A linen closet can easily become the junk drawer equivalent to everything bedroom and bathroom-related if you don’t know how to organize a linen closet properly. It can also be the best hiding place ever. Playing hide and seek with my sisters, as a child, I would climb into the linen closet, which was already in disarray. Proud of my creative hiding nest, I covered myself with sheets and towels and no one could ever find me. I mean, NO ONE could find me until I had to climb back out and ask, “What is taking so long?”The truth is, your linen closet is probably overflowing with towels, bedding, sheets, and other similar items that have just accumulated over the years. Click To Tweet
You don’t need a magic wand because the linen closet is an easy makeover. You can do something about those toppling stacks of towels and hastily folded sheets faster than Cinderella slips on her glass slippers.
I’ll show you exactly how to organize a linen closet in an effortless manner. Once you’re done with the space, you may actually be excited to open that closet door.
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How to Organize a Linen Closet
1) Empty Out Everything
The first step is to take everything out of your linen closet. Place all the items you remove from the closet on a clean and spacious surface such as a bed. Chances are, the closet is dusty inside. So, take this opportunity to wipe it down. Vacuum the floor, including the sides of the closet.
Now that everything’s out in the open, sort through all your items. Put everything you want to keep to one side. You’ll give this your attention again shortly. Anything that’s torn, stained, or damaged in some way can be recycled, repurposed, or donated. Decide which items you’ll repurpose as rags and which you’ll be donating. Animal shelters are always in need of towels or sheets and would be grateful for your donation. Sheets that you no longer want make great covers for off season clothing.
3) Line the Shelves
I always line the shelving in a linen closet. Not only does it add extra protection for your clean linen, but it looks lovely. You don’t need to make it complicated. Simply cut the shelf liner to size and lay it on top of the shelves. (There are also pre-cut liners.) You can use double-sided tape too if you want to prevent it from moving around when you add the linen. There are many different types of shelf liner such as non-slip, scented, liner with a design, contact paper, liner for wire shelving, quilted, vinyl, washable, so you can get really creative.
4) Categorize & Organize
If you’re wondering how to organize a linen closet and then keep it organized, the secret is to create groupings. One way to categorize your linen closet is by dedicating each shelf for a specific item:
- Miscellaneous items
Another way to categorize is by how you use the linen – so you would arrange it according to its specific purpose as I outline in the sections below.
I separate my towels according to which bathroom they are used in. Occasionally, I separate the towels by color – a different color for each member of the household so that everyone knows which towels belong to whom. This is especially useful if you have a houseful of children or just for sanitary reasons.
Neatly fold and stack the towels with the folded edge facing outward. This will make it easier to remove them. You can also roll all towels to use your space most efficiently. Keep sets together on the same shelf. (Bath sheets, bath towels, hand towels, washcloths.)
I generally separate sheets according to the bed size (twin, queen, king, etc.). Another option is to organize the sheets according to the bedroom that they’re used in. This is a good option if you’ve organized your towels the same way. Keep your organizational process simple by choosing one method and sticking to it.
When it comes to bedsheets, it’s important to keep your sets together by storing them on the same shelf. This will prevent you from accidentally losing a pillowcase or mistakenly making up a mismatched bed. One way to keep sets together in your linen closet is to stack each item within the other. (As with towels, have the folded edge facing out). You can also fold and stack the set together and then slip everything into one of the pillowcases that match the set.
7) Other Items
Linen isn’t the only thing you can put in your linen closet. Depending on how much space you have, you can fit a number of other items in this space:
- Spare beauty supplies.
- Extra bathroom supplies and toiletries.
- A sewing kit.
- The first aid kit.
- Non-toxic bathroom cleaners.
- Swimming items.
Keep your linen closet looking tip-top, by placing these products into storage baskets according to category. Lazy Susan’s also works wonderfully for toiletries.
Your linen closet can look amazing, but it’s not complete until you’ve added labels. Label each basket or category so that everything is easy to find. This makes it simpler to grab what you need and put away clean linen; even for other people in your household. There are some really lovely handmade labels available that can be purchased, printed, or customized with a label marker.
How to Launder Whites
- Separate whites from everything else.
- Read the labels.
- Soak heavily soiled items first, even overnight, in warm water using an enzyme detergent or 1/2 cup Borax before washing.
- Pre-treat stains with liquid detergent. (Scrubbing with a bar of Ivory soap can work wonders too). Gently rub the liquid into the fabric.
- Wash with a detergent that has a brightener. Add 1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice or 1/2 cup of baking soda to the wash.
- Use the hottest water the fabric will tolerate.
- Add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to the rinse cycle to brighten and ensure that all the detergent is removed from the fabric.
- Check garments carefully before placing them in the dryer or applying heat. If a stain remains, treat and wash again. Never dry a garment that still has a stain because it can become permanent.
- When possible, hang clothes outside to dry or dry at a low temperature.
Laundry Tip: Linen and cloth hand towels that have been handed down, hand-stitched, or pricey should be hand washed with a gentle soap made for fine linens.
No more worrying about how to organize a linen closet. You’ve done it! And the next time you open your linen closet, you’ll be in awe of the practical, functional, organized, and beautiful space you’ve created.
Not only will it make your life easier, but it will even simplify things for your family members.
Being able to find what you need when you need it is a time saver we all need. This is why it’s worth the effort to organize your linen closet too.
Are you ready to take on your linen closet now?
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These are such great tips, Ronni! And I love the video of you showing your husband (and us) how to roll a towel. He did great! We have a super tiny linen closet, and it’s also deep. So keeping it organized is important because otherwise, things can get lost. I give it a once over a few times a year to let go of things that we aren’t using and straighten any shelves that have become unruly.
Your story of playing hide and seek with your sister growing up made me smile. It sounds like the linen closet was a favorite hiding spot of yours. Our linen closet growing up was even tinier than the one I now have. But it had the one really cool feature. It had a laundry shoot that went from the top floor down to the basement. I always wanted to go down it (like a slide,) but fortunately, my mother prevented me from doing that. It would have been a story without a good ending. That shoot was big enough to send laundry down, but not for me to travel in it. Oy.
I do love to have fun, vis-à-vis the video with my husband and playing hide and seek in my linen closet.
The funniest of all though, standing in the basement, I used to think about sliding down the laundry chute too! I’ve been trying to recall where it was located. Maybe the bathroom??
No doubt we would have been great buddies growing up. In full disclosure, I used to get into a lot of mischief.🙄
I love the linen closet! It’s the only place in my bathroom that I can truly create to make it my own. One problem, it is a narrow linen closet. So, I had to find the right-size bins to organize my small stuff for this closet. Using a little creativity when you have a not “standard” linen closet will help a great deal. Thanks for your tips! I will definitely be sharing this one!
Linen Closets can be fun to organize. I know what you mean about narrow spaces. What I love about Amazon is that you can find items in several choice sizes and colors.
I just organized my linen closet yesterday – can you believe it?
With just the two of us, we have few linens so we also keep household supplies such as light bulbs, shoelaces, etc. in there. I discovered a lot of small items taking up shelf space, so I gathered them into a child’s boot box and placed small linens on top. Next I’ll be looking for a small drawer unit so we can access those items more easily.
That is funny that you were organizing your linen closet just the day before. I often find that I get what I need on Mondays, from a a subject I’ve been thinking about.
Amazon and The Container Store are two great places to find a small drawer unit for your linen closet.
First of all, the video with your husband is hilarious. What a good sport – he was a rockstar student! I wrangled my husband into a video once. So much fun! Second, I think I have that exact same duvet/sheet on the bottom of your stack after the “sheets” section. Small world. Third, yes to emptying the whole thing out. I find linen closets tend to yield amazing results because there is typically so much in there that we no longer want or need. Great little organizing project for a rainy day!
Wasn’t he a good sport? I don’t think he expected me to say, “you can put these away.”
I think you and I discussed this before, but he doesn’t know where anything is. After all these years.I guess it’s easier if he just asks me.lol
I think I bought that duvet set at Pottery Barn? I also have the beautiful shams to match.
Linen closets are great storage. I am lucky enough to have two, one in each of our main bathrooms. Having them allows the sink area and under the sink to not get too cluttered. You are right in that linen closets are often catch-alls. I try not to put anything in there that is not part of your list.
How luxurious to have 2 linen closets,one in each bathroom. I know that’s convenient and it helps to keep your bathroom clutter free.
It’s true that if you over stuff them, they become another hodgepodge and you can’t find a thing.
Fabulous tips, Ronni. I love donating old towels to animal shelters or to my veterinarian’s clinic. They are always in need of them. I also love the way you identified the steps to take to organize the linen closet. It’s not as hard as people think, nor does it take all that much time.
Linen Closets trump most organizing jobs. They’re relatively easy and fun to do.
I also love the idea of donating towels to animal shelters and veterinarian clinics. Just knowing that a sweet pup will benefit, is such a good feeling.
I always love working with clients in linen closets because they’re the easiest, lowest-stress jobs. People rarely get sentimental about towels and bedding, and it’s always easy to make logical, rational decisions about what to toss or donate. And I agree with everything you’ve said, except I’ve never understood the point of shelf liner under towels or bedding unless your shelves are made of rough wood an are going to snag delicate fabrics.
You always select the most gorgeous photos to perfect set off your writing. And I’m tickled by the towel-rolling lesson. Your hubby learned well!
My husband is really a ham! He’s such a good sport. I enjoyed rolling with him!
To your point, lining a shelf is an extra lovely closet accessory. Shelves made of melamine or a smooth finish don’t need the embellishment. Shelves made of old wood should be lined to protect your linens from tears.
Thank you for the photo compliment. In this piece, all the photos represent work I’ve done!
One of my all time favorite spaces to organize. I LOVE a nice and neat linen closet. We keep all our “sundry” items in bins. I often made these a suggestion to clients.
What a great idea! there is something quite lovely about organizing a linen closet. It doesn’t take a lot to make it appealing accessible accessible. It’s a small space with a big impact.
What a good sport your husband is, Ronni! Linen closets are always fun to organize – clients love the way it looks and there’s such a satisfaction in finishing an area in a fairly short amount of time. I’ve never worked with a client who wasn’t surprised at some of the things they had stashed in the back of their linen closet and forgotten about. Some people hide jars of dimes, other people have found library books, homework and dog treats!
My husband is a great sport!!
Though I never found anything lurking in the back of the linen closet, I have found clients’ possessions in places they completely forgot about. Like money hidden in an old notebook. And I mean a lot of it!
I agree, linen closets are fun to organize. It’s nice to work in a small space and see lovely results.