According to the L.A. Times, there are around 300,000 things—no, that’s not a typo—in the average U.S. household, including everything from paper clips to pots and pans, furniture, and more. That’s a lot of stuff! It’s no wonder so many people feel stressed about the clutter in their homes.
If you’re interested in streamlining some of your belongings, why not start with your linen closet? It’s an easy, manageable project, and chances are you have one too many sets of sheets, towels, and other linens, anyway.
So how many sets of sheets do you need? Most sources agree that three is the magic number when it comes to sheets. Shannon Hines, a home organization and decluttering expert, says you should aim to have three sets per person in the household.
Why? Simple. You need one on the bed, one to keep in the linen closet, and one that can be in the laundry. This way, you’ll always have a backup set ready to go in case you’re behind on laundry. If you have a regimented laundry schedule, you might even be able to get by with just two sets.
However, if you like to change your pillowcases more frequently than your sheets, you may want to invest in a few extra sets.
Wondering what to do with your once-loved sheet sets? You can donate old sheets to a local animal shelter, where they use these types of linens to line cages—so no worries if they’re torn or dirty. If your sheets are still in good shape, you may be able to donate them to a homeless shelter or church.
Follow the same rule of thumb when it comes to towels: Three per person should do the trick. Again, this leaves one for the bathroom, one for the closet, and one in the laundry. Same goes for hand towels.
Most people change washcloths more frequently than regular towels, so you may need a few extra spares. However, if you notice you never actually reach the bottom of your stack of washcloths, you may have too many!
Towels are another good item to donate to local animal shelters. Put together a donation pile as you declutter—it’ll feel good to send your linens off to somewhere they’re needed.
If you’re the hostess with the mostest, you might have the mostest table linens on the block. Even if you hold regular dinner parties, you still don’t need a dozen tablecloths and a huge pile of cloth napkins. Gracious Style recommends you keep one formal and one informal tablecloth, as well as a set of formal and a set of informal napkins.
You can also keep a set of tablecloths around, but make sure you actually use them. The widely-cited Pareto Principle talks about the 80/20 rule; in this case, it’s quite possible that we use 20 percent of our possessions 80 percent of the time—meaning there are a lot of items you could part with and you wouldn’t even notice they were gone.
Kitchen Towels and Cloths
Kitchen towels are essential for cleaning counters, washing dishes, drying your hands, and the like, and because these towels can often come in contact with harmful bacteria around the kitchen, experts at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln recommend you change them every day.
If you’re doing the mental math, you may have figured out that you’ll probably need quite a few dish towels to keep up this habit. By this rule, you’ll need to keep 10 or more kitchen towels around, assuming you do laundry once a week—after all, there will likely be days when you use more than one.
Similarly, some homeowners choose to use dishcloths instead of sponges as a more eco-friendly option, and you’ll want to follow the same guidelines of using a fresh one each day. To this end, you should probably 10 or more dishcloths in your linen closet.
More Sheet (Pan) Goodness This Way!
Tell us the truth: How many sheet sets do you own? Let us know below!