We all have some skeletons in our closets. That flirty, Marilyn Monroe-esque dress that suffered the stains of a few too many cosmos at a cocktail party some years back. An old favorite pair of well-worn jeans that haven’t seen anything but the depths of your closet in months. A tennis racket and a set of balls… do you even play tennis? But you’ll take that dress to the cleaner and resurrect that denim and bring those balls to the court at some point, right?
If getting ready in the morning has begun to feel like you’re digging for gold in a landfill of junk, it’s probably time to clear out the closet. We get it — delving into an area that’s starting to look like an episode of Hoarders is scary. But can you imagine opening your wardrobe to rows and stacks of perfectly organized, pretty little things? Swoon. Well, read on, because these closet cleaning techniques will help you banish clutter once and for all.
This isn’t so much a technique as it is a guideline of life. You’re never going to tackle any big project without designating a time to dive in and get started. So dedicate a good portion of a day to sift through every single item in your wardrobe, deciding what to keep, what to donate, and even what you might want to sell.
Pump Up the Jams
A good playlist can work wonders when you’re trying to do things you don’t want to do. So blast the Bowie, dance around to Madonna or get loose to some top 40 hits. Time will fly by when your mind is occupied with good music.
Divide and Conquer
There is no way to truly clean a closet but to take everything inside of it, out. This is the hardest part for a couple of reasons. 1: You’re forced to see how much junk you really have. 2. You’ll probably find a lot of skeletons of past wardrobe mistakes. Good. Laugh about them, cry over them, then throw them out immediately. Keep boxes or bags handy and label them according to where the things you’re getting rid of are going (Goodwill, trash, etc.).
Question Every Item
When you’re hugging an old hoodie as if it were your own kin, remembering all the good times you had wearing it, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself: “Have I worn it in the past year?” “Would I buy it now?” “Does it accurately represent my style still and can I think of at least 3 different ways to wear it?” If it needs repairing, question if you think it’s important enough to actually get fixed. While you’re doing this, take time to notice what you have too much of and what you need more of. If you have forty sweaters but only three dresses that you actually like, get rid of sweaters to make room for more dresses!
Actually Clean the Closet
Once you’ve emptied your closet entirely get out the vacuum or mop or get down on your hands and knees and clean whatever amount of floor space you have. Dust the shelves and clothing racks, scrub away shoe scum. We forget that our closets are oftentimes actual rooms, no matter how small they may be. And they need the occasional clean just like any other room. Plus, your clothes just live in there collecting dust so you want to give them a fresh place to stay sometimes.
Get the Essential Organization Tools
Before you thoughtlessly dump everything you’re keeping back into the closet, make sure you have the essential organization tools. If some of your hangers are those wire ones from the dry cleaner, some you’ve had since college, and some just seemed to have appeared without explanation, it’s time to invest in a set of matching, non-slip hangers. Do you have a good hamper, hooks for hanging bags and belts, and shoe racks or compartments? If you’re missing any of these things, drop everything and head to your nearest Bed, Bath & Beyond because your closet can never be completely clean and organized without them.
We recommend organizing your closet based on the way you get dressed in the morning. If you tend to think about what shirt you’ll wear first, hang blouses near the front of the closet. Group all the same types of items together and then try to color coordinate them for a streamlined and aesthetically pleasing look. We promise it will be way easier to find everything.
No matter what size and shape your closet is, you want to use the space you do have in the most functional way. If you have lots of shelf room, avoid folding clothes on them and put them in drawers or hang them up because clothes piles become clothes messes quickly. Instead, place bags, shoes, and even jewelry in jewelry organizers on shelves. Insider tip: You’ll have more space if you place your shoes on shelves with the right and left ones facing opposite directions.
Clean and Purge Often
Don’t wait until everything piles up and becomes overwhelming again. If you do a big closet clean at least every six months, it won’t be nearly as painful as it is when you wait a few years. When you get rid of things you don’t need more often, you’ll end up having more things that you care about in the long run.