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Decluttering the Linen Closet

Learn how to keep your linen closet organized by properly folding your bedding and towels.

Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Tossing broken appliances, seasonal decor items or everyday clutter among the sheets and towels in the linen closet can introduce unwelcome dirt, insects and odors into the family's linens. An organized linen closet extends the life of expensive bedding and towels. Properly folded and stored, linens are protected and ready for use — and far less likely to be appropriated for misadventures, such as washing the car or wiping down a muddy pet. Honor your family's linens with a proper place to live.

Attention Panic Clutter
Cluttered linen closets can be found in the tidiest homes. Why? They're the natural place to store panic clutter. "Panic clutter" is born when the doorbell rings unexpectedly. Fearing drop-in guests, family members sweep up out-of-place items and look wildly for a door, any door that will shut them away from view. Enter the linen closet — the storage area most accessible and most amenable to depositing panic clutter.

As a result, expect that STOP clutter sessions in the linen closet will require about twice the normal time for the "put-away" step. You'll also find many more storage items than you would expect. Swept up into the linen closet, lost items find snug hiding spots among the jumbled towels.

Save-your-back tip: Set up a portable table or clean another surface nearby when decluttering the linen closet. There will be a good deal of refolding to do, so make the process easier on your lower back with a good work area.

Stop Clutter
Pick a cool day — or turn up the air conditioning — to begin linen closet decluttering; it's more pleasant to handle blankets and thick towels when you're fresh and cool. Ready to STOP clutter in the linen closet?

First: Sort
Set the timer for 20 minutes, grab your sorting boxes and turn your attention to a single shelf area or drawer. Remove everything from the shelf — sheets, towels, lost toys — and sort into like piles. Linens to be returned to the closet can be placed on the portable table for refolding; out-of-place items are delivered to the appropriate boxes (Put Away, Sell/Donate, Storage).

Second: Toss
Assess your linens while you toss trash. Ripped sheets, ragged towels and stained tablecloths deserve an honorable retirement, offering new life if repurposed. Worn pillowcases, a hole snipped for a hanger, serve as dust covers for stored clothing; the household's car washer will prize shredded sheets for polishing chrome bumpers.

Third: Organize
Once the space is clear, use spray cleaner to remove dust and dirt. Turn to the stacked linens on the temporary table. Refolding is probably a must, but fold smart.

Fourth: Put Away
When the shelf is replaced or the timer rings, grab the Put Away box and circle the house, restoring items to their proper home. Tuck away the Storage and Sell/Donate boxes, and toss the trash.

Excerpted from Houseworks, by Cynthia Townley Ewer

Text Copyright © 2006, 2010, Cynthia Townley Ewer, extracts from Houseworks, reproduced with permission from Dorling Kindersley Limited

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