Everything commonly classed under this head should be carefully aired before it is put away. Even when this duty has been conscientiously performed, real linen, made of pure flax, has marvelous properties for absorbing humidity. And humidity is the parent of that relentless foe to housewifely peace - mildew. Table-cloths, napkins and linen sheets that have been packed securely - as the owner supposed - in closets, drawers and chests, sometimes present to our horrified eyes a collection of small blotches, like dark freckles, and as ineradicable, and the folds, when opened, smell musty. The walls of the closet were not quite dry, or the chest has stood in a damp room, or the sideboard drawers have gathered must in an unaired basement dining-room.
It is a matter of common prudence to overhaul the contents of linen closets, and especially linen drawers and chests, once a month, if only to make sure that the contents are keeping well. At the same time be on the lookout for rents, broken threads and thin places.
Never buy cheap linen. If you can not afford the finest, you may secure that which is "all linen," round-threaded and evenly woven. A little practice in the purchase of these treasures will initiate you into the art of judicious choosing. Having bought good "material," take care of it. A break in a table-cloth or napkin, or towel, if neatly darned, will give you several more weeks of wear out of it - perhaps months. Hemstitched articles are liable to "give" first in the drawn work, and a stitch here in time, saves ninety.
You may keep napery in drawers, if more convenient than elsewhere, or upon shelves in a roomy sideboard. When at all practicable have a light, airy closet for bed linen. My own linen-room, built to order, has a southern window, unshuttered, through which the sun streams all the afternoon on fine days. Except in wet weather this window stands open for an hour of every day - not longer, lest dust should blow in.
Suffer another personal paragraph: - Not a sheet, towel or pillow-case is taken from this closet except by myself. Each pile has place and meaning. Each set of towels belongs to an especial apartment. Heavy bath towels; soft damask for the leastest baby's use; big, rough huckaback for the boys' lake baths, and the orderly heaps of different styles and textures, every one marked with embroidered letter or monogram designating chamber or owner - are known familiarly to but one person in the family.
I modestly commend this rule to each housemother. Let the linen shelves be the especial charge of some one particular keeper. If not yourself, one of your daughters. This is rendered almost necessary by the system of rotation that should regulate the use of sheets, pillow-cases, counterpanes and towels. Those which come from the wash this week should be kept by themselves. In laying out clothes for the beds, and towels for the various rooms, select from the bottom of the pile of those laundered one, two or four weeks ago, working gradually upward, week by week, until all have gone through the wash and consequently, all are evenly worn. Never make up a bed with freshly washed linen, no matter how well aired it may seem to be.
Sheets, pillow-cases, towels, table-cloths - all folded linens - should be laid upon the shelves with the open and hemmed ends toward the wall, the round folds outward. The effect is neater to the eye, and articles are more easily taken out.
There should be no smell in this airy closet except the indescribable sweet sense of freshly laundered linen - not strong enough to be called an odor. Lavender, scented grasses, and dried rose leaves are poetical in the writing and the hearing thereof, but the sleeper between smooth cotton or linen sheets sickens of artificial smells. They are neither "goodly," nor wholesome.