Get It Done: Clean Out the Linen Closet

The linen closet has become an elusive space. In fact, having one is a luxury in itself. It was once a home staple, usually placed in an upstairs hallway, but these days you may have to create your own "linen closet." This could be a small closet or cabinet in a bathroom, an armoire in a bedroom, a hijacked guest room closet or some shelves in the laundry room. Where you place it may determine what you store there; what all of these spaces have in common is that it's highly likely they could use a good clean-out. Let's get started.

Inspiration. This comes from a dream where all we need handy are clean white towels and fancy soaps.

Approximate time: 1 to 5 hours
It depends on how big your bathroom is and how much stuff you have. You may be doing many loads of laundry and have time to put your feet up during the cycles.
Materials needed:
• Wastebasket
 Room to spread out the closet's contents
• Donation box
• A few baskets or boxes for organizing the items you'll be keeping
• Cleaning wipes

Tip: Take a before shot so that you can feel extra satisfied when this is all over.

Pick a linen closet. Whether your linen closet is a traditional linen closet, a shelf or two in your bedroom armoire or a series of cabinets in the laundry room, it's time to get cracking. Take everything out. I recommend putting it all on your bed.

Clean. Remove every item and wipe down the shelves and drawers with cleaning wipes.

Divide and conquer. Put everything you have not washed in the past few weeks in a pile. Chances are there are some very old, unnecessary linens in there. They are on the bottoms of piles, and you have not used them in years.

How to organize your sheets:
• Determine which sheets go with which beds.
• Decide if you need more than two sets per bed. You probably don't.
• Keep the two nicest sets for each bed. Throw any of these you haven't washed in the past few weeks into the wash for freshening up.
• Sort through the remaining sets. If some are looking rough, save them for cleaning rags.
• If some are looking good but you just don't need them anymore, throw them in the donate pile. It is nice to wash them first but not a must.

Maintain your organized state.One of my favorite organizing tips (I'm pretty sure it was from Martha) is how to keep sheet sets organized. Fold the set of sheets, then place them all within a pillowcase from said set. This is a lot easier than remembering how to fold the fitted sheet the way Martha does.

Keep sheets grouped together via beds and sizes. You can simply add labels to your shelves, like "Guest Room" or "Full/Queen," or give each size its own basket on the shelf. I like to throw a sachet, cedar block or dryer sheet on each shelf to keep things nice and fresh.

You may add correlating blankets with the sheet sets, give them their own shelf together or keep them stored in each bedroom.

Towels. Chances are, you've found some yucky old towels hidden in the depths of the linen closet. Get them out of there.

• Separate the best ones out.
• Earmark some of them for the car wash and rag pile. You may keep one for hair dyeing, if needed.
• Fold all the good towels and pile them by size.
• Place them on shelves or in baskets.

Find a place for extra toilet paper. Do you store toilet paper in your linen closet? I have room for it only on the floor of mine, so I keep it stored in a cute canvas bin similar to this one. 

Future plans. If you have a deep closet in which things tend to be shoved to the back and forgotten forever, consider investing in some rollout drawers like these. Keep the fronts labeled so you'll remember what's lurking in the back of the drawers.

Make up your bed with a set of sheets right as they come out of the dryer and grab a nap, because you're done!