Below is the final excerpt from my book Unclutter Your Life in One Week we plan to run on the site — this time on how to determine how many towels and washcloths you need in your linen closet.
This is from the Tuesday chapter, “Your Bathroom” section:
“During its second season in 1967, the television show Star Trek aired an episode called ‘The Trouble with Tribbles.’ In this episode, a member of the crew of the Starship Enterprise is given a cuddly, furry tribble as a pet. Unfortunately for the crew, the tribble reproduces at an alarming rate and thousands of tribbles end up eating all of the grain on the ship. The crew runs the risk of dying of starvation out in deep space since their food supply has been so greatly depleted. I won’t give away details about the ending of the episode, but since the show went on to run for another season and a half, you can probably guess that they found a way out of the furry situation.
I mention this episode of Star Trek because I remember thinking about it the first time I cleared the clutter from my linen storage. I was convinced that my bath towels and washcloths had multiplied. I remembered buying one of the towels before I started college, but I had no memory of how I acquired the dozens more in the years since. It was as if they had spontaneously reproduced while the doors to the linen closet were shut.
To determine how many towels and washcloths you need, use this simple math equation:
(House residents + Guest bedrooms) x 2 = Sets of bath towels and washcloths
The logic behind the equation is that you have one bath towel and washcloth in use and another set in the linen closet ready to go. Since houseguests only need towels while they’re staying with you, they don’t need extras in reserve. Most guest rooms can accommodate two people, so multiplying the number of guest rooms by two usually provides for a towel per guest. (I’m using the term guest room in a general sense; in our house the guest room is an apple-green pullout couch in the middle of the living room.) If you have four people living in your home and zero guest rooms, then you should have eight bath towels and eight washcloths: (4 + 0) x 2 = 8. If you have three people living in your home and two guest rooms, then you should have ten towels and ten washcloths: (3 + 2) x 2 = 10.
This equation might not work for everyone, but most people find it to be a good starting point. If you’re a whiz at laundry, you might be able to get by on one set of towels per person. If you’re particular about having a new washcloth every day, you might need more washcloths in your collection. If your towels are falling on your head every time you open your linen closet, it’s time to trim your collection.
One nice thing about getting rid of towels and washcloths is that animal shelters worldwide are more than eager to take used linens off your hands. They are used to provide soft spaces for animals to rest, to dry off recently bathed animals, and to clean up messes. In addition to towels and washcloths, most shelters also take old sheets and tablecloths. Give your favorite animal shelter a call before you make your donation to make sure that they have a need for your unwanted items, and wash the items you plan to donate.”