Save time and money by cleaning your closet. I provide the motivation and give you three achievable steps plus a printable checklist.
Do you enjoy opening the door and seeing your clothes hanging, your shoes organized, and other closet items placed mindfully and easily accessible? If you’re like a lot of women, you may not be having that experience right now. Worse, you might not think you can have that experience unless you have an expensive closet organizing system or professional help.
As awesome as that would be, you don’t need it to get your closet in a better place. You just need the proper motivation and a little time to make this happen. I’m going to break it down, giving you the reasons why you want to do this, and then helping you through the process.
This is NOT about a fancy or complicated organization system. This is how to take your real closet and make it more functional and more enjoyable. It’s about giving your messy, crowded closet a makeover in only 3 steps! And you don’t have to buy a bunch of storage containers or equipment.
Keeping my closet tidy and organized isn’t a new thing for me. My closet has been a source of pleasure to me for several years now. Once I made a commitment to doing it and did it; I never looked back. My closet won’t make it to any magazine but it works for me, makes me happy, and definitely makes my life easier.
This is not about depriving yourself either! This is about having things in your closet that you love, that you wear, and that make you feel beautiful. Even if you end up with fewer clothes than you’ve ever had in your closet; it will still feel better. It truly does.
And the best part? It’s not that hard to do. Part of the problem is that most people just have way too much stuff. It’s the thought of handling all that stuff that is overwhelming. When you have less stuff, it’s kind of fun to arrange it. I promise you—it will feel great.
Here are some of the reasons why I think it’s a great idea to clean up your closet.
You don’t wear most of what’s in your closet.
Let’s get real here. Most people do not wear even a fourth of the clothes they own. Even someone like me who doesn’t keep a lot of clothes at one time—I still only wear about a fourth of the stuff I own on a regular basis. I’ll reach for favorites—those outfits that make me feel fabulous—over and over.
It’s making you feel bad and you don’t even know it.
When you look into your closet and see way too many clothes stuffed in, bent hangers, empty boxes, and clothes you don’t wear any more or maybe have never worn, you get a depressing poke to your psych. If you dread going to your closet and trying to find something to wear that means you need to do this. Your closet it making you feel bad and that’s no way to start an awesome day.
It will be easier to get ready for anything
With fewer items, you can see what you own and have it attractively and efficiently arranged. This makes it a cinch for you to get ready quickly and confidently. For example, here’s what I have for casual wear, which is what I wear most of the time. I own three pairs of jeans. I had some other jeans but the three I kept were the ones I kept wearing over and over. The other jeans weren’t bad; they just didn’t fit as well. I donated them with hopes they’ll be a better fit for someone else. I have a couple of cardigans, a few tee-shirts, a few blouses, and a few pull-over sweaters. And by few, I mean three or four! Because the things I own are “favorites” that I enjoy wearing, I don’t get bored with my wardrobe. Everything I own makes me feel great because it fits well, is a flattering color, and is taken care of.
It’s easy for me to put together a quick outfit whether it’s for the office, working out, a date, or shopping with friends.
It saves you money
You get control of your wardrobe. Because you aren’t faced with endless clothing combinations or things that don’t fit or don’t look right, you won’t have to run out and buy stuff at the last minute. From this time on, you will be mindfully building your wardrobe. Once all the junk is out, you’ll see what you have. If there are gaps you will know exactly what those are.
It’s less work
People with lots of clothes tend to let laundry pile up. (You know you do!) Then when it’s time to do laundry, you have a lot to do and it feels like a real chore. If I’ve worn something lightly, I will often hang it up to get another wear out of it. Since I’m not doing tons of laundry, I take the time to do mine right. I follow care instructions and get clothes folded or hung right away.
As a bonus, you don’t have baskets and piles of clothes scattered around!
Your clothes look nicer
When you have fewer clothes and you really like what you own, you’re inclined to take better care of what you have. I tend to my clothes with loving care and they continue to look crisp and nice. They are hung carefully and not jammed onto the rack. I don’t spend a crazy amount of time laundering but I try to do it right.
Now you know some of the whys, let’s talk about what you are going to get rid of.
If you do nothing else, take a look at this list and get these things out of your closet. You have to get rid of stuff! This isn’t going to work if you just move some things around. Seriously, you will thank me later. Having a great closet is good for the soul—it feels great. Plus, you will not miss anything you remove.
Get rid of the stuff you don’t need. You all have it— loads of junk that you don’t use and probably never will. One of the biggest challenges to cleaning your closet is tackling the mental part. I’ve read most of the decluttering books out there and the parts I read over and over were the parts that helped with my mindset. I actually didn’t always read or follow the how-to parts but I sure needed the sections that helped me overcome my resistance to getting rid of stuff.
So, take my word for it. Cleaning out your closet will feel good in the end. You may have some resistance but if you’re still reading, then I know you’re ready to face the challenge. A lot of these are really easy too. When you actually look closely at what you have in your closet, you will be amazed that you’ve kept some of it for so long. Once it’s gone though, you will only feel relief.
Here are some obvious things to start with. This list isn’t all-inclusive but will get you started. Chuck this junk!
- Empty shoe boxes.
- Wire hangers: I hate wire hangers. They are ugly, they get bent, and they aren’t good for your clothes. Recycle back to the dry cleaners or throw them away.
- Anything that needs fixed. Unless you get it out and fix it right now, toss it. You won’t remember it in a week.
- Anything stained.
- Clothes that don’t fit. Everyone keeps a few items from a time they were skinny. Even if you do get to a place where they fit again, what you saved will be out of style or not fit the same. More importantly, those items are a constant reminder of something that you think you need to do but haven’t been able to do it. That’s never helpful. You want your clothes to tell you that you are beautiful right now, just the way you are.
- Mistake shoes. There are two kinds: either they hurt or you just don’t feel comfortable wearing them. Even though you’ve spent good money on them, it’s not worth keeping them. Donate, trash, or sell them. A friend of mine takes hers to a clothing exchange and gets credit that she can spend later in the store. Whatever you decide to do, just get them out of your closet.
- Old battered purses or ones that don’t fit your style. Dispose of them as you would shoes.
- Clothes you bought on or for vacation that don’t work where you live and you probably won’t be going back there.
- Clothes that are worn out. No matter how much you love a piece of clothing, eventually it wears out, loses its shape or color, or just looks tired. Let it go.
- Clothing that isn’t “you” anymore. We change, we grow. Our clothing needs to reflect this. Maybe you loved a particular shirt a couple of years ago but now you just don’t feel your best in it. Again, let it go.
- Clean the floor! No piles of clothes or shoes.
A final note. Don’t overthink these decisions. Trust you know what to do. Throw away the trash and don’t give it a second thought. Box up the stuff you are going to donate, sell, or trade. This may seem hard to believe but once it’s out of sight, you will not miss it.
Now the fun part.
I do recommend getting some new hangers—though don’t let not getting them stop you from doing this step. I think matching hangers are essential to a fully calming closet. I’ve tried the plastic ones (too flimsy and clothes slip or fall off) and wooden ones (too big and noisy). My favorites are Huggable Hangers (generic name is non-slip velvet hangers). I bought mine years ago on clearance at Target. I like them because they are thin and help me make the most of my space. They also hold my clothes in place without slipping.
No matter what kind of hanger you choose, matching hangers do make a difference. Choosing the same style and color will automatically upgrade the look of your closet. I’ve had mine six or seven years and still think they are great.
Okay, now you’ve got your hangers and you’ve got the junk out of your closet. It’s time to put together your clothes in a way that makes it easy to find items and easy to get dressed.
I like to keep things simple. My system is “like goes with like.” I group clothes by category: dresses (sleeveless to longer sleeves)
- sleeveless tops
- light weight pullovers
Heavier sweaters I fold and stack neatly on a shelf in my closet. In general, my clothing goes from sleeveless to ¾ sleeve to long sleeves, lighter to heavier. Depending on weather, I pick my top along with a jacket or sweater and then pants and then shoes. It’s really easier when you can see all your clothes neatly arranged.
That’s really all there is to this.
- Prepare your mind.
- Get rid of the junk.
- Buy good hangers and organize clothes in categories.
Click below to get a checklist to keep handy while you clean your closet.
Enjoy that great feeling every single time you open your closet!
To keep up with the best of My Think Big Life on Pinterest
Get Sara's Weekly "AHA!" Newsletter
Sign up here to read about real life AHA moments that can shift your thinking. These are the AHAs that stop me and my friends in our tracks and help us live meaningful and successful lives.
I'm a former counselor, career services leader, and college advisor. Now I coach and write at My Think Big Life promoting health and personal growth.