Are your closets overflowing? Do you have a hard time finding things you need? Have those impulse purchases and seasonal shopping sprees caused you to accumulate random items? Is your closet overwhelming and impossible to navigate?
Cleaning out your closet may seem like a daunting task. It’s not easy for some people to get rid of things they don’t use, including clothes they haven’t worn in many years.
January is National Clean Out Your Closet Month, so it’s a good time to focus on getting your closets sorted and organized.
Cleaning out your closet can be unexpectedly emotional. You may have items you feel obligated to keep because someone gave them to you, or you associate it with a particular event or experience. But sometimes you just need to let things go. There’s nothing like a good closet purge to give you – and your style – a fresh start for the year ahead.
Today’s post offers five doable steps for cleaning your closets once and for all.
Step #1. Set a goal.
Mark your calendar for your big day, select your favorite playlist and stock up on trash bags, donation boxes and containers because you’ve got some serious – but fun! – work ahead. But before you even start, spend some time thinking about what you hope to accomplish with your closet-organizing project.
For some, the goal will be making everything neat and tidy. For others, it may be the ability to easily find clothes while dressing. Having a goal in mind makes it easier to push through the challenging parts.
Consider making a Pinterest board full of organized closets to give you ideas and get you excited about moving forward with your organizing project. Remember - keep your eye on the prize!
Some people may want to invite a friend or family member for moral support. It helps to have someone nonjudgmental, but honest, to help you through your wardrobe organization process. You can trust they will be real – but kind – with you when you’re holding up an item and deciding whether to toss it or keep it.
Step #2. Make a decision about each item in your closet.
Most sites will tell you to take everything out of your closet, but you don’t have to. I do, however, recommend you take each piece out of your closet one by one and make a decision regarding that item. If you do decide to take everything out, place it all on your bed. This does make it easier to clean and vacuum your closet thoroughly.
Create five piles – one for items you are going to keep, one for items that you are going to keep but are out of season, one for items you’re not sure about, one for items you are going to donate and one for items you just need to throw away. Analyze each piece of clothing or item in your closet by asking yourself these questions:
1. Have I worn this item in the last year?
If not, do you honestly think you will wear it in the future? Perhaps the item doesn’t fit well, you don’t really like it for one reason or another, or it simply was a purchasing mistake. That’s completely okay…we all have items like that. If the item was a gift but you really don’t like it or it doesn’t fit right, don’t feel pressured to keep it. Donate it to someone who might really love it.
2. Does it fit me well and complement my wardrobe?
Too often, we hold onto items we most likely will never wear because we hope to fit into them someday. But having a wardrobe that fits you right today is important. Instead of feeling depressed about clothes that don’t fit, create a wardrobe tailored to you just as you are.
3. Is it stained or damaged?
Sometimes it’s just not worth it to keep items that are stained, ripped or misshapen. If you actually see yourself repairing the item, put it in your “maybe bag”.
4. If I saw this item in a store today, would I buy it?
This is a helpful mental trick. If you would pass up on the item, maybe it’s time to pass it along. If don’t really love it, why keep it?
5. Do I feel and look good when I wear this item?
If an item makes you feel less confident, it’s time to donate or sell it! When we dress ourselves, we should feel excited about what we’re wearing because of how great it makes us feel.
After you’ve made a decision about each item in your closet, you might find your “maybe” pile is larger than the others. It’s hard getting rid of clothing you’re attached to, so make a firm deal with yourself to try wearing them in the week ahead. Notice how you feel about wearing them (or not) and you’ll quickly realize whether you truly want to keep them or donate them.
Step #3. Remove the items that don’t belong in your closet
Closets tend to be a place where things accumulate. Take out everything that doesn’t belong in your bedroom closet. This includes suitcases, bags pushed into corners or shelves, random books that may have piled up, knick-knacks and mementos that don’t have a designated place. If you keep your shoes in your closet, organize them accordingly or put them aside and invest in a shoe rack. For everything else, apply the five questions above to sort your belongings.
Step #4. Take out or put away items you’re not keeping
You should have three piles that need to go somewhere else:
1. Out-of-season items that need to be stored away
2. Items you are donating (or selling)
3. Items you are throwing away
Bag or box each pile and put them in their proper place. Take the trash out, put items you’re donating in your car, put items you’re going to sell (consider having a garage sale or selling online using apps like Facebook Marketplace, Mercari or Poshmark) in a “staging” area. Designate a place to store out-of-season items. Prepare them for storage and put them away. Space saver bags come in handy so you can store items safely in very little space. LetGo and NextDoor are other popular apps you can use to sell your items.
If you have items that you are sentimentally attached to but have determined you won’t wear, consider taking a picture of the item by itself, or you wearing it. That way, you will have your memories but won’t be cluttering your closet with items you most likely won’t ever wear.
Step #5. Organize according to category
This is the fun part – organizing your closet so you can easily find everything that made the final cut.
1. Separate your clothing by type
Grouping your clothing by type will save you time. This means keeping your slacks together, jeans together, blouses together and so on. It’s really nice to have all your suits together in one section of your closet. Following this tip will help you save time a ton of time when looking for items to wear. Having all of those same-type items within view will give you a larger selection to choose from in a small amount of time.
2. Group your clothing by color.
Within each clothing category you create, keep everything in the same color order. Consider grouping by:
You can group several colors together in a subset, such as whites, off-whites, and yellows. Or grays, blacks and browns.
How will you order your clothes? Be creative and consistent.
Sweaters are a special category because it’s best to fold them, not hang them up. Hanging them will tend to stretch them out. If you must hang them, use a padded hanger. Don’t forget to use cedar or lavender chips to protect your sweaters. Avoid mothballs!
4. Miscellaneous items
Store your miscellaneous items, such as workout, swimming and formal wear, separately. Fancy dresses should be kept in clothing bags and stored in the back of your closet. Workout leggings and t-shirts can be folded and kept in drawers. Or consider hanging your t-shirts if you have the space. This will allow for quick access and a decrease in fold lines and wrinkles.
Get your shoes off the floor! Use slanted shoe shelves for your every day shoes. Keep your dress shoes in acrylic see-through shoe drawers or containers. Eliminate the shoe boxes your shoes came in – they are various shapes and sizes so you can’t stack them properly and they become unsightly.
Most professionals prefer wood hangers, the new flocked slim-line hangers are becoming popular. Toss (or recycle) the wire hanger your cleaner sends home with you (and the plastic cover for that matter). The wire hangers will ruin your clothes.
Line your purses up in color order on your closet shelf. A little tissue paper inside will help them keep their shape.
8. Shelf and drawer dividers
Separate your items using a shelf divider or drawer divider to keep things organized and in their place.
Consider keeping a small basket at the bottom of your closet for items you want to sell or donate. Sometimes when you try something on you realize you’re ready to let go of it. At that moment go ahead and drop it in the basket. Once it’s filled up, you can sort and sell or donate the items.
Once you’ve put everything away in it’s place, you’ve completed your closet organization project! Congratulations! Now it will be easier to keep organized and tidy. Schedule a time, preferably once or twice a year, to go through this process. The more times you go through it, the easier it becomes to keep your closets in tip-top shape.
If you would like help getting your closets and storage areas organized, don’t hesitate to contact Simply Put. We’d love to make the process easier and less stressful for you. And, we can offer suggestions for solutions you might not have thought of before. Contact us at 719-377-3000 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you!
Do you have any closet organization tips to share with the rest of the Simply Put community? Please add your comment below…