An overstuffed linen cupboard is not only a waste of space but a difficult spot to negotiate around when matching bedlinen and guest towels are needed in a hurry, writes Carol O’Callaghan.
For several years my hot press was a bomb site in an otherwise interior landscape of order and calm.
The worse it got, the more I ignored it, even though I dreaded opening the door and the prospect of a missile attack by spare pillows and cushions I had bored of but was reluctant to throw away.
As for duvets, please tell me l am not the only one hanging onto unused multiples of them in anticipation of an avalanche of visitors needing emergency overnight accommodation?
Eventually, it took the late discovery of a leak in the hot press, preceded by a whiff of mould, to indicate the duvets were double jobbing as sponges.
I then had no choice but to divest the press of its entire contents and tackle a reorganisation project.
Get absolutely everything out of the press or linen cupboard and relocate temporarily to a bedroom.
Don’t be tempted to pile it all on the landing as there won’t be enough space to sort everything into categories which will include sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases, towels, and maybe table linens.
Give a quick wipe over the shelves and vacuum any cobwebs from the ceiling and grit off the floor.
Tip: Helen James, author of A Sense of Home (Hatchette Books Ireland) has a recipe for fresh-smelling linens.
Fill a muslin bag with 100g of dried lavender, 20g of cloves, 20g of crushed cinnamon stick.
Close the bag and pop it in the cupboard to assail the nostrils with something far nicer than mould.
This is where we segregate old, worn out items from things we’re keeping.
No doubt there are old, stained towels lurking in the recesses of your cupboard which are now so hardened from overuse they could exfoliate your skin.
I kept mine for ages, just in case they’d be handy for mopping up major spillages.
But we all know when a spillage occurs we grab the first thing to hand; there’s really no time for a dash upstairs to the hot press.
Tip: The venerable Good Housekeeping Institute suggests slinging out worn towels and to think how many of the rest you need to keep depending on how many people live in the house.
These should be placed on the centre shelf for easy access.
The best tip I know of for storing bed linen is to colour co-ordinate everything by taking a matching duvet cover and sheets and
folding them to the size of a pillowcase, then placing everything inside the pillow case. The result is a little package of bedlinen which is easy to store and ready to go when you need it.
Tip: American housekeeping guru Cindy Harris in her book Keeping House (Ryland Peters), advises us to save tissue paper and place it between the folds to prevent creasing.
It means our ironing efforts won’t have been done in vain.
Fitted sheets are fabulous to sleep on as there’s no risk of uncomfortable crumpling.
But who hasn’t cursed the awkward corners and recalcitrant elastic bands when it comes to bringing order to linens?
Tip: The goddess of tidy homes herself, Marie Kondo, has a video on getting it done right.
Towel folding is no challenge at all, but in space-tight storage cupboards there are ways of folding to maximise the use of your particular size of shelf.
Fold in half widthways twice and then fold lengthways once for shallow shelves.
For deeper ones, fold lengthways bringing the long left side over the centre towards the right, followed by the right side over the left.
Tip: Pinterest is awash with images of towel-folding options
How many times have facecloths fallen through slatted shelves in the hot press?
They and other unwieldy bits and pieces like bathmats, which are notoriously resistant to folding, can be brought to heel with ever handy baskets.
And as for the excess duvets, my solution now is to vacuum pack and store them on the top shelf or beneath a bed.
Tip: Mycleanhomeguide.com offers some weird and wonderful alternatives to vacuum packing for anyone who remains convinced a hoard of overnight guests may show up.