9 ways to organize a linen closet – methods that go beyond folding

Whether you have a dedicated space or not, organizing a linen closet is easily done. Keep towels, sheets and even extra toiletries in order with the right type of storage and pro-approved methods.

Organized linens and towels on box shelves
(Image credit: Rachel Rosenthal)

There's no denying that linen closets are desirable features and high up on the list of must-haves for an organized home. Housing the necessities of everyday life, this area is reserved for everything fabric. While the route to a clutter-free and streamlined space might seem straightforward, there is much more to organizing a linen closet than simply folding. Although, that is of course a key feature of a beautiful space.

When people are in the market for a new home, if there are visible extra storage opportunities, like linen closets, it's a big selling point. But if like most of us you have to make do with what you've got, you have to get a little creative. You might be lucky to have a large linen closet, in which case keeping it orderly might seem deceivingly obvious; you could be working with a tiny space where using every inch will be the secret to a polished finish; or you might have to carve out a makeshift linen closet to house your towels, sheets and all the rest.

Organized linen closet

(Image credit: Jenny Dietsch)

Thankfully, you don't need a big budget or masses of time to organize your linens successfully. Getting clever with caddies and implementing an expert-approved system will help sort your space out, and keep it that way.

'Linen closets are a general area for all things fabric. A place where towels and bedding have a home. Depending on the space you will also often find cleaning supplies, bathroom essentials and extra pillows/comforters,' says Rivka Davidowitz, founder of the company Organize It. 'Every client’s inventory and space differs so there is no right or wrong answer.'

How to organize a linen closet successfully

So what all should be stored in a linen closet? And what’s the best way to keep it organized? We asked multiple experts who organize for a living to share their best tips for organizing a linen closet.

1. Start by purging

Oftentimes things get shoved in a closet to be dealt with at a later date. The best place to start when organizing a linen closet is to remove anything you don’t want or need anymore. 'You’ll want to get rid of any items that are torn, stained or otherwise unusable any longer. Maybe you are still holding on to baby towels or other sentimental items. Put those aside to be stored with other heirlooms so that what you put back into the closet is only what you use now,' recommends Jenny Dietsch of Getting it Done Organizing. 

2. Sort everything by type

'After purging, you’ll want to sort the items. There are many ways to sort items, but we recommend storing linens by type and room. Put all the same size sheets together then divide by bedroom. Do the same with the towels, hand towels and washcloths. Primary bed sheets and blankets go with the primary towels, kid linens all go together and so on,' says Cobb. 

Organized linen closet

(Image credit: Jenny Dietsch)

3. Take an inventory of items

You’ll want to take inventory of everything you need to store so you know what kind of storage solutions you need for your items. That way you won't overspend on storage items or not cater for everything that needs a proper home.

4. Reserve baskets for mismatched items

Baskets are a great choice for organizing items in a linen closet. They come in all sizes and fit neatly on the shelf. 'We are most inclined to use the basket option when minimizing visual clutter for mismatched items,' says Stacy Chia of A Mindful Method who specializes in luxury interior organizing.

Organized linen closet with boxes on shelves

(Image credit: Stacy Chia)

Use baskets to store folded sheet sets, hand towels, extra blankets and more. Kasey Moore, founder of Moore Organized suggests, 'If you are not a skilled folder — use baskets to keep things nice and neat. Make sure to label each basket to ensure that everything gets placed in the correct one!' 

Organized linens in wooden cupboard space

(Image credit: Kasey Moore)

5. Line the bottom of a linen closet with oversized bins

Oversized bins work great in the bottom of a linen closet to store things like Kleenex boxes and toilet paper rolls. 'Bins are a great way to conceal the contents making the closet look uniformed and pleasing to the eye,' says Jessica DeSiato, founder of Thoughtfully Organized

Organized linen closet with boxes on shelves

(Image credit: Stacy Chia)

6. Explore shelf dividers

Shelf dividers can be used to section off shelves in a linen closet, making the space more functional and able to store more items. 'Towels are best folded in a basket or stacked neatly with shelf dividers,' recommends Chia. You can find shelf dividers at places like the Container Store

Organized linen closet with boxes on shelves

(Image credit: Stacy Chia)

7. Separate toiletries in acrylic or wire containers

Acrylic or wire containers are perfect for storing extra toiletries like toothpaste, hand soap, brushes and more that haven't slotted into your bathroom organization system. These types of containers work because you can see inside at a glance and easily get what you need. 'A linen closet should store all the sheets and back-stock bathroom items of the household. Such as toilet paper, hand and body soap, shampoos and conditioners, extra toiletries for travel, etc.,' says DeSiato.

Organized linen closet with boxes on shelves

(Image credit: Stacy Chia)

8. Roll towels

Choosing how to fold and store towels can be tricky and really depends on how much room you have. 'I generally go with the rolling method when working with towels. Not only does it give it that nice sleek look on a shelf but you actually end up saving space. For the small towels that get easily misplaced I put those in a bin or basket to contain,' says Davidowitz.

Organized towels in wire bins

(Image credit: Rivka)

Rachel Rosenthal of Rachel Organizes says, 'I always organize by type of towel. This way, I am keeping like with like and things can remain categorized. This way, it will also make it easier for you when you need a certain type of towel. For example, if all bath towels are together, it will make it easier for you to find one when you need one versus having them in all different places in a linen closet and grabbing a washcloth instead.'

Organized linens and towels on box shelves

(Image credit: Rachel Rosenthal)

9. Labeling is key

When you’re using containers or bins that aren’t see-through, labeling is a must. You can also use labels to mark where the towels and sheet sets go if they’re stored on the open shelf and not in a container.

Organized toilet paper and linens in closet space

(Image credit: Jessica DeSiato)

What if I don't have a linen closet?

'My bathroom has a pedestal sink so it’s severely lacking when it comes to counter and cabinet space. I turned a vintage hutch into a linen closet to house everything and anything we might need,’ says Mariah Hilsenbrand of Worcester Run. 'Things like towels, lotions, Q-tips, etc. are displayed in the upper glass section of the hutch and less glamorous items like toilet paper and extra boxes of toothpaste are kept in the bottom compartment.' 

Organized cupboards

(Image credit: Mariah Hilsenbrand)

Having an organized linen closet is wonderful for many reasons - it helps relieve stress because everyone knows where to find what they need and it’s easy to see what needs to be restocked when it’s time to go to the store. It helps keep linens and blankets wrinkle-free and easy to access when needed. Even if you just implement a few of the pro-approved ways to organize your linen closet, you'll quickly see how easily attainable a beautiful and functional space can be.

Dori Turner

Dori Turner writes blog posts and feature articles on affordable design and DIY from her home in the heart of Oklahoma. She has a passion for teaching others how they can transform their home on a budget.