There are a lot of effective ways to clean out your closet. Whether your goal is to just get rid of what you do not wear anymore, or the hard to achieve “capsule closet,” the task can seem daunting. Cleaning out your closet is also a good way to relieve stress. Give yourself a few hours, put on some music, and follow these steps.

Step 1

The first step in cleaning out your closet is to take everything out of it. Everything that is hanging, everything that is folded, everything in drawers. Get every piece of your clothing out of every room in your home. Leave nothing behind. Begin clearing out items as you come across them. Have a designated space where you are putting the things you no longer want.

Now that you can see everything you own, pull out the pieces you wear regularly. You know your closet well enough to know which items are your go-to. Those can go back in your closet.

Making distinct piles is key:

  • Keep (can go directly back into the closet, if you are limited on space)
  • Maybe
  • Discard

This should include socks, underwear, pajamas, and shoes, but I will leave that decision up to you. These items do not necessarily need to be put into the three aforementioned categories. Socks with holes should immediately go into the discard pile, as should ripped or stained underwear, uncomfortable shoes, and pajamas that have holes.

Step 2

Here comes the hard part. Now is the time to weed through your “maybe” pile; the clothing you don’t wear often. These are the pieces weighing you down and filling the bulk of your closet. If any of these items are damaged in some way, whether it’s a missing button or a ripped seam, put it in the “donation pile.” If there are items that don’t fit right, whether they are too big or too small, move them into that same pile. Items that have outlived their “trendiness” should also go in this pile.

There are a few questions that you should ask yourself when going through the “maybe” pile that can alleviate some stress: Have you worn this item in the last 6 months? Does it fit the way you want it to? If you were shopping right now, would you buy this? If the answer is no, immediately place it in the “discard” pile, and do not look back.

I would also advise you to try everything on. Some items may surprise you, in good ways and bad. If something does not fit the way you like, get rid of it. Life is too short to wear clothing that does not make you feel your best.

Step 3

Once you have put only the items that you love back into your closet and donated everything else (or at least bagged it up and put it in your trunk), now is the time to do the hanger method. Hang everything with the hanger in reverse. When you wear an item and put it back in the closet, turn the hanger back around. Every year (or every six months, entirely up to you) see which items still have the reverse hanger. If you realize you no longer have the desire to keep that item, get rid of it.

Step 4

Donating your clothing is a better option than throwing them out. Take them to a women’s shelter, or the Salvation Army. When feeling remorse for getting rid of clothing, it is always better to know that someone is getting use out of them. If you have the time and energy, organize a garage sale.

Keep a donation bag in your closet. This may seem ruthless, but sometimes you just realize that you do not love an item anymore. Simply put it in the bag.  If you realize there’s a hole in your shirt, put it in the bag. Once the bag is full, donate it.

Step 5

Cleaning out your closet should leave you feeling lighter. To prevent yourself from being overwhelmed again, try shopping smarter. Instead of buying the new trend, stick to the classics. Put conscious thought into what you are buying for yourself. If it’s something you can see yourself wearing often, and for years, buy it.

Hopefully cleaning out your closet was enjoyable, and not fraught with stress. Perhaps this will even become a method you can do every few months to keep the clutter at bay. May the odds be ever in your favor.