By Lisa James
So far, you’ve probably cleaned every piece of kitchenware that you own and even tackled that junk drawer in the den, the one filled with dead batteries and old charger cords.
So now you’re ready for the one organizing job you’ve been dreading: Cleaning out your clothes closet. Go ahead—these tips will make you wonder why you waited so long.
Step 1: Empty and Clean
And empty means “empty,” as in not only the clothing, accessories and shoes on hangers, shelves and the floor, but also the piles of what-is-it in the corners along with storage items such as bins or boxes. Then vacuum and wipe down what’s left.
Step 2: Sort and Categorize
By now you’ll have a largish (maybe overly largish) pile on your bed. Take a deep breath and create three piles: keep, donate/consign and trash. Keep in mind that a lot of consignment/thrift shops are closed right now, so your ability to move stuff along via those routes will probably be limited for the time being. (Your best bet is to check the websites of local stores or online consignment sites.) And if you have an especially large throw-away pile, be kind to your trash collectors; don’t put something like 10 bags on the curb all at once.
Step 3: Design the Most Efficient Layout
First make note of your closet’s strengths and how to take best advantage of them. In the case of abundant shelving, for example, how much clothing can you fold versus using hangers? Can you use a color-coded set of bins for different types of accessories? Then devise workarounds for weaknesses: If you lack shelving, can you find ways to hang things like, say, scarves or shoes? Can you add hooks (also great for scarves as well as necklaces and bracelets), or perhaps a small roll-in shelving unit? If your problem is storage space that’s too high up, do you have room for a small and/or foldable stepstool? (Hint: Before buying anything new, measure once, twice, three times to ensure everything fits together.)
Step 4: Organize Your Stuff
Let’s start with the obvious: Keep similar items together—sundresses with sundresses, jeans with jeans, PJs with PJs, etc. Once you have them in groups, you can see how much space each group will need and which would be the best storage method, such as hanging versus shelf storage; put the things you wear most often front and center. (Sweaters and jeans are best folded, while underwear, leggings and workout wear can be rolled and tucked into bins.) For a neat look, hang everything facing in the same direction. (For a fanatically neat look, organize everything in a category by color.) If you can, use matching hangers instead of a mishmash of hanger types.
Step 5: Keep It Neat
Every month, quickly eyeball your setup to keep it from getting raggedy and do a more extensive inventory once or twice a year, getting rid of things you never wear. Remember, keeping a closet organized is easier than getting it organized.