April 4

Clean Out Your Closet, Bit by Bit



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Start Changing Out Your Closet

Spring is a good time to clean out your closet. Actually, any change of season is a good time for a closet refresh.

Messy closet

Right now, where I live, we are finally getting some sun and warmer weather. I love sunny days! I get so much more done when the sun is shining, don't you? With the warmer weather, I'm finally (slowly) starting to shed some of my winter layers. (I'm cold all the time, so even in the dead of summer, you'll still see me in layers. Air conditioning is cold!)

About cleaning out your closet, bit by bit: for most things like this, where you're going through and clearing out a good amount of stuff, I would say to do it in stages. Maybe take a weekend or a few days here and there (but schedule them so you don't forget) and get it done.

But we're in and out of our closets so much that I think if we did one little thing a day, it would be enough. And maybe some days you might want to do more. Sometimes I think that the fact that you don't have to do it makes you more willing to.

Organized or Not?

I have no idea what state your closet is in: how many clothes you own, if they're organized or not, and if they are, how they're organized.

It would be nice to start with an organized closet, but I think we can do this no matter what state yours is in. Of course, if it's bursting at the seams and you can't close the door, you may have some work to do first.

Color coded clothes on hangers

I have those wire organizers in my closet. It's a shelf on the top and the edge of the shelf is divided into sections for hanging clothes. This makes it a lot easier because I can keep things separated a bit and it makes it way easy to organize. I have my closet divided into sections: 

  • Dresses and dressy clothes
  • Jeans, yoga pants, and shorts (leggings are folded on the shelf)
  • An empty spot for hangers
  • Long-sleeved winter shirts
  • Heavy winter shirts, like hoodies (sweaters are folded on the shelf)
  • Tee shirts and summer tops

The Old Switcheroo

If your closet is in order, great. And if not, maybe we'll work on that later. First you clean out your closet, then you can organize what's left. Easy, right?

Right now, it's tomorrow morning and you're looking for something to wear. Maybe it's nice enough outside that you can wear something a little lighter than you have been; something you haven't worn in a while.

Take a look through your options, and while you're looking, if you see something that you know you're not going to wear this year, toss it to the side. Ideally, you would have a box or basket waiting for that toss, but you can take care of that after you get dressed. 

Now if it's still good, but you don't need or want it, toss it in the basket. But if the reason that you're not going to wear it is because it's ripped or stained or just plain worn out, toss it in the floor. On your way out of the bedroom, pick it up and go throw it away.

Hanging clothes in a closet

Your goal each day is to find one thing to wear and maybe another to get rid of, one way or another. And if your spring stuff is looking pretty good, then check through the stuff you just got done wearing all winter. Maybe there's something there that you can get rid of.

Let's say your wardrobe is in pretty good shape. Now what?

Well, instead of choosing something to throw away or donate, maybe you could start moving your spring clothes closer to the front of the closet and moving your winter ones farther back.

Taking it Up a Notch

Here's a practical idea to put to use as you clean out your closet: when you add that basket or box for the donation clothing, grab a pad of paper and a pen and put them nearby. In the closet if you can, or on your nightstand maybe.

As you clean out your closet, you might find out that your favorite white jeans are a little stained and need to be replaced. Write it down, so you don't forget. Or maybe you have a really nice top that you bought on sale last year, but nothing to go with it. Write it down. Isn't this fun? You're making a shopping list for new clothes, and you can justify every purchase! Plus you'll actually wear them!

Organized closet

Shelves to display your purses....

This next idea is something that I am proud to say I came up with in high school. Once I started earning my own money, the rule at my house was that my parents would provide necessities, but the rest was on me. It wasn't as harsh as it sounds. I had plenty of clothes, and actually it was a great lesson.

Because I didn't have a lot of money, I had to be careful with what I bought. I figured out a plan that I still use to this day. 

First question was which neutral to base my wardrobe on: brown or black? Those were the only two I considered and I chose black. Because they're neutrals, you can still wear just about any color with them, but I chose a couple of colors for accents and stuck to them. I added ivory and gray for more neutrals. (In the summer, it's navy mostly rather than black.)

The next thing I did was to get a piece of looseleaf paper and tape it inside my closet. Each time I purchased something, I wrote down what it was and how much I spent. Then every time I wore it, I made a little mark in the next column.

Once, a friend talked me into buying a dress that I loved. I didn't want to because it cost $80.00, and this was in the seventies! But you know what? I wore that dress a lot, and every time I did, I looked good and felt great. That's what you should be judging your clothes by as you clean out your closet: how does it make you look and feel? **Bonus** I made a copy for you! Download it here, no email required.

We're Not Done Yet!

Once you sort through your clothes and have narrowed them down to just the ones you want to keep, you can start to organize them, if you haven't done that already. Really, this process of doing one or two things per day makes it easy to organize as you go. And of course, when you put away your laundry, you can use that as an opportunity to put things in order too.

Empty basket

Tackling the shelves and the floor are next on the list. I would do each separately, unless you have a rather small closet or don't mind taking the time to do them all at once. Unfortunately, these have to be done the old-fashioned way: taking everything out, sorting through it, and then putting back the things that you want to keep. (And cleaning before you put things back!)

I have bins on the shelves for the things I store there, and a basket for out of season shoes. The ones that are appropriate for the season are in the hall closet downstairs by the garage in another basket.

One final tip: I get one of those car fresheners from Yankee Candle in Clean Cotton and hang it in my closet away from the clothes a bit. It makes the whole closet smell fresh! 

About the author 


My name is Brenda and I was born without the "clean gene". I believe that you can keep your clean and tidy in minutes a day and still have time for yourself.

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