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How to De-Clutter and Organize a Closet

Updated on July 29, 2015
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Closet De-Cluttering Poll

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Busy lives, constantly changing fashions and accumulating new clothes season after season can lead to a closet that’s overflowing with way too much ‘stuff’. Eventually we run out of closet space and our clothes get packed so tightly together they get wrinkled. Items that are out of season, out of style or haven’t fit us for years still hang there, taking up space and causing aggravation whenever we can’t find something we’re looking for when we’re rushing to go somewhere. To make things worse, many of our closets end up as the most convenient storage space for anything and everything we can’t find another place for.

De-cluttering your closet, especially if you haven’t gone through or organized your clothes in years can be an eye-opening experience. You might find new clothes you didn’t know you had, old clothes you can’t believe you still have, and things you love and completely forgot about because they were buried between so much other ‘stuff’. De-cluttering is also a great way to assess your entire wardrobe so you’ll know what new items you need and what you already have.


Here is my simple 4-step system for de-cluttering, cleaning and organizing a bedroom closet from start to finish…


STEP 1 : Get Rid of the Obvious Stuff

As you go through your entire closet, remove anything you don’t like, don’t wear, doesn’t fit or just isn’t you anymore. At this point, just pull out the most obvious items. Leave anything you’re not sure about for the next step. You can throw these items into four piles on your bed or floor. If you have a few big cardboard boxes or plastic bins, that’s even better.

PILE 1: Donate

Anything that’s still in good enough shape that someone else can use it.

PILE 2: Sell

If the clothes or accessories you no longer want are new, like new or are nice enough that you want to sell them at a resale shop or on eBay, this pile can make you a little extra cash.

PILE 3: Trash

Items that are ripped, torn, stained or worn out can be put here. Don’t bother donating clothes in bad condition.

PILE 4: Things that don’t belong in the closet

Closets are quick and easy places to stash all sorts of random things that really should be kept elsewhere. Gather these items so when you’re done with your closet you can put them where they belong. If you’re low on space and have no choice but to keep them in the closet, you can always put them back after you’re finished de-cluttering and organizing.


STEP 2 : Gather Items You're Not Sure About

Now that the worst of the clutter is out of the closet, it will make it easier to begin sorting through the rest and adding things to your piles. If you have never de-cluttered before, are sentimental or indecisive, this step can be a little harder, but the more you de-clutter and see the positive effects it can have in your life, you’ll have a much easier time in the future.

Clothes, shoes or accessories that you don’t wear

Be real about this one. Ask yourself when was the last time you wore it. We wear the clothes we like, the ones we find comfortable, stylish or make us feel good about ourselves. Everything that’s too big, too tight, too outdated, uncomfortable or just don’t fit with our style anymore tends to sit around and take up space. These things have to go if you want to have the space to fill your closet with clothes you truly love and that flatter you. You might want to try things on as you go along to make a decision on the spot. Some people find it helpful to have a friend or relative to help them for a second opinion. Don’t worry about deciding about every item at once if you’re new to de-cluttering. De-cluttering is something that takes practice and experience. The next time you go through your closet, you will find you’ll be more decisive. For now, just put everything you’re unsure about into a separate pile.

What to do with sentimental items

If you have items that you aren’t wearing but have sentimental value to you (i.e. a collection of concert t-shirts, a dress you wore to a special event, the sweater your grandmother knitted for you), find another place such as a closet in a spare bedroom or a storage box or bin to keep these things.

Out-of-season clothing and accessories

Unless you have a huge closet with plenty of space, try to find somewhere else to put another season’s clothing. You’ll free up space and make finding things much easier. If you have the room to keep these things in your closet, put them way off to one side so they’re not mixed in with everything else. If you’re low on space, get creative. Try a closet in a spare bedroom, basement, attic, under-the-bed storage boxes, drawers in the bottom of your dresser or just buy some big plastic storage crates from the discount store to keep them in. If you have shelves in your closet, neatly fold your out-of-season items and stack them there. For longer coats, dresses, suits or nicer items, you can buy inexpensive storage bags at most department stores to store them and keep dust off.

Shoes

If you have someplace besides your clothing closet to keep your shoes, that’s ideal. Shoes can make everything else in the closet smell like, well shoes. If you need to store them in your closet, try to keep them in their original boxes or find a nice hanging shoe organizer to keep them off the floor.

What do with the ‘Undecided’ Pile

Group these items together and put them on one side of your closet. Over the next couple of weeks, make a point to wear these clothes. This is the easiest way to determine whether or not you really want to keep them. If you find that you can’t bring yourself to wear some of them, or you do wear them and they’re not comfortable, don’t fit or the style isn’t you, get rid of them.


STEP 3 : Clean Before You Put Everything Back

Don’t forget to do a quick dusting and sweeping/vacuuming before you start putting everything back.


STEP 4 : Organizing Your Closet Space

No matter how much space you have in your closet or what your budget is, there are so many convenient closet organization solutions.

Most department stores or home goods stores have a ‘home organization’ section where you’ll find everything you need to make the most of the closet space you have.

If you’re not sure what you need, bring a photo of your closet to the store so you can see what will work best with space and layout you have. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. It could be just a few canvas-lined crates for storing bulky sweaters or accessories, or some skinny hangers to make more room on your racks.

I really love Huggable Hangers because they’re so much thinner than regular hangers and nothing ever falls off them. There are many knock-offs out there, so they’re easy to find in most stores. I’ve even seen them in dollar stores.

You might not believe that just getting different hangers can give you a lot more space in your closet, but it actually does.

Clothes on Huggable Hangers.
Clothes on Huggable Hangers. | Source

For quick organization solutions, try canvas bins for storing sweaters and smaller items such as gloves, hats, scarves, ties or purses. If you don't have shelf space, there are also many great hanging organizers for these things.

For more efficient organizing, consider a closet organization system. You can find these in just about every price range, size and style at most department stores or at home stores such as Bed, Bath & Beyond, Target, Lowes or Home Depot. Many of these organizers are adjustable, so they'll fit in closets of all sizes.

Below are some links for some of these places to help get you started. You'll also find websites for charities to donate clothing and also some sites to sell clothing or other things from your closet to make some cash.

When you think of de-cluttering, don’t think of it as a just another chore, but as something positive that will revitalize your space, your home and your outlook. Open some windows, turn on your favorite music and make it fun experience instead of ‘work’.

© 2012 carolynkaye

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    • HeatherGilmour profile image

      Heather Gilmour 2 years ago from London

      Very useful hub, closet organization is the hardest thing ever. Putting clothes in piles is a really good start of the process.

    • lucille12 profile image

      lucille12 2 years ago

      Searching online is a good place to start your search for the perfect closet organizer.