Storing bed sheets

If your linen closet is cluttered and overflowing with bed sheets, it might be time to unclutter and organize your collection.

Start by sorting through your sheets and pulling out any that don’t match, are stained, damaged, or shouldn’t be in circulation. I live in a four-season climate, so my goal is to only have two warm weather sets of cotton sheets and two cold weather sets of flannel sheets. The idea is that there are two sets in circulation for six months of the year, with one of the sets being on the mattress and the other set ready to go when you want to change the sheets. (Sheets you wish to purge from your collection usually can be donated to a local animal shelter. Be sure to give the shelter a call before dropping off your donation to make sure they have a current need.)

Once the number of linens for each bed is down to a manageable amount, you’ll need to decide where to store the sheets. I’m of the opinion that bed sheets should be stored in the room where they are used. (Store it where you use it.) If your home has a linen closet located near all of the bedrooms, you might choose to go ahead and use it if bedroom closet space is limited.

After you have identified where you want to store your sheets, you’ll then have to decide how you want to store them. If you live in a constant climate and only need two sets of sheets, you won’t have much issue with simply keeping your sheets on a shelf. I like Martha Stewart’s recommendation to store the top and bottom sheets and one pillow case inside the second pillow case. This method keeps everything together and doesn’t make a mess of your closet.

If you’re like me and prefer four sets of sheets, you’ll want to have a box with a lid to hold the two sets not in circulation. This will keep the sheets from collecting dust and make sure they’re ready to use when temperatures change. I use a clear plastic storage box made for sweaters, but any protective container could work.

And, if you’re struggling with folding sheets, check out our post on how to fold a fitted sheet.

48 Comments for “Storing bed sheets”

  1. posted by Kim on

    This is an ingenious tip. We’ve been doing this for a while now – it’s made a big difference in our tiny linen closet.

  2. Avatar of

    posted by Laetitia in Australia on

    It a box for the currently unused sheets is not an option e.g. it won’t fit anywhere, another option is to keep the unused sheets under the ones currently in circulation – the ones at the top will keep at least some of the dust off the ones at the bottom.

  3. posted by Lady in a Smalltown on

    I recently purchased some of those Ziplock zippered storage box-shaped bags that fit under the bed. I just switch the sheets in the bag. To store my son’s crib sheets I slid a storage box under his crib. I only keep towels in the linen closet in my bathroom.

  4. posted by Ros on

    I didn’t know about flannel sheets. I want some now!

    With sets I prefer to have three so that there’s one on the bed, one in the wash/ on the airer, and one clean in the drawer. I do lots this way (three sports bras, three pairs of work trousers) so that if I can’t wash something for some reason or an item is damaged I have a spare to tide me over. Plus I get less bored of seeing/ wearing the same stuff without having too much.

    I guess I’m more interested in the uncluttering of schedules (I don’t want to feel forced to put on a load of washing) than of physical stuff.

  5. posted by mary b on

    I think it may have been the FlyLady that suggested you store the 2nd set of sheets between your mattress & boxspring!

  6. posted by Sarah on

    I do the Martha tip too. We keep two sets of flannel sheets and three sets of “regular” ones so that we don’t have to scramble for sheets for the guest bed; we only have 2 sets of sheets for the kiddo’s bed because she hasn’t expressed any desire for flannel sheets (and she never stays under the covers anyway). I store out-of-season linens (sheets, wrong-weight blankets) in space bags in the linen closet (which is all of 10 steps from 2/3 of the bedrooms).

  7. posted by Lori on

    I tie my sheet sets together with a long ribbon or a long shoelace. I’ve tried putting the sets in the pillowcase, but I can never seem to get them to stay neatly on the shelves that way.

  8. posted by Sally on

    Thanks so much for the tips as always, but I also wanted to personally thank you for recommending the local animal shelter as a recipient of used sheets! People often forget about the shelters and humane societies when they are decluttering or just getting rid of some tatty old things. Other things that they love to get that you might otherwise throw away are:
    Old towels
    Old blankets
    Newspaper (to line kennels)
    Old Placemats (to put under food dishes)
    Stuffed animals
    Bowls/any dish that can hold food or water
    You should always check with the shelter first, but most are happy to get anything that might help! Maybe Unclutterer could even do a full post about donating used items to animal shelters? It would be a great way to spread the word! :)

  9. posted by Jen on

    @Ros – if you think flannel sheets sound nice, try cotton jersey sheets (the ones that feel like a t-shirt). They are fantastic.

    I think storing extra sheets in an under-the-bed box is the way to go, you can’t get closer to the point of use than that. But I will say that I think 4 sets of sheets sounds excessive. I also live in a 4-season climate, and I just have 2 sets of sheets, both regular cotton. But maybe I’m weird – I like it very cold in my room at night, with a very warm fluffy down comforter, so maybe for most people, flannel sheets in the winter are the way to go.

  10. posted by Anita on

    I live in a 4-season climate, and do just fine with using the same type of sheets year-round. The only thing I change is the thickness of my duvet; we have a “3 in one” duvet with a thinner layer and a thicker layer that can be attached to one another; in winter we use both, in summer just the thinner layer.

    We have 2 bottom sheets, 2 duvet covers, and 3 sets of pillow cases (we wash pillow cases more frequently than the rest of the sheets). We also keep a spare duvet, duvet cover, and 2 pillows with pillow cases for the guest bed. Hmm, I should probably also get a spare bottom sheet, but that can wait until we actually have people staying over :P

  11. posted by STL Mom on

    I keep the extra sheets for my bed in a dresser drawer in my room. I have just two sets of sheets, but I have extra pillowcases.
    The extra sheets for my kids and the guest bed are all stored in the guest bedroom closet, along with extra blankets, pillows, and towels.
    I used to have flannel sheets for my bed, but we bought a new mattress which is extra-thick, and I haven’t been able to find flannel sheets which are deep enough. Next time, I’m going for a thinner mattress!

  12. posted by Inadequate Wife on

    I also have four sets of sheets for our bed, and our daughter’s bed. I only have two sets for each of the two guest rooms as they don’t see much use.

    I fold everything and tuck the fitted sheet and pillowcases inside the top sheet so that it makes a nice bundle. I tried putting everything in a pillowcase but I can never get it to look tidy.

    I store the sheets in the closet of each room as we don’t have a dedicated linen closet.

  13. posted by James Lamb on

    I use a tip I got from one of your commenters on a previous thread about sheets – I turn one of the pillowcases inside out, throw everything inside the pillow case, throw it on the top shelf (the one that’s too high and too close to the top of the door jamb to really hold much of anything else) of the linen closet. (Takes less time than it took to write this comment.)

  14. posted by Mirinda on

    I really like keeping all the extra bedding under the bed it is intended for. All the beds have 2 to 3 sheet sets and at least one blanket besides the comforter. My linen closet has towels and medicines and locks for safety. As a foster mommy I am required to keep all medicines locked away.

  15. posted by Elizabeth on

    We have 2 full sized beds: ours and a guest futon. My goal is to have sheets on both beds, with another set for each bed available for quick changes. Right now we have 2 sets (that really need to be retired) for winter, 3 sets for summer, and 2 sets that we’ve only used in winter, so we’re not sure if they’ll be too warm for summer.

  16. posted by Allison on

    This just sounds unnecessarily complicated to me … like one more thing to organize that doesn’t really need organizing. If you really hate your linen closet and this works for you, then great, but for me, a stack of sheets and a stack of pillow cases is as much thought as I need to put into it. I actually store mine in a drawer, rather than on a shelf, but either way I’m not sure how it could get that messy unless you have a huge family with all different bed sizes.

  17. posted by Kate on

    I live in the southwest, so we just have the one set of cotton sheets that are on the bed. We wash them regularly and just put them back on the bed before we go to sleep. No need to spend money and take up space with a second set if we can’t use both at the same time and both fulfill the exact same purpose.

  18. posted by nj progressive on

    Mr. NJP has serious dust allergies, so our bedroom got a total overhaul to minimize his exposure to dust for at least 8 hours out of every day (he works at home, so something is better than nothing).

    We stripped wallpaper, pulled up carpet, took down the nice curtains, and put away the bedskirt, comforter cover, and pillow shams. We repainted the walls, and had the hardwood floor refinished. No more underbed storage (sigh).

    We bought dustproof covers for the box spring, the mattress, the pillows (we each use two), and the comforter, and a special filter for over the heat vent. We bought an aircleaner (hassock-type). We bought new dressers and night tables. Only an absolute minimum of dustcatchers live on horizontal surfaces ( 1 framed photo on my dresser, 3 on his; small lamps on the night tables and my electric alarm clock).

    Now my routine is to clean the bedroom every other Sunday, dusting and vacuuming everything, with the air cleaner turned on full speed. I strip the bedding, and take it to the basement, where it goes into the “to-be-washed” rotation. One set of sheets, along with the secondary pillow cases get washed in one load with hot water wash (to kill dust mites), cold rinse. The cotton blanket gets washed in hot water as the second load (We replace the cotton blanket every four or five years — it gradually shrinks!). We’ve had very good luck with sheets from Lands End. Sheets and blanket tumbled dry on low heat.

    The dust-proof covers all get washed the first Sunday of each quarter, in hot water. And we faithfully flip and rotate our mattress twice a year, and rotate the box spring once a year.

    We keep three sets of sheets for our bed — one on the bed, and two on the table by the dryer, bagged up in a pillow case and ready to be washed. We keep one set of sofa bed sheets in the linen closet in the upstairs hall. And we keep two sets of twin sheets (plus blankets) for two twin air mattresses in a closed plastic container on shelves in the basement, next to the box with the air mattresses and the air pump for inflating them.

  19. posted by Shakti on

    If the fitted sheet is inside the pillow case, it doesn’t have to be folded very neatly–just enough to fit inside and not be a total wrinkled mess!

  20. posted by Living the Balanced Life on

    I only have 2 sets of sheets (no real need for flannel, I live in the south!). I store inside the pillow case, like Martha does. Many times, I just wash, dry and put right back on the bed, as I like one set better than the other and I don’t have to fold them!
    It is a nice sunny day, and the sheets are due to be changed. Think I will take the pillows and comforter outside to be aired!
    Bernice

  21. posted by Jay on

    If your storage space (or budget) is limited, consider whether you even need a second set of sheets for EACH bed. Just stagger when you launder the sheets for each bed. For example, three sets of sheets for two beds might be enough.

  22. posted by Morty on

    Suggestion for those that have allergies like me: fold the pillowcases and fitted sheet into a bundle with the flat sheet. You get the benefit of a bundle (all pieces together and looks neater) but with the pillowcases protected from allergens landing on them. (Fold the pillowcases and fitted sheet as normal. Fold the flat sheet into quarters, fold the resulting rectangle into thirds lengthwise so you end up with a strip of fabric. Roll up the pillowcases and fitted sheet inside the flat sheet. Another benefit…the flat sheet has most wrinkles pressed out.)

  23. posted by Lose That Girl on

    I have only two sets of sheets – keeps the clutter to an absolute minimum. I also live in a four seasons climate but instead of having cozy flannel sheets, I just have a fantastic duvet that’s super warm in the winter, and cooling in the summer. Saves having to have exclusively winter sheets. And I love the idea of tucking them in the pillowcase. Genius, that!

  24. posted by ninakk on

    I pile many sets on top of each other and nothing tips over. One set contains one sheet, one duvet cover, two pillow cases (two pillows per bed); the two big ones are folded into a size that roughly corresponds to an A4, so they stand nicely even when there might be five or six sets in the pile. We have four seasons and what changes is the duvet; one for Summer, one for Winter. If it’s really hot, the duvet is pulled out of its cover and that’s it.

    I’m with Allison on this one, I just don’t get it. A streamlined bed size through the whole house (except for when there’s a crib of course) solves the problem of mismatched sizes too.

  25. posted by Arianna on

    Just wanted to say that if you unclutter your linen closets and have a lot of leftover sheets and towels, you should consider donating them to an animal shelter or animal rescue organization. In my area, the biggest homeless shelter even has a clinic for homeless animals, and they LOVE getting donated linens! Hope this helps!

  26. posted by Melanie on

    I store my son’s sheets in a chest at the foot of his bed – though we do have more than 2 sets, because we’ve experienced during times of illness (this winter’s stomach flu, anyone?) that 2 sets of sheets aren’t enough (unless you’re the kind of person that enjoys doing pukey laundry at 2am, and 4am, and 5:15am….

    I will definitely be doing this with our guest bedroom (have 3 sets of sheets presently and I know we don’t need that) and our master bedroom (have 4? 5? sets, and they’re not currently stored in our master bedroom.

    Thanks for all the great advice!

  27. posted by Paula on

    I don’t see a need for more than one set of sheets/pillowcases per bed for adults and older kids. On Saturday morning I strip the beds, wash the sheets & pillowcases, and make the bed again before bedtime. So nothing is stored. (When my children were small, I did have a spare set of sheets & pillowcase for when they wet the bed or got sick.)

  28. posted by June Lemen on

    I live in an old Victorian with almost no closet space (especially upstairs), so one of our very first purchases when we bought the house was to buy an armoire that fit into the upstairs hallway as a linen closet. So, all of our linens have to either be in use or fit into the closet. I just decluttered our sheets, using Erin’s criteria and the Nashua Humane Society was really happy to receive our unwanted sheets and towels. And now, when I open the cabinet, I feel good because it’s all orderly.

  29. posted by KateNonymous on

    We have one queen bed (ours) and one crib (Baby Nonymous’s). She’s got several sets of sheets because she’s a baby, and they make messes that are sometimes uncontrollable. We have two. For a long time we had one, but after we had the baby, it wasn’t always possible to wash and dry sheets and make the bed in the same day. Sure, that sounds like something that should be possible. But often it wasn’t. So we now have two sets, which are stored in the hallway closet opposite our bedroom. Hers go in the drawer under her crib.

  30. Avatar of

    posted by Ella on

    This may be too extreme and minimalist for most people, but it has proved to be ideal for me… When I downsized to a small studio apartment, I went from having a linen closet stocked full of beautiful sheet sets to no linen closet at all. I donated all except my one favorite set of sheets. I launder the set weekly (preferably in the evening) and they go directly back on the bed. Storage problem solved… because there’s nothing to store! It’s lovely to slip into completely fresh sheets still warm from the dryer.

  31. posted by Chrissy on

    I have 3 beds. Each has 2 sets of sheets. I’m lucky to have an extra dresser in the guest room that had empty drawers. So all of my sheets get folded, as nicely as I can fold them (I still can’t fold a fitted sheet to save my life and I’ve watched all the tutorials!). Way better than trying to keep them in a linen closet where they fall off the shelves and get dusty.

  32. posted by Lianne on

    I live in a climate with both extremes of temperature, but I just add more quilts in the winter, and use jersey sheets all year.

    Personally, I see no reason to have more than one set of sheets. I take them off the bed the morning of laundry day, and after the laundry’s done I put them back on. So I don’t even have sheets in my closet.

  33. posted by jbeany on

    I have two sets – one always on the bed, one spare. My air mattress for guests is the same size as my mattress, so I have one for company. I also have a handy extra for when my cat decides the best time and place to have a hairball is 3 am on the bed next to me.

    I switched from a king to a queen when I moved because of space limitations in my new place. I had flannels for the king, although I’ve resisted the temptation to get some for the queen. Flannel sheets should come with a warning: Use with caution in areas with cold weather. You will NOT want to get out of these on cold, dark mornings!

  34. posted by rrr on

    echo jbeany – I briefly tried having only one set of sheets and a cat PLUS no washer. Having only one set meant that after the hairball incident I had go back to bed with no sheets (since even if I knew of a 24-hr laundromat I wouldn’t want to go there at 3am). That extra set is definately not clutter at my house.

  35. posted by jinny on

    We have a handicapped daughter so we need lots of sheets (bloody nose, throw up, diarhea, wetting the bed. Sometimes two or three sets in a night. I keep them in a box in the bottom of her closet. Nicely folded, and paired, so I just grab and go. My big beef is that these days you can’t buy sheets individually. I need twin X long and that is hard to find.

  36. posted by Michele on

    I have one set of flannel sheets and one set of regular sheets for each bed. My mother gave us plush sheets for our anniversary this year for our King size master bed, and while they are extremely comfy, they pill like crazy and spark and crackle with electricity all night! I think they will be going to Goodwill soon:)
    I store them neatly folded in the largest pillow case, stacked on top of each other. Much easier for me to keep organized in our small linen closet!

  37. posted by Maisy on

    @ Chrissy
    me, too. I have just about given up trying to fold fitted sheets. There’s a book out “Life’s Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets that I’ve been meaning to get at the library. Is it genetic or something? I try and try to fold it, then i lose patience and just fold/roll in thirds, and hope my MIL doesn’t look in my dresser…:)

    I think you a spare set of sheets is a must. I’ve gotten sidetracked too many times, went upstairs to bed, and had an oh-no moment that the bed was never made with the clean sheets. A spare set for me is a necessity.

  38. posted by Inadequate Wife on

    @ jinny
    Land’s End sells individual sheets (a little pricey), and I think even Wal-Mart has one brand that is also sold individually.

  39. posted by Susan on

    I have spare sheets in the linen cupboard – just one per used bed – but they are just that, spares. When I wash sheets I put them straight back on the beds to save having to fold them when I have to make the bed again anyway, and there is no temptation to leave piles of sheets unfolded!

  40. Avatar of

    posted by ninakk on

    Re: spares. I want at least one extra set per bed for days when you think you’ll have time to wash and then end up doing something else or when a family member is ill and it’s nice to change sheets more often.

  41. posted by Sue on

    I want robot sheets for king size beds!!!!

    Ok, that was a little off topic but when I saw the the example I realized how often I see a cute set of sheets for “kids” only to discover they don’t make them big enough for my bed. So what if I’m a married adult? Why can’t I have robot sheets?

    Back on topic – I use the exact method described in Erin’s post. I only recently allowed myself the luxury of two sets of winter and two sets of summer sheets for my bed.

    Storing the entire set in one of the pillow cases is a genius idea. Genius!

  42. posted by Kari on

    We have winter and summer sheets and have three sets of each. Like others, after having issues with cats or humans getting sick on the bed, I prefer the extra “insurance” and have the room to store them. In season sheets and pillow cases are in the linen closet (since we use duvets, we only use fitted sheets; since I have some breathing issues, I use extra pillows to sleep more upright so have lots of pillowcases; we mix and match them so don’t sort further than that. Off season go in a covered box under the bed (the only thing under there). We also have several duvet covers–four each for winter and summer. We use two to three at a time during winter (we like to sleep cold so have at least two duvets on the bed); during summer we tend to wash them more often so change them a lot. Everything gets washed at least once a week–I feel that clean bedding is one of the small and accessible pleasures in life. For the same reason, we buy good bedding–for me it is worth the pleasure and once you amortize it out, it doesn’t cost that much.

    I realize that this seems like a lot, but as I said, we have the room to store it, we use it all, and we only end up buying bedding about once every 10 years (I have a rotation system so I never have to buy a whole bunch at once).

    One of the things I like about this kind of thread is that you see the range of ways that people manage these kinds of things–I think it helps all of us find the system that works for us.

  43. Avatar of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Sue — Most kids lines now sell queen-size sheets. The robot sheets are from Pottery Barn Kids and they’re for my bed, not my son’s! :)

  44. posted by Sue on

    @Erin, I’ve seen those exact sheets, but my bed is king size. :(

    I’m so glad to learn they are for your bed! It’s nice knowing I’m not alone.

  45. posted by Jess@minimalistmum on

    It would not help me to store full sets of sheets together – I usually need a fresh pillowcase OR a fresh bottom sheet but rarely 2 pillowcases and 2 sheets.

    I didn’t grow up this way but after co-sleeping with kids I have adjusted to the common New Zealand practice of no top sheet, just a bottom sheet and the duvet on top.

  46. posted by extra long twin bedding on

    This extra long twin bedding isn’t really new to me, It is nice to see new innovative things which makes eyes pleasant. I am totally assuaged by these acumen works. Liked to see more from them so that i can have many things in my home for decorative aspect.

  47. posted by Biscuit X on

    Sally beat me to it, I just wanted to thank you also for mentioning donating sheets to animal shelters. If the shelters don’t need them, your own vet may take them also.

    I have a trunk at the end of my bed ( this helps the pups get on the bed to sleep with me ) and this holds linens. It works great. Thanks for the tips as always.

  48. posted by Courtney on

    Excellent post and tips! I totally agree with you and storage bins are the best. Animal shelters was an excellent idea as well.

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