Linen Storage: Why I Don’t Need It

posted by Andrea | 12/16/2013

Unmade-Bed

One question I get on a very regular basis is how we store our extra linens — you know, sheets, blankest, towels, tablecloths, etc.

While I usually love to share my organizing wisdom, I often don’t have a great answer to these emails… because we honestly don’t store many linens anywhere.

We literally only have ONE set of sheets/blankets per bed — and (get ready to be shocked) we only have 2 bath towels and 1 hand towel for each of us.

This means that we never ever have to store any linens because we are either using them or washing them.

Washing-Machine

Some of you might be wondering how this works — well I can assure you, it’s extremely simple.

  1. We use our towels, sheets, napkins, etc. until it’s time to do laundry.
  2. We put them in the laundry (and yes, are without them for about an hour).
  3. We put them back on our bed, back on the hooks in the bathroom, or wherever else they go.

Done. 

This is how we’ve always done it since we’ve been married — partially out of desire for simplicity and not storing so much stuff. But also because that’s all the sheets, blankets, and towels we received as wedding gifts :)

Since I realize many of you might be picking your jaws up off the ground right now, let me go into a bit more detail about how our limited linens work for us.

Our Bed:

  • One mattress pad and one set of plain white sheets.
  • Two thin white blankets that we keep on year-round.
  • One heating blanket that we keep on from October – April and then store in the summer months.
  • One quilt and one comforter that always stay on our bed, even in the summer.

Nora’s Bed:

  • One water-proof mattress pad and one set of sheets (when she starts potty training, I’ll probably get another set just in case).
  • One thin blanket.
  • One comforter and one quilt that stay on year-round.

Guest Beds:

  • One mattress pad and one set of plain white sheets for each bed.
  • Two thin blankets for each bed.
  • One quilt or heavy blanket for each bed.
  • We also have one extra heating blanket that we store and only use if we have guests in the winter.

crib

Crib:

  • Two water-proof mattress pads and two white sheets (I layer them so all 4 items are on the crib at the same time. This way, if there is an accident, I just pull the top layer off and am ready to go again)
  • White pumper pad and white blanket that stay in the crib.

Air Mattress:

  • We have a king-size air mattress that can also break apart into 2 twin-size air mattresses. I already have twin sheets for some of our guest beds, but I also have one set of king sheets that I store specifically for the air mattress.
  • When we need to use the air mattress, we just use blankets and quilts from our queen beds so we don’t need extra king-size bedding.

bathroom towles

Our Bathroom Linens:

  • Two bath towels per person (including Nora)
  • One hand towel for each side of our bathroom vanity
  • Three washcloths for Nora
  • One “loofah” sponge each for Dave and I (we use this to wash our bodies and periodically replace them via the dollar store)

Other Bathroom Linens:

  • Two hand towels for the bathroom off the kitchen (we don’t use the shower in there so we don’t keep anything but hand towels in this bathroom).
  • Four bath towels for the guest bathroom upstairs.
  • Four hand towels and four washcloths for the guest bathroom.

Kitchen Linens:

  • Five washcloths for Nora (we use a new one every day)
  • Five small hand towels.
  • 4-6 “extra” towels for when we have lots of dishes or I’m canning, or we have extra people washing hands and everything we currently have is wet.
  • 12 cream colored cloth napkins (we usually only use 4-6 per week, but have extra for guests).
  • Four tablecloths of various sizes.

So as you can see, we still have A LOT of linens around our house — but almost NONE of them are in storage.

I have one smaller dresser in an upstairs storage closet (see photo below) that houses the 2 heating blankets (during the summer only), a few extra pillow cases, the sheets for our air mattress, and our tablecloths. Only one large drawer and one small drawer have linens in them. Everything else is always in use or in the wash.

dresser of linens

While I realize this method wouldn’t work for every family and every home, it does work extremely well for us (especially considering we have no linen closet, no coat closet, and no large closets or cabinets in any of our bathrooms.)

And if you really stop and think about it, the ONLY time my wash-and-replace method causes any sort of an issue is if someone wants to take a shower while I’m washing the load of towels. However, since I almost always do the wash mid-day, and we almost always take our showers at night, this is almost never a problem for us.

In our 7.5 years of marriage, I’ve only had to replace our sheets once after a large hole appeared in the fitted sheet, and we’re still using the same towels without any complaints — so not too bad if you ask me.

My Laundry Routine:

Some of you might think that with so few linens, I’d have to do loads of laundry every single day — well that’s not true at all.

Since almost all of our sheets, blankets, towels, washcloths, etc. are white, I simply do one load of whites in the middle of the week, and one load on the weekends. These loads include any white linens AND any of our other white shirts, socks, etc. I also usually do one load of “everything else” in the middle of the week and on the weekend (I don’t sort colors!)

And… believe it or not, we only wash our sheets once a month, so that cuts way back on laundry too (I know people who wash them EVERY day!)

Dave and I figure that since we both shower before we go to bed, and we regularly wash our PJ’s, there’s really no need to wash our sheets so often (I do wash the pillow cases every week).

I’ve never felt dirty in our bed, and I honestly think that a little less washing helps to prolong the life of the sheets — not to mention, saves a bunch of water, energy, and time!

This method works for us — and I love that I don’t need to store, organize, clean, or keep track of piles and piles of extra linens.

Do you share my love for minimalism when it comes to linens? If not…

How do you store and organize your linens?

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79 comments

  1. Rebecca

    12/17/2013

    I love your system, but it would not work for our family. After suffering through 3 kids with stomach flu while I was pregnant, I bought several sets for each bed. I couldn’t keep up with the laundry because they would get sick while the current sheets were being washed. We went through every blanket, sheet and even tablecloth we had.

    Aside from the stomach flu, each bed has regular and flannel sheets. I keep all extra sheets and blankets in totes in the basement and only use if needed because I’m like you – strip the beds, wash and then make with the same sheets.

    [Reply]

  2. Kelekona

    12/17/2013

    I do want an emergency set of sheets for our bed, just in case I’m having a bad day and don’t get them dry in time for sleeping.

    Ideally, I’ll only have to fold inactive sheets once every six months.

    Blankets are at-whim. We sleep in the same bed, but use different blankets most of the time. If one needs washing, we can cope with it being in the hamper for a night.

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  3. Peggy

    12/17/2013

    I have several sheets for my son since he has a bladder problem and they are stored in his closet but when he has an accident and the blankets get wet also then I have to have some close by to replace. I store all my extra blankets between the mattresses. When they are not being used (in the summer) we all put the blankets in between the mattresses and during winter then we pull them out. Also when my son needs a whole bed change we just lift the mattress and pull the blankets out.

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  4. Cindy

    12/19/2013

    I keep extra bedding in the room it’s used in. Example master bedroom would have bedding in a drawer that would fit that bed.

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  5. Brenda

    12/19/2013

    How can I send you a private note?

    [Reply]

  6. Becky

    12/19/2013

    i LOVE your idea!!! i’ve been DYING to get white sheets but im worried about them getting stained. hubs sweats like crazy all the time. like in the middle of the night his side of the bed is SOAKED. we dont have our own washer/dryer either so it makes it a bit more difficult. I’m thinking they would probably be easier now after reading this and the other comments about white sheets. plus, they look so nice and crisp!!

    [Reply]

  7. Jenifer

    12/20/2013

    We are both similar and different. :)

    Like you, we keep pretty minimal linens, but we keep pretty minimal everything.

    For total furnishings we have: 1 gate-leg table and 6 folding wooden chairs, two dressers, two thai mats (these are our beds — one is king size ish and the other is twin size ish).

    One dresser holds our family clothing (one big drawer each plus the 4th drawer for socks/undergarments), and we each have a hook for hanging items (5 hangers each — one is the off-season coat).

    The other dresser holds kitchen supplies/linens that don’t fit in our kitchen because our kitchen is a small galley, but very functional nonetheless. So, that dresser has 6 drawers of which 3 are used.

    One has extra tools that aren’t used every day (but are used several times a week) like the spiralizer, the mandolin, and also the parts of the juicer, such as the parts for making pasta, that aren’t used every day (the juicer is used every day, and it sits on top of this dresser, which is in the eat-in kitchen space sans table). One holds art supplies.

    And the last one holds the towels, washcloths, and table cloth. We have one table cloth (which we wash weekly), and we have 12 towels and 12 wash cloths. Since we don’t use paper towels, the towels and cloths are used for all of those purposes. Washed weekly, of course, and soaked in whitening powder after use.

    Because we sleep thai style, our beds are put away every day. this leaves us with plenty of space to play and move during the day (we live in a small apartment, but it’s bigger than our last place — is it sad that I preferred our 480 sq ft place?). So, the mats are rolled up and put in a corner next to the clothing dresser. The bedding is folded up and kept in the small linen closet. Three pillows, 2 wool underlays, a flat sheet (i don’t bother with fitted because they don’t work out on these mats anyway), a blanket and a quilt each. Pillows on the top shelf; quilts on the floor/bottom (rolled up and tied to hold together easily), one shelf of linens in between, and then one empty shelf that currently holds toilet paper and the “spare” three bath towels that we have (they are those microfiber ones (we have six; all were gifted). I also keep the baby-wrap there, even though he’s no longer a baby. I just can’t get rid of the wrap. :) I’m attached to it.

    A lot of people are certain that we are nuts, but living with less is relaxing.

    [Reply]

  8. Pascale

    01/13/2014

    Hello,

    I love your blog Andrea. Thank you for sharing.

    A few quick questions :

    1) If each one of you has 2 bath towels, it means that you store the one that isn’t being used, right?

    2) Is there a reason why you keep 4 guest bath towels?

    3) You mention that you don’t sort colors when doing laundry, could you explain a bit more? I’m interested in simplifying my laundry chore. I sort by color and function and do many loads: one for black clothing, one for black cleaning rags, one for reds and similar colors, one for pastels, etc.

    Looking forward to your answers

    Thanks
    Pascale

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Pascale…. here are the answers to your questions ;)

    1. We have 2 towels because I usually only wash them once a week. So we each use one towel for 3 days and then the 2nd towel for 3 days — then I wash them both.
    2. We have 4 guest towels because sometimes we have 4 guests at a time (we have 2 different guest bedrooms and several out-of-town family and friends.
    3. Nope, I don’t sort any colors. Here the post that talks about that.

    Hope this helps!

    [Reply]

  9. Linen Storage: Why I Don’t Need It…

    01/13/2014

    […] Source […]

  10. Tracey

    03/11/2014

    We also change our sheets about once a month for the same reasons!

    We do have flannel for winter and regular for summer, for our queen and each of our two kid’s twin beds. (The flannel is sooo much warmer to get into on a chilly night!) The “off-season” sheets are folded once and put on a high shelf until their time comes around again. The “in-season” sheets are washed and put right back on.

    We also have two bath towels each, and about four hand towels that rotate.

    For washing, an awesome bleach alternative is natural Borax, sold in the laundry section. It’s safe for colors, also great to have on hand for other cleaning and for cool science experiments for the kids! Just Google it for fun ideas!

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