How to Organize a Linen Closet

Hi guys!  I’m excited to share with you that I’m starting a new series on the blog called “How to Organize.”

What’s this series about?  I’m sort of a neat freak so I have a tendency to want to organize things… all the time.  I guess you can say that I enjoy organizing things, a lot.  Is it normal to love organizing things?  Maybe keep that answer to yourself.  😉  Many of my family and friends have to come to for advice on how to organize stuff.  I guess I’m that good, or that crazy, or something.

I’ve wanted to do this series for some time now but I was hesitant to do it because I wasn’t sure if people would be interested.  Also, everyone has different space constraints so what works for me might not work for you.  (So then what’s the point of sharing?)  But, I suppose anything I choose to post is sort of similar to a recipe that I love and you don’t.  At the end of the day you win some and you lose some.  Just try to win more than you lose.

In light of all these considerations, I’ve decided to finally go for it and try something new.  Each post will be dedicated to how I organize a part of my home.  I’ll also try to give general tips that I think would help anyone, no matter how big or small of a space you have.  Whether you do everything I mention or just a single thing, well, that’s okay by me.  I hope you enjoy this new series and would love your feedback.

When will it happen?  I don’t have a set schedule.  When I’m happy with a newly organized space, or find a space that has always been well organized but that I just realized might make a good post, you’ll hear about it.  I do think that this will be a limited series.  After all, there is only so much one can organize.  😉  (My husband is chuckling at that because he lives with me and doesn’t believe I’ll ever stop.)

Without further ado, the first of the series starts with…

How to Organize: A Linen Closet.

Step 1.  Purge.  It’s best to start with a clean slate.  Take everything out of the closet and create 3 piles, “keep”, “donate”, and “maybe” piles.  When you are done making the piles, go through the “maybe” pile and try to decide if anything in it is ever actually used.  If it’s not, add it to the “donate” pile.  You should probably shoot for at least half of your “maybe” pile being donated.

Tip – When you’re sorting the piles, ask yourself this question – Have I used it in the past year?  If the answer is no, then get rid of it.  It’s tough love, but it’s a rule that I’ve lived by for years.  It works for me and rather aggressively helps me to reduce clutter.  Of course there are exceptions to this rule, like for things that you have an emotional connection to, but try to stick to it as best you can.

Purging linens also means getting rid of raggedy looking things.  Use your judgement here, peeps.  If you need every single towel and don’t have the budget to replace them, then please keep every thread.  Remember the goal here is to organize and purge, when possible.  It’s easy to rack up a collection of old and worn out linens over the years so if you can recycle old stuff then go for it.  Some animal shelters will take old linens, no matter what they look like.

As a heads up, this step will most likely be Step 1 for all of my “how to organize” posts because it’s an important one.  I think this step is key to successfully cleaning and organizing an area.

Step 2.  Group things together.  This is the part where it really looks like you are just making everything worse.  Make piles of things that are similar.  For example, towels need to be in a separate pile from the sheets.  I like to further organize the towels according to their size.  Bath towels, hand towels, and wash clothes are all different sizes and different purposes.   This has two really great side effects.  First, it really helps them to stay put, meaning it will help to avoid a towel tower from falling over.  Second, you won’t have to go fishing into a pile for something.  Have you ever tried to grab a wash cloth from the middle of a tall pile of bath towels?  (Or to even find it for that matter.)  I have and it never ended well.  I also organize as many things as possible in color order.  There is probably no organizational reason behind this aside from the fact that it looks pretty.  This is also a little O.C.D. coming out.

Step 3.  Bins and shelves.  Sometimes you have shelves, sometimes you have a big empty space, but no matter how your space is arranged, sometimes you just don’t need the whole space in one big piece.  That’s where baskets and bins and dividers come in.  I prefer baskets because they are pretty, but I also have like a million of those cheap plastic bins from the bargain store.  (They are great and super cheap!)

For my linen closet, I used three sizes of baskets that are all sturdy and affordable.  Two small square baskets, one short rectangle, and one large rectangle.  I like the color and they have a classic shape so I don’t think that they will ever go out of style.  I also like the handle on the top.  Most of my linens are neutral colors, especially gray, so I also used some gray and white fabric bins too.  I’m pretty sure I’ll be buying more of them to use in other areas of the house.  I use a variety of sizes in the linen closet because it gives me options for placing things.

While you are planning your space, designate a bin and shelf to a particular item and keep them next to each other.  This will help you find things more easily.  When you want a table cloth, then you look in the table cloth pile.  Simple, right?  When you want a napkin, maybe those are all in your napkin basket.

Step 4.  Put everything back.  I realize this it pretty obvious, but now that you have less stuff, and you’ve figured out what you have by splitting it up into piles or baskets, it’s time to put it all away.

Tip – Try not to place a lot of different items in a big basket because it might be harder to find what you’re looking for.  Really what you’ve done there is that you’ve made a small mess conveniently stuffed into a basket.  That doesn’t really help.  For those of you who carry large handbags, it’s like trying to find your keys in the abyss instead of a nice side pocket.  Organization should help you find things easily.  If you can deal with the neat space you’ve created and it doesn’t constantly try to explode back into a mess on its own again, you will likely be more motivated to keep it clean.

Tip – Always check the measurements of the bins, measure your space, and determine what you want to fill them with.  They won’t do you any good if you can’t get them into the space you need them in or if you can’t get the things you want in them to fit in them.

Step 5.  Remember the space is for you.  Where do I put everything?  There is no right answer, so this part is subjective.  Meaning, you don’t have to put the body towels on the second shelf just because I did.  It’s always a battle between placing things in a super organized way that results in similar things being near each other and the realization that I should be able to easily reach the things I use the most often.  Simply put, you aren’t going to use everything in your newly organized space with equal frequency.  If that were true, you wouldn’t have had things to get rid of in the first place because everything would have fallen apart at the same time.

To help you with this, remember that seasonal items, like red cloth napkins and holiday hand towels that look like ugly sweaters are better stored on the top shelf in baskets since you only need them once a year.  That also means that it won’t bother you as much if you need to get out a stool to get at them.  On the topic of things that you place high up, please, please, please do not store heavy things on a top shelf.  I cannot emphasis this enough.  This is especially true if you put these things in a bin that hides them.  You likely won’t remember what you placed in any given bin (at any height), but if it’s high up you probably just turned it into a weapon without meaning to.

Step Crazy Lady.  Have fun.  Or try to have fun.  Not everyone loves organizing, and even fewer people like cleaning things all the time, but if you do it right you won’t have to do either as often and that’s a total win.

Happy organizing!


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