How to Declutter Clothes Without Freaking Out!

If you struggle with letting go of things inside of your closet, this article will help. Learn How to declutter clothes no matter where they are in your home and find out how letting go can be the most therapeutic thing possible.

When you are working on how to declutter, the more tips you can learn the easier it will be. 

How to declutter your clothes without freaking. out

Confession time.

I used to have a stash of skinny clothes in my closet.

You know, that pile of clothes that we used to fit into umpteen years ago that we have sworn to ourselves, probably more than once, that we would fit into them again someday.

Woman holding piles of clothes, closeup

The problem was that someday really never came and those clothes sat there for more than a decade taking up valuable space in my tiny closet. But not only that, those clothes had a huge negative effect on me every time I saw them. A guilt sucker punch to my stomach reminding me I was still overweight.

When it comes to clothes, many of us probably have more than we actually need. Some of us have formal dresses from weddings, showers, or even proms taking up space in the back corner in garment bags. High school jackets from 15 (or more) years ago. Even a collection of baby clothes from one or all of our kids.

I think the reason so many of us keep an overabundance of clothes is that each item individually takes up very little space. Add to that a small enclosed room with tons of storage space that you can cram full and hide behind a closed door, and you have all the excuses you need to keep as much as you want.

I am not here to tell you that you need to adopt a minimalistic wardrobe. Seriously, where’s the fun in that? My goal is, however, to help you to cut back on what you have so you can create a space that holds the clothes you love in a gentler way. 

How to Declutter Clothes Without Freaking Out

Going through a collection of clothes can be a pretty big ask, so breaking things down into smaller high-action steps is crucial to making progress. Just follow the steps one by one, and before you know it, you will have an organized closet that is easy to keep put all the way away. 

Step #1. Take Inventory

Before you begin, you need to know what you have. Take a walk around your home and make a note of where you have clothes stored.

Possible Clothes Clutter Spaces:

These will be your clutter target areas, and you will want to work on them, one at a time. Try to see them each as their own project with a start and finish date to be completed before you move on. This will help you to take away the overwhelm and keep your focus and energy on the (much smaller) task at hand.

Step #2. Pick a Starting Point

Now that you know where all the clothes are, you will want to pick an area to start in. You can approach this in one of two ways.

  1. Start easy and work your way up.
  2. Start hard and get it out of the way.
woman had on chin thinking

What would I do?

Well, I am all about starting easy as I feel it helps to strengthen your decluttering muscle making the decision process much easier as you go along.

Step #3 Gather your Supplies

Most people skip this step because they just want to get started, but this step is more important than you may realize. You can’t make a recipe without all the tools and ingredients ready to go, and the same is true with a decluttering project.

Gather up your decluttering tools and set up a sorting area before you get started.

By getting things ready before you sort, it will allow you to put your energy into making decisions rather than risking distractions that can stop most decluttering projects in their tracks.

I like to use these laundry baskets for sorting clothes and find they work well for all-sized projects. You will want to have four baskets set out, with each one labeled as follows.

  1. KEEP
  4. MAYBE
4 sorting baskets for clothes. keep, give away, donate and maybe baskets

If you have been with me before, you know these are not our usual categories when working on a project, so let’s go over each one quickly.


This basket is for anything you plan to keep because you love the item and enjoy wearing it.

give away

This basket is for any clothes that you no longer love, but you have a friend or family member that just might want to have themselves.


This basket is for anything that you would like to donate. If you are looking for new ideas for locations that take clothes, here are a few.

  • Your local church – They may take anything.
  • VA Hospital – Men’s suits, coats, and shoes.
  • Battered Women’s Shelter – Lady’s suits, business clothes, purses, and scarves.
  • Nursing Home – Nightgowns, elastic pants, sweaters, and sweatsuits.
  • Homeless shelter – Kid’s clothes, adult clothes, or any clothes for that matter.


This is not a basket I use often, but I feel it is warranted in the closet. If you come across anything that you are not sure you are ready to let go of, this basket is for you.

There is one rule; however, you can not put in more than the basket can hold. So, if you are out of space, you will need to remove something to add something else. By drawing this line in the sand, it will help you to only use this basket when you need to.

white basket labeled Maybe with clothes inside

Step 4 Get Busy

This is always the part where I lose people.

I think they are hoping for a magic wand that will do the work for them, but I am sorry to say that isn’t the case. No matter how many tips I send your way, you will still need to be the one that works through the items in your area. But don’t worry; I do have a two-punch routine that will help to keep you super-focused until you are all the way done.

Punch One: Find what you love.

Rather than working your way dealing with one item at a time, I want you to instead, get a “quick win” under your belt. Look over the area you are working on first and pull out anything you can tell right off are items you are going to keep.

Put those pieces in a pile off to the side or in your keep bin.  

Punch Two: Find what you don’t love.

Next, do the same thing, only this time look for pieces you can tell right off that you are good to send off to donation. Look for things you routinely pass over whenever you get dressed because you don’t love them. 

Put those items in the DONATE or GIVE AWAY basket. 

two white baskets labeled give away and donate with clothes inside

Once you have done these two steps, you should have a pile that is much smaller than the one you were first facing. That initial 2-punch sort will help you to make a nice dent, but if not… don’t worry. It will get easier as you go along.

Next, you will want to go through the clothes you have left one at a time. This can be pretty intimidating, and it’s the reason why we are breaking down the areas into smaller projects.

Pick up the first piece you see and give it a quick inspection and decide which basket it should go in. Once you have done so, move on to the next item. Do not second guess yourself later for a decision made now. You need to trust the choice that you made and move on to the next piece with confidence.

Keep going until you have worked your way through every item in your target area. If you are worried that you might not see this project through to the end, here are a few tips to help you keep your head in the game. 

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Declutter Clothes Focus List

  1. Block off work time this week. Just a few 20 minutes work sessions will greatly impact your clothes collection.
  2. Set up a playlist of high-energy music you love.  Five songs come out to be 20 minutes. That means your playlist will double as a timer keeping you going to get more done. 
  3. Download a great audiobook. Only allow yourself to listen to it while you are decluttering your clothes. 
  4. Dress the part. Be sure you have on “work” clothes for your project, along with comfortable sneakers. This step lets your body know you are going into work mode.
  5. Remove distractions. Turn off your phone, get your hair tied back, and have your spouse pick up dinner on his way home.
  6. Keep your head in the game. Make a promise to yourself that this is something you not only need but deserve. Reminding yourself this is not an annoying chore but a gift to yourself can be incredibly powerful to your level of motivation.

When it comes to the things we wear, it can be hard to let go, but it doesn’t have to be. As you learn how to declutter your clothes more easily, the hard will melt away, allowing you to keep less and love what you have more.

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