It’s now been three months since the start of the new year, which makes it a good time to look back on our New Year’s resolutions to see if we’re actually following through on them. One resolution that many people have trouble with is tidying up and organizing their clothes closets – and then keeping them that way. In many cases, this isn’t because of a lack of effort, but rather the result of the absence of a strategy or set of rules to follow to help maintain a clean closet. If you’re looking to organize your closet and keep it that way, check out our tips below.
Set Aside Time
Cleaning and reorganizing your closet often isn’t doable in just an hour or two. It’ll likely take the better part of a day or even longer, depending on the size of your closet and how cluttered it is at the time. So try to clear your schedule for a whole weekend so that you can complete this multistep process properly. That may seem like a lot of time to free up, especially if you have a busy schedule, but in the long run, an organized closet may well save you time and prevent stress.
Purge Your Wardrobe
To begin the process, start by going through your whole closet and deciding which pieces you want to keep and which you can live without. Clear off a flat surface, such as a folding table, your bed, etc., and lay out everything in your closet. This gives you options when it comes to adjusting your closet’s storage solutions for organizing (which will be discussed later), and it allows you to go through each piece in your wardrobe and decide if it’s something you truly want.
Sort through your clothes, separating them into piles of items you want to keep, ones you don’t want but that can be sold, and ones you don’t want but that are better suited to being donated than sold.
The pile of clothes you want to keep will consist of items in good condition that you love and consistently wear.
Clothes you want to sell should be brand-name pieces in good condition. Items that don’t match that criteria are harder to sell. Used clothing can be sold via brick-and-mortar retailers such as Plato’s Closet or using online sites such as Etsy or eBay.
If you’re having trouble determining whether or not you want to keep or discard an article of clothing, ask yourself the following questions, recommended by Kathleen Audet of Your Authentic Image:
- “Does this fit?”
- “Did someone else influence me to buy this piece?”
- “Do I love the color on me?”
- “Does this piece go with at least two other items in my wardrobe?”
- “If I were in the store today, would I want to buy this?”
Look into donating the items that you no longer like, no longer fit, are beat up or aren’t brand-name. There are many nonprofits that also operate thrift stores that rely on donations. Along with the feeling that comes when donating to a good cause, you’ll likely also qualify for a tax deduction for donating.
Clean and Store
In order to open up extra space in your closet and reduce clutter, store out-of-season clothing somewhere other than your closet. When packing up these clothes to put away, take the following precautions to prevent the items from being damaged in storage.
Begin by properly cleaning and washing everything. The experts at Alison Handling also recommend that you “remove any stains that may be on any items of clothing as they will only darken and become harder to remove during storage.” By making sure everything is fresh, you’ll also cut down on the risk of decay and insect infestations.
After the clothes have been washed and dried, you can begin to pack them away. When choosing containers to store your clothes in, avoid cardboard boxes, which can attract bugs and bacteria. Instead, use a new, thoroughly cleaned suitcase or a plastic storage container with a tight lid. Regardless of which container you choose, be sure to line it with acid-free tissue rather than wood-based paper products. According to Ann Christine of the TheLinenLady.com, “Wood fibers contain a natural acid which, when in direct contact with linen and/or cotton materials, may cause deterioration and decay often resulting in dark yellow or brownish stains.”
The final step, and quite possibly the most crucial, is where you store the containers. Avoid places exposed to direct sunlight and areas near a heating source, such as a furnace or water heater. The ideal location will be a dark, dry and cool area. Storing clothing in a dark area prevents color fading, and since mildew and insects are attracted to wet areas, you also want a space that’s cool and dry.
Now that you’ve got a clean and empty closet to work with, you can rearrange it in a more convenient way that better suits your needs.
If you don’t already have a second-row hanging rod, consider adding one, as it doubles the storage space in your closet. When determining the height of this feature, take into consideration the length of clothes that you’ll be hanging up. The chart below, from Lowe’s, shows the average length of both men’s and women’s clothing. If you have multiple dresses or overcoats, leave extra space for the top rod to accommodate these items.
Also consider adding additional shelves if you have space. They can vary in size and could be used for items such as folded sweaters, hats and accessories. Another recommendation is adding a shoe cubby, which offers a quick and easy way to organize your footwear so that it isn’t lying on the ground, where it can be stepped on.
For the actual display of clothing, “Consider laying out your closet to mimic a human body,” says Amber Kostelny of AmbersOrganizing.com. Hang tops, shirts and jackets on the top rod in the closet. Hang your pants and skirts on the lower level. Store your shoes on the ground in the shoe cubby and put any hats on a top shelf.
Make sure all your dress shirts, casual button-up shirts, long sleeve T-shirts and so on are hung up with other shirts of the same style. This also goes for dress pants, casual pants, shorts, etc. That way, your clothes will be easy to find when you want them.
Staying Organized in the Long Run
An organized closet is something you have to dedicate yourself to. It requires that consistent steps be taken to prevent clutter from building up again.
To help you stay organized, consider placing a sell/giveaway bin in your closet. As time progresses, you may not like certain pieces of clothing anymore, or they might not fit right. They might also simply wear out. When this happens, throw the piece in the bin to prevent clothes from overflowing on the hanging rods and shelves.
Each time a season changes, take in-season clothes out of storage and put out-of-season clothes away. Be sure to follow the steps outlined above. This should occur four times a year.
Finally, put your clothes away immediately after you wash them. You’ll be setting up a routine, and after a while, it’ll become second nature. This will help prevent a buildup of clothes in other parts of the house and also help extend the life of the clothing itself.
Looking for more ways to improve your standard of living? Check out some ways to straighten up your home this spring.
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