How to Declutter Your Closet

posted in: Organizing 2

How to Declutter Your ClosetAre you tired of constantly searching high and low for items of clothing day after day?

Have you been looking for tips on how to declutter your closet in your bedroom?

A clothes closet is one of the most commonly cluttered locations in the home.

Every day we find ourselves standing before our closet, dresser, or wardrobe.

We inspect pieces of clothing, assemble outfits, and figure out what we want to wear for the day or week.

What’s more, we’re constantly adding new pieces of clothing to our wardrobe on a regular basis.

It’s no surprise a closet can quickly become cluttered with clothing that no longer fits us, is damaged in some form or another, or no longer captures our interests.

What’s the solution to this perplexing problem?

Why, it’s to declutter your closet, of course!

In this post, I offer several smart tips on how to declutter your closet.

These practical tips will help you keep your clothing collection in tip-top shape both now, and in future.

Decluttering your closet isn’t a complicated process, nor is it about casting a series of magic spells.

It’s all about you putting in the work that needs to be done to declutter your space.

Above all, you need to make wise decisions…and take decisive action.

If you’re ready to finally clean out your overflowing clothes closet, and be the owner of a beautiful, clean, and clutter-free space, well my friend, you are in for a real treat!

We’re going to approach decluttering your closet from the ground up.

We’ll get into the nuts and bolts so you can fully understand and appreciate how important it is to declutter your closet on a regular basis.

We’re first going to start the process by reviewing what your closet is, and what your closet isn’t.

We’ll then move on to specific tips you can use to keep your closet clutter-free.

Ready? Let’s begin!

How to Declutter Your Closet

What Your Closet Is

This may seem like quite a silly question with an all-too-obvious answer, but have you ever really considered the purpose of your clothes closet?

Your clothes closet is a place to store clothing, shoes, and accessories, when you’re not wearing them.

Let that phrase sink in for a moment.

In fact, let’s repeat the phrase, because it is so extremely important.

Your clothes closet is a place to store the clothing, shoes, and accessories you wear, when you’re not wearing them.

That’s pretty simple, now, isn’t it?

If you were expecting something more, well, that’s it really.

In fact, you might even be surprised by this next section…

What Your Closet Isn’t

Now that you know what your closet is, let’s get down to brass tacks about what your closet isn’t.

There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what your closet actually is; so it’s time for the brutally honest truth.

Your closet isn’t:

A self-emptying space. Anything you put in your closet will stay inside the closet until you or another person removes it.

A clothing, shoes, or accessories transformer. That plain blue turtleneck won’t be turned into a fabulous pair of well-fitting black dress shoes, no matter how slice it.

A clothing re-sizer. Beyond everyday wear and tear, and some obligatory shrinkage in the laundry, your closet won’t change a size L t-shirt into a size XS t-shirt, or vice versa. An article of clothing in a particular size will pretty much stay that same size.

Larger on the inside than it is on the outside. Your closet takes up a finite amount of space. Likewise, your clothing will take up that same finite amount of space inside the closet as well.

All of the above makes sense, right? So why do we insist that our closets do anything more for us?

I suspect it’s because we tend to forget about the basic nature of clothing: we buy clothing so we can wear it.

After that time, clothing can wear out, become damaged, stained, warped, shrunk, faded, or go out of style. Sometimes clothing no longer fits, we become bored by our previous selections, or forget why we even purchased an item in the first place.

While we’ve become quite adept as a society when it comes to purchasing clothing, we struggle greatly when it comes to letting go of pieces.

And that’s where this post comes in. I’m going to show you how to declutter your closet easily, and simply.

Learning how to declutter a closet on a regular basis is a good habit to build. It’s good for your closet, good for your wallet, and good for your stress-levels and psyche.

Before we get down to the nitty-gritty tips, it’s important to set some ground rules on how to declutter your closet:

Declutter when you’re in a good mood.

Your mind has to be in it to win it if you want to make your decluttering sessions a success. And that means you must have the right mood, outlook, and energy to do it.

Now, this isn’t to say that you have to be swinging from the chandelier-happy, but you need to have a positive mindset and a strong willingness to remove clothing which no longer serves you.

If you’re feeling sad, angry, heartbroken, or otherwise upset, it’s probably not the right time for you to declutter. You should come back to it at a later time.

Avoid decluttering when you’re in a rush.

Getting ready to leave for work and thinking about doing a spot of decluttering? Think again! Decluttering your closet in a rush will force you to make quick, scatterbrained, and sometimes irrational decisions. You want to go through the process smoothly and seamlessly.

After all, it’s not going to be in your best interest if you chuck half of your wardrobe, only to learn you threw out several of your favorite pieces in the process. When in doubt, wait it out, and declutter only when you’re not in a rush or under a time constraint.

Create a staging area.

You need to have space in which to work during your decluttering sessions. This is where a staging area, or an area where you will review and process items comes in. Some examples of staging areas include a freshly-made bed, a clean countertop, a folding table, or even a sheet draped on the floor near your closet.

It’s important to keep in mind that this staging area will only exist while you are decluttering your closet. You’ll be returning everything to it’s original stage when you’re finished.

Set yourself up for success.

Decluttering items from your closet is the first step. The second step is to make sure items from your closet appropriately leave your home, so they don’t clutter up the rest of your living spaces.

Before beginning any decluttering session, make sure you have two individual garbage bags, boxes, or containers at the ready: 1) a giveaway bag to donate unwanted articles to charity, and, 2) a bag to articles to be recycled or turned into household rags.

If you’re concerned about confusing items, simply place a sticky note, or tape a piece of paper to each bag with the appropriate label so it’s easy to see what’s what.

Wear comfortable non-binding clothing.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but you want to make the decluttering process as comfortable as possible.

You’ll most likely be stretching, sitting, twisting, standing, crouching, and bending as you work your way through your closet.

Opt for comfortable, non-binding clothing, as well as comfortable shoes.

Work in small batches.

Do you shudder at the thought of completing a marathon decluttering session that lasts for 6 grueling hours? Here’s a simple piece of advice: don’t do it!

There’s no rule that says you have to spend hours upon hours decluttering your closet in one sitting. Take your time and work in small pockets of time, be it 5, 10, 15, 20, or 30 minutes a session, per day.

You can make great strides in decluttering if you’re consistent in your work. If you spend just 10 minutes a day decluttering your closet, you’ll have spent a little over an hour decluttering in one week. That’s not bad for just 10 minutes of daily work!

Declutter your closet throughout the year.

It’s important to practice regular closet purges during the year. Take a moment to schedule regular closet decluttering sessions into your calendar or planner.

You can declutter items once a month, once a quarter, every time you rotate your clothing for the change in seasons…the timeframe really doesn’t matter.

What does matter is that you are doing it on a regular basis so you can clear our the old, and make room for the new. Above all, remember that decluttering items from your home and life is an ongoing process.

How to Declutter Your Closet


Step 1. Pick up a single article of clothing.

It doesn’t matter which article of clothing in your closet, dresser, or wardrobe you start with, just pick one up.

Then, ask yourself the following no-nonsense decluttering questions:

Will I realistically wear this? If push came to shove, would you wear the item to work, out on a blind date, or while hanging out with a friend? Remember, if you’re not going to be wearing it, it will just be sitting in your closet, taking up valuable space.

Is it flattering? Does the article in question flatter your figure, face, hair, or personality? Unflattering clothing won’t do you any good in the outfit department. If you know an item is unflattering, you’ll probably overlook it when you get dressed in the morning, and it will still be sitting in your closet

Have I worn it recently? Keeping in consideration seasons, holidays, and special occasions, have you worn the item in question sometime over the past year?

Do I really like this item? Be honest: do you enjoy wearing the item in question? Keep in mind, looking at the item in question doesn’t count; you have to enjoy wearing it.

Is it painful to wear in any way? Is the item itchy, tight, uncomfortable, or otherwise difficult to put on or remove?

Is the item damaged? Does the item have any stains, tears, rips, or strong odors?

Is my reason for keeping this now, worth headaches in future? Again, if you’re not wearing clothing on a regular basis, it will be sitting your closet full-time. Which means you’ll eventually have to deal with it in future at a later date (and who wants to do that?).

Step 2. Take action.

If you answered “no” to most of the questions above, place the item into the appropriate bag (donation or recycling/rag bag).

If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, replace the item in your closet, dresser, or wardrobe.

Step 3. Repeat the process.

Select another article of clothing and start at Step 1. Repeat until your decluttering session is complete.

When you’re finished with your session, bag up your donation bag and recycling/rag bag and put it in your hallway or near the front door, so you’ll process it.

Lastly, make sure to clean up your staging area, and return the space back to it’s natural state.

And there you have it! A simple way to declutter clothing from your closet.

Dealing with a Common Closet Conundrum

Okay, so you’ve been dutifully decluttering your closet, but have come up against the dreaded question of “What if”.

This question appears when you’re 90% convinced about removing an item from your closet, but are still holding onto that 10% part of keeping the item.

This question often comes about in the form of, “What if I need this in a year’s time?” “What if this ridiculous fashion fad comes back in style in 10 years?” “What if I’ll never find a pair of slacks like this perfectly fitting, yet oh-so faded pair?”

How should you handle this common conundrum?

Try asking yourself this question:

“Can I have a closet where I can easily find what I need, has everything in my exact size, is clutter-free, and makes me feel happy about it?”

The answer is undoubtedly, yes, you can! You deserve to live in a world where your clothes closet is clean and clutter-free.

The only question is, will you allow yourself to have that closet in your home?

Whenever you’re in doubt, remember this point: it’s perfectly okay to let go of clothing you no longer want, like, or need.

How about you? Which of these tips resonated the most with you? Which articles of clothing are you going to remove ASAP from your closet? What decluttering schedule are you going to set up for yourself? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!

How to Declutter Your Closet
Follow Rashelle:
Rashelle Isip is a New York City-based professional organizer and productivity consultant who helps people get organized so they can stress less, have more fun, and be happier at home. Her work has been featured in Good Housekeeping, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, The Washington Post, Business Insider, and The Atlantic. Get access to her free guide, 10 Simple Ways to Make Your To-Do Lists More Effective, by clicking here.
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2 Responses

  1. Sandra A. Nagel

    Sometimes having a good friend, in other words, a second set of eyes to help you make the decision whether to keep or get rid of something helps too.

    • Rashelle

      Good point, Sandra. In some cases it can be helpful to have someone act as a sounding board, either during the decluttering process itself, or updating someone on your progress after the fact. It’s also a good idea to specify the type of help you need from your helper. That way, everyone is one the same page. Thanks for reading and for your comment!