There are those who actually enjoy de-cluttering. And then there’s the rest of us. If you’re in the first group, click away now. For the rest and majority of us, lets talk de-cluttering and specifically how to declutter your closet. Because it’s possible, even for the most reluctant amongst us and the benefits of de-cluttering your closet far outweigh the act of doing it, so lets do this.
Our wardrobes can quickly get so filled up that it feels like a chore to find anything or worse, we don’t even know what we even own. Maybe the contents spill out on to your bedroom floor and even in to other rooms in your home. Perhaps you have stuff spilling out from above and under your wardrobe. Instead, imagine a wardrobe where everything has a place, it’s all neat, tidy and visible and it’s not an epic struggle to shove an extra hanger back in.
Apart from the visible mess, decluttering if not done, weighs on your mind and keeps nagging at you causing mental stress. The guilt you feel every time you look at all the stuff you have and don’t wear is exhausting. So if your wardrobe is bursting at the seams, these closet de-cluttering tips will help you tidy up your clothes and accessories once and for all, and help you stay clutter free. And there’s also a bonus downloadable sheet with very helpful questions that will help you declutter your closet more effectively so be sure to grab a copy above or below.
7 steps to de-clutter your closet and stay clutter free
1. Choose a method that works for YOU
There are 2 approaches here so before you do anything, consider what will work best for you. First, and definitely the method that works for me, is set aside 10 minutes a day to tackle your wardrobe. This works well for people who hate decluttering so much that the thought of spending several hours at once is so off-putting that it will never happen! But doing just 10 minutes daily doesn’t seem so bad. The added benefit with this method is that in time, you will create a decluttering habit which will have benefits way beyond your closet. To help you stay motivated, use a habit tracker – the act of ticking off your daily task gives your brain a reward, and helps you stay on track. It can be a game changer in creating new good habits, quickly.
The alternative is to schedule an afternoon or an evening and tackle your clothes all in one go. If you’ve got lots to do you could schedule in 2-3 such sessions. This is ideal if you’re someone who prefers to get their tasks over and done with quickly and you like to see instant results.
There is no one size fits all as I’ve learned – I’ve tried the whole afternoon sessions and honestly I’ve just sat there looking at my watch feeling like someone has snatched my soul, thinking I can’t do this anymore after just 10 minutes. So I’ve come to realise that short, quick bursts work best for me and don’t weigh me down. You could do any variation you like – 10 minutes a day, 1 hour a week or everything in one marathon 3-5 hour session. The important thing is to find the method that works for you so that you actually declutter your closet and don’t put it off forever.
2. Schedule it
Once you’ve decided on the method that works for you, schedule it. This might sound like it’s too basic to mention as a step but so many of us skip this. And guess what? If you don’t schedule it, its far more unlikely to happen so why not give yourself the best chance?
If you’re going for 10 minutes daily, simply set a reminder for the same time of day each day. As soon as that reminder goes off, you start your de-cluttering task and don’t stop until your 10 minutes are over. If you’re de-cluttering your wardrobe in one or two long sessions, schedule it using a digital calendar or a paper one – I find paper calendars always work better because you can keep them visible. Let your family members know that’s what you’ll be doing at that time on that day. It’s important to let them know that it’s a non-negotiable so that no one makes demands of your time.
3. Where should you start?
Marie Kondo recommends taking everything out of your closet and then going through everything by category like sweaters, trousers, dresses, accessories etc. You can totally embrace the KonMari method of de-cluttering if it appeals but I think this could cause overwhelm – I know it would overwhelm me. Taking everything out of your wardrobe and seeing so much stuff around you can make you want to run away! And if you don’t have enough time to go through everything, then you have the added task of putting everything back or leaving it out which will create more visible clutter and overwhelm.
However the sorting/decluttering by category is a great idea. My suggestion is take out one category of clothing say dresses. If you are able to see all your dresses at one time you’ll know how many you have, how many you actually wear and how many are just gathering dust and wasting precious space in your wardrobe. Once you’ve been through one category move on to the next and keep going depending on how much time you have. If you are doing a 10 minute daily de-clutter, you should be able to manage one category everyday. So either way you will make progress.
If you are particularly averse to decluttering, start small. Perhaps with a sock/accessory/underwear drawer or something similar.
4. Decide what goes and what stays
This is probably the hardest part of decluttering. The more honest you can be, the better. If the item of clothing hasn’t been worn for 6+ months it should really go (there are exceptions like evening dresses that can only be worn for certain occasions which is covered in the next tip). In addition, if the item of clothing no longer fits then it goes – don’t fall in to the trap of I’ll lose weight to fit back in to it! Also if it’s damaged/too worn, no matter how attached you are to it, let it go. There may be some clothes that you feel attached to because they bring back memories of a special place, person or event. If you no longer wear them for any reason, as hard as it might feel to get rid of them, make yourself do it. Remember that the memories will always be with you, you don’t need the clothes to hold on to the memory. Try not to use sentimental value as an excuse to hold on to stuff. And if you really can’t decide then try it on – this is the best way as you’ll know instantly if it’s a keeper or not.
When you’re decluttering, there are some very helpful questions you can ask yourself with every piece of clothing to easily help you decide what stays and what goes. I’ve created a downloadable questions checklist to help you declutter your closet. This checklist is handy not just for clothing though, most of the questions are also relevant for any room you are decluttering. Make sure to get your free copy above or at the end of this post.
5. Stuff you wear occasionally
There will be stuff in your wardrobe that you only wear very occasionally like evening dresses or holiday wear. If you have extra closet space to store these in another room that is ideal. But if not, consider putting all your holiday clothes like bikinis, sandals, floaty dresses etc in a box or a basket and store it on a shelf above your wardrobe. You can also do the same with any evening dresses that you only wear once or twice a year. I bought these simple storage boxes to store my evening wear. They can be placed under a bed or on a shelf – but only keep what you will actually use.
6. After de-cluttering
Once you’ve done your wardrobe de-clutter, make sure to immediately throw away what needs to be thrown and donate whatever was in the donate pile. Don’t be tempted to bag stuff up and keep it in the basement or elsewhere because when you do this, you’re not actually de-cluttering. You’re just moving your clutter from one place to another and all your hard work is completely wasted. So whether you chose to do a 10 minute daily de-clutter or one long session, make sure to get rid of everything that needs to go on the very same day. If you’re selling some stuff, photograph it and list it immediately.
7. Staying clutter-free
There are a few things you can do after you’ve fully de-cluttered your closet, to help you stay clutter free. My favourite is the one in, one out rule where whenever you buy a new piece of clothing, something else gets given away or thrown away. It’s simple and easy to follow and it works. But even before you buy anything, ask yourself if it’s an impulse buy or something you truly love and will wear. Or better yet, wait 24 hours before making the purchase. It’s amazing how a little time can make you realise you didn’t really want it. Also we often buy stuff because it’s on sale and it can be hard to pass up a bargain or simply because the act of shopping temporarily helps us feel better when we may be having negative feelings. So carefully consider your purchases.
Will you start to declutter your closet today? You will feel so great once it’s done – promise! Imagine loving every item of clothing you own, knowing that wearing each one of them makes you feel great too? And once done, it’s so much easier to maintain a neat, tidy and organised wardrobe with a very small amount of consistent effort.
SOME RESOURCES YOU MAY FIND HELPFUL TO DECLUTTER YOUR CLOSET:
- Schedule your decluttering time using an free app like Google calendar or use a paper calendar
- Use a habit tracker to create a daily decluttering habit quickly
- To sell high end designer clothes try Vestiaire Collective and for other clothes try local Facebook yard sales (US) or local Facebook selling groups (UK)
- Get affordable and stylish storage boxes/baskets from Ikea
- Make sure to download the free closet decluttering questions checklist above or just below.