Linen Closet Organizing Checklist

The 12 steps to take to straighten out your linen closet―and keep it that way.

Illustration of pillows
Photo: Papercut
  • Assess your closet.
  • Look in the closet to check out the current setup. Note that sheets and towels are easier to organize—and less likely to topple—if they're placed in short stacks on multiple shelves rather than piled up on just a couple.
  • Rejigger the height of your shelves.
  • If they aren't fixed in place, consider changing the height of shelves according to these guidelines: Ten inches between shelves is good for sheets and table linens, 12 to 16 inches for towels, and 18 inches or more (measured from the ceiling) for the top shelf, for blankets and other seasonal items.
  • Streamline your space.
  • If your shelves are fixed at inconvenient levels and you don't want to take on the cost of reworking them, make the most of the space by devising your own system of baskets, shelf dividers, and plastic-covered wire bins that attach to the underside of existing shelves.
  • Create categories.
  • Divide linens according to type: bed linens, table linens, and towels. Then subdivide by room: primary bedroom, kids' bedrooms, guest bedroom, dining room, primary bathroom, kids' bathroom, guest bathroom. Simultaneously, create a pile for anything you no longer use and another for items that are worn out or damaged beyond repair.
  • Donate and toss.
  • Call up local charities and arrange for pickup of items in the first category; toss items in the second.
  • Color code.
  • To help keep everything organized, assign different-colored linens to different rooms of the house—such as white for the primary bedroom and bath and blue for guests' quarters.
  • Designate zones.
  • Store the items you use most frequently, such as towels and bed linens, on shelves at or near eye level. Table linens, which don't see as much action, can be assigned to a higher or lower shelf. Devote the top shelf to seasonal items like wool blankets and down comforters, and store them in zippered plastic cases. The top shelf is also well suited for special-occasion table linens, beach blankets, and beach towels. Consider under-bed storage solutions to deal with overflow.
  • Label shelves.
  • Using adhesive tabs or just tape and slips of paper, label your shelves to reflect the groups you've created.
  • Systematize usage.
  • Within each stack, place freshly laundered linens on top, and always take the set to be used next from the bottom. This rotation will keep linens from sitting too long and getting musty.
  • Use floor space.
  • Store baskets, hampers, and small appliances, such as a handheld vacuum, on the floor.
  • Don't forget the back of the door.
  • Attach hooks and baskets to hold such items as bathrobes, bath soap, lightbulbs, and scented sachets or bags of cedar chips.
  • Stash first aid.
  • Use the linen closet for storing a first-aid kit as well as prescription and over-the-counter medicines. (Stow these items on a high shelf, so children cannot get to them.)
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