The Three Keys to Taming the Beast: Your Linen Closet

Taming the beast- the linen closet

One area in your home that almost always gives you trouble is the linen closet. Often your house is busy, your laundry is in constant transition, beach towels are picked up at water parks, bulky comforters are bunched up and flung to the back corner, the kids are pulling towels out for themselves after each bath time and before long it looks something like this:


That my own friends is (and please make sure you’re sitting down for this shocking announcement): my family’s own linen closet just last week! It wasn’t two weeks into my career as a professional organizer that my wife introduced me to the old saying “The cobbler’s son has no shoes.”


That being said we just moved to a new place in March and I knew that our linen closet could look like it had at our old house:

Linen Closet After


In fact, it could look and more importantly WORK even better and there were three clear steps to get there. These will work for you too, follow along:

1) Categorize, relocate and purge: Just as I advised you on organizing your garage, you’ll want to start by taking everything out of the space and putting it on a large, clean, and open surface. (A made bed will work great.) Then you’re doing “the like with like” game again — you can see in the first picture above that hand towels are stacked with table clothes, bath mats with towels — face it, it’s basically “dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.” Once I pulled everything out though, I started to see what belongs together and what doesn’t belong in there at all — you can see fabric samples of a cowboy pattern that my wife used to make the boy’s curtains in the same picture — cute stuff, but used on a daily or weekly basis? No way, get it out of here, transfer it to the closet with the sewing machine. Old towels with holes can be repurposed for cleaning rags or donated.

2) Learn some folding techniques and share the love: Oh man this is so key, so many times I look at your closet and it’s the main thing throwing it off — either you have a different folding technique than the other people in your home or nobody has any technique at all and it’s just let’s cringle this up and hope for the best. However, this is one of those times when we call all hold hands and say, “God Bless the internet.” Spending just a few minutes on Youtube you can learn some kick-ass folding techniques.

Caution: the idea is not PERFECTION. The idea is not to be ready for Martha to walk into your home and be so thrilled with your linen closet that she backs a dump truck full her money in your backyard (although let’s face it that would be A-MAZING), no the idea is that we have consistency and make the most of the space so these linens can serve their purpose in your life. So your nostalgic Star Wars sheets are not lost and balled up at the back of the closet.

Here are some of my favorites, feel free to use them or find ones that you like. Then teach them to other folks in your household, so everyone can bring this sweetlove to the LC.

For folding towels:

Also from Alejandra, towels and hand towels:

Folding a fitted sheet from Justin Klosky (this is the EASIEST way to fold one of these bastards that I’ve ever seen. So much easier than the more traditional techniques.)

Folding pillowcases:

Folding a flat sheet (Note: this video has a great technique, but it’s edited oddly and I haven’t been able to find a director’s cut. If you see something better, please comment below! It seems to partly own Urban Dictionary’s definition of Expert Village.)

3) Label those shelves: Last time we talked, I listed all the advantages of using labels to mark categories in small spaces. The linen closet is an ideal example:

Linen closet with labels


One of the great things about starting a project like this is that it’s going to be an afternoon, a few hours, and after you’re going to have this organized little kingdom in your house. It’s going to inspire other organizing projects and you’ll have the stuff you need, in the places where you can find it, and things are going to be EASIER. But you gotta start, start today with relearning how to fold the towels and go from there: one step at a time.

What’s your best tip about the organizing Bermuda Triangle: the linen closet? What’s your greatest current frustration with it? Let me know in the comments below, thanks!

PS: For more help on closet organization, check out the links on my Pinterest board!


Posted in: home organizing
  • Eve

    This is great! I just decided to try and not run my sheets through a wringer anymore since I dry them on lines and not a dryer. They are already smooth and I’m hoping to save some time without compromising too much. I’m also looking forward to being able to move our towel stash into the bathroom closet as soon as our youngest frees up the space after using cloth diapers 🙂

    • Thanks, Eve! Line drying can be such a great option, we don’t have the back yard to do it in our current place, but when it’s available I think it’s so much easier on the clothes and linens. And yes, the reign of the diapers will be over sooner than you think!

  • MicheleStitches

    One rule I have found to help is that EVERY thing in my linen closet must be stacked with the smooth, folded edge facing out. (Much like the towels in your last photo above) This helps reduce visual clutter. Also, it makes it way less likely that someone is going to reach in and accidentally grab two items instead of one…and we know what happens if someone else in the family does that…the extra item will just get “stuffed” back in the closet on top of your neatly folded items.

    Also, I have begun storing each of my sheet sets (we keep just a few extra) neatly folded inside one of their matching pillowcases. Then I fold the extra fabric of the pillowcase around it and place on the shelf with the closed end facing out. Voila! It’s stored all together and easy to grab.

    • Totally agree, Michele, it makes such a huge difference, it’s one of the reasons I like Alejandra’s towel techniques so much. (The other is that it’s so easy.)

      The flat sheet technique has that clever touch of keeping the edge of the flat sheet on the outside of the fold so that it’s not confused with fitted sheets. Works really well, I just wish the video was more complete.

      And yes, I like the sleep pack (sheets inside the pillowcases) idea, thanks!

  • Megan

    Ahh..labels in the linen closet! Why didn’t I think of that?! Great ideas, thanks Bos!

    • Thanks, Megan! Let me know if you try it, would love to hear if it works for you!