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Linen Closet Organization: Step-By-Step How to Best Store Your Linens

Nicely folded towels.
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If you're one of those Type A people who feel happy and calm in orderly environments, you've probably spent a decent amount of time thinking about how to store bed sheets, blankets and towels. But even if you have space for these items in a cupboard or linen closet, sorting and organizing them can still feel like an overwhelming task.

On the other hand, linen closet organization can be an immensely satisfying project — one your future self will surely thank you for. Not sure where to start? Find helpful step-by-step instructions, as well as linen closet ideas, tips and techniques below.

What Is a Linen Closet?

In essence, a linen closet is a place to store your linens — but this doesn't necessarily mean only materials made out of linen. Sometimes called a towel closet, it's where people keep an assortment of household textiles, like bedding, towels and tablecloths.

What Goes in a Linen Closet?

Before getting into how to organize a linen closet, let's cover the basics. What, exactly, are you supposed to put in there? 

Your linen closet isn't limited to bath towels and sheet storage. Depending on how much room you have, you can stash a range of other things inside.

What to keep in a linen closet:

  • Duvet covers, sheets, pillowcases and other bedding

  • Extra comforters and bed pillows

  • Bath towels, hand towels and washcloths

  • Beach towels

  • Tablecloths, napkins, runners and other table linens

  • Kitchen towels

  • Blankets and quilts

  • Hampers and laundry baskets

  • Laundry detergent and dryer balls

  • Iron and steamer

  • Toilet paper, paper towels and tissue boxes

  • Cleaning supplies

  • Extra toiletries, such as hand soap, shampoo, toothpaste and cotton swabs

  • Pet products

  • Fitness items, like yoga mats, weights and workout towels

Linen closets are often located in a central area of a house, like a hallway or upstairs landing. However, they can be built into bathrooms, laundry rooms or even pantries. Some are notably shallow with bifold doors, others have traditional doors, and some are more like cabinets than closets.

In any case, a linen closet is kind of a catchall for fabrics, bedding, bath essentials and cleaning supplies. As a result, it can end up being treated like an oversized junk drawer, which, of course, quickly leads to a mass of clutter.

But it doesn't have to be this way. Read on for practical tips on sorting, categorizing, folding, stacking and designing the linen closet of your dreams.

13 Steps to Linen Closet Organization

The joys of an organized linen closet really can't be overstated. You might be used to digging through mounds of fabric to find a washcloth or a mountain of towels falling on your head every time you open the door. But you'll save yourself a lot of time and anguish by taking care of the mess once and for all.

So, you've decided to embark on the daunting journey of organizing your linen closet, but where to start? Whether you're wondering how to store towels neatly, want tips on folding sheets, or are looking for bathroom linen closet ideas, you're in good hands. When you're done with this project, you'll be so pleased with your work, you might be inclined to show it off to your guests.

1. Take Everything Out of your Linen Closet

The first step of any linen closet organization project is to take out all your foldables. Remove all materials and items from the shelves — yep, even things that are already stacked. Then wipe down the entire inside of your closet, vacuum the floor, and marvel at the blank canvas before you.

2. Do Inventory

Next, take inventory. Set all your bedding, blankets, towels, washcloths and other odds and ends on a clean surface, such as a bed or a vacuumed carpet. This will give you a clear visual of what you currently have and what you need to pack back in.

For instance, if you're someone who sleeps without a top sheet, you might have extras floating around your linen closet. They make excellent outdoor blankets, but if you don't think you'll use them or don't have the space, you might consider donating them.

Now is also a good time to take note of stained, threadbare or torn items that you can potentially toss out. Aside from family heirlooms and sentimental objects, the general rule of thumb is that if you haven't used something in the past year, you can probably get rid of it.

3. Identify Gaps

Once you've removed everything and figured out what was crowding your linen closet shelving, you can identify gaps in your stash. Generally speaking, you should have at least two complete sets of bedding and towels for each person living in your home and one set for guests. That way, you won't have to do an emergency load of laundry in the event a set gets soiled.

And if your existing linens don't match, this is a great time to upgrade. Don't underestimate the aesthetic power of matching towels and bedding. You’ll find high-quality, reasonably-priced bath essentials and bed linens at Parachute, all made of premium fabrics like long-staple Turkish cotton, percale, sateen, brushed cotton and linen.

4. Sort and Categorize

After taking out all your linens, getting rid of unused items, and figuring out what you need to buy, it's time to sort and categorize. There's no right or wrong way to go about this — the goal is to create a practical system that makes sense for your household.

Many people sort items by category, like bedding, bath, beach, laundry, holiday, tableware and baby. Another option is to divide your linens by room (master suite, kids’ rooms, guest room, kitchen, bathroom, etc.). If you have a lot of bedding to store, you might try sorting it by size or season. These categories will ultimately become zones in your linen closet, so keep that in mind.

5. Section Off Your Shelves

One of the best ways to tackle a small linen closet organization project is to section off your shelves. You can find shelf dividers from big-box stores and online retailers or even use file sorters in a pinch. In any case, this will help you make the most of your available space. Plus you'll have an easier time storing smaller items, like dish rags, washcloths and toiletries.

6. Place Like With Like

You've already sorted your linens into categories. When you put it all back in, you'll want to do your best to place everything in a way that makes sense (not only to you but also to anyone else who might try to find something in there).

Placing "like with like" is an organizational strategy in which you put things in logical groups or sequences. Just like how you put your baking supplies near the tin foil and dry goods in your pantry, you might place your washcloths and hand towels near the toilet paper and hand soap.

7. Keep Priorities Easily Accessible

Another crucial component of successful organization is keeping frequently used items front and center. Anything you swap out upon getting dirty, like kitchen towels, as well as items you rotate on laundry day, like bath towels and sheets, should be easily accessible. Or  if you keep everyday cleaning supplies in your linen closet, make sure they're not only within eyesight but also easy to grab.

How often should you wash your linens? Read our guide on How to Wash and Properly Care for Bedding for expert insight.

8. Become a Master Folder

If your folding skills leave much to be desired, head on over to the School of YouTube. There are tons of easy-to-follow videos and short tutorials for those looking to brush up on their folding techniques, or learn linen closet organization hacks. For example, towels can be rolled instead of folded to save space, plus the rolls look nice piled up on a shelf or tucked into a bin.

9. Learn How to Stack

Folding is one thing, but the key to conquering a linen closet is learning how to stack. Typically, you'll want to place more voluminous items like comforters and bath sheets on the bottom and lighter, smaller items like pillowcases and washcloths on top.

There are also lots of bed sheet organizers on the market, which can help with stacking. However, one of the best linen storage ideas is to tuck sheet sets into pillowcases. It'll save you space, spare you from perfecting those impossible fitted sheets, and prevent you from misplacing rogue pillowcases.

Learn more about selecting and caring for sheets in our Guide to Bed Sheets.

10. Embrace Bins and Baskets

When it comes to linen closet storage, there are infinite uses for bins and baskets. For instance, a basket can act as a towel organizer or a place to store spare decorative pillows. You can put cleaning supplies, toiletries and laundry essentials in wire bins or plastic caddies instead of placing them loose on the shelf. The possibilities are endless.

11. Go Wild With Labels

To really step up your organization game, consider getting a label maker. You can create labels for your shelves, drawers, bins, baskets, containers, categories, zones, sections — you name it. This will help you and your family find things later on. And when everything has its own place, it's easier to maintain an organized closet.

12. Make Use of Door Space

If you need linen storage ideas for small spaces, consider maximizing your closet with over-the-door hooks, racks and caddies. Depending on the product, you can store easy-access essentials like cleaning supplies on the back of the door. Some racks allow you to hang folded towels. Others can accommodate heavier items, like an iron and ironing board.

13. Make It Pretty

One surefire way to walk away from this project truly satisfied is to make your linen closet design look beautiful. For instance, you could get a roll of pretty wallpaper and attach it to the back of the closet, on the shelves or inside drawers if you have them.

As mentioned above, baskets can go a long way in enhancing the look of a storage closet because they let you keep mismatched linens and product labels accessible out of sight. Another idea is to organize items by color, typically in rainbow order, or if you don't have a full range of colors, by shade.

Where to Store Linens If You Don't Have a Linen Closet

Linen closet organization isn't limited to those with designated linen closets. Laundry room shelves, bathroom cabinets and over-the-toilet units work great as storage for sheets and towels. If you have a guest room or office with a closet, you can stash your bedding, towels and other household textiles in there.

Can't fit everything in one place? Try dividing all the items up and placing them in their designated rooms. For example, you can keep bath basics in the bathroom, extra bedding in the bedroom, and cleaning supplies in the kitchen or laundry room.