Friday, January 20, 2012

Organizing and Laundering Your Linens

Dear friends,

Laundry is a never ending responsibility in a home with 10 people, but at least taking care of kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom linens is actually pretty easy for me thanks to the techniques I have developed over the years.  

Here are some of them:

Linen closet
with labeled shelves
Decide where things will go in your linen closet and then label the shelves. I have spots for (from top to bottom) large towels, wash cloths in a basket and hand towels, folded pillow cases in basket and fitted sheets, flat sheets, and a large bin of table linens.  Some people organize bed linens by storing the sheet sets in the matching pillow cases.  We don't have enough matching anything to do this.  I'd love to have my sheet shelves all prim and tidy, but this is what they usually look like.  I keep master bedroom sheets and pillow cases in a dresser drawer so they don't get lost in with the twin bedding.
Wash cloth basket with labeled shelf
Don't fold wash cloths or cleaning rags.  Put them in baskets. They are going to come unfolded and fall out of their stacks any way, so why waste your time?  The basket keeps them in their place, and makes them easy to grab.  What's left to fold?  Dish towels and hand towels are easy for little kids to do, but I like to do the larger linens myself.  It's actually relaxing.  It's nice to have a job that doesn't take much brain power once in a while.

Keep things close to where you need them.

I keep a basket of several bath towels just outside the master bathroom, 
and there are wash cloths and hand towels in the drawer right above it 

Hot pads go in a bowl on top of the microwave.

A decorative dish towel hangs near the kitchen sink for wiping clean hands.
I store these separately so they don't get used for messy clean up.
You might like to read one of my favorite inspirational essays, My Glorious Dish Towel.
Regular dish towels go in drawer next to kitchen sink.
Sometimes our old ragged hand towels
get recycled in to dish towel use.

I just started putting a basket of a dozen folded dish rags on the ledge over the kitchen sink.
The smaller size makes them easier to handle than a dish towel.
The distinctive color (green to match the kitchen) and pattern reminds everyone to use them
only for washing dishes or wiping counters or table, 
not cleaning anything yucky.

A basket of white cleaning rags is tucked under a counter near the kitchen.
We use these for a lot of things, especially cruddy stuff 

like wiping up the floor and cleaning the bathroom.
We buy these in bulk at Sam's Club.

Have plenty of spots to put dirty linens.

A linen hamper is in the laundry room.
The yellow bucket, just outside the master bathroom, is for dirty linens.
The blue hamper (a wastebasket) is for clothes.
They fit nicely under the counter.  A regular hamper is too tall.

There is a bucket for wet linens near kitchen sink 
and another one by the laundry room door.

Wash linens every day.  They can really get stinky if you don't!  Because we have a large family, I usually do a load of wet cleaning rags and a load of bath linens each day. I wash bed linens as needed, which used to be every day when we had frequent bed wetters.  I buy huge containers of detergent to save money, but I don't like to lift them every time I do wash, so I save a smaller container and refill it part way.  If the load is cruddy, I also add OdoBan to eliminate germs and odors.  I only use bleach when something is badly stained.

Use bath towels several times before laundering. If you are clean from the shower, the towels should last a while.  They are really bulky and take a lot of room in the washer and dryer, so cutting down on washing these can save a lot of water and electricity.  Large, thick towels take even more, so go for smaller, thinner ones if you can, and use a bath robe if you need something around you. If you need to dry off a more sensitive area of the body or want something for your face, use a clean wash cloth or hand towel and then put it in the wash.  Encourage your family members to hang their own towels in their closets so you don't have them piled up in the bathroom. I have a hook, but my kids  hang them on a hanger or over their closet rod.  Another way to cut down on electricity is to hang large towels outside on a clothes line and then bring them in while still slightly damp to fluff and soften them in the dryer.

You really want to read more about doing laundry?

And two others one on general home organization:
I hope this has been helpful to you!  Was anything a new idea for you?  What are your best tips for laundering linens or anything else?  Leave a comment!

Virginia Knowles


  1. i have been prepping for a similar post... ha!

    I have a different set up for our (smaller) family. We have a smaller home with only one closet. We use our closet as a library. It holds our books, not linens. SO- We keep linens in the room we use them. Kid towels/washcloths in kid bathroom under sink, our sheets/blankets in our room closet shelf, guest towels/sheets in guest bathroom, etc..

    Clothes are all in one family closet though. We each have our own shelf of current clothes in the closet and a few hang up (mainly Andy's clothes). The baby has several shelves of 2 sizes of clothes and all our cloth diapers. We all get changed there, so our hamper is right there. I do laundry every time it gets full.

  2. I agree with never folding the cleaning rags, wash cloths, etc. We don't fold underwear, either!! Haha!

  3. Sweet heavens! There have been hundreds and ghundreds of visitors to this blog post today thanks to a link on The Happy Housewife's blog! While you're here, feel free to poke around or subscribe via email or Google Reader in the sidebar. And be sure to visit my other blogs also linked in the sidebar. I'd love to hear from you, so please leave a comment! ••• Virginia

  4. Great tips! We are definitely in the same boat (or washtub) with the unending laundry pile for 12 people!


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