There are direct questions and there are underlying issues. I get this question as both multiple times a month. Someone will directly ask, “how many bath towels does my family need?” I will also open a linen closet and see bath towels shoved here, there, and everywhere just begging the question, “how many bath towels does this family need?”

Each household runs different. Many times, each individual in a household has different needs. There are even different ways that we may define the word “need.” There are all kinds of needs: physical, emotional, spiritual just to name a few. In this article I will give some questions to ask to help you determine how many of several different kinds of items you may need in your home.

I have a list of general questions that I will sprinkle throughout these specific groups of items. You may see a question under “Movies and Music” that actually helps you with “Towels” or other items.

Clothing
1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How many outfits do you wear between laundry loads?
3. What type of clothing do you need (casual, formal, work, athletic, etc)?
Perhaps… you’d like to pair down your clothing and rewear pieces between washes that aren’t yet dirty.

Undergarments and Socks
1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How often do you need a new pair of these items?
Perhaps… you’d like to have a pair for each day between laundry plus a couple of extras.

Towels
1. How often do you do laundry? How often would you like to do laundry?
2. How many baths or showers does each person in your household take between loads of laundry?
3. How many times is one towel used between washes?
Perhaps… you’d like to have a specific colored towel for each person in your home that they would be responsible for.

Toilet Paper
1. Do a little experiment. Write down when you start a roll of tp and then right down when that same roll is out. Do this for each place that uses tp. Using that information (or doing this for a few weeks or a month) you should be able to estimate how much tp you need to buy and how often.
Perhaps… you’d like to teach the little ones how much is an appropriate amount of tp to use.

Toiletries
1. What do you actually use? What do you like?
2. What keeps you from using the things that you keep around but don’t use?
Perhaps… you’d like to make up a travel kit ready for you to grab in an emergency to use up some of those items.

Dishes
1. How many people eat at your house regularly? How often do you host those outside of your family for meals?
2. What dishes are used how often?
Perhaps… you’d like to borrow specific items that you would need for a larger gathering but don’t use regularly.

Sheet Sets
1. How many beds are in your home?
2. How often do you change the sheets on each bed? Do you have any children nighttime potty training?
Perhaps… you’d like to have one spare set of sheets for each bed. Perhaps for the potty training child you would like to have two spare sets of sheets.

Books
1. What value do you put on reading and literacy?
2. Which books do you actually like and know you will read again?
Perhaps… you are ready to let go of the books you know you won’t read again.

Movies and Music
1. If you were to have to repurchase any, which would you repurchase?
2. Which movies do you enjoy watching over and over?
2. Are these same movies and albums available in other forms?
Perhaps… you’d like to take advantage of digital forms of music and movies to free up space on your shelves.

Games and Toys
1. What has your family outgrown?
2. How often are games being played?
Perhaps… you’d like to offer the games and toys that you no longer enjoy to someone else who would enjoy them now.

School Supplies and Office Supplies
1. Do you home school or have a home office?
2. How often do you go through tape, pens, etc? In a year, how many of each do you think you’ll use?
Perhaps… you can get rid of all the pens you don’t like because you only use 3 pens in an entire year instead of 50.

Craft Supplies and Hobby Supplies
1. How many hobbies do you have? How many can you keep up with? How many do you want to keep up with?
2. What supplies are worth keeping?
Perhaps… there are only a select amount of things that are worth keeping for your craft or hobby.

Baby Items
1. Does your family currently have or expecting a baby in the next few years?
2. If yes, how many bottle, blankets, teethers, pacifiers, etc are you using a day in between washes?
Perhaps… you would like to give or loan your baby gear to a friend who can use it now. Perhaps… you would prefer to only keep up with the items you actually use and not the excess.

Cords
1. Does each of your electronics have it’s cord with it?
2. Do these devices travel with you?
Perhaps… you would like to keep one extra charging cord for each device for travel while keep a charging station with “permanent” cords for each device.

As you can probably gather from the questions in specific areas, the main questions you can ask yourself are as follows.
1. How many of that items do you use?
2. Are these items useful at this time or in the near future?
3. What do you want to keep up with caring for (cleaning, storing, putting away)?
4. Would you buy this item again if it was lost or damaged?

While there is no magic number of any of these items, the questions provided above should help you make a decisions on a good number for your household.

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