Declutter that Closet!
When we start to declutter, there’s an elephant in the room — or at least in the closet. Closets are usually the first to fall to the mess monster. They’re out of sight, out of mind, at least until you need to find your best shirt for that job interview or that ugly sweater for the holiday party. But don’t worry, even the craziest closet is just a little hard work away from a cool clothes kingdom.
Follow these simple steps, and you’ll declutter your closet. The benefits are endless. You’ll find things easier, and it will be easier to keep clean in the future. And while we don’t always think about it, an overpacked closet is a safety and health hazard. Cleaning out your closet is a great way to respect yourself and what you’ve accomplished.
1. Make a plan.
Before you start moving everything is the time to make a wish list for your ideal closet. Want to transfer your shoes from shoeboxes to an organizer? Need a better spot for winter clothing? Making a plan is the first step toward intentional change. This is your party, and you decide what needs to happen. Once you make your wish list, you can start working toward solutions.
Want to make a change to your plan as you go? That’s great! We’re all learning to roll with the punches. The best part about handling a project like this yourself is the ability to regroup if a better path presents itself.
Share your closet space? You might be tempted to wait until everyone is ready before making a change. This is true for some projects, but for closet organizing, you should focus on yourself. Sometimes you need to lead by example. The organizing process will disrupt the area, so make sure anyone affected can access what they need. The important people in your life will be more impressed with your hard work if they can sleep in their bed!
2. Gather what you need.
The less time you spend digging for supplies, the more time you spend decluttering! You’ll want boxes or plastic bags to hold everything you want to donate, throw away, or give away. You’ll need your cleaning supplies of choice, including a broom or vacuum cleaner. Remember a stepstool if you need it to reach the top shelves. You’ll also want whatever new organizing solutions you plan to install, along with the tools you need to do the job right.
If you forget something, don’t worry; it’s not the end of the world. The point is to gather everything together now and avoid hunting later.
3. Empty out your closet.
Sometimes you have to make a mess to fix a mess. Take everything—and we do mean EVERYTHING—out of your closet. It’s usually easier to take hanging clothes out first to give yourself more room to reach boxes and shelves. You can work from top to bottom, front to back, whatever works best for you.
Remember, you’ll need to sort through everything, so give yourself all the space you need to move around. This isn’t the sorting stage, so just stack things in rough categories. Don’t pile items too high!
Seeing your closet spread out all over your bedroom—or your house!— can feel overwhelming. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal. When you’re finished, your clean closet will be worth the temporary inconvenience.
4. Do a deep clean.
This won’t take as long as you think. With your closet emptied, you’ll easily make everything spic and span in no time. Look at this as a rare opportunity to clean an area that’s usually inaccessible. So, round up the dust bunnies, wash the walls and shelves, and vacuum or sweep like company’s coming over for dinner. This will help keep your clothes clean, and it could help with your allergies!
5. Sort your piles for keep and discard.
After actually getting started, this is the hardest step for many people. One option requires putting everything into one of three categories: Keep, Donate, or Recycle. If you know someone the right size, you could add a Giveaway pile. And if you want to make some extra money with a garage sale or by selling online, you can make a Sell section.
Work as quickly as you can and follow your instincts. You can ask questions like:
- “Have I worn this in a year?”
- “Would I ever wear this again?”
- “Does it fulfill a practical purpose?”
- “Does it bring me joy?”
If you can’t imagine wearing something again, or if it’s just taking up space, get rid of it. If your items are still in good shape, you can donate them to a good cause in your area. Women’s centers and homeless shelters are just a few of the options that could use your unwanted clothing. But if you have clothing that just needs to go, resist the urge to just throw it away. Recycling centers like Duke’s Junk Recycling will recycle the material and keep it out of the landfill. If you’re in the Austin area, just give us a call at (512) 497-0457 or just bring your stuff by our drop-off center.
6. Install new organizing solutions.
An empty closet makes it a breeze to install new shelves, dividers, or organizers. Follow included instructions and make sure to do everything safely. Remember, the point is to be make everything easier to find and access in the long run, so sometimes less is more.
There are many low-cost and DIY options out there. Even then, you don’t need anything new to be successful. If you’ve sorted out everything you don’t need or want, you’ve already made a huge difference. Anything else is icing on the cake.
7. Place boxes and other storage.
Next, put boxes and other items on your shelves using your new plan. This will be easier before you fill your closet back up with hanging clothes. Put that stepstool back to work and remember to lift with your legs.
Now your vision for an organized closet will start to take shape. Remember to put the items or containers you’ll need most often in easy-to-reach places. Place out-of-season clothes where you can get them when the time comes. Make everything as easy on yourself as possible.
8. Check your hanger situation.
Before you put your clothes back in the closet, take inventory of your hangers. This is the easiest time to replace old hangers with new ones or introduce sturdier hangers for heavier garments. If you decide to get rid of hangers, don’t just throw them away. Donate or recycle your old hangers to keep them out of the trash.
9. Return hanging clothes to the closet.
We’re on the home stretch! Now you’re ready to put all those clothes back in your closet. You can organize them by brand or color, season or style. It’s completely up to you. If you discover you still need to downsize your wardrobe for space, now’s the time to it.
Do yourself a favor when you’re finished. Take the time to clean up everything from your successful organizing project. Put everything away and take out trash and recyclables. You’ll enjoy your clean closet much more if it doesn’t leave you with a messy bedroom!
10. Make plans for the future.
Now that you have your closet how you want it, make your plan to keep the party going. Decide now what you’ll do with new clothing and how you’ll retire old outfits. Say goodbye to bad habits and decide how to move forward. Set yourself up for success and embrace the benefits of your clean closet for years to come!
Bonus: Bask in your success.
You did it! You are the proud owner of a clean, organized closet. You’ve made a change that will make your life easier every single day. That’s a big deal, and you should be proud of it. Celebrate your accomplishment in the manner of your choosing. If you decide to reward yourself with some shopping, keep that closet organized!