Jumbled sheets, mountains of pillows, and towels tumbling out when you open the door - does this sound like your linen closet? Your linen closet has great potential to be a highly functional storage area. However, it's easy for things to disappear in it if you don't keep it organized. You can tame your disorganized chaos with these easy steps.

Keep only what you use. Are you still storing sheets from when your now-grown kids were toddlers? Have you given up satin sheets for flannel? Have you changed your bathrooms' color schemes? Make sure the sheets and towels you're storing are actually the ones you're currently using. Consider donating linens that you no longer use but are in good condition (domestic violence and homeless shelters are often looking for such items). If they're not in good condition, you may be able to donate them to your local animal shelter. You might also consider turning old sheets into drop cloths and old towels into rags. Of course, if you don't need more drop cloths or rags, get rid of them. You may be able to find a painter who can use the sheets, and a youth group who can use the towels for their car wash fundraiser. If you have table linens you're saving for sentimental reasons, either use them or move them. They should only be taking up valuable space in the living area of your home if you're using them. Otherwise, pack them up in archival safe tissue paper and boxes, or pass them on to other family members who may enjoy them.

Consider how much you need. I suggest having a maximum of two sets of regular sheets per bed, plus two sets of flannel sheets per bed (if you use flannel). This will allow for one set to be in the laundry at any given time. You should only need one set of sheets per guest bed unless your guests tend to stay longer than a week. Be realistic when you consider how many blankets you need. Determine which blankets are used throughout the winter, keep an extra one in case a houseguest needs it, and get the rest out of the closet. You can stow one in your car to provide warmth in case your car breaks down in the winter, and donate the rest. One set of towels per person per week should be adequate. Allowing for laundry, keeping two sets per person and a set or two for guests should be sufficient.

Organize what's left. Fold sheets neatly so that they stack without toppling over. To keep sheet sets together, put the sheets into the matching pillowcase, or put the fitted sheet and pillowcase inside the flat sheet. Store sheets by size (all Queen together, etc.) or by bedroom, with the folded sides facing out, so you can see each set. You can do the same for your sets of towels. Another option for the towels is to roll and stack large bath towels so you can easily remove a single towel without toppling an entire stack, and fold hand towels and washcloths and store them directly on the shelf or in a container to help keep them together. Label the shelves on which you store the sheets with the name of the bedroom or the sheet size so you're not tempted to just shove things anywhere, and to make it easy to find the right size.

Maximize storage space for bulky items. In the off-season, heavy blankets, comforters, and flannel sheets that won't fit in your linen closet can be stored in plastic bins in the attic or basement. Be sure to add some packs to absorb humidity, and consider adding cedar to deter bugs. Other options include putting them on the closet shelf in the bedroom in which they're used or hanging them on a hanger or on a towel rod on the back of the bedroom door.

Consider alternate storage space. If your linen closet won't hold all of your sheets and towels, or if you don't have a linen closet, consider other suitable spaces. Maybe you can store each bedroom's linens in a box under the bed or on a shelf in the bedroom closet. Maybe there is extra space in an armoire or dresser. You may be able to store bath towels in a basket on the bathroom floor. You can store beach towels in your beach bag on a hook near your entry/exit door or in the garage. Table linens can be stored in a drawer or cabinet in the dining room or kitchen, or hung in a closet near the dining room or kitchen.

By organizing your linen closet, you will not only be able to find things easily, but you may even free up space to store other items, like spare toiletries, light bulbs, batteries, cleaning supplies, first aid items, medicines, shoe polish, etc.

Wishing you simplicity, harmony and freedom.

Author's Bio: 

Internationally known professional organizer, author, and speaker Sue Becker is the founder and owner of From Piles to Smiles®. She enjoys helping people from around the world live better lives by creating customized systems to overcome their overwhelming paperwork, clutter, and schedules. She specializes in helping people who are chronically disorganized - those for whom disorganization has been a lifelong struggle that negatively impacts every aspect of their life, especially people with AD/HD. Her hands-on help, as well as her presentations, have helped thousands of individuals create substantial change in their lives.

Sue is Illinois’ first Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. She co-authored the book Conversations on Success, and has appeared as an organizational expert on NBC News and the national TV show, Starting Over. A CPA, Sue has an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.