This blog is overdue.... Linen closets cause procrastination, so go easy on yourself. I was envisioning that perfect space – Instagram and Container Store-worthy- while at the same time shutting the door so I wouldn’t have to see the reality. This feels like a daunting task, and the positive reinforcement is minimal since it’s behind a door. But, it is also rewarding! I finished mine - a serious and long-overdue purge I feel like I just got a great haircut.
And for the good news, you will be able to go faster than I did. I giving you the secrets of what NOT to do.
Linen Closet - Stage 1 Acceptance (Here's where i started)
If you are like most people, and definitely me, at least 80% of the items in your closet are not being used – and I have proof. Our reality is that we are down to 2 queen beds and 1 king, plus a split king guest bed. We also have some infrequently used but crucial blow up mattresses and a futon in the basement. We have, no surprise, switched to QuickZip - so almost every fitted sheet we have is obsolete, and we stopped using flat sheets most of the time in favor of a duvet cover.
Linen Closet Stage 2 - Denial. ("I probably only have a few things to get rid of.")
Tip 2. Don’t know too much
Pretend you don't remember anything about these sheets (e.g. who gave them to you, who slept on them, what they go with.....). Only put back items that you use on a regular basis. Make the closet more of a go - to space to streamline your home maintenance than a linen history museum. For example - I had a few moments of wondering if I should delay a keep/toss decision because I might find the other pieces to a sheet set or some matching pillowcases somewhere else in the house. Pretend you did not think of that.
Tip 3. Don’t be sentimental.
I unearthed poly-cotton pillowcases that I used in junior high school (and that was a long time ago). They are in surprisingly great condition and the cartoon cat design looks perfect. We don’t sleep on them, and I think we already used them for Halloween bags a number of times. They have to go. A less obvious case is the stack of beautiful pillowcases and a duvet cover that I commissioned my mom (a great quilter) to make for us. The duvet cover is used, abused and faded and currently missing, but the pillowcases are still in good shape. I kept them since they match most of our sheets. And the baby quilts are headed for the bin with the elementary school art work!
Linen Closet Stage 3: Shed a few tears for the kitty pillow case
Tip 4. Don’t hesitate
Black Bag, White Bag, Back on the Shelf. Trash goes in black bags, donations in the white bags, and everything else needs a home.
Tip 5. Don’t hide it
I see pictures of linen closets with beautiful baskets and perfect boxes with impeccable labels on them. I drool first but then remember that those don’t work for me. The boxes don’t maximize the available space unless they are custom, and I like everything visible (or in our house it is lost forever)! Clear boxes, bins and bags can be helpful, and I do believe in labeling the shelves in the hope that someone else in the house will follow the plan.
Linen Closet Stage 4 - Pride
Part of my hang up on purging the linen closet is deciding what to do with sheets we don’t use. So I did some research.
Reuse first! : rags, car seat protectors, picnic or beach blankets, drop clothes, pet crate liners, play tents, Halloween costumes, weed barrier under mulch (after a weekend of yard work, I am going to try this one!), and if you are really good - an old-fashioned braided rag rug. (See Pinterest)
Donate. Gently used sheets can go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill, ARC or possibly to a homeless shelter, but check first. (I got a fortuitous call from ARC today and my load of giveaways is getting picked up next week). There is a lot published on the internet about donating sheets to animal shelters, but our local shelters only take towels and blankets.
Compost:Shred and add to your compost pile or straight into your soil. More on this to come, as I found out our city compost collection does not accept cotton; but I am on a mission to find out “Why”?
Recycle– Cotton can be recycled. The process basically shreds the cotton into new (shorter) fibers that can be combined with virgin cotton up to approximately 30% or even reused in paper. I haven’t found any recycling plants (at least in Colorado); if you know of one, let me know.