The best way to clean out your closet

Maybe you got new clothes for Christmas. Or maybe you have gained or lost weight over the past few months. Or you recently left your job to stay home so you no longer need all those business clothes.

For whatever reason, your closet is in desperate need of cleaning out.

10 steps to cleaner closet --

If you REALLY don’t have time to devote to a full closet clean out, try this method. Every time you go look for something to wear, pull out 2 or 3 items you don’t like, can’t wear or don’t need anymore. Have a box or bag designated for Goodwill to place these items in as you will be adding to it over the next few weeks.

This method doesn’t take a lot of time, and it will help to clear out the things you don’t wear, but if you REALLY want to do it right, you need to use the method below.

How to do a total closet clean-out

1. Enlist a friend or sister to help. Even a teenage daughter could help.

2. Put on some energizing music.

3. Have a few boxes or garbage bags handy.

4. Make sure the rest of your room is relatively neat, and make your bed. (it will just make it easier!)

5. Take EVERYTHING out of your closet.

6. Lay it all on your bed.

7. Pull your shoes all out as well and put in a pile over to the side.

NOTE: With everything out of the closet, it is a great time to vacuum REALLY well!

8. Start picking up one item at a time, trying on if needed, and ask yourself these questions:

  • Have I worn this in the past month?
  • Do I like it? Do I feel good in it? Does it fit me well?
  • Do I have to tug or pull at it the whole time I am wearing it?
  • Is it a seasonal item that needs to be stored elsewhere?
  • If I love it, do I have anything I can wear with it? If not, make a note that you need something to go with your_______________.
  • If you don’t love and you haven’t worn it, get rid of it!

9. Continue ruthlessly through the pile of clothes, asking for your friend’s help as you go. Allow her to be brutally honest about how something looks.

Do the same process with your shoes, and with belts and scarves.

10. After you have weeded down the pile to keep, start hanging items back in your closet (you could do this as you are sorting).

Organize clothes by type

Make sure you have a system for hanging and don’t just group everything together. For instance, I have items grouped as follows:

Tanks and sleeveless shirts, then short sleeves, then long sleeves, then my pants, and skirts and log dresses are in the back corner as they are not worn often. On the bottom I have camis and then the rest is jackets and cardigans. I also streamlined by switching out my hangers for these slimline ones. Saved a lot of room!

velvet hangers

Having my clothes separated like this helps me to find an item fairly quickly. It also helps when putting away laundry. Keep in mind I do have some items folded and in my wardrobe such as sweaters and hoodies.

Pressed for time?

If you are agonizing over doing the full closet clean out, or you don’t have time yet, you could start by doing what I suggested at first. Each day pull out 2 or 3 things to get rid of. Do this for a week or 2 until you have time to do your clean out. This way you will have already eliminated a lot of the things you don’t wear.

Another way you could do this, if pressed for time, is to work in sections. For instance, according to the way I have my clothes sorted above, you could do all the shirts in one session, all the pants in another, and then lastly do jackets, cardigans, shoes and accessories.

Here is a great picture below of a before and after (notice how the items are separated by category):

Source: The Barefoot Organizer

 When’s the last time you cleaned out and organized your closet?



If you need some help getting started, this Boot Camp can give you the kick in the rear to get you going!

6 comments to The best way to clean out your closet

  • I keep my closet pretty well organized, but I was just thinking that it needs a good cleaning out. I recently threw out and gave away a few items that I know I won’t wear again…

  • Thanks for the insight! I’m an organizer and just passed this article on to a client- it gets a bit boring when the advice is always coming from me 😉

  • I travel a LOT. I never pack worn out things, clothes that don’t fit well, or things that have nothing that match. So, when I get home, I toss the items in my suitcase in the wash and have a look at what’s left in my closet. This way, my favorite items are already out of the way and I’m only left with the items I didn’t pack. Then it’s easy to go through them.

    ALSO, using the same idea, I clean out my fridge when I come home from grocery shopping. It’s mostly empty anyway. Things that are still good, go back in LAST so I use them up first.

    I’m not really THAT organized of a person and these tricks do WONDERS for my house.

  • Mary

    Having a teenage daughter there is the best advice. I did that and got rid of lots of clothes that either didn’t fit, didn’t make me look good or just wasn’t in style anymore. They are brutally honest, but I need that.

  • Just reading your tips and guides gets me motivated. I am ready to clean and straighten.

  • Lisa

    Thank you for the tips. Once finals are over and school is out, in two short weeks, I’ll be helping my 15 year old with his closet. It is spilling out onto his bedroom floor!!! It’s awful, yet has so much potential. :o)