Cleaning up a messy closet isn’t necessarily at the top of everyone’s list of fun activities, but it does give you a chance to take stock of your wardrobe and decide what to keep and what you should have tossed a long time ago.
We know – getting rid of clothes can be a painful process, but keeping your closet stuffed full of things you’ll never wear again just makes it harder to find what you’re looking for.
A neat and tidy closet can help cut down on the time it takes to get ready, since you only keep the items that you actually want to wear.
This is also a great opportunity to assess your wardrobe and decide if you need anything new.
The ultimate goal here is a well-organized closet that only contains items that fit you well, make you feel good, and are at least in decent, wearable shape.
Not sure where to start? We’re here to help, so free up a few hours, put on some music, and let’s get started.
What You’ll Need
Depending on the size of your clothing stash, you’ll need a couple of trash bags, boxes, or both.
If you plan on putting some items in long-term storage, some space-saving vacuum storage bags or plastic totes might be a good idea to protect them from moisture and damage.
You’ll also need some cleaning products, since you should probably use this chance to dust and vacuum your closet.
If you use cedar or closet fresheners, you might want to restock them now, too. The same goes for any new organizers, shelves, shoe racks, hangers, or anything else you might need to help you get organized.
Take Everything Out of the Closet
Yes, you read that right. This is the best way to see everything you have in the deepest recesses of your closet, and it will clear out the space you’ll need to clean.
Once you’ve taken everything out, lay it all out on the bed, floor, or both. You’ll need plenty of space to sort through the items and create separate piles.
Set up a donation box for items that are still in good condition that you’ll no longer wear, a storage box/bag/tote for things you want to keep that you don’t plan on wearing right away, and a trash bag or two for items that you’re going to throw away.
Sort Your Items
Getting rid of your stuff can be a little uncomfortable, but it’s a necessary part of the process that will give you a fresh start. As you sort through each article of clothing, accessory, or pair of shoes, ask yourself these questions.
- Does it still fit? If not, it’s probably time to let it go. If it’s in good shape, considering donating or selling the item.
- Is it in good shape? Anything with broken hardware, holes, fading, stains, or obvious damage should probably be thrown away.
- When was the last time you wore it? If it’s been more than a year, chances are you probably won’t want to wear it again. Donate or toss the item.
This is a good time to try on some of the clothes and shoes that you haven’t worn in a while. You might even find something that’s been missing or rediscover some old favorites.
Once you have everything separated into keep/store, toss, and donate piles, you can move on to the next step of the process.
Refresh Your Wardrobe
Now that you’ve dug everything out of your closet, you might find that some of the clothes are wrinkled or stale, especially if they’ve been stuffed away or out of reach for a long time.
If you have shelves or a dresser in your closet, things that were stuffed in haphazardly probably don’t look their best.
So this is a good time to break out the steamer or iron to get rid of wrinkles and freshen up the clean clothes that you want to keep. You can even toss them in the dryer for a few minutes to get the wrinkles out.
If you come across anything dirty or dusty – especially the items you plan to donate – it’s probably a good idea to wash them.
This is also a good chance to thoroughly clean your closet. Dust any shelves and vacuum the floors, replace your cedar or air fresheners, and set up any new organizers, shelves, or shoe racks you might want to use.
You should also examine the walls and wipe down any dust or scuff marks, too.
Reorganize Your Closet
There’s no single right way to organize your closet, and everyone has their own preferences.
But since you’ve freed up all that space, it’s time to put everything back in a neat and organized way so that you can easily find what you need.
And if you have shelf or drawer space in your closet, this is a great time to try out the Marie Kondo folding technique.
These tips can give you some inspiration:
- Organize by category. Separate items by type, like shirts, sweaters, pants, dresses, skirts, and jackets. Hang each group together and face everything the same direction to keep it neat.
- Sort by color. Once you’ve organized by type, take it one step further and separate the items from lightest to darkest. Color-coding your clothes might seem a little excessive, but it’s very satisfying to look at and makes it easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.
- Utilize shelf space. If you’re lucky enough to have easily accessible shelves in your closet, neatly fold heavier items like jeans and sweaters and place them on the shelves. These items don’t wrinkle easily, and this will help save on hanging space, too.
- Use storage bins or boxes. These can give you some extra space for storing items like handbags, accessories, socks, belts, underwear, and more.
- Take advantage of wall space. All that empty space on your walls can be used to hang items like handbags, jewelry, belts, and more. Invest in some hooks or racks and place them anywhere there’s empty space.
And if you want to prevent overcrowding, try this one in, one out technique. Every time you buy a new item, look for something you’ll probably never wear again and get rid of it.
Not only does it help you save space, it also helps you keep your wardrobe fresh and updated with your personal style evolution.
Now that you have everything in its place, you shouldn’t have to spend more than a few minutes at a time to keep it organized and manageable.
Writer and Product Researcher
Spending the last 10 years researching and writing about various home, garden and electronics topics, Shelley is more than qualified to write for Meccano Home. Her work has been featured on eBay, Pottery Barn, SFGate, TheKnot, Williams-Sonoma and various other blogs and websites.