Challenge #18 – Table Linens

Table linens. It's time to organize the table linens.

Today’s project may be one that’s long overdue! It’s time to organize the table linens. 


Table linens are one of those possessions we acquire over time and rarely get rid of. We may have received some as wedding gifts, or purchased specialty ones for the holidays. The purchase of a new table may have had us rushing out to buy a new tablecloth. Maybe we were having a big event and needed a bunch of washable placemats. Periodically, we need to pull them all out and see what fits our lifestyle today.

Begin by digging into your drawers, closets, and bins and bringing all of your table linens to a large sorting surface, such as the dining room table. Wipe out the spaces you’ve just emptied, and then group the linens by type (tablecloths, napkins, placemats.)

Now go through and remove:

  • Items that are irreparably stained/torn/damaged.
  • Linens that don’t match the color scheme in your kitchen or dining room.
  • Tablecloths which do not fit the table(s) you currently own.
  • Placemats that are no longer suited to your family’s needs (sets that you have too few of, items that your family has grown out of, etc.)
  • Napkins which no longer match other linens or your current décor.

As you are sorting, remember that it is better to have 2-3 versatile sets that are easy to use than to have 20 sets that you “may use someday.” The best linens are ones in neutral colors that work in a variety of seasons and settings.

If you come across some sentimental/heirloom items which you want to keep – even though you aren’t currently using them – consider moving them to a long-term storage location such as a cedar chest or plastic bin in the attic.

When you reload, store items by type: placemats in one drawer, napkins in another. Sorting napkins by color is helpful for mixing and matching. Tablecloths are large, so they can be stored on an over-the-door rack, in a chest of drawers in a hallway, or in a guest bedroom closet. Under-the-bed boxes are also a good option, especially for holiday linens that are used only once a year.

Remember to label any storage container you use. If you have tablecloths of multiple sizes (or that fit your table with differing number of leaves), attach a note to the top reminding yourself of which configuration this tablecloth fits. For example, “Dining Room with 2 leaves.”

Linens in good shape can be donated to a charity. If they are damaged, drop them in a textile recycling bin, move them to the rag pile, or throw them away.

What do you think? Will you clear some space with today’s challenge?

10 thoughts on “Challenge #18 – Table Linens”

    1. Only a couple more challenges to go, and I’d say you’ve been in great shape with most of them. Way to go, Janine!!

    1. I know, when you see a challenge come up that you’ve got it is a very positive rush, isn’t it? That’s what keeps us wondering what tomorrow’s assignment will be. CONGRATULATIONS on NOT having a space stuffed up with mismatched linens:)

    1. Yes, when you have the space, there is less of a need to get rid of things. But sometimes it is still worth it. I had a couple placemat sets for 2 from when I got married. We just never use them now, and they are fading, so I’m going to donate.

    1. I love when structure provides a boundary:) I have the same thing, a drawer. That’s my limit. Although there still were a couple of things I found that I felt ready to part with.

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