Organizing Your Linen Closet

A daunting task is easy to tame with a little fortitude and a plan.

  • Michele Meyer

Plunge In

If you're as worried about guests seeing your clean laundry as you are the dirty, it's probably time to reorganize your linen closet. It's easy to accumulate a large collection of worn-out and mismatched linens that crowd shelves in towering heaps, so jammed together that when you tug at one towel or reach for that mauve twin sheet, everything comes tumbling down.

But you don't have to resign yourself to balancing a swaying pile of laundry with one arm while stemming an avalanche with the other. Whipping a linen closet into shape is easy and a good way to feel you have at least one thing under control.

Sort and Organize

Sort all your towels and sheets to determine which are worth keeping and which should go to charity, your cleaning-supply closet (as rags), or your kid's toy chest (for making tents and Halloween costumes).

Try to limit yourself to three sets of sheets per bed and as few as three sets of bath sheets or towels, hand towels, and washcloths per person (more if you change towels daily, fewer if the men in your household have never picked up a washcloth). This gives you one set in use, one in the hamper, and one in the closet ready for action. You'll need only one or two sets for guests (one on the bed and one in the hamper or closet).

Resist the temptation to hoard extra sets for emergencies. "Anytime you get a new set, retire an old one," says Stephanie Winston, author of Getting Out From Under: Redefining Your Priorities in an Overwhelming World ($13, Perseus, amazon.com).