Week 8 of the Clever Girl Organizing Challenge: All the Linens!

Welcome to Week 8!  When this week is done, we are HALF OVER with this fantastic challenge, which I have heard from so many of you has been transformational and just what you needed to reclaim your home and your life!  Keep the great feedback coming! 

This week, we’re still in that bathroom / linen closet space from last week, but we’re moving on to the linens:  sheets, towels, tablecloths, linen napkins, place mats, mattress pads, extra blankets/comforters, etc.  All the soft stuff in those closets can take up a lot of room… and it’s room you desperately need sometimes!  So, we’re digging into those spaces, which can be linen closets, but can be other spaces in the house where you store these kinds of things, from other closets to under-bed boxes to other dresser drawers. And though it’s a scary one, it REALLY can be a rewarding one to tackle, once and for all!

(By the way — NEXT week we’re going to have an interesting change of pace, before we head back into cabinets and cupboards to finish up our beverage items and other entertaining items in 2 weeks.  )

16 challenge

Week 8:  All the Linens! 

Level 1 Challenge: Bath and Bed Linens – Towels, Sheets, Blankets and Comforters, Mattress pads and Dust Ruffles. There are 

How to tackle this one:  As with other challenge assignments, this is a good one for “take everything out, group together by category, and get critical.”  A lot of what you decide to part with on this one may go into a donation pile, either because they’re good quality and can go to a place that collects nicer household goods, or donation for a place like an animal shelter (call ahead, but many are happy to have them). Ones in bad shape can also be dropped off for “textile recycling”, if you’re lucky enough to have those resources around. In any event, set up bags or boxes for each of those destinations you anticipate to have in your “let go” piles. 

And, I want to start this with a guideline that many of you may already abide by:  You only need 3 sets of things like sheets and towels. Why 3?  1 is in use. 1 can be in the laundry. 1 in case you have some sort of emergency and need to change the first set. Now, that may seem like too stringent a rule, but really give thought to (a) WHY this wouldn’t work for you and (b) when the last time you truly used set #4 (or more) was….  With the exception of something like “we use flannel sheets in the winter because it is so cold here,” you may have to work hard to find a reason. 

  • Bed Linens – Sheets. – First, you’ll want to separate out the sets you have by size. Some of you will be surprised to find you have sheets that work for bed sizes you no longer own! As you consider each bed and each set, rank your favorites, and keep in mind that “3 sets” guideline. The sets that are threadbare, torn, the scratchy ones you hate, the ones you fight with to get to fit the mattress… you know the ones.  Consider letting those go today.  (PS:  Facebook group members will get a video this week on how to fold a fitted sheet!  How exciting… i know.. 🙂   )
  • Bath Linens – Towels – Same idea about limits (3 per person is plennnty…  2 total sets for guests) is a good place to start. This is going to be one you probably lean more towards preferences and quality for ranking. When you find yourself saying, “These are too rough” or “These don’t dry very well”, those are good candidates for an exit.  You’ll also find the “these matched for the bathroom until we had it redone,” maybe.   Also think critically about things like wash cloths / face cloths — how many do you truly need to have on hand?  Even if you use a fresh one every single day, do you need more than 5?  (I’m being generous here…)
  • Blankets and Comforters – We all keep some spares, and we should.  But often, we generate spares because we bought new bedding, and felt the old one was good enough for guests or emergencies.  Take inventory of how many extra blankets or comforters/quilts you have around the home, and ask yourself how many of these you would ever really need at one moment. I’m not talking about your “this is my summer spread that I use every year for this bed” surplus; I’m talking about the ones you don’t use at all at this point, or just keep for guests, even though you already have guest bedding, and so on. As with the other reviews this week, you’re going to rank your favorites based on pattern, style, and quality.  
  • Dust Ruffles and Mattress Pads.  Keeping an extra one around of these can make sense. More than that?  Ask yourself why you’re doing that. For dust ruffles, you probably took them off the bed for a reason, and it is unlikely you’ll return to it if you’ve replaced them. A spare mattress pad can be a good idea if there is an accident in the bed, but make sure that it’s in good enough shape to want to use (and, again, the right size for the bed). 


Level 2 Challenge: Dining linens: Tablecloths, linen napkins, place mats, and dish towels. This one is a mixture of the tablecloth/napkins/place mats in one review, and the dish towels in the other.

How to tackle this one:  These will have a different approach from the 2 categories, but the critical review is similar to the bed linens. 

  • Dining linens – Tablecloths can be tough, I know.  You’ll be evaluating for (1) size and shape (fits the tables that you use tablecloths for)  (2) style and pattern, which can also include different holidays and (3) quality — in good shape, not stained, etc.  Really think about how often you’re using tablecloths, and not just in the past, but your future role in entertaining.  Beware of the “well, it’s always good to have a few white tablecloths on hand” if you haven’t used white tablecloths in a while.  It his highly unlikely you will be coming across an entertaining emergency that is unprecedented, and, I promise, you know someone who can loan you some if you did.  Once you’ve been able to be more critical with your tablecloth collection, you can go through your place mat sets and napkin sets, too. Remember, you want to ask yourself which you really LOVE and USE, not just which ones you liked enough to buy in the first place, but never really use. 
  • Dish towels – Similar to bath towels, you’ll look at these first and foremost for “do I like how this one dries” (it really just has the ONE job, after all).  You’ll probably also review for “I don’t really like the looks of this one”, either because you don’t like the pattern or it’s not in good quality. From there, you’ll consider how many you REALLY need to have clean an on hand at any one time.  

    (OH – side note… you might be a “this would be a good rag” person, with a bucket or bag of rags somewhere.  If this exercise is helping you fill that rag bag, that’s fine. BUT, you should use these to REPLACE your current rags, not add to them. Because you probably have enough rags already.)


How The Challenge Works:
As With Every Week, Your mission:

1) Take on Level 1, and if you’re feeling up to the challenge, Level 2. If you’ve already got those covered, identify a challenge for yourself that you know you should be tackling.

2) Whenever possible, take BEFORE and AFTER pictures. You don’t have to share them with anyone but yourself, but it is a fantastic way to (a) identify clutter that’s become invisible to you over time and (b) truly measure and appreciate your progress. 

3) We’re all about letting things go…  be critical about what you’re keeping and why you’re keeping it.  Always ask yourself these critical questions to help decide if you should hold onto items: 

  • Is using this item part of my current life or likely future?
  • If I didn’t have this item and needed it for some reason, is it easily replaced or borrowed?
  • Can someone else use this more than I seem to be using it now? 
  • Am I keeping it for a “maybe some day” or a “just in case” option? How likely is that situation? And am I keeping more in that category than I should, given the space constraints I have?
  • Is it part of my past, and holding onto it reminds me of a former self? And am I keeping more in that category than I should, given the space constraints I have?

4) Stay FOCUSED on this task.  Know what FINISHED looks like, and don’t get distracted by other projects or areas of attention that cross your path while you’re on this assignment.  

5) Have a plan on where things will go — give away to someone you know, donate, sell, recycle or trash.  This Challenge isn’t just about creating new piles that don’t have a future!

6) Work in manageable chunks of time and energy. It’s a marathon, not a sprint! 

7) Celebrate and reward yourself for a job well done!



Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *