How to Keep Everything in Your Linen Closet Smelling Good

How to Keep Everything in Your Linen Closet Smelling Good

We’ve totally been there. You go to the linen closet to grab fresh items to make the beds or stock a guest bathroom—perhaps dress up a holiday dinner with a special table runner and placemats—but your clean things smell oddly musty. You know you put away everything clean and tidy…but that’s definitely not the scent you’re getting! Read on for some tried and true suggestions for how to keep everything in your linen closet smelling good.

A little organization goes a long way. How do you organize a linen closet? 

First, overpacking your closet shelves is no friend to your linens. When air is given a bit of space to circulate around the fabrics, the fibers have a chance to “breathe” and they will stay fresher longer.

Second, if you always grab whatever linens are on the top of a stack and you are in the habit of putting away the clean laundry right back on top, you may not be using items on the bottom of a stack often enough. Get into the habit of putting freshly cleaned things on the bottom, and start using whatever gets rotated to the top. If you find you’re not that inclined to use something as it makes it to the top of the stack, it may be time to do some culling for a donation pile…if you don’t use it, lose it.

If you keep items in bins to stay organized and neat, keep in mind that natural fiber or wire baskets are far better than plastic tubs. Plastic containers do not allow air to circulate, but baskets do—and they look so fantastic, you’ll keep opening the closet door to see your beautiful handiwork!

A bit of added scent makes most noses happier. How do you make your closet smell fresher?

Before you add any good smells to your linen closet, there’s one hard and fast rule to follow first: never, ever, ever put anything away that is even the slightest bit damp. Even a tiny bit of moisture can turn into an offensive mildewy mess in a dark, enclosed space. If it’s too late and you’re already dealing with potential mold and mildew, University of Missouri Extension has some excellent tips for what to do to get rid of it and keep it from coming back.

If everything is dry and clean in your closet, there are easy ways to add nice aroma to the space and to your linens:
  • Cedar balls or blocks like ones found at immediately add a scent that is pleasing to humans, but helps keep moths and numerous other pests at bay.
  • Tucking a few scented dryer sheets among your towels, sheets and other linens helps to absorb odors and adds a nice smell.
  • Release the relaxing scent of herbs, such as lavender, or other aromatic botanicals like eucalyptus by placing them in a small mesh laundry bag designed for delicates and putting them in the closet. You can also do the same thing with a bar of great-smelling soap. In all cases, avoid placing your DIY sachet directly on your textiles, just to be sure no oils or residue transfer to the fabrics.

For some people, the best smell is no smell at all. How do you remove odors from a closet?

  • Baking soda is an invaluable tool for absorbing odor in the fridge and freezer, and it’s just as simple for closets. Put a few tablespoons of it into a small open container to help reduce musty smells.
  • Activated charcoal does a lot of amazing things, according to, not the least of which is odor removal. 
  • If an unsavory scent has already invaded your linens, washing them with a bit of white distilled vinegar can help neutralize the smell. has some great hints for using natural products like vinegar to make laundry fresh and soft. Make sure you correctly time the addition of vinegar to your washing machine so the result isn’t fabric that smells like vinaigrette!

Just remember the spaces we enjoy and are proud of…tend to be the spaces we take the best care of. Your home textiles are an investment meant to last you for years, so these carefully chosen items and their storage area deserve some occasional TLC. A few good tricks are all it takes to make one of the less considered areas of your home feel special!