3 Easy Steps to Clean Your Closet

closet organization

This year, I rang in the New Year by taking a four-day weekend solely for the purpose of cleaning out my closet. I hadn’t tackled this task since 2012 when I spent another long weekend changing all my hangers from a tangle of plastic to space-saving velvet hangers. One of my better life decisions.

Both weekends were hard and frustrating. Tears were shed, brows were furrowed, and curse words were shouted. I needed every bit of those four days to sort through the rubble and regain control of my life.

You may think I’m being dramatic here, but I am not. When my closet is in order, my life is in order. It’s amazing not to start my day with the stress of digging for something to wear that makes me feel good.

Through the struggle of those four days, I kept revisiting these 3 easy steps to clean out your closet that kept me motivated and on track. They aren’t easy in the sense that the process is painless, but they simplify the process and keep you moving until you eventually have a duh moment.

3 easy steps to clean your closet3 Easy Steps to Clean Your Closet

  1. Ask the tough questions. Don’t pull a hanger out of the closet and ask yourself “Will I ever wear this again?” because the answer is probably “Well, yeah.” and back in the closet it will go. Instead, ask yourself “Do I love this?”, “Does this make me feel good about myself?’, “Is this something I wear the heck out of?” If the answer to any of those questions is yes, then it can go back into the closet. If there’s a no in there, then it’s time to part ways.
  2. Seriously consider the “maybe” pile. If you’re like me, you’re on the fence about most items in your closet and the maybe pile quickly becomes the yes pile. You can’t just get rid of something on the off chance that you might might lose 20 pounds or get invited somewhere fancy. Yes, you can. And you should by going through your maybe pile and asking yourself “Would I pull out cash and buy this again right now?” If you wouldn’t buy it again, you shouldn’t keep it.
  3. Follow through. Before you even open your closet doors, make sure you know where the nearest donation center is. Have trash bags ready and your car backed up to the front door. Make it easier for you to get unwanted items out of the house instead of into the basement. I ended up making two trips The Salvation Army and two trips to the dumpster, in total removing 32 trash-bags of debris from my closet. I haven’t missed a single thing.

clean closet

Once you’ve achieved the zen state of closet organization, have a plan in place for evaluating what goes into your closet moving forward. For me, that’s making sure it’s something that makes me feel good, that fits right now (no buying something a size smaller because it was on sale and I just renewed my Weight Watchers subscription), and I can easily incorporate it into three different outfits with what’s already in my closet.

So far, nothing has made it into the closet this year and I’m still marveling at all the extra space.

Do you clean out your closet regularly? Any tips for making the process less painful?

10 thoughts on “3 Easy Steps to Clean Your Closet

  1. I may have missed my calling as a closet organizer. I even do this when I visit my sister. Usually I begin with maximizing space – either add a shelf, storage, or hanging rack, then sort. What you want to keep or donate. Then, put it all back in a way that makes sense to you. If that means all your pants hang on the right of the closet because you need them in a hurry every morning – then do that. Make everything visible, and always look for hooks to hang on the wall for a belt/scarf/necklace space saver.
    If you haven’t switched to the velvet/felt covered hangers – do it today. You will not regret it!

  2. I just made the switch to velvet hangers and you’re right: total game changer.

    Now if I could just figure out how to break up with my pre-pregnancy clothes…

  3. The snark in me read the title of the post and thought:
    1. blow torch
    2. dust pan
    3. trash bags 🙂

    All kidding aside, great tips, Shimlet. I’ve got to do this SOON.

  4. I just got my first set of velvet hangers for Christmas because closet organization has become a big priority (god, who am I??). I lurve them so much and will be switching over the rest of my closet as soon as possible. I try to do a closet evaluation twice a year, but I find that getting ridding of stuff is super hard, especially if I wore it somewhere meaningful. I admire your ruthlessness!

  5. Considering I just uncovered a 30 Gallon bag of pre-pregnancy clothes I forgot I owned (my son turns 10 y/o today), I think this closet clean out is a must-do in my life right now. The chances of me fitting into some of those outfits I found in the bag are none and NONE.

  6. Such good tips. I especially need to hear number one and two over and over. I’ve hung on to all my work clothes because one day I will go back, but it’s been seven years and I’ve had two kids. Not only are they not in style (except for some slacks and sweaters) but I’m also not that size anymore! The great closet purge is happening in February.

  7. Great tips!
    When I started to wanting to clean out my closet regularly I did it once a month. It helped make the whole process easier so it does get easier to get rid of things the more you do it.

    Now that I know I can trust myself to actually get rid of everything I don’t need/use I do it maybe every third month or so.

  8. Thanks for your advice via your own experience. Sound and proven to work for you, and hopefully for others, like me! Also, reading others’ experiences helped. You’ve inspired me to downsize my wardrobe while downsizing other aspects of my life. It’s time. Again, thank you.

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