How to Organize a Linen Closet

I don’t fold clothes.

I just don’t.

I probably should fold clothes but I gave it up when children started running laps through my sanity and now I practice the art of not-folding, instead. There’s no doubt in my mind, in fact, that wild monkeys fold more laundry than I do; it’s a darn good thing they’re out there flinging poo through their jungle, friends, or I might feel a little inferior.

To date, our bizarre home organization systems have worked swimmingly.

Mostly swimmingly.

Except for one fly in the organizational ointment. A teensy, tiny fly. A miniscule, baby fly. More of a gnat, really.




Alright. The truth is, there’s no ointment; it’s just a giant vat full of flies. But let’s pretend, for the sake of brevity, that there’s only one fly and a whole lot of organizational ointment. Yes? Yes.

The problem, then, is with the linens.

The linens. Blarg. The linens!

Linens can be confusing. Complicated. Hard.

There are just so many of them, you guys. And they each have their own needs. Their own niche. Their own preferences for how I treat them and demands for careful handling. They all — every last one of them — resist being categorized and contained, and they glory in tumbling all over each other and making massive, mountainous messes.

Or maybe I’m projecting.

But those piles of mismatched bath towels? The bottom sheets that are impossible to fold? The myriad kitchen towels and washcloths and bath mats and pillowcases? Oh, yes. I know all about them. I do. For years, I tried to find the right place for my seldom-used table cloths and linen napkins, and I agonized over what to do with all three of my aprons. Or, if I didn’t exactly agonize over it, at least I occasionally contemplated it, which is practically the same thing.

That’s why I finally invented the easiest, ACTUALLY MAINTAINABLE linen organization system in the world.



Your money back if you’re not 100% able to maintain the heck out of this system.

And I will share it with you here because I love you and I want your life to be as easy and effortless as mine.

So, without further ado, here’s how to organize a linen closet like a boss.

It turns out, the organization gurus were right all along. You just have to make a place for everything, and put everything in its place. Simple.

And here’s the detailed break-down, for you nuts-and-bolts people.

Genius, right?

I hope this changes your life as much as it changed mine.



P.S. We usually leave the linen closet door open. Which is AWESOME because you can see it from the front door, so it’s totally available to greet guests and welcome them to our lovely home.

Yep. That’s right. How to Organize a Linen Closet and a Bonus Hospitality Lesson in one post. I give and I give. 😀


P.P.S. A special thanks to Kendall Hoover of for using a Five Kids essay for her inaugural post in her Well Written Wednesdays series. Do you have a blog post to nominate for Well Written Wednesdays? Kendall is accepting submissions; just head on over and leave a comment with a link to your suggestion. Voila!



ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
  1. Can we please be best friends? Our linen closets are twinsies and I only have THREE children, so I am possibly either ahead of the game or behind it, depending on who you ask.

  2. […]  Five Kids Is A Lot Of Kids- My favorite post of all time from this site How to Organize a Linen Closet […]

  3. Ha ha ha!! *wipes tears away*
    I showed this to my slightly OCD Engineering husband and I think he honestly feels better about our (crazy disorganized) linen closet now. Thank you for bringing a little Joy into our marriage! Solidarity is a wonderful feeling.

  4. Yay! This post has made me feel so much better about my organisational skills! here I was thinking my bad coz I fold my laundry once every 1-2 weeks and this week we hired someone to do it coz I was sick and soooo over it, but I actually find towels and linen the easiest part of the folding process. They are big and simple to fold into squares or rectangles (except those pesky fitted sheets) and give you such a sense of “so much work done” gratification. And I have a special spot reserved for all my tea towels, face washers, towels and even my aprons! Hoorah! Somewhere in the back of my head I still have a fear of my MIL seeing my folding mess too. And it is usually located on the sun room table as you enter the house!

  5. I read this sitting alone at home at my desk (when I was supposed to be working) and I laughed hysterically. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for saying just what I am thinking. When the linen closet was open at the top of the steps I nearly wet myself. I’m so glad I’m not alone…Wish I could show you a picture of my living room today. Thanks again–I needed that!

  6. I think one of my daughter’s socks is in your linen closet…

    Thanks for making me laugh!

    1. Oh my gosh. My linen closet is probably home to all of the world’s missing socks. That would explain SO MUCH, Hope.

  7. I just saw this — thanks for the shout out!

    1. You betcha… I love the work you’re doing to help us struggling writers, Kendall. You’re good people.

  8. So the really impressive thing in this photo is the spotless staircase. My linen closet looks marginally organized ONLY because I happen to like the smell of clean laundry. But the staircase – well, it has an alter ego as a desktop / filing cabinet/ shoe rack… you get the idea!

    1. My stairs, too. “These things need to go upstairs, so I’ll just put them here for now … or forever.”

      1. I was also way impressed with your staircase.

    2. I looked back at the picture in question, and, boy howdy, I’m impressed by the staircase, too! Good thing the bottom stairs were cropped out and the camera was tilted up so you couldn’t see all the… wait – I haven’t vacuumed the stairs for WEEKS, so I can just go inventory my stairs and tell you exactly what’s there… oh, yeah… good thing you couldn’t see the crushed chips, 2 bandaids, 3 coats, 5 pairs of shoes, 2 purses, 6 Pokemon cards, used boy undies, lint, and 1/2 a graham cracker. That worked out swimmingly. 😀

  9. I love you, Beth. I think this is possibly the happiest thing I’ve ever read.

    1. Sending the love right back, Cathie. 😀

  10. Genius. Pure GENIUS. 🙂

  11. I agree with Julie F. – how on *earth* do you get it to stay in there with the door open?! I must warn you that it’s very important that you don’t take too much out at once though. Until recently my linen cupboard – actually the rather useless middle of 3 built in bedroom wardrobes created by the previous owner of the house on a chimney breast therefore only about 4 inches deep – looked like that too. Sadly, though, I became tired of the near concussion from being hit on the head each time I opened the door (a great pile of towels can pack hefty punch) and removed everything so I could keep only what we need and send the rest to charity/the bin. I filled 8 bin bags for charity and 1 to throw out, but was not able to fit the rest back into the cupboard, having interrupted the delicate balance created there over so many years!

    1. Also, I’m intrigued by what looks like lockers at the bottom of your stairs. I think I’d like lockers in my hallway too, instead a tumble drier and a pile of shoes.

      1. Sure enough – Greg solved our school paraphernalia storage dilemmas by finding old school lockers. They save our sanity. Here’s a post with a full-sized pic of them in all their glory.

        As for the physics question? Answered for Julie above! We’re tricky. 😉

  12. The sheets for each of our beds goes on a shelf in the closet in the bedroom. in my closet the sheets are folded. in my childrens closet i’m just satisfied if they are on the shelf. i fold my clothes and my husbands clothes. i give my kids their clean clothes and what they do with them after that is their business.

    1. People with SYSTEMS THAT WORK. Amazing.

  13. Are those lockers by the front door?? Genius!

    1. Sure enough, Sharayah. Greg’s the genius who came up with that. Here’s a post that has a full picture of them…

  14. I like the way you organize. My linen closet isn’t quite organized like yours, but it has a SMELL. Was it because I got cheap with the laundry detergent and used less than I should? Did I forget the laundry detergent? Or did I shove something in there that was hmm, gently used? (Don’t look at me like that beach towel, you weren’t even damp.) I thought briefly about hauling the whole mess out and washing everything, but I left the closet, drank a beer and the moment of insanity thankfully passed. 😉

    1. Whew, Christine! Sounds like a close call. Glad you got out of it in one piece.

  15. It looks a lot like mine. Maybe I should share a picture of my sock basket. I don’t like, ok, hate sorting socks for my family of seven.

    1. I have to admit I have actually bought us all new socks just to get out of sorting the ones in the basket!

    2. SOCK BASKETS! Yes, Kristi. Exactly. I have one basket for white socks and one for decorative socks, and I never make my kids wear matching ones. “Just get two socks, kids – any type. We’re a sock-inclusive family, here. All socks welcome.” 😀 Twenty-five-year-old me (the me who dressed her first baby in ONLY Baby Gap (bought at consignment stores ’cause that’s the only way our budget worked (and yes, I know I’m using triple parenthesis – this is why I have to edit all of my writing so heavily))) would roll over in the grave where I buried her.

  16. I wish I had a linen closet! My mom’s linen closet looked exactly like this growing up. Probably still does. We don’t have one in our house, so I had to get a bit creative with where our stuff gets stashed. But still. I don’t fold sheets. They all get shoved into the matching pillowcase and put away in the tv stand in our bedroom. Tablecloths do get folded, but only so they stack and don’t fall over, and they go in the bottom of our “crystal” cabinet (yes I have fake crystal on display, it sparkles and I think it’s pretty don’t judge me). Small things like napkins and washcloths and kitchen towels (and/or socks and underwear which also isn’t folded) fit perfectly in small decorative bins on a shelf (put the shelf up high enough so you can reach stuff, but not actually see the mess within). Also, if I haven’t used it in a year, I donate it. Then again, if you do these things, you won’t have an awesome linen closet like that. So it’s a toss up, really. 🙂

    1. “yes I have fake crystal on display, it sparkles and I think it’s pretty don’t judge me…”

      This is fabulous, Angie. I mean, your other ideas (like MATCHING SHEETS – what? – and folding and stacking) are great… but the crystal cabinet and the don’t judge me? Awesome on a stick with a side of butter. Love.

  17. Years ago a friend of my mom’s who was a laundry worker in a hospital showed us all how to fold a fitted sheet – long before Martha ‘invented’ the process.

    I live alone, I have one bed, one set of sheets and my few towels fit in a tiny shelving unit in my bathroom . . . sorry.

    If I lived near you I would come and tidy your linen closet. I love to organize things!

    1. Pretty sure Oregon’s only a scant few thousand miles away. Come over.

  18. Ohmygoodness! How does everything not fall out with the door open??? Really – I want to know because that could work for me. Seriously, you deserve kudos for getting it all in there without it falling out! I can’t fault you for your organizational skills when mine are no better. In our spare room I have a pile of recently (as in over a week ago) washed quilts, bath towels, kitchen towels and some of my daughter’s socks and underwear. They sit there staring at me each time I walk by just waiting for me to do something with them. My daughter is 6. Do you think she’s too young for me to delegate that job to her? Yeah, that’s probably not a good idea.

    *I do know how to fold a fitted sheet. I learned from watching Martha Stewart a few years ago. If you’re interested, just google “Martha Stewart how to fold a fitted sheet.” If you’re not interested I totally understand.

    1. OK – GREAT question, Julie.

      If you look VERY closely at the picture, you’ll see small children holding it all up.


      Not really.

      Actually, there are six shelves in the closet, although you can only see 3 or 4 of them. They keep everything up. Kind of like my underwire is supposed to do for my ta-tas, except without breaking in the middle of Target and sending everything crashing down.

      1. I’ve just come across your Blog and I can not stop reading it, but this comment is what really got me to reply. Firstly “ta-tas”, Lol, i haven’t heard that name, and then they went “ta-taaa” hahaha. Thanks for all the honesty. its wonderful.

        1. 🙂 Welcome, Joanna! I’m glad the tumbling ta-tas didn’t send you screaming away. Clearly, you belong here.

  19. Hahaha I was laughing out loud. I think my husband thought I was crazy. You totally had me going at the beginning. I was thinking, “Oh yea those stupid fitted sheets are a pain. And I have tons of seldom-used tablecloths… But how can she organize them if she doesn’t fold them? ooooooohhhh hahahaha.” It was awesome. I especially loved the diagram of a places for everything & that you can see it from the door. Awesome.

    1. Diagrams are so helpful, don’t you agree? 😉

  20. I’m leaving this comment here instead of on the no-folding post even though technically that’s where it belongs, but what about ironing? Do you not fold your own clothes or your husbands? Don’t you get stuck ironing grown up clothes? I don’t fold clothes because it soothes my soul, I fold clothes because I don’t want to have to iron.

    Also? My linen closet looks mostly like this, except a couple shelves are out of my reach, so I just throw things to the top of the closet and hope when they land the whole pile doesn’t fall back on top of me.

    1. Psstt. Emma. I have a secret. Not only is folding unnecessary, but so is ironing. Eventually your eyes adjust and you don’t even see the wrinkles anymore. It also helps if you donate anything made of linen. Donation was also my solution to my linen closet. Just the bare minimum, which is more than you would think due to kids’ nasty habits of wetting and bleeding and vomiting and going shoeless then crawling into bed. Oh no. Did I just confess to not bathing them daily? 🙂

      1. And if you find that you absolutely MUST iron something, here’s how to do it the easy way:

        Grab a clean washcloth, wet it, and wring it out.
        Take the damp washcloth and the clothing that needs to be ironed and put both in the dryer on high.
        It about 10 minutes or less, your clothing will be “ironed” – at least good enough. Unless you’re in the military.

        1. The wet washcloth trick is how I ironed, too. Now that we don’t have a dryer, I use Julie’s trick.

        2. YES! This is exactly how we do it, too. Or… since we ALWAYS have loads of laundry going, I just throw whatever needs to be dewrinkled in with the wet stuff going in the dryer.

          I also don’t buy stuff that needs much ironing (although “wrinkle-free” is pretty much daring my family to prove the label wrong, it’s at least “wrinkle-resistant”).

          Great tips for Emma, y’all! Thanks!

  21. I was going to say something about how embarrassing it is that I shove my son’s clothes into his drawers because, well, they’re so small so why bother folding, right?

    But I can see that you’re in a completely different league and the little OCD part of me is desperate to come over. Tossing things away really brings good tidings of great joy, or something like that.

    Perfect opportunity to grab a friend and a bottle of wine and start yanking everything out. (I’m taking deep cleansing breaths now).

    1. Oh, PLEASE bring your little OCD self. I guarantee you won’t make it past the entry way; your To Do list for my house will write itself. But I promise to bring the wine to the front of the house if you’ll just fix it all in my stead. 🙂 (Also, I can provide a paper bag for hyperventilating. I might even be able to find an unused one.)

  22. Oh Beth, I’ll trade you my linen closet for your WWW worthiness 😉

    1. DEAL! (You’re gonna want trade-backs in about 15 seconds, and I’m gonna say no. Just FYI. ;))

    2. ALSO – I always love reading your blog, and I want you to pretty, pretty, pretty please get an RSS feed link or a Facebook page connected so I can keep better track of what you write. PLEASE?

  23. Lolz and lolz. But I am sad to inform that I am gonna have to call this a stolen picture. When did you sneak into my house??? Last night, perhaps, when I was so dazed from the dizziness of my dayz, that I forgot to lock the door? Anyway, you are welcome any time!

    1. What can I say? I have mad, sneaking skillz, Yelena.

  24. You forgot the part how marvelously the seldom used items get stored in the back and underneath and the stuff you need more is magically near the top and front. Perfect, I say.

    1. EXACTLY! It’s like a linen closet AND a physics lesson AND a magic trick. It gives and gives.

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