If you're like us you've amassed years worth of beach towels, flat sheets, pillow cases, throws and more. It's great to have all the extra linens for when you have company or to lighten your weekly laundry load, but your linen closet is overflowing and you dread opening the door out of fear you may become buried under an avalanche of fitted sheets and duvets. So we asked professional organizers for linen closet organization tips to maximize space, avoid linen pile-ups and ensure you can find any item inside in a flash!
3-steps to easy linen closet organization
“Everything should fit like a puzzle in that space,” says professional organizer Kristin MacRae of Organized Energized Living. “The result is grabbing what you need when you need it and being able to continue with your day with the least amount of time wasted.” But before you can implement the puzzle, you need clean out and declutter first.
1. Clean out the linen closet
Much like any space in your house, you can’t truly get things to fit in a way that makes sense when you can’t actually see everything you’re working with. As a first step, you’ll want to empty out your linen closet completely for the best linen closet organization.
“Start in a small section, whether it be top to bottom and work your way down,” recommends decluttering specialist Jo Carmichael, founder of All Sorted Out. “Place all your items in an area you can go through everything clearly — a spare bedroom or den is best for this.”
After everything has been removed, it’s a great idea to dust and wipe down all of the shelves so the space is clean when you add the items again in their designated spots.
2. Declutter the linen closet
Once all of the items from your linen closet are out for you to see, it’s a great time to declutter, so nothing unnecessary goes back onto the shelves and takes up valuable space.
“Start by making different piles of things, such as towels, blankets, sheets and so on,” shares Carmichael. “This is the time to start clearing/throwing items away that don’t need to be there. For example, start throwing away the old towels with stains or the blankets with holes.”
You’ll also want to toss or donate any items you don’t use, especially if you haven’t had any need for it in the last 6-12 months. This can even be something as simple as fitted sheets that are stretched out or those that no longer fit a mattress size you have in the house.
“Only put back in the closet what you use on a weekly basis,” adds Shantae Duckworth, professional organizer and founder of Shantaeize Your Space. “If there are items like bulky quilts or mattress covers, you can store those in a plastic bin under the bed.”
3. Organize the linen closet
Now that you’ve narrowed down the closet’s contents to only things that belong, the fun begins! Some quick helpful tips to consider:
Label sections: “Once you’ve grouped the queen bed linen in a pile, single linen in another pile, etc., be sure that everyone knows this by labeling,” shares Carmichael. “It really helps, even me, to adhere to placing things back in the correct spot. It’s great for kids, too.”
Organize shelves by category: “Dedicate a shelf to towels and another to bed linens,” advises MacRae.
Sort by usage: “I like to organize my linen closet by placing items I use more frequently, such as towels and sheets, in the middle so they’re easily accessible and storing things I don’t use as often, such as winter blankets, up the top,” says Carmichael.
Tweak things as needed: “Re-visit the systems in the linen closet a few months after you've organized it and think about what system is working and what isn't,” says MacRae. “Most times organized spaces fail because initially, the system that you created may not work, but people continue to work with the broken system. Be sure to check back into your organized spaces!”
The 3 best linen closet organization hacks
1. The best way to store towels: Roll them into a file organizer
When it comes to smaller towels which are especially prone to getting misplaced on a shelf or ending up in an untidy pile: Place a vertical office-file organizer on a shelf in your closet, then roll up each of your smaller towels and slip them right in.
“You can also put washcloths and hand towels in there,” advises organizer Kathi Lipp, author of The Clutter-Free Home. “Let's be honest, the reason most of us don't put laundry away is because space is already stuffed, or we don't know the right way to put it away — and this shows you exactly how to.” The file slots are perfect for neatly containing the piles while keeping everything in view and within reach, so you won’t have to dig through a toppling stack to find what you need.
For larger bath towels: Roll them and put them in a basket, says Lauren Saltman, professional organizer and owner of Living. Simplified.. This keeps the bulkier items contained, but easy to grab when you need.
All experts agree a "spa roll" is the neatest and most-space spacing way to roll towels.
This TikTok from @sujuhas shows how easy it is to do (and it works for towels of any size):
2. The best way to store linens: Consolidate sets into a pillowcase
If you’re like most of us, your sheets tend to mysteriously migrate away from their matching pillowcases, wasting your time as your track them down. The easy solution?
First: “Learning to fold your sheet sets properly will absolutely free up space in your closet,” says Saltman. If you’re not already a folding pro, consider watching online tutorial or try these genius tips from our sister site to learn how to fold a fitted sheet.
“I like to bundle folded sheets inside their matching pillowcases,” says organizing pro Jamie Novak, author of Keep This Toss That - Updated and Expanded: The Practical Guide to Tidying Up. “It saves space and ensures the whole set is there when you need it.” To make it even easier to locate the right set, label wooden clothespins with sheet sizes — king, queen, double— using a Sharpie marker. Then attach the labeled clothespins to the corresponding cases. Even easier: “Get colorful plastic clothespins and just give each sheet size its own color,” she suggests. Not only will this keep things organized, it will ensure making your bed is always a breeze. You’ll never have to search for the parts of a set again!
Have items to stack up high? “The key to preventing top-shelf avalanches: inexpensive oversize shelf dividers," says organizing pro Susan Stewart of PerfectlyPlaced. "They keep wobbly piles in their proper place and allow you to reach for stacked-up-high items without worry.” One to try: Closet Shelf Organizer (Buy from Amazon, $27.89 for a pack of 8)
3. How to optimize forgotten space: Corral items with *these* additions
According to Novack, your linens need breathing room to keep their freshness — and that means there’s often a gap underneath your shelf that can be utilized for a little extra storage. “Make use of that space with an undershelf basket that slips right on,” she suggests. “Choose one with a mesh or open wire design that allows air to circulate and still gives you added storage space.” One to try: Metaltex Medium Undershelf Basket (Buy from Container Store, $10.99).
Another option for towels and sheets: “An over-the-door rack frees up more shelf space and keeps often-used towels at the ready to save you time. It’s a grab-and-go savior," says Stewart. One to try: iDesign Over the Door Towel Rack, The York Collection (Buy from Amazon, $24.98).
Also smart? “If there isn’t enough storage space in the bathroom, linen closets tend to catch the overflow of bath supplies," says Stewart. "The simple fix: separating items into baskets that function like mini drawers. This makes finding items easier and gives the entire space a neat appearance.”
Check out this TikTok from @therealcindyology shows an easy before and after linen closet organization using some of the tips above:
How to organize a linen closet in a hurry
Only have 10 minutes to dedicate to linen closet organization? “Apply the ‘Lower Third Rule’ to your linen closet,” says Carmichael. “Because we tend to use the same items over and over, you’ll find that the lower third of any stack of clothing or sheets, towels or linen is the least used.” So grab the lower third of any stack of items in your linen closet, and toss or donate! “Chances are you never (if ever) use them and won’t miss them once they’re gone,” she says.
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