Each type of linen has a particular shelf it belongs on.

By Ayn-Monique Klahre
July 19, 2018
Martin Barraud/Getty Images

Whether in your bathroom or the hallway, the linen closet is a staple of many American homes. The space doesn’t get quite as much Pinterest love as the laundry room or pantry, but it still serves a key role in storing extra linens, toiletries, cleaning supplies and more. Because the linen closet doesn’t stare you in the face every day, though, it’s easy to throw stuff in there without thinking about the best way to keep things organized. So here’s how to get this space really working for you.

The typical reach-in linen closet is 30 to 36 inches wide and 15 to 24 inches deep, says Scott Davis, vice president of product development and marketing at Closetmaid, a storage system manufacturer, and can be found either in a bathroom or a hallway near the bedrooms. While exactly what people store in their linen closets varies, Davis suggests you resist the urge to store “anything and everything” in here. “This is premium closet space, so try to only use it for items like bedding, towels, toiletries and things related to the bathroom and bedroom,” he says.

Here are the best shelf heights for your linen closet and what items to keep on each one.

The Floor

Usually you have about 18-20” from the floor for storage, which is on the taller side for shelves. Use this for heftier items you buy in bulk, like toilet paper or paper towels. If you have thicker towels, like beach towels, roll these and store them in wire or mesh baskets (avoid solid sides, which reduce air flow—a particular problem in damp spots like the bathroom) on the floor.

Lower Shelves

Lower shelves do well on the slightly taller side, between 16-18” in height. Use these for sizable but lightweight items that are easy to move even if you have to bend or reach. This is a good spot for items like bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths. Whether you prefer to store them by type or in matching sets, fold and stack these linens neatly to make good use of the space. The good thing about these shelves is that even the youngest kids can help put the items away or find a towel when they need one.

Middle Shelves

Shelves between your waist and eye level are the prime real estate because they’re easiest both to see and access. Typically a little shorter as well, between 10” to 12” tall, these shelves should be for your bed linens. Fold them neatly and store them by size and set so it’s easy to grab them when it’s time to change out your bedding

Upper-Middle Shelves

Slightly above eye level, these higher 10” to 12” shelves are good for items you access less often or items you don’t want the kids to be able to reach. You can put cleaning supplies or extra toiletries, like soap or shampoo, here for example. Store them in an open-weave bin or basket so it’s easier to pull them off the shelf without knocking everything over. 

Top Shelf

The top-most shelf is also usually taller, between 16-18” in height. Since it’s hard to reach, it's a good spot to store lesser-used items like a comforter you only use in the colder months or holiday accent pillows.