When we talk about the rules for cleaning out a closet the first thing we do is panic and a myriad of paralyzing thoughts run through our heads.
Will I have to get rid of all my favorite things?
I don’t want to try all of those clothes on!
What if they don’t fit? Will I have to toss them because they are too small?
Contrary to what most folks believe a closet is one of the most difficult areas to cleanout. Why? Because so many of the things that we wear come with an emotional attachment.
A highschool jacket.
A favorite pair of jeans.
A skirt we wore when we met our husband.
A comfortable t-shirt.
With such big memories, it can be difficult to even consider letting go and for that reason, we need to take our time. In a room that is so small yet packs such a powerful emotional punch, attention must be paid to the memories that live there.
Does this sound like you?
I have probably 6 pairs of jeans in all colors and styles. But there is one that is my absolute favorite. I love how they feel on and even more, I love how they look on. They are comfy and the perfect feel and color. They are my “go-to” choice every time I am on the hunt for a pair to wear. So much so that when I look and see they are sitting on the shelf and not lying in the hamper, I actually smile because I get to wear them.
That right there, that feeling you get when you see your favorite outfit all ready and waiting for you. That is your line in the sand. Your cue to keep rather than toss.
As you go through the things in your closet, remember that feeling and use it to guide you when the decisions get hard.
Rules for Cleaning Out a Closet
Rule #1. Take it One Season at a Time
More often than not the clothes we wear for the entire year is kept in our closets. And that can make things incredibly overwhelming when so much is stuffed inside.
Let’s make this a bit easier and categorize our things just a bit. I like to call this seasonal sorting. To do this simply make a pile of your things by the season that you wear them in.
You can use a box for each season or a clothes basket(s). Whatever is easier for you to move around. I prefer clothes baskets and find these to be my favorites.
Label each basket, box, or bin for the season it will hold and begin filling it up. This is my favorite way to sort things in a closet.
DM Pro Tip: Do not put your tried and true favorite pieces in these bins. We are only dealing with the excess at this point and the pieces you love will usually stay in your closet for most if not all of the seasons.
Continue sorting through your closet until most of it if not all of it is gone through.
Rule #2. Keep Only What You Love
Just like with my example above if you love it…. you will wear it.
Over and over and over again.
And when you are in such a small area why waste that valuable space on clothes you don’t love, or even hate? Use this rule of thumb and do a quick purge as you go.
Each time you touch an item you should be able to decide if you love it within just a few seconds. If you do, put it back in your closet (or set it in a clothes basket labeled KEEP). If you don’t put it in the donate pile. If, however, you touch an item and cannot immediately say you love it or hate it, then stop.
- Examine it. Is it stained? Is it stretched out or snagged anywhere?
- Look closely at the item. Do you like the color? The style?
- Feel it. Do you like the material? Is it soft or scratchy?
- Smell it. (yep, not kidding) Does it smell nice? Some clothes have a distinct odor and if it does and you hate it…get rid of it.
As you ask yourself each question be quick. If it’s yes move on to the next question. If it’s no, put it into the toss or donate box and move on to the next item. Don’t overthink thigs. Make a decision and move on.
Rule #3. Remove the Duplicates
This is something I found when I did my very first closet declutter. I had a few duplicates of some of the shirts that were in there. The problem was I didn’t LOVE this shirt. It didn’t fit quite right so it was never my first stop when getting ready in the morning. I am not sure why I bought more than one of them but it was worse than that…I had 3.
Since I knew I didn’t love it I could easily let most of them go.
Rule #4. Keep Out What You Have Room For
If you live in an area with 4 very distinct seasons, it may not be possible for you to keep all those clothes in your closet at all times. Try to be realistic here and only keep what you can comfortably house.
Remember, less is more when it comes to a closet and our clothes.
Let’s face it, clothes are pretty expensive and it just doesn’t make sense to crush your things in a closet that is overstuffed. To help, keep the current 2 seasons in your closet so you can hang those items freely without the risk of wrinkling.
Rule #5. Use this Trick For What is Left
A closet is one of those areas that can get quickly cluttered up if you don’t stay on top of things. We all love clothes and for that reason tend to buy things quite often. If you are not one of those people that use the “one thing in one thing out” rule then you may just find yourself in the same cluttered situation again.
This is why I like to use the hanger trick to keep this space under control.
How to Use the Hanger Trick to Keep a Closet Clutter-Free
- Turn all the hangers in your clothes so they are on the rod facing backward.
- As you wear an item turn that hanger the other way so it is facing correctly on the rod.
- Continue doing this routine turning hangers as you wear each item in your closet.
- After a month or two examine the hangers. Those that are still facing backward are the items you rarely wear. Those facing the correct way are your favorite items.
Rule #6. Keep Only Clothes in your Closet
I know it can be tempting to use those upper shelves to store other items. After all, storage tends to be a hot commodity in a home and leaving a shelf, even in a closet, underutilized may seem like the wrong thing to do.
However, I suggest saving these spaces for clothing-related items only. This will allow you to always be aware of just how much clothing you own and keep you from getting cluttered up again.
Instead of keeping holiday decorations on that out of the way shelf, why not use that space to hold your winter gear or vacation only outfits. By keeping like items all together you will make it easier to find what you need just when you need it.
Rule #7. When Things Aren’t so Cut and Dry
I know I have said this before, the emotion that some of our clothing brings can be a bit overwhelming. For that reason be kind to yourself and give yourself a plan B.
Let me introduce you to the “Maybe” box.
This is my secret weapon for anyone that finds an area or an item more difficult to declutter than they planned. A maybe box is just what it sounds like. A box or a bin that holds items you are just not sure you are ready to let go of yet.
How it works.
As you are going through your things you stumble on an item that you are not quite ready to let go yet you aren’t sure you love it anymore either. Take that item and put it into your maybe box. On the box write the name of the item and the date.
Then, and this is key. Walk away.
That’s it. There is nothing more to it.
Next time you tuck an item in that box take a look at that list. Anything on there that is over a month or more old, ask yourself again. Do I love this item? By letting it sit and giving yourself time to live without that item you will make this decision process a bit easier. If you did not look for that item or even think of it in the last few months then it may be time to let it go. If, however, you did want that item then you may want to put it back.
This temporary decluttering tip is a game-changer that can take away all of the overwhelm some of our things tend to bring.
When trying to get rid of clothes in your closet it may be easier to switch things around a bit. Keep what you love and store what you like. Give away what no longer fits and treasure those things with the strongest memories. For what you have left follow these rules for cleaning out a closet and you will never be overwhelmed by too many options again.
Let’s dive into a little cleaning up and sprucing up. More often than not our closets tend to get overlooked at cleaning time. Take this opportunity to give your space a nice wipe down before you move on to organizing. READ: HOW TO CLEAN YOUR CLOSET IN 15 MINUTES