Monday, April 18, 2011

S'More Decluttering Ideas From Maggie -- Linens

Some ideas for managing sheets, towels, washcloths and hand towels:

--If possible, have all the beds in your house the same size, or at least no more than two sizes (perhaps a large shared bed for the parents and individual single beds for the kids).  Kids really can go straight from the crib to a regular single bed!  They did since they dawn of time, before "kid stuff" manufacturers and marketers invented increasingly large sizes for growing kids, trying to force consumers to buy first a crib, then a toddler bed, then a junior bed, then, finally a "single" bed -- which means that in addition to special furniture and special-sized mattresses, you have to buy all the special-sized sheets and blankets and coverlets.  Aargh!   People only think of this to get money away from people like you and me.

But if everyone in the house has a full- or queen-size bed, kids and adults alike, or at least if all the kids have the same size bed from the time they graduate from the baby crib, then you can have far fewer sheets, especially if you stick with white, or, for the kids, solid colors that can be mixed and matched.  You really don't need more than one change of sheets at any given time per bed, and if each bedroom gets a sheet change on a different day, you can get by with even less, assuming one set is always being washed.  Having all your sheets the same size  and color (white, like a hotel, or solid colors that can mix and match) eliminates time spent searching for the "right" sheets for the "right" bed and simplifies your storage and laundry.

--The same with towels.  Stick with white or an array of solid, light colors that coordinate rather than having a "theme" for each bathroom that needs to be matched.  All of our towels are white hotel towels and all of our sheets are white hotel sheets, bathmats and washcloths.  Not needing separate sets of "decorator themes" for each bathroom means fewer towels and bathmats, and even if you repaint the bathrooms or hang new wallpaper, white goes with everything.

--For the kitchen, we also use white terry "bar rags" from Sam's and thin white cotton dish towels from Sam's (restaurant supply stores sell them too, and so do Walmart and Target and other discount stores.)

--The bar rags are a good size for bathroom hand towels and all purpose cleaning, too.

--White napkins from the restaurant supply store can greatly reduce paper towel use and paper napkin use (and storage) and add only a small amount of additional laundry.  White terry washcloths make good, absorbent napkins for kids (or sloppy adults).

As a result, at our house, we only use paper towels for the icky things (like pet accidents or cat hairballs) or things that would not be safe to launder and put in the dryer (like spilled paint or cooking oil).   This has saved us lots of money on paper towels and the small basket for hand towels, restaurant napkins and washcloths to replace the paper towels has created only one more washload per week.

Sticking with white or an array of solid neutral colors eliminates the perceived need to buy more "stuff" to "redecorate" every few years.  It really does.  For Pete's sake, how "exciting" or "cute" do your towels need to be?  Sheets and towels are just sheets and towels.  The important thing is that they are clean.

Applying the same rules to blankets and coverlets helps keep things simple, too.  That handmade quilt from your crafty best friend, or the afghan crocheted by your sister, will show off nicely when placed on a neutral or solid-color bedcover or on top of white sheets.

It seems like a little thing, but when we got rid of all of our odd-sized linens and bought all white, we somehow ended up with about 40% more storage space for linens, but we still had clean sheets, blankets, washcloths and towels all the time.

Staying away from novelty items and impulsive seasonal redecoration really does simplify your storage and your daily chores.  If you really do feel the need to keep up with decorating trends for a change of appearance, maybe you can opt to buy only new curtains, lampshades, bedside rugs or throw pillows (the white sheets will go with anything) and give the old curtains and pillows to Goodwill or Salvation Army right away.  

Just a few ideas.  Hope these help!



  1. I like the idea of one size of sheets, and one color or coordinating colors. I'll try to pass it on to someone in the midst of a busy life who could really use some simplifying. But there is a rebound possibility. Growing up with just white sheets, a person might yearn for colors and patterns, and go overboard once able to buy some.

  2. You make a good point about rebound effect. But I read it more like the focus is on the sheets and towels being white or solid colors, and not everything else in the bed and bath. So you could update your bedroom with a coordinating bedspread and curtains occasionally, or a print curtain and shower curtain, with white sheets and towels as the norm (who sees the sheets when the bed is made, anyway? :-)

  3. I love this post - thank you for keeping it up. It's perfectly fine, and normal, to really note like thing sometimes.
    platform beds

  4. I learned a simple way to keep sheet sets together. When folding the sheets after laundering, use one pillowcase as a bag to hold the sheets and additional pillowcases. Everything is all together and easy to pull out when you want to change sheets. It also seems to keep them more compact and easier to store.

  5. I love this idea! As the adult daughter of a hoarder, I still struggle with household organization and cleaning routines. Anything that helps simplify my life (not to mention the laundry!) is much appreciated.

  6. Thank you all for your comments! I had to struggle to learn these things too -- on my own, but I was determined to be neat and clean. And BJHULL, that's what we do at our house, too -- one pillowcase holds the rest of the neatly folded set, then I wrap the rest of the pillowcase around the inner bundle like a burrito. No avalanches in the laundry closet!

    The important thing is to do something that works for you. My best friend's house has a COLOR scheme, but not a trendy "decor" theme. She loves the ocean, her family goes fishing and snorkeling a lot, etc. So thier entire house inside and our, is painted in shades of blue and other ocean colors, with white trim and light colored furnishings. It is so relaxing to be in their house. They buy solid color linens in blues and greens. Nothing ever "matches," but everything always coordinates and the place has such a feeling of serenity.

  7. Hello i work for various types of dogs beds and some people want a luxury dog beds for large dogs . but mostly people wants medium size dogs beds at reasonable price. the luxury dogs beds are luxury in price also which every one can not afford.

  8. I like the idea of "all-white" linens. I usually add bleach to a load of white linens about once a month to keep them bright and fresh.