How to stop your linen cupboard giving you the sheets

Photo of author
Written By Tracey Markos

How did March go? Did you try one new idea to make your life a little better? Did you say no to that social function that was going to stretch your energy? Did you take some time to breathe deeply when you were ready to scream? Did it help?

As threatened promised, I’m back this month to help you tackle the next Everest (or at least Mt Kosciuszko) in many people’s lives. By the time this series of six posts is finished, either your home will be more organised or you’ll be so content and happy it won’t bother you anymore.

So, put your favourite music on, grab that herbal tea you love so much, and let’s get folding (or rolling).


The avalanching linen challenge

You’re not alone in watching the slow decline of your linen cupboard. You move into your new (to you) home and you carefully, painstakingly pack the linen into the cupboard. That’s it, as you slowly back away admiring your work. For the next few weeks you carefully fold and place to maintain the order you thought would last forever. Then, slowly but surely, the decline sets in.

The tower of towels starts to topple. The fitted sheets, which nobody can get folded/rolled/stashed/pushed into a vacant hole. Summer comes, and winter quilts need a home, because the Aussie summer barely needs a top sheet. You see the avalanche threatening but you don’t have time to avert it.

Ok, now is that time.

Folding or rolling is the answer. What was the question, you ask?

Every person, every cupboard, every situation is different. One solution does not fit all. However, I’ll give you a few ideas that you can experiment with to find what works for you.

Remember how satisfying it was the very first time you packed your linen cupboard? Let’s do it again.

Remove everything, and place like things with like. Bath towels in one pile, sheets in another pile (or piles); different sizes (single, double, queen, king, etc.), different piles.

Now the cupboard is empty, wipe it or vacuum it.

Back to the piles! Do you use all this stuff? I had a client who had been keeping sheets with holes in them. Why? Throw them out. Make sure all your sheets actually fit your beds. It’s no use keeping double sheets in your cupboard if you have no double beds. Old towels can be handy if you have pets; keep pet towels with your pet things. Reward yourself with some new towels if your old ones are hard and scratchy. Remember, this is all about making your life better. Donate old towels to vets or animal shelters and make their lives a little better too.

Back to the folding or rolling question

I am a folder (mostly), but there are times that rolling works a treat. Rolling beach towels, especially the round cotton ones, is a great option. You could stand them in a well-chosen box to minimise spreading and make it easier to move them to a higher (or lower) shelf in winter.

Folding instructions for round towels – Fold into a half circle, then into a quarter circle. Then fold the curved corner all the way across to the other corner. You should have a long rectangle with a curved bottom (see picture). Now, lay the towel on a flat surface and roll.

Bath towels are generally two sizes. Keep towels of the same size together. Fold the towels to fit your shelf depth. See what works best for you and your family. Rolling and stowing, or folding and stacking?

I’ve got you covered… sheetwise!

Sheets are personal. Below, I will give you options, but the main idea is to minimise and do what works for you and your peace of life. Does that sound dramatic? If your teenage son suddenly needs sheets and grabs your daughter’s, there will be no end to the screaming. Here are some ways to avoid a shopping trip.

Always have one spare change of bedding per bed.

Option A – Each room occupant stores their own change of sheets/mattress protectors/quilt covers/pillowcases, etc. in their own bedroom. This can be in their wardrobe, in an under-bed storage box, or in a spare drawer.

Option B – You can store the sheets (nicely folded) and one of the pillowcases inside the other pillow case. This keeps a whole set together. Stack sizes separately, and label the shelves or allocate shelving area (or a box) to each person for all their bedding. If an area gets untidy, you know who to blame.

The highs and the lows

The top shelf and the floor are special challenges. In the cupboard, I recently realised the organised top shelf (as pictured) had amazing height. The striped bags are cheap and tall – I stored the spare quilts and pillows in them. The rolls of Christmas wrap are standing in a box on the top shelf, too. The cupboard also has an angled section, which is hard to access but offers great storage for rarely used items. Things such as sleeping bags fit perfectly and didn’t affect the main storage area. I used a laundry basket on the top shelf to store Christmas cards and gift bags. It also shows you can use what you have around the house. This cupboard makeover took an hour.

General rules for the linen cupboard challenge

  1. Get everything out and start from scratch.
  2. Dispose of, or donate, any excess linen.
  3. Re-pack starting from large items and moving to small.
  4. Use the top shelf and the bottom area wisely – use storage boxes and bags and label clearly.
  5. Keep like sized items together and fold to fit the shelf.
  6. Think about how your family uses everything and make it easy to access.
  7. If it’s holey, scratchy, faded or stained, toss it out.
  8. Enjoy the next sale – you now have space in your cupboard.

Next month, let’s attack the pantry and the pet moths that have used your flour more recently than you have.