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Organize the Closet: Conquer the piles

Updated on February 16, 2017

Set the Battlefield - What's your dream?

For a moment, stop looking at the dreaded black hole and envision your dream closet. Is it everything resting peacefully on a hanger? A clear view of the floor you saw a long time ago? Do you dream of reaching into your closet and finding what you want with your eyes closed?

For many the dream is simply to have a place for everything and everything in its place. You may want to jot down these goals. Stay realistic so there isn't a chance of being overwhelmed (we can't just knock down walls for a luxury walk in) and be honest with yourself. Taking the time to picture your future closet will give you a mental boost!

STOP the pin board trap!

It's time to be serious about space and items. There are thousands of space saving "hacks". They look so good on a blog but they prolong the inevitable. After all, if the space wasn't already crammed there would be nothing to pile. If it isn't bringing you joy, it shouldn't be dragged along into the future because of guilt. It's time to stop cruising ideas and take action. Close any other browser tabs - the answer is here and we need to focus.

Phase 1: The Purge

This purge shouldn't be as scary as the movie.

  1. Choose a cleared space, such as a clean, made bed or a couch as a landing pad for clearing the closet.
  2. Setup two boxes, bins, or trash bags. One will be for items to rehome to a charity, friend or maybe a consignment shop. The other will be items that retire to the trash.
  3. Pick up something. Look at it. Do you love it? Do you use it? Does it fit? Are you keeping it because you're afraid grandma will ask you if you still have it? (She won't.) Use the handy "Do I need this?" Guide below.
  4. If its surviving the first purge, place it in your clear space or toss it neatly on the bed or if it's dirty drop in the laundry hamper. If it's on the out, put it in the correct pile.
  5. REPEAT REPEAT REPEAT until your closet is clear.
  6. Vacuum, dust, or just stand in your new empty closet and enjoy the space. Such accomplishment!

Don't be tempted to keep clothing pieces that are too small - your present self will feel less positive, and your future smaller self is going to want to celebrate with fresh, loved styles!

— Lis

"Do I need this?" Guide


Phase 2: The Framework

The next goal is to prepare to put everything away.

It's time to review space and designate areas:

  1. Things that are regularly used need to be at areas that are easy to reach and convenient. Migrate less daily items to higher (or lower) areas.
  2. Long coats and dresses need room to hang. Aim to have little or nothing underneath these items. It may be best to corral them to one section.
  3. SHOES! Are they going to be lined up on the floor? Lined up on a shoe rack? Neatly stacked in cubbies? Hung up on the rod in a shoe organizer? Choose the one that you'll actually use - if you kick off shoes at the end of the day then don't store them too far from the floor.
  4. Be honest: will scarves really be tied onto their rings and stored? Would you rather store them on a row of pegs?

Invest in the tools (cheap ones)

  1. Find your dollar store. You may find hanging closet shelves, shoe organizers, and a variety of bins and baskets. This will let you experiment with your style and find options that fit your lifestyle. If it doesn't work out, know that you didn't spend a ton! And you can re-purpose containers to other rooms or rehome them.
  2. HANGERS. Toss any of the free, flimsy ones from the store. Invest in uniformity here. Velvet hangers will prevent slips and slides. Plastic hangers work fine. You can buy different colors if you would like to use color coding, but keep them in the same type and style. You may even score some plastic hangers at the dollar store.
  3. Shelf dividers are adjustable, inexpensive and will prevent stacks of sweaters, row of purses, or a collection of books from falling over. An over the door pocket organizer may be a good landing place for small items. Or the answer to a pretty way of storing a heap of flip flops.

Tied scarves are pretty! Draping them over a peg might be easier.
Tied scarves are pretty! Draping them over a peg might be easier. | Source

Adopt a method

The piles showed up because at the end of a long day it was easy or all the energy we could spare. A method will soon become a successful habit banishing the piles for good!

  • Keep it simple or it'll be hard to stick to it. Methods may change over time as needs do but stick to a method for a few weeks to give it a fair trial.
  • Empty hangers. Will they be stacked at the end of the row until laundry day? Is it better to designate a bin and just toss them in during the week? Are you okay with leaving them where ever they are and rooting them out later?
  • Organize. Group in colors? By application, gathering work clothes and grouping evening wear? It's pretty to organize a closet by length, but are we committed to maintaining this? (I never would be able to but if you can, go for it!)
  • If you need to be able to drop everything into a collection of labeled bins or cute baskets, go for it! At the end of the day you don't have to make more work in the closet. (And these will hide a tossed purse or kicked off heels.)

Road to Success: Vanquish the beast

As you put everything in its place be critical of what is left. Anything not perfect will take room from what is. Seeing the potential of your new closet should help nip stragglers.

Evaluate. Needs will change. Maybe those hanging shelves don't really fit the way you fold your sweaters or the stack-able bins just don't preform or the method we tried isn't something we like doing.


Is everything put away? Flip all of your hangers around, so the hook faces you. As you wear things put them away like you normally would. Why? In 6 months or at the end of the season look at the closet. Any 'backwards' hangers are showing items that weren't worn - and should be reviewed for purging.

Stay up on purges and discover your organizing style! You can make your closet into your dream!

What's your weakness?

What do you splurge on the most?

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© 2017 Lis Wolffang


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    • Lis Wolffang profile image

      Lis Wolffang 6 months ago

      Hi Jer! Anything to make cleaning easier!

    • profile image

      Jer 7 months ago

      Great tips! I really need to do this! Thanks for the motivation.

    • Lis Wolffang profile image

      Lis Wolffang 7 months ago

      Hi Regina! I'm glad you got a smile even though it's cleaning :)

    • profile image

      Regina 7 months ago

      Great tips! Plus you made me smile a few times.