There is no right time or wrong time to start a closet clean out. It may be one of your New Year’s resolutions, part of your spring cleaning, or your closets and drawers are simply exploding. When you can’t find your favorite items, nothing you try on makes you feel your best, and the floor has become a part of your storage system, it’s time to reorganize. Here are 5 steps for how to clean out your closet.
Step 1: Prepare Your Space for a Closet Clean Out, Mentally and Physically
First things first, you need to get ready. Make sure you have a full day to complete the task, as you never know how long it may take you to go through everything and get organized. Having to stop the process halfway through may cause additional stress and you may struggle to pick up where you left off in the future. Make sure you have all of the tools you need for a closet cleanout by putting on your favorite music, setting up garbage bags and boxes for sorting, and having a snack and drink handy.
It will also be helpful to make sure that everything has been cleaned or dry cleaned before you begin, so that you know for sure you have all of your clothing available to sort through. If you plan on replacing your hangers with velvet ones to save space or buying storage bins to reduce clutter, make sure these are purchased in advance.
Step 2: Take Everything (Yes, EVERYTHING) Out of Your Closet and Drawers
Taking everything out of your closet and drawers is a crucial step in the process. You want to make sure you can see everything that you own, all in one place. This may be overwhelming at first, but taking everything out is the best way to ensure that everything gets looked through before it is put back, donated, discarded, or sold.
Once everything is out of your closet and drawers, give them a deep clean. Clean the racks, shelves, and floors. If you plan on reorganizing your closet in a different way so that it makes more sense for you, think about that now. How do you want your closet to be organized?
There are a few different ways that your closet can be set up, including:
- By clothing type (pants, t-shirts, sweaters, etc)
- By color grouping, such as from light to dark
- By event (workwear, athleisure, special events, everyday)
- In order by length (short skirts, shorts, capris, long skirts, pants, for example)
When sorting through your clothing in the first round, you’ll sort everything by its category, such as t-shirts, jeans, dresses, shoes, bags. Then, you’ll sort everything by its season. If there are items that don’t have a season and are worn year-round, such as a favorite pair of jeans, they can be put in a year-round category. Keep in mind that you are not deciding what to keep and what to get rid of during this stage, you are simply sorting what you have.
While you’re sorting, put non repairable, damaged, and stained items in a garbage bag. These items can be donated to a fabric recycling company, such as FABSCRAP in New York, to keep them out of a landfill.
Step 3: Pick Out Your Favorites
Once everything has been sorted, pick out your favorites from each section. The blouse you always gravitate toward because it’s just so comfortable, the little black dress you consistently wear out, your go-to denim, your most comfortable boots. As you’re picking these favorites, ask yourself what it is you like so much about them. (To quote the organization queen Marie Kondo, what about this piece sparks joy?) Different reasons you love a piece enough to keep it when doing a closet clean out can include:
- How it fits and compliments your body
- How the fabric feels or the quality of the fabric
- Your confidence when wearing it
- The practicality of the piece for your life and wardrobe
Keep in mind what these clothes have in common, as what you enjoy about these pieces can help you when you’re making future purchases. Your favorites can immediately go back into your drawers and your closet. Hang them in your closet (in the organizational style you chose earlier), or fold or roll them in your drawers or bins. If you haven’t tried the Marie Kondo style of folding clothes, now would be a great time to try it. Create a container for your favorite out of season items that can be stored under the bed, on a shelf, or in another closet.
Now, onto the things that aren’t your top favorites. Keep in mind that everything you keep should at the baseline level spark some joy for you. Ask yourself these questions when deciding what to keep:
- Does it fit me right now (not the me I wish it would fit)?
- Do I feel comfortable in it?
- Does it match what I currently have in my wardrobe?
- Have I reached for this item in the past few months (or the last season, if out of season)
- Do I have similar things to it that are better quality or fit me better?
- Is this a fantasy piece that never ends up being worn?
If you come across a few pieces that you simply cannot let go of, allow yourself a three month test. Put these items in a specific container that will be visible to you when you’re getting ready. If it does not get worn in three months, the answer is clear, it is not a favorite and does not make the cut.
Step 4: Donate, Recycle, and Sell Your Clothes
The items you are no longer keeping should be sorted into the following categories:
Donate these pieces to a women’s shelter, your local thrift store, or to a friend you know would love them.
Bring in or ship your Meg clothing to the Meg Boerum Hill location to receive one 15% off credit per item you donate back to us to use on future Meg purchases. The pre-loved items that are donated back to us are then sold on our online Archive page, and 20% of the proceeds from these items being resold are donated to Planned Parenthood.
High end pieces or pieces that are in good condition can be resold either online on sites such as The RealReal, or at a consignment store. Find out what consignment stores are near you and what their commission rates are to get the best bang for your buck. Or, set up a shop on Depop, Poshmark, or Ebay to sell your clothing.
Clothing that is too damaged or stained to be worn again can be donated to your local clothing recycling company.
Step 5: Make Cleaning Out Your Closet A Consistent Habit
Going forward, have a bag or bin ready for donating and reselling, so that reorganizing your closet is continual. Try to follow a one piece in, one piece out system so that your closet does not become overwhelming again, and you don’t purchase clothing that you don’t truly love. It feels great to know what you have in your closet, and to love every piece in it!
Great and helpful article!