A linen closet is one of those easy-to-ignore spots in your home-the kind of place that can quickly turn into a crazy jumbled mess before you know it. Every so often (I suggest doing this annually) you're going to want to take stock and get things back on track. Here's what to do when you're ready to give yours an overhaul (having just gone through this myself and despite dreading the task, it really was a more fast, painless, and totally gratifying undertaking than I would have guessed).
First things first: Start by pulling every last item out of your linen closet, separating the contents into "keep" and "donate" piles.
You may want to use this opportunity to adjust the height of your shelves. 10 inches is a good amount of space for table linens and sheets, while 12 to 16 inches is better for towels, and 18 inches or more is ideal for bulky blankets and comforters. Give sheets and towels the prime, easiest-to-reach shelves, since you'll be accessing them most frequently. Meanwhile, comforters and heavy blankets can be stashed on the topmost shelf, or at the bottom of the closet, since you'll only need to get to them a few times a year.
While they're empty, give your shelves a thorough wipe down with a clean damp sponge, and make sure they're totally dry before re-stocking.
As a general rule, you want two or three sets of sheets or towels per bed or person, respectively, which allows you to have one in use and one in the laundry at the same time. With towels, what defines a set depends on your own personal habits (if you're not a big washcloth person, for example, you're not going to need a bunch of extras floating around).
To maximize space, fold towels into thirds lengthwise and then into a rectangle. To keep things looking neat, tuck in the edges so they face the interior of the closet as you form stacks. You can also try rolling towels if you're really tight on space (which also has the added bonus of looking kind of cool and spa-like). When it comes to sheets, my favorite storage technique is to fold them into one of the pillowcases from the set-it not only saves space and keeps things tidy, but spares you the nuisance of trying to track down different components within a set.
Every time you add a freshly laundered set of sheets or towels back in the closet, place it on top of its rightful stack. Always remove linens from the bottom of the pile-that way you ensure nothing gets left out of the rotation.
To minimize wrinkles on tablecloths, fold them lengthwise and use a thick hanger (as opposed to one of those flimsy metal wire ones you get from the dry cleaner) to hang them from a hook on the back of your closet door.
Lastly, make sure things are smelling fresh. There are plenty of different ways to do this, ranging from an open box of baking soda, to lavender sachets, to cedar blocks, to tucking in sprigs of rosemary between your stacks of linens. I also store scented candles in the same closet, which leaves a very subtle perfume on my sheets.