Closets are one of the first places in your home to accumulate clutter, so they’re usually the space most of us are constantly trying to organize. An organized closet makes things easier to find and reduces stress. We’ve all given our closet a major overhaul just for it to end up exactly how it was within a few days or weeks. But I have a few tips for how to organize your closet to help you maintain it long term.
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How to organize your closet
There are a few steps you should go through every time you organize any space in your home, especially closets, that make the process so much easier. If you’re interested in decluttering and organizing your entire home, check out my 28 day minimalism challenge.
Here are the 5 steps we’ll be discussing:
- Empty your closet
- Decide what to keep
- Make a plan for how to put it back together
- Purchase the appropriate storage solutions
- Maintain your organized closet
Take everything out of the closet.
If you haven’t read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, you need to do that ASAP. But check it out from your library or order it via ebook. (Because the last thing you need is another book to throw in the back of your closet!)
I actually didn’t even finish reading it, but what I did read made so much sense to me. Basically, you don’t need more organization, you need less stuff. Let’s be honest. You probably don’t even need half of the things you keep in your closet.
The easiest way to start sorting through all of your stuff is to empty the entire closet. Take all the stuff into a completely different room, like your living room. When I did this I was able to get rid of so much more stuff than anytime I’d just thumbed through my clothes on the rack.
While everything is out be sure to sweep or vacuum and wipe down shelves so you start with a clean slate (literally).
Decide what stays and what to get rid of, and take immediate action to get rid of unwanted stuff.
The Konmari Method (from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) tells us to hold each and every item and determine whether it “sparks joy.” If the answer isn’t a for sure yes, get rid of it. That might seem a little woo-woo but really, it works.
If you can’t possibly imagine letting go of things, check out this giant list of things to get rid of (not limited to just your closet, but there is a closet section).
This is also a great time to go through the drawers that never get sorted, like your sock and underwear drawer, since everything is out of the closet.
When you start sorting, make sure you have 2 plastic tubs (or some type of container) and a trash bag. Designate one tub for things you can sell, another for things to donate, and anything that needs to be thrown away can go straight into the trash bag.
If you do decide to try to sell some things, give yourself a short time limit to make it happen. Or else those things will likely end up stashed right back in your closet. If you’re posting your items online, only give yourself 2-3 days to make the sale. After your deadline, add them to the donate pile. If you’re dealing with clothes, I find it easier to make one trip and visit 2 consignment shops. Then I immediately take the clothes that weren’t accepted to a donation center on my way home. Here are some great reasons to contribute to your community by donating.
Consider what’s left and how it should be organized
Most of the hard work is done by this point. But don’t just throw everything back in your closet. Look at what is left and take some time to think about how you should organize it. If you’re only dealing with clothes, this might be a pretty simple process.
But a lot of us keep more than clothes in our closets. In my walk in closet (the biggest closet in the house) I also store gift wrap supplies, photos and momentos and some home decor items.
After you decide if this is the most convenient location your items, start grouping them into piles of like items.
Assess your storage needs and repurpose things you have or purchase new storage solutions.
Now that you have everything separated, you can really determine how many storage solution items you need. Your closet doesn’t have to be fancy to be functional. But a certain amount of aesthetically pleasing details might just motivate you to keep things clean.
I don’t suggest buying your storage solutions before decluttering because then you’ll end up storing things you could have gotten rid of. But by this point in the game you should have a good idea of what you need.
In my closet, I hang my shirts, dresses and coats. I keep sweaters, socks and underwear in separate drawers. I use baskets to sort scarves and cool weather accessories (hats, gloves, etc), and I have 2 boxes for photos and momentos.
If you’re also storing things like gift wrap or home decor in your closet, be sure to find some sort of system that keeps it contained and organized. Those types of things can easily take over your closet and take over spaces that are meant for other things.
If you’re organizing a storage or utility closet, think about keeping the things you use the most in a place you can easily reach. I had the toilet paper in our utility closet stored way above my head. That didn’t make any sense because it’s a supply we need to replenish frequently. Now it’s on a lower shelf while things like carpet shampoo and light bulbs are stored on the top shelf.
Modern storage bins from Amazon
Here are some cute and affordable storage bins I found on Amazon. I think a closet looks more organized when you can group like things in similar bins. So maybe I’d put 2 baskets on the floor to store similar items, and 3 of the same box on a top shelf to store other similar items. Your closet doesn’t need to be Pinterest perfect. In fact, it probably won’t be if it’s a real life functioning closet. But these bins can get you just a little bit closer!
If you’re organizing a storage or utility closet, these caddies come in handy for cleaning supplies. I have 3 and have my cleaning supplies separated by the room they’d be used in. One for bathroom, one for general cleaning supplies and one for floors.
Maintaining your closet
Unfortunately, organizing isn’t usually a one and done project. It will be easier to maintain if you keep an eye on what’s working and what’s not. If you tend to throw something on the floor instead of putting it back where it goes, maybe an open basket on the floor specifically for that item would work better for you. Make changes as needed.
Then commit to doing this entire process once a year where you take out everything and evaluate whether or not to keep it. After the first time, it’s a pretty quick process because you’ve already committed to getting rid of things you don’t absolutely need. And that’s the biggest secret about how to organize your closet!