Tips for Cleaning and Organizing a Cluttered Closet

Updated on September 21, 2023 by Joseph D. Nielson

Table of Contents

We’ve experienced this scenario before – when we open the closet, we’re greeted by a cascade of garments, footwear, and miscellaneous objects that appear to possess their own existence. Closets frequently transform into a repository for things whose proper place eludes us, leading to a chaotic situation that can be challenging to manage. 

A cluttered closet looks unappealing and wastes time when looking for something specific, and clutter can also impact your health. According to The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), clutter can cause stress, fatigue, or depression as our environment can affect our mood.

The good news is that tidying up can reduce these risks and enhance your general well-being. A neat and orderly closet will save you time when looking for an object and put your mind at ease when you open the closet. This guide will guide you through a systematic procedure for clearing up and arranging a disordered closet, covering everything from eliminating clutter to regular upkeep, enabling you to relish a practical and aesthetically satisfying closet area.

The Art of Letting Go

The first step in taming the closet chaos is to declutter. The process of letting go might involve a mixture of emotions – from nostalgia to reluctance – but it’s an essential step in creating an organized and functional closet.

Start Small 

Decluttering an entire closet can feel overwhelming, especially if you’ve accumulated items over the years. To avoid feeling discouraged before you begin, start with a small and manageable section of your closet. This might encompass a single shelf, a drawer, or a distinct clothing group, such as t-shirts or shoes. Adopting this method not only diminishes the feeling of an overwhelming task but also generates a feeling of achievement as you finalize each segment. This accomplishment could positively impact your mental well-being.

The Three-Pile Method 

When it comes to decluttering, the three-pile method is your best friend. As you go through your items, create three distinct piles: 

  • Keep: These items you regularly wear, love, and find comfortable. They fit well and make you feel confident. Be honest with yourself – don’t hold onto things hoping you might wear them someday. 
  • Donate/Sell: Items in good condition but no longer serve you should go into this pile. Consider donating clothes to local charities or shelters or selling them online or at a consignment store. 
  • Toss: If an item is damaged beyond repair, stained, or worn out, it’s time to bid it farewell. Be mindful of items that no longer have any use and take up precious space.

Sentimental Items 

Frequently, our closets contain sentimental objects such as clothes linked to memories, presents from dear ones, or attire from significant life occasions. While it’s normal to desire to keep these belongings, ensuring that emotional attachment doesn’t obscure your decision-making is crucial.

Select a few exceptional items with immense sentimental value and let go of the rest. For things that you can’t bear to part with, consider repurposing them into something practical. Turn a sentimental t-shirt into a quilt, transform a wedding dress into a christening gown, or frame a cherished outfit as art.

Seasonal Evaluation 

Clothing often needs to change with the seasons, so assessing what you’re using regularly is essential. As you transition from winter to spring or summer to fall, take the opportunity to evaluate what you wore and what remained untouched. If you consistently skip over certain items each season, it’s a clear sign that they can be let go. Remember, letting go of items doesn’t mean erasing their importance from your life. It means making space for new experiences and memories while curating a closet that reflects your current style and needs.

Plan Your Space

Once you’ve decluttered, it’s time to plan how you want to organize your closet. Efficient closet organization utilizes space effectively and creates designated spots for different items.

Assess Your Needs

Before arranging your closet, allocate a moment to evaluate your particular requirements. Deliberate on the varieties of possessions you keep in your closet – ranging from garments and footwear to accessories, bags, and even items like hats or scarves. Understanding what needs to be accommodated will guide your organization process.

Utilize Vertical Space 

Don’t forget about the vertical dimension when it comes to maximizing storage space in the closet. Install shelves, hooks, and hanging organizers to maximize every inch. Shelves can hold folded clothes, bins, and accessories, while hooks are perfect for items like bags, scarves, and belts. Hanging organizers can be used for items that don’t require hangers, such as shoes, hats, and even small handbags. These organizers can be hung on the back of the closet door or a rod for easy access.

Invest in Storage Solutions 

Storage solutions are your secret weapons for keeping a closet organized. This will help you maximize your space with creative storage spaces, which is especially helpful for small spaces. Consider investing in specialized organizers such as:

  • Hanging shoe racks: These provide an excellent way to elevate your shoes above the ground and allow you to view them with a glance. They are available in different sizes, enabling you to discover one that matches your closet’s measurements.
  • Drawer dividers: These are essential for keeping smaller items like socks, underwear, and accessories neat and accessible. They prevent items from mixing and creating a mess. 
  • Clear bins: Transparent storage bins are fantastic for grouping items and keeping them dust-free. They’re particularly useful for storing seasonal items or accessories you don’t use frequently. 

Clothing Configuration 

How you organize your clothing can significantly impact your closet’s functionality. Here’s a strategy to consider: 

  • Categorize by type: Start by grouping your clothes into categories such as shirts, pants, dresses, jackets, etc. 
  • Color within categories: Once you’ve sorted your items by type, organize each category by color. This looks aesthetically pleasing and makes it much easier to locate specific items.
  • Seasonal rotation: If you have limited space, consider rotating your wardrobe based on the season. Store out-of-season clothing in bins or on higher shelves and switch them out as the weather changes. 
  • Use uniform hangers: Matching hangers create a streamlined look and save space. Consider slim velvet, nonslip hangers that take up less room than traditional hangers.

The Art of Arrangement 

So, you’ve decluttered and planned your closet space – now it’s time to master the art of arranging your items in a way that’s not only organized but visually appealing and functional. Think of your closet as a carefully curated boutique – each item has its place, and getting dressed becomes a delightful experience.

Prime Real Estate 

Imagine walking into your closet and seeing your favorite pair of jeans or that versatile blazer right at eye level. This is the prime real estate of your closet – the spots that are easily accessible and within your line of sight. Reserve these spots for the items you wear frequently or the pieces that instantly elevate your confidence. You’ll no longer have to dig through layers of clothing to find what you need; it’ll be waiting for you. 

Grouping Items 

Grouping similar items is like creating neighborhoods in your closet. Shirts hang out with shirts, pants with pants, and dresses with dresses. This arrangement makes your wardrobe look tidy and saves precious minutes in a rush. Imagine effortlessly reaching for the perfect blouse that complements those trousers you love – that’s the magic of grouping items.

Once you learn how to group items, you can apply this method to other aspects of organizations too. For example, it will be easier for you to organize your cleaning gear when you learn how to categorize them based on their usage. 

Shoe Strategy 

Shoes are a closet’s best friends and sometimes its most unruly inhabitants. But the good news is, with a little strategy, they can be the stars of your closet show. If space allows, dedicate a section to your shoes. Shelves or shoe racks are perfect for this purpose. To keep pairs together and visible, consider clear shoe boxes – no more searching for that elusive other shoe. And for those tall boots that often flop over, invest in boot inserts to keep them standing tall and proud. 

Fold vs. Hang 

The age-old debate – should you fold or hang? The answer: it depends on the item. Delicate fabrics, dress shirts, and blouses are best hung to prevent wrinkles and maintain their shape. On the other hand, knits and sweaters are happier when folded to avoid those pesky shoulder bumps. The trick is to strike a balance. Utilize hanging space for clothes that tend to wrinkle easily and fold the rest to save space.

Maintenance Matters

Congratulations on creating your dream closet – but the journey doesn’t end there! Maintaining your organized space is the key to ensuring it remains a functional and clutter-free oasis. Let’s explore practical and heartfelt ways to keep your closet in tip-top shape.

Regular Edit Sessions 

Think of your closet as a living entity that needs periodic check-ups. Schedule regular edit sessions every few months to reassess your belongings. These sessions don’t have to be major decluttering marathons – take a few moments to evaluate whether you’re still wearing and loving the items you’ve kept. This practice prevents clutter from sneaking back in and maintains the harmony you’ve worked hard to achieve. 

If you have kids, this is also a great way to teach kids how to keep their bedroom clean, as they will likely remember these habits in the long run. 

One In, One Out 

Remember the principle of balance – for every new item you bring into your closet, let go of an old one. This rule is your secret weapon against a creeping clutter comeback. Before introducing a new piece into your curated collection, ask yourself if it adds value. If it does, that’s fantastic! But be ready to bid farewell to something else to make room. This practice not only prevents overflow but encourages thoughtful consumption.

Stay Consistent 

The initial burst of organizing energy is wonderful, but the real magic happens when you consistently put things back where they belong. After wearing an outfit, take a moment to return each piece to its designated spot. Consider whether something truly belongs in your closet if it doesn’t have a designated spot. Staying consistent with this practice ensures your space remains clutter-free and ready to welcome you each morning. Once you get the hang of keeping your closet cleaning, you can also clean and organize your cluttered pantry to improve other areas of your home.

Celebrate Your Success

Creating and maintaining an organized closet is an achievement worth celebrating. Pause to recognize the energy you’ve invested and its beneficial influence on your everyday schedule. Reward yourself with a small gesture – whether it’s a fresh accessory, a comfortable throw, or simply a moment of thankfulness for the calm and practical environment you’ve established.

Seasonal Switch-Outs 

As the seasons change, so do our clothing needs. Set aside time to do a gentle rotation of your closet content. Store off-season items in a designated bin or higher shelf to make room for what’s currently in season. This keeps your closet relevant to your needs and allows you to reevaluate what you genuinely enjoy wearing.

Reflect and Adapt 

Periodically, take a step back and reflect on how your organized closet impacts your daily life. Are you getting ready faster? Do you feel more confident in your outfit choices? Are you able to sleep better after decluttering your space? Adapt your organization system based on your evolving needs. If you find specific items consistently hard to access or your needs have changed, be open to adjusting your arrangement to better suit your lifestyle.

Final Thoughts 

Cleaning and organizing a cluttered closet might seem daunting, but with a well-thought-out plan and determination, you can conquer the chaos. Remember, the goal isn’t just a neat closet – it’s a space that simplifies your daily routine and sparks joy whenever you open its doors. You can also apply the tips you have learned in this blog to declutter and organize other parts of your home for a fresh start. So roll up your sleeves, put on your favorite playlist, and get ready to transform your closet into a haven of order and style. 

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!