Cleaning our closets usually means dumping everything out, finding that cute jacket that’s been lost since last spring and then stuffing everything right back. Over time, that method only creates clutter and chaos. So if you’re looking for a weekend home project, here are some tips to help you declutter your closet for good and get your wardrobe back in order.
There are a few ways to start when tackling a messy closet, but this one is the most fun and necessary. Dump everything out and make three piles of clothes: keep, toss and maybe. The keep pile is the easiest — put all the items you regularly wear and love as well as stuff you could use more in this pile. The toss pile should be for anything you haven’t worn in a year or more — and unless it’s a fancy gown, suit or dress, you probably won't wear it again so it’s best to donate it or toss it. And for the maybe pile, reevaluate the clothes after you’re done decluttering to see if it’s worth making space for them.
When you’re putting your clothes back, separate them by categories. You can divide them by work, weekend, going out, errands and even a random section for things you just wear whenever you feel like it. Store all your dressy clothes in one spot, hang all your sundresses alongside each other and definitely keep your workout clothes separate from your pajamas if you keep these in the closet.
Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying expert and founder of KonMari, has shown countless people how to fold and store clothes on her Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” If you have shelves or drawers in your closet, her advice will work even better. The trick to folding a shirt is to fold in both sleeves and sides, making a long rectangle. Then fold it in half lengthwise, and then again into thirds, getting it as small as possible. Place the shirts standing side by side instead of stacked on top of each other. This folding technique can also be used to pack a suitcase more efficiently.
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Bins and baskets are the unsung heroes of home organization. You can use them in the kitchen to hold pantry items as well as in the closet to hide clutter. If you don’t have shelving, use baskets to hold things like sweatshirts and sweatpants or to store socks and undergarments for easy access. You can also use a labeled basket or hamper to hold once-worn clothes that need to be washed but could still be used to run errands in.
If you have lots of vertical space, built-in shelving or multiple hanging rods, use them all to your benefit. And if you don’t have shelves, see if you can add them to maximize storage. You should stack up when organizing instead of storing horizontally. For example, fold your jeans and pile them on a shelf instead of hanging them side-by-side.
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Another tip from organization expert Kondo is to hang everything facing the same direction, with longer items on the left and shorter items on the right. In doing so, the bottom of your clothes will create an upward sloping diagonal line, which can be pleasing to the eyes and mind and also create extra storage space underneath the shorter end.
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This hack reuses a common household item to double your closet storage. Simply pop off a soda can tab and string the hanger head into the larger hole. Then take another hanger and string the hanger hook through the other opening of the soda tab and you’ll have two hangers in one. You can use it to hang similar shirts together or things you tend to wear in pairs.
This may be for aesthetic value more than anything, but why not? A color-coded closet not only looks delightful, but the color scheme will also inspire you to put everything back in its place. It’s a fun little project to do while you’re spending time at home.
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A quick organization hack is to use shower curtain rings around a hanger rod to hold your scarves and shawls. Just loop them through and hang — it takes up way less space and makes it easier to find the one you’re looking for.
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Do not waste drawer space by filling them with large sweaters and thicker materials like jeans. Because these items are sturdy, they won’t slump or crinkle if kept folded and stacked vertically on a closet shelf.
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To make the most out of empty wall spaces, set aside some reorganization time and attach command hooks or regular hooks to hang your hats, belts, necklaces and other accessories. And if you want to get extra creative, you can hang a corkboard on an empty wall to hold jewelry with thumbtacks. Using unused space to store purses and bags is also a great idea.
If you have an assortment of baseball caps, beanies, extra sweatshirts or anything you don’t use on a daily basis, store them in clear storage containers that you can easily slip under your bed. (If you have a fairly large closet that can fit these boxes, that works too.) Label the boxes with exactly what’s in them so you don’t have to clean up a bigger mess trying to find something.
Closets become more crowded during the colder months with bulky jackets and sweaters taking up way more space than necessary. When spring and summer roll around, wash last season’s clothes, bag or box them up, and store them wherever you have space (just not back in your closet).
This is a tip that requires some discipline so you’re not just piling more and more items into your newly cleaned closet. Whenever you buy an item, be sustainable and donate something you don’t need anymore. Make a box of these items and donate them to an organization like Goodwill that accepts textiles.
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This one is obvious, but it’s 100% worth noting. If you can’t tell items apart in your closet because everything is smooshed together, you probably have way more things than you actually use. When you step back and are able to see and locate everything in its place, you’ll be able to properly utilize what’s in your closet. Reducing clutter whether it’s in the bedroom closet or your main living space is one of the keys to creating a healthier home.
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