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How to Declutter the Closet Once and For All

How to break the clothes horse habit.


There are some sure signs it's time to declutter the closet:
  1. Is your closet chock full of clothes you no longer wear?
  2. Are you having trouble finding the blue button down you know you picked up from the dry cleaner?
  3. Are your work clothes wrinkled from being shoved in the back of the closet?

Declutter your closet once and for all with these tried and true tips to clear closet clutter and make way for clothes, shoes and accessories you wear regularly and love.

Learn how to declutter your closet:

Declutter the closet by asking the key questions.

Declutter the closet
Photo / Emily Schuman

Ask yourself the following about every item in your closet:

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Do I wear it?
  3. Does it project the image I want to project?
  4. Does it itch or scratch?
  5. Does it pinch my toes? Are the heels to high to walk in?

Number 3 is the real "light bulb" question for many people. Even if you love it, do you want to wear it in front of other people? As I always say, be a brutal critic. If necessary, enlist a friend who feels comfortable enough to tell you if something is wrong for you. Closet space is limited so don't waste your prime real estate on something you're not crazy about.

More about clearing closet clutter in When to Donate Clothes.

Learn to let go of clothes clutter.

Carrie Bradshaw's closet from Sex and the City mixes clothing storage options.
Photo / HBO

This may be the hardest skill to master as you may be holding onto clothes for some of the following reasons:

  • It holds sentimental value;
  • You spent an ridiculous amount of money on the item;
  • You may wear it "someday," and who knows when "someday" will be;

These are all understandable reasons to hold onto a garment, but the fact remains that you have limited space to store your clothes. For tips on how to let go of sentimental items, follow our Stop Hoarding Guide.

Getting rid of clutter though donation and consignment.

It's easier to declutter your closet if you know where you'll be donating your clothing ahead of time. This way, once you are done decluttering and purging the closet, you can quickly whisk the items off to a deserving recipient making the process much easier.

Use donation bin to declutter daily.

The Elfa Closet Organization System
Photo / The Container Store

Make decluttering your closet easier by having a donation bin, bag or basket right in your closet. This allows you to declutter the closet and toss items you no longer want as often as possible. I use a big shopping bag from Lord and Taylor which is extremely portable. Other options:

  • Carboard box
  • Large Beach Bag
  • Large Shopping Bag
  • Bin

Do a seasonal clutter seasonal "sweep"

organize your clothes by color
Photo / Martha Stewart Omnimedia

There are 4 easy-to-follow steps here:

  1. Take everything out of the closet. Then, wipe down the shelving, dust and vacuum.
  2. Do a quick purge of anything you're going to donate; separate out anything that needs altering or dry cleaning.
  3. Put everything back in the closet hanging and sorting by color with most-worn items in front.
  4. Donate the remaining items; take alterations and cleaning to tailor and dry cleaner.

I recommend the closet sweep once a season, or monthly if you live in an apartment with limited closet space. For a quicker version see our: How to STore Clothes Seasonally

Declutter the closet by doing a weekly clutter sweep.

Elfa Closet White Wall Mounted
Photo / Container Store

The more often you declutter, the less time it will take and the easier it will become over time. Committing to a weekly clutter sweep means spending 10-15 minutes once or twice a week in your closet placing items in your donation box, re-arranging clothing that has fallen out of place and re-handing and folding clothes that may be strewn about your bedroom and bathroom. All of this will take much less time than you think if you tackle it regularly using the Weekly Organizing Routine.

Declutter the closet by maximizing storage space.

Find the right storage products and maximize closet storage space.
Tom Grill / Getty Images

Are you tkaing advantage of your closet nooks and crannies? You can fit more in by maximizing the storgae spaces available. Read our guide to Maximizing Storage Spaces -- in your clothes closet and in every other part of your home or office.

Closet Storage Tips:

30 Minutes Organization Projects

Find more organizing projects you can complete in 30 minutes or less.

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