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How to Declutter your Clothes Closet; For Real This Time!

It’s Day 2 of the 5-Day Happy Simple Home “Declutter your Life” series and today we are going over how to declutter your closet. If you are tired of the piles of laundry, messy hangers and endless folding you are in the right place!

A neat and tidy decluttered closet

Happy Simple Home Series: Simple Steps to Declutter your Closet

If you started with Day 1 of the series: How to Declutter Your Bedroom, you know that there were a few strategies mentioned regarding clothes.

If you are just joining in – here are the rests of the posts in the series:

Day 1: How to Declutter your Bedroom so it Stays That Way

Day 3: How to Declutter your Kitchen Like a Minimalist Mom

Day 4: How to Declutter Kids Toys and not Destroy Their Childhood

Day 5: How to Declutter Your Mom Brain

So, why do I have an entire day devoted to the closet if it’s part of the bedroom?

Well my friend, it’s because your closet is really a room inside of a room.

Even the smallest closets have their own doors that you open to enter.

And walk-in closets are clearly their own room.

In fact, I have been is some walk-ins that are bigger than my bathroom.

Once you realize that your closet is it’s own room that requires a unique set of rules you will begin to make progress with keeping this area neat and tidy.

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The benefits of decluttering your closet

I am pretty sure that I don’t have to convince you that your life will be easier when your closet is clutter-free.

But just in case you need some additional motivation to get started, here are some great reasons:

Save time
No more searching for items that you know are “in there somewhere”.

Create space
When your closet is packed you can’t help but feel squished every time you reach in.

I used to work retail and we were always told to keep the racks “shoppable”. This meant that there was enough room for customers to easily view the clothing.

You want to create the same experience in your closet so that you don’t feel claustrophobic and clothing is easy to find.

Improved outlook

Feeling frustrated and overwhelmed by the process of finding something to wear is no way to start your day. You will lower your stress and increase your mood when you know that your closet is full of clothes that fit and that you enjoy wearing.

Live in the present
So much of our clothing clutter seems to come from items we used to wear or plan to wear in the future.

The truth is that these items keep us from enjoying who we are in the current moment.

Opening your closet shouldn’t be a walk down memory lane.  Letting go of old clothing will allow you to become who you want to be.

How to sort clothes in your closet

In a perfect world we would all be able to hire someone to come in and organize our closets for us.

In reality, YOU are the one that needs to go through this process so that you gain the skills to maintain a clean closet. (Yes, there are skills that you can learn to make this happen!)

When you open the closet doors and see a mess staring back at you, it’s easy to feel like giving up.

But don’t!

Instead, take it one step at a time and you will make progress without feeling frustrated or stressed out.

Experts recommend that a good closet decluttering session begin by doing the following:

Take Inventory

This means that you are going to begin the process by noticing what you actually have. Typically when we open our closets we are looking for a particular item instead of observing the entire space.

Unlike Marie Kondo, I personally don’t like the idea of “take everything out and start over”.

You know why?

Because when you spend the time to completely empty your closet two things happen:

#1 This process sucks up a lot of time
#2 It creates a big mess

This is no way to begin a project.

Instead, I recommend that you begin by grouping similar items while they still hang in the closet.

So your first task is to make sure that all items in the same category:
-Jeans
-Dresses
-Tanks
-Sweaters etc. are all hanging next to each other.

This will allow you to easily see what you have. If everything is spread out and mixed up, you may not realize that you have 12 pairs of dark denim jeans. It happens all the time.

How do you declutter your clothes closet?

Woman declutter shoes in her closet.

Remove anything that doesn’t fit

As you were sorting the clothes into their categories you had a chance to see most of what you have. You probably noticed the items that used to fit – or that you hope will fit in the future.

Feel free to take a moment to try them on if you aren’t sure.

The reality is that these items need to go.

I am an incredibly frugal person, and I don’t believe in wasting money. However, I guarantee that those clothes are worth being replaced when they DO fit.

For the time being anything that doesn’t fit well needs to be placed in a donate or sell bin. These bins should be labeled and sitting in your room as you go through this process. You will be adding more throughout the next steps.

Shop your closet

At this point we have basically turned your closet into a store made just for you!

All your clothing is sorted into sections and the best part…..everything is your size!

Now it’s time to shop!

As you scan the remaining items and note anything that you absolutely love and would buy again in a heartbeat. All of these items are definitely staying!

Guess what….anything that doesn’t fall into that category probably needs to go!

Anything that you don’t like or haven’t worn in a year will be placed into those donate and sell bins that were mentioned a bit ago.

Pick a  “magic number”

Left to our own discretion it can be difficult to whittle down the clothes that remain.

After all, if you like everything and it all fits why would you need to get rid of more?

Actually, this is up to you. At this point some of you may have been able to ruthlessly purge and you are ready to move on to the next step.

However, others may have gotten to this point and you still have those 12 pairs of dark denim jeans (which you love and fit great) hanging in your closet.

If this is the case, you need another rule to help you continue to declutter the clothes in your closet.

This strategy has been a huge help in my family’s successful decluttering missions. It is especially powerful with children’s toys.

So, what is this amazing, miracle strategy you ask?

You set a maximum number of items that you will keep for each category.

You remember those 12 pairs of jeans….well, your “magic number” is not going to be 12.

What number do you choose? Here is the method that I use:

  • Any category with 12 or more items I try to reduce the number by half.
  • If a category has less than 12 items then aim to remove at least 3 items.

What does this look like in real life? Well, for that dark denim example I would allow myself to keep 6 of my most favorite pairs.

But let’s say that I have 9 sweatshirts. My target number would be to keep 6 (but I would give myself virtual bonus points if I kept even less).

If you are really torn and you just can’t decide – roll the dice (just one)! It makes it fun and it helps you to avoid decision fatigue.

Store Off Season Clothes

When I first began my journey to become a “practical minimalist” this closet decluttering strategy was recommended to me by a friend.

At the time, it seemed a little extreme.

After all, I had plenty of room in my closet for my off season clothes, so why wouldn’t I just keep them in there?

Because anything “extra” is clutter. Visual clutter. Physical clutter. Emotional clutter.

Last year,as the cooler weather merged into spring I packed up my winter clothes. I then placed them into garment bags to be stored under my bed.

Immediately I felt the freedom and the clarity that was created.

No pushing scarves out of the way to get to my lightweight tops.

No knocking over my winter boots to grab my favorite flip-flops.

So, whatever season you’re currently in, take a moment to pack away anything that you know you won’t be wearing for at least another 3-4 months.

I promise you that this strategy will be one of your favorites too.

How to maintain a clutter-free closet

You did it!

Your closet is clean and clutter free.

Now all you have to do is keep it that way.

Yes, we all wish that it would just stay that way forever, without any effort – but that’s not how it works.

The good news is that it can be simple with if you keep up with these recommendations:

1) Donate or sell items quickly

Like within a few days. Keep the bins in an accessible spot so you can drop items in as items become damaged or no longer fit your style.

2) Curate a capsule wardrobe 

A capsule wardrobe is a small collection of clothing that you wear frequently. In order to create your personalized capsule you may need to purchase a few items.

3) Shop with a  list 

Once you decide which items you need to make your wardrobe complete stick to the list. If an item doesn’t easily coordinate with the rest of your clothing or replace an item that was worn-out then it doesn’t come into your closet.

4) Keep it fair 

Apply these same strategies to your accessories including scarves, handbags, hats and shoes.

5) Make it easy to let go

Turn all the hangers in your closet backwards. When you wear and wash a garment turn the hanger to correct direction when you hang it back up. At the end of the season anything on a hanger facing backwards has not been worn and needs to be gone!

6) Pre-screen

When it’s time to pull next season’s clothes out from storage, don’t just hang them in the closet. Make sure they still fit and that you still love them. If an article of clothing doesn’t check both those boxes – say goodbye!

7) One-in, One-out Rule

If you decide to bring a new item into the closet, choose one that will leave in its place. This will prevent you from ending up where you started!

Learn how to declutter your clothes closet

One Comment

  1. I noticed that my closet is really cluttered, and I’m not sure what I should do about it. It makes sense that I should have ways to help organize things! I’ll see if I can have some new shelves and racks put in to ensure that I can store my clothes easier.

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