Organize Your Linens: with or without a linen closet

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The linen closet can be a scary, messy and disorganized place. Learn how to organize your towels, sheets and other linens even without a closet

Blue and White Plaid linens to organize

Have you been avoiding changing the sheets your sister used in the guest room when she stayed over during the holidays? Did you leave the dryer full of bath towels because folding them means you have to open the linen closet door? We’ve all been there.

Your linen closet doesn’t have to be a scary place. It can be a place for easy access to what you need!

Quick tip! Take a photo before you start. No one has to see those images except you!

Next, find some boxes or bags for the garbage, recycling, selling and rehoming stuff. There are some items that will not be staying in this prime real estate closet (or not) closet space. 

Identify What Belongs as you organize your linens

If you are lucky enough to have a designated linen closet, that’s great! 

Open that door and make sure the space knows that’s what it’s supposed to be. Start by identifying what belongs there. Towels, sheets, blankets, and extra pillows are obvious. Maybe you need to store extra toilet paper, toiletries, medication, or cleaning supplies in there. These small spaces can house a lot.

I’m sure you’ll find a few things that belong elsewhere in your home. It’s okay if you don’t know how your son’s jacket got there. Or the reusable bags that should be in the car. Those go into the re-home box to be put away when you finish in this closet.

But what if it’s still too much? 

It might be easier if the space was bigger. Maybe the stack of washcloths wouldn’t fall over and end up on the floor. Unfortunately, expanding this small space isn’t an option. 

a trayed towel is a great thing to declutter when you organize your linens

To Organize Your Linens, You Need to Declutter

1. Remove anything broken or badly damaged

It’s taking up valuable space and can go into your designated garbage bag. No emotion. It’s done. If you were going to fix it, you would’ve already done that instead of putting it away in the closet.

2. Remove anything worn out

If it’s so worn out that you reach past it every time, you have already made the decision that it’s not good anymore. Stained washcloths and threadbare hand towels, I’m looking at you. (If they are all terrible, January is traditionally the best month to buy sheets, towels and other bedding as stores have White Sales.)

3. Remove anything you really can’t use.

This means getting rid of the crib sheets you forgot to donate when the furniture went out the front door. Check the date on the label for any medications and toiletries. Take expired medication to your local pharmacy for proper disposal. How many extra towels do you need? 

(Also, this is a good time to note what medications are almost out so you don’t get caught when someone in the house gets sick…gastro illnesses are my nemesis!)

If you find a lot of makeup or toiletries in your closet, rethink stocking up. Yes, sales are wonderful, but if you buy too much, they end up out of sight and out of mind in your linen closet. Can you relocate them to your bathroom? 

4. Remove anything you aren’t using or won’t use in the next six months. 

Be conscious of the stage of life your family is in. The sleeping bags your kids used for summer camp and didn’t take with them when they left for university might not be needed anymore.

Questions to Ask

Does this make me feel good?  If it makes you feel bad, put it in the donate bin. (Do you want or need permission to just throw it away instead? Yes, you can throw it away.) Focus on feeling better, not worse.

Can you keep less?

Limits are your friend. If you don’t have overnight guests anymore, let go of extra blankets.  Do you use every set of bed sheets? If you wash sheets and remake beds immediately, one set per bed may work. If you have kids, it may be more practical to have a spare sheet set for each in case they get sick. 

Do I know what’s in there?

Open every container. Anything that has been stored for a long time can degrade, even plastic from vacuum-sealed bags or the elastic on fitted sheets. If you don’t remember when you packed it away or didn’t know you had it, you are not using it. 

Will I use this more if I keep it somewhere else?  If there are no extra blankets in your living room and you want an element of hygge, move one to a storage ottoman there. Your one and only tablecloth might get used if it was downstairs in the front closet closer to the kitchen.

👉 Get my decluttering checklist here to make it easier!

an ipad with minimizing checklist cover sitting on a table with a coffee and two roses

As you organize your linens, things are improving.  Are you feeling less anxious and less overwhelmed?

The Easy Way to Organize Your Linens

Group similar items together:  

Towels with towels. Bedding together. Bathroom supplies are separate. Feel free to put your favourite blankets on the top of the pile so you can reach for those first. 

Clear bins are a great storage solution.

Use them to keep first aid supplies, medication and toiletries separate in a closet full of linens. Stack bins with lids to take advantage of vertical space. 

If you want coloured bins instead, keep in mind white and light colours tend to brighten a closet while blacks and grays can darken the space. 

Simple access is key for what you use most.

Store most frequently needed items on the middle shelf. This will also help your family members know where to put things away; unless you live alone, you are not the only one responsible for things in your home. 

Maximize space.

Store pillows vertically like books on a shelf instead of stacking in piles to take up less room. Shelf risers are helpful if your closet is very deep.

Store seasonal items on the top shelf. 

The Christmas blankets stashed on the closest shelf two weeks ago can be relocated to the top shelf. Extra pillows you only bring out when you have company can go up there as well. Leave the high space for the stuff you don’t need as often.

Heavy or Bulky Items on the Floor.

The floor is a good spot for your vacuum, a step stool (or folding stool) to access higher shelves or the jumbo pack of toilet paper that doesn’t fit under the bathroom sink. If your linen closet is upstairs, this is a handy spot to stash a cleaning caddy for upstairs cleaning. 

Use the Door.

Unless you have bi-fold doors, add hooks, towel bars or over-the-door hanging organizers on the inside of this door.

Fold Neatly.

Take the time to fold your linens all the same way. 

Bonus Tip for Sheets.

Store the fitted sheet, flat sheet and any additional pillowcases inside the matching pillowcase. It’s simple to grab all the pieces you need at once.

Remember to Declutter Again.

You will need to do this again. Life happens. When seasons change, have a quick look. 

an off white towel, two green towels and a white town on a white towel. Keep the towels you like when you organize your linens

But I Don’t Have A Linen Closet

AND if you don’t have a linen closet, you still have to find a way to organize and store linens. In fact, it’s probably a bigger challenge when you have limited storage space. Maybe you are lucky enough to have a wardrobe or cabinet that can hold all your linens. Many of us make the space, but instead of one dedicated space, it’s two or three or more. 

Wherever those designated areas are, the same rules apply. You need to be more ruthless about what can stay. Small spaces capture clutter quickly and need to be decluttered more often.

Keep one category per storage space; this is simpler for putting things away and makes it easier to track what you have. We like easy! If you have to divide your items into multiple areas, store with consideration for the best proximity to where you will use them.

The bedroom. 

Under-the-bed storage bins are a great way to use that wasted space. A bin with a lid will keep the items clean and dust-free. This can also be a great solution for larger items, like out-of-season duvets and pillows, as well as holiday bedding or quilts. Some styles have wheels if you want to make it even easier to pull those out.  If you like a bench at the foot of your bed, opt for one with storage. 

The Bedroom Closet.

 If you don’t have an empty drawer in your dresser, a container on a closet shelf or the closet floor is another option. Soft-sided hanging organizers can sneak in next to your clothes if you are pressed for space.  

The Bathroom Door.

Over-the-door coat hooks are handy for bathrobes and towels, but don’t stop there. You can do more with that space on the back of a door. There are so many great options to match whatever your personal style is — wire racks, woven baskets or plastic pouches with multiple compartments and varying depths, depending on what you need. 

Above the Doorway.

 A shelf hung above the top of the door in the bedroom or bathroom can be used to hide extra things in plain sight; use baskets you can easily lift down for things you need less frequently. 

Wall Space.

It is cleaner to use a wall-mounted organizer, floating shelves or hooks than to add freestanding storage furniture that takes up floor space. 

The Bathroom Vanity.

Smaller over-the-door organizers meant for these cabinet doors are an easy way to expand your storage capacity here. Use baskets or stacking drawers to sort smaller items and avoid losing things in the back of this deep space. Roll facecloths and towels to make them more compact.

Oval Mirror Near Toilet Bowl. Organize linens in the bathroom vanity

Other Storage Furniture.

In some small homes, you may need to take advantage of storage in other rooms. Hutches. ottomans and other storage furniture are useful. Try not to overtake them with linens.

When you finish this project, take another photo of your linen closet organization and compare it with your start photo!  

Those Leftover Boxes or Bags on the Hall Floor

Your linen closet or linen spaces are looking great and organized! Don’t walk away yet. Finish up with the cast-offs that didn’t win a space inside. 

boxes and bags of decluttered things in a hallway


The linens that are beyond use can be repurposed for rags or paint drop cloths if you have upcoming projects. I keep a couple in the garage for plants when there is a risk of frost. If there is a textile recycler in your area, they may take them.

Do not feel bad if you have to throw old linens out. You got good use out of it. That’s great!

Donate or Sell.

Those gently-used items now in the donate box need to leave your house. Make a plan this week to drop off or list for sale.  Donate to shelters, pet rescues or second-hand stores. (Pillows and duvets are not always welcome for donation for hygienic reasons. Call ahead to check.) 

Do not stress about finding the perfect place to take it! This is about making this space work better for you and your family.

Return those rehomed items where they belong and tie the garbage bag closed.

You organized those linens and then some! Good job! 

Video: I decluttered my linen closet while getting ready for the holidays

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