How To Do A Proper Closet Clean-Out and Keep It Organized
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Can’t find anything to wear? Running out of space to store your clothes? Are you spending all weekend doing laundry, neatly folding and hanging clothes in your wardrobe only to find things have fallen over and gotten wrinkled during the week? It’s time to keep, toss, donate or sell to declutter your closet. We know, we know, it can be a tiring endeavor, but performing a regular closet cleanout is one of the best ways to see what you own, learn what you need, and get rid of anything you don’t need. Plus, it frees up space to install organization tools to help keep your clothes looking great and easy to find.
Whether you have a large walk-in closet or a small wardrobe, a closet clean-out is always the first step toward organizing your clothes. I spoke to Angi Home Care Expert Bailey Carson to determine how to properly clean out your closet and set your space up as an organized oasis.
“Most people should clean out their closets one or two times a year — think seasonally,” says Carson. “However, if you like to shop or have a smaller closet, you may need to declutter and clean more frequently.”
Carson recommends the one-for-one method, which includes tossing or donating (click here for our favorite places to donate) one item of clothing for every new piece of clothing you buy. “This will help you keep your closet clutter-free because you always have the same amount of clothes,” says Carson, who notes the method is particularly helpful for people who love to shop.
How To Cleanout A Closet
Label Piles: When decluttering your closet, Carson recommends labeling three boxes with “Keep,” “Toss,” and “Donate.” Making an actual label sounds like overkill, but we find that things can quickly get confusing with closet purges, and you don’t want to accidentally add any ‘keep’ items to the ‘toss’ pile. You can always consider selling these pieces for higher-end or newer items that make it to the donate pile (check out our tips for reselling clothes).
Empty Closet: Once your boxes or designated areas are labeled, it’s time to remove everything from your closet. “People tend to skip the step of completely emptying the closet first, which leads to less thorough cleaning and makes it harder to do a true refresh,” says Carson. Admittedly, this is a step I had always skipped in my past closet cleanouts, instead taking out only items I knew for sure I wanted to toss or donate. This time, I listened to the expert and found it made a huge difference. Items that I thought I wanted to keep were covered in dust because I hadn’t worn them for years, and some didn’t fit anymore.
Clean Your Closet: Now that your closet is empty, Carson recommends using this opportunity to clean the space. Vacuum, sweep, dust, wipe down walls, shelves, racks, and clothing rods, and find your favorite ChapStick that you lost last year. (Just us?)
Sort ‘Keep’ Pile: With your closet looking shiny and clean, it’s time to put the ‘Toss’ and ‘Donate’ piles aside and work through the ‘Keep’ box. “This is a great time to reconsider each and every item,” says Carson. “If you’re not excited to put it back in the closet, it’s time to say goodbye.” We also found this an excellent time to try on the ‘Keep’ items to ensure they still fit and didn’t need any mending or alterations.
Tips For Deciding What To Keep and What To Toss
“Parting with clothing can be hard, especially if it brings back fond memories, so it’s important to think about why you’re cleaning out your closet,” says Carson. “Having a purpose can help you make some tough decisions along the way.”
Carson also recommends making guidelines for yourself to help decide which items to keep and which to toss or donate. “For example, if you haven’t worn an article of clothing in a year, chances are you won’t wear it again,” says Carson. “Or, if you used to go into an office every day and have transitioned to working from home, think about how much you will actually be wearing your professional attire and only keep what you need.”
Carson recommends this as the time to get picky if you really want a fresh start on your closet. “Only keep what you love and regularly wear,” says Carson, who recommends asking yourself these questions:
- Does this item spark joy?
- Have I worn it in the past year?
- Does it currently fit?
- Is it in good condition?
- Is it comfortable?
- How versatile is it?
- Is it easy to take care of this item?
- Is it seasonal?
- Do I have space for it?
Not every answer needs to result in a yes, but if you have to think too long or too hard about a solution, it’s safe to assume it’s a no.
What To Remember When Doing A Closet Clean-Out
Cleaning out your closet can be broken down into a few manageable steps.
- Label a Toss, Donate, and Keep pile (optional Sell pile as well).
- Empty your closet completely.
- Sort your clothes into the piles.
- Vacuum, sweep, dust and wipe down your closet before adding back in your clothing.
- Pair down your Keep pile. Try on items you haven’t worn in a while and ask yourself the questions outlined above.
- Add any organizational items that may work for your clothes and space.
- If possible, use the one-to-one method when adding new pieces of clothing.
“Now that you’re down to fewer items, it’s also a great time to think about creating a new organization system for your closet to keep it from getting too full again. Hiring a professional organizer is a great way to find a long-term solution that works for your space,” says Carson. You can easily install several products in a closet of any size to help keep the space organized and clean, which we have included below.
1. Rubbermaid Configurations Deluxe Closet Kit
BEST FOR OPEN SPACES
We recommend the DIY-friendly Rubbermaid Configurations Deluxe Closet Kit if your closet needs a total overhaul. The kit is available in several sizes, finishes, and extension options and can fit in any closet with a 4-to-8-foot opening. You can expand the telescoping rods and adjustable wire shelves to fit within a space up to 22 feet wide. The kit comes with all hardware you need and several areas for hanging and folding clothes. Plus, it’s strong enough to stack light items so that you can maximize every surface.
2. Pinkpum Stackable Plastic Storage
EASY TO ASSEMBLE DRAWERS
Avoid turning all the hard work you spend folding your T-shirts, sweaters and pants into just another mess again with the Pinkpum Stackable Plastic Storage shelves. The stackable shelves slide out halfway, providing a large enough opening to remove clothing that can remain neatly folded inside. These stackable shelves are made with polypropylene plastic, hold everything from shorts to shoes and can easily be wiped clean.Buy: Pinkpum Stackable Plastic Storage $52.99
3. DecoBros Supreme 23 Loop Scarf/Belt/Tie Organizer
BEST FOR SMALL ITEMS
The DecoBros Supreme 23 Loop Scarf/Belt/Tie Organizer helps organize small items. There are 23 storage compartments or loops, which provides ample space for accessories. The organizer’s top features a hook that will fit any standard-size closet rod.Buy: DecoBros Supreme 23 Loop Scarf/Belt/Tie Organizer $9.97
4. Tribesigns Shoe Rack
SHOE AND BAG STORAGE
Keeping shoes in the boxes they came in helps keep dust at bay, but it also requires more storage room. A shoe rack provides a convenient way to see all your footwear at once. We like the Tribesigns Shoe Rack, which has different height opens for storing boots or bags.Buy: Tribesigns Shoe Rack $37.99
5. Mebbay 12 Pack Closet Shelf Dividers
BEST FOR SHARED SHELVES
For extended shelves home to several clothing items and accessories, keep everything in its own, neat space with a shelf divider. We like the Mebbay 12 Pack Closet Shelf Dividers, made from flexible plastic that slides over a shelf for a secure hold. The Mebbay dividers can also be placed below a shelf and used for hanging accessories such as ties, belts or scarves.Buy: Mebbay 12 Pack Closet Shelf Dividers $28.99
6. House Day 6 Pack Metal Magic Hangers
BEST VERTICAL HANGER
If you’re short on closet space but still want to be able to hang items, opt for a vertical hanger like this set from House Day. This stainless steel hanger can hold up to 12 garments when used horizontally or six when used vertically in space-saving mode. The cascading hanger style allows users to quickly see which items are on each hanger and access their pieces easily.Buy: House Day 6 Pack Metal Magic Hangers $13.99 (orig. $17.99) 22% OFF
7. Amazon Basics Cloth Drawer Storage Organizer Boxes
Buy: Amazon Basics Cloth Drawer Storage Organizer Boxes $13.64 (orig. $14.35) 5% OFF
BEST SMALL ITEM ORGANIZER
8. Whitmor 5 Section Closet Organizer
BEST FOR FOLDED ITEMS
If you don’t have a dresser or need more space for folded items, the Whitmor 5 Section Closet Organizer is a sturdy hanging dresser that works for sweaters, pants, shirts and shoes. Chromed hooks make it easy to hang the Whitmor on any standard rod, and the drawers feature breathable fabric and reinforced seams. The company sells its hanging shelves in several sizes to fit almost any space.Buy: Whitmor 5 Section Closet Organizer $18.42
9. Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags
BEST LONG TERM STORAGE SOLUTION
For items you don’t need every day but aren’t ready to let go of, vacuum storage bags provide a compact and convenient storage solution. The Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags are available in five sizes and reduce the storage space needed for off-season items or infrequently used pieces of clothing or bedding.Buy: Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags $49.99 (orig. $54.99) 9% OFF
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