Pinterest results for "linen closet declutter" reveal the dark side of penny-pinching- couponing and wholesale clubs turn soccer moms into Collyer brothers-level hoarders. Yushan villagers in China's Hubei province don't stock five 24-packs of Dial to reduce Costco runs, and their only connection with the outside world is a 1000-yard zipline 400 metres above the valley floor. The main problem I have with these posts is their focus on elaborate organizational solutions, which contain clutter instead of managing it. Make enough space to keep what you like without fancy organizing equipment.
Simplifying linens is a secondary step towards a minimal wardrobe. It's easier to part with ragged towels and sheets than the flannel shirt you wore when Aaron Samuels asked you what day it was. I'm unyielding on this, because I used to fall asleep in an overstuffed linen closet as a child and get stuck in there- no one knew there was a person under the clutter. I recently organized that closet in an act of sweet, teleological revenge, and thought I'd share my method. Don't get caught up with numbers, this is just what we keep for a functional household and endless parade of guests. Pardon the choppy sentences, I'm finishing Ho Chi Minh's On Revolution and it's affecting my personal relationships:
What we have
- Washcloths. Six washcloths for two people- I rinse my washcloth and use it all week, so I may pare down here.
- Bath towels. We have four, two are constantly used in the bathroom, two for guests / emergencies.
- Hand towels. Max two per bathroom.
- Shower curtain. In Paris, we have a glass shower door instead of a curtain, but in my childhood home, the rule was (and still is) one per shower/tub. My family uses pretty linen curtains that don't need liners. Hemp shower curtains are anti-microbial, so you never have to deal with mold.
- Bath rugs/mats. One per tub/sink.
I'd love to make linen towels- durable and more absorbent than cotton, they dry quickly, do not lint, and can withstand strong laundering. For now, homemade hemp washcloths mildly abrade skin to remove dead skin cells, dirt, and oils. If you use cotton terry, choose un-cropped loops- not velour terry, which holds less moisture and is so JCPenney catalog in the 90s. Our secondhand mats are synthetic, but colorfast, absorbent, and slip-resistant. If you're in the market for natural fibers, bamboo, hemp, and linen resist mildew.
- Bed sheets. 1 set per bed. The most my mom and grandma ever had- in a household of five to eight persons, plus pets- was one extra set per bed, for when the other was being washed.
- Pillows. Max two per person.
- Mattress pad. One per bed.
- Duvets/comforters. One per bed. Extras waste valuable space and require periodic washing and refolding.
Don't overstock bed linens, because they age on the shelf, become susceptible to odors and dust, and develop mold, yellowing, and weakness along crease lines. Wool fill bedding and linen sheets are antimicrobial, absorb moisture and odors, and regulate temperature. They stay clean longer and require less maintenance than synthetic or down.
- Cleaning/kitchen towels/rags: Two dozen was enough for my family growing up, and it's more than enough for me now. I use flour sack towels my mom and grandma used.
- Table linens: I found 24 dish towels secondhand for use as napkins (if something happens to them, I'll make my own in linen). Tablecloths/ runners/ placemats aren't my style, but I'm not a Kinfolk subscriber. One set of table coverings is enough- my grandma used a single white set for decades, and it's snowy and stain-free.
What you won't find
- Bathrobes. We just get dressed.
- Laundry baskets. I'd never fold laundry if I could just stick it in a basket.
- Decorative pillows/shams. Ever see Japanese people using purely decorative pillows? No, because they use both sides of their brains. We don't have anything we can't sleep on.
- Faded, ripped, or torn towels and sheets. Everything is presentable. When I was little, we cut old towels into rags. Sometime we braided them or used them like furoshiki.
- Blankets. Since Paris apartment buildings don't have fire escapes, I'd like some good wool blankets - the flame-resistant material is useful for emergencies.
What I don't buy
- Fancy candles. I used to lust after fancy Dior or Astier de Villatte candles, but then I realized how easy it was to make my own. Economically, it makes no sense to waste that much on a packaged piece of wax. I went to a party with the Byredo founder once, and all he did was talk about basketball.
- Too many toiletries. Depending on bar size, we stock 2-4 unpackaged soaps per sink/shower. Any more flakes and makes a mess of the closet. No family needs 50 tubes of toothpaste or rolls of toilet paper lying around- not even the Duggars.
Cleaning and organizing the linen closet
I wipe shelves with white vinegar and wash and air items before folding. Don't overcrowd linens- air circulation keeps items fresh. Storing cotton or linen in plastic produces yellow streaks on fabric. Place freshly laundered pieces on the bottom, like with like and all sheet sets together, including pillowcases. We didn't have a linen closet at my mom's house, so we kept folded towels in the bathroom and sheets in drawers.