freshener you can pick up at a house wares store.
Keeping your closet organized
You should be able to keep your closet in ship shape if you continue with the system of making piles of reasonable height and sorting items by size and if you keep the toiletry items in their appropriate bins. Go through and get rid of items you don’t need at least a couple of times a year to kill the clutter before it reaches dire proportions again.