How To Declutter Your Closet

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Clothes, clothes, everywhere, and not a thing to wear? Maybe that’s because you have so many clothes, you get overwhelmed whenever it’s time to get dressed. If your closet is ready to burst, it’s time to learn how to declutter your closet and take back control of your wardrobe.

Get rid of as many items as possible in five minutes. Toss or donate things that don’t fit, are worn out or damaged, or that you can’t remember wearing recently. Inventory the remaining items and continue to purge based on your current season of life. Reimagine your closet space for your new, condensed wardrobe, and routinely declutter.

Having an organized closet leads to less stress, more time, and overall higher self-esteem. You won’t take so long to get ready, you’ll only have clothes you feel good in, and getting dressed won’t be a hassle.

Be Honest: How Many Clothes Do You Need?

The popular Pareto Principle, also known as the 80-20 rule, suggests only 20% of something creates 80% of the results. This logic applies to a bunch of concepts, including your wardrobe.

If you really took a minute to think about it, you’d likely realize that you wear 20% of your clothes 80% of the time. On top of that, many professional organizers will tell you that most people only ever wear roughly 30% of what’s in their closet. In other words, you don’t need all that stuff.

Therefore, the most important part of decluttering your closet starts with a mindset shift. Rethink how you view your clothes. Look through your closet and honestly assess what’s in there.

Some things will be an easy no, while others will take a bit more thought. That’s okay. Your goal is to declutter your closet so that getting ready becomes less stressful and you feel better about yourself.

So, without further ado, let’s dive into decluttering your closet so it doesn’t take two hours to find a pair of pants.

1. The Five-Minute Closet Purge

Before you start dragging everything out of your closet, do a quick scan for easy pickings. These are the things that you know within a second you can get rid of with no regret. It could be a dress that’s out of style, a shirt full of holes, or a pair of pants with a layer of dust on the hanger.

Set a timer and see how many things you eliminate in five minutes. Put them all in black garbage bags, so you aren’t tempted to take anything back out. Then immediately put them in the trash pile or your car to bring to your local thrift shop.

2. Dress For Your Current Lifestyle

After a quick purge, you’ll have a bit more breathing space to tackle the rest of your closet clutter. The five-minute drill also helps build your decluttering muscles to better approach the rest of the project.

Now, look at the remaining items in your closet and think about your current lifestyle. Keep the clothes for the season of life you’re in now.

For example, maybe once upon a time, you worked in the corporate world, but now you work from home or you’re retired. You no longer need the 10 business suits or 30 dress blouses that are now just taking up space.

Also, consider your current weight. Don’t hang onto things that you plan to fit into again someday. All they’re doing is reminding you every time you see them that you’re not at the weight you want to be at. (Not to mention, what if they’re no longer in style when someday rolls around?)

When you see them, you get frustrated, then feel miserable. Keep clothes that fit well and make you feel amazing. Every single article of clothing in your closet should make you feel like a rock star.

3. Take All Of The Clothes Out Of The Closet

After your honest and realistic assessment of your clothes, remove all of the things that don’t belong. Once again, pile them up into black garbage bags and put in the trash or your car to donate.

Finally, pull everything that’s left out of the closet and sort it into categories. Your bed is a good staging ground to start making your piles.

If you come across anything that doesn’t belong in your closet, return it to its proper place. To keep your focus on your closet, toss these wayward items into a box and return them all after you finish your closet project.

4. Inventory Your Items

Take notes about what you have. Make a list: 10 jackets, 20 sweaters, 8 pairs of jeans, etc. Think about what you do on a daily basis and how often you engage in specific activities.

For example, imagine you work from home every day but occasionally need to attend meetings in the office. You work out regularly and go to church every week. You also love to go out dancing occasionally.

If this is your current lifestyle, you’d need mostly comfortable, casual clothing, since you work from home. You’d have several pieces of workout wear and a few key pieces to rotate and mix and match for meetings and church. You’d round out your wardrobe with a couple of fun dresses for your nights on the town.

5. Be Realistic About What You Need

As you’re building your new wardrobe, be honest about what you actually wear most. Think about how you spend your time and don’t keep things that don’t line up with your current lifestyle.

6. Rethink Your Closet Setup

Despite what Tik Tok fashionistas would have you believe, you don’t need a walk-in closet. Sure, one would be nice, but you can make a reach-in closet a thing of beauty when you follow these tips. It’s all about making your closet work for you.

Once you know what you’re keeping, decide on the best way to set up your closet. If you ended up with only a few long dresses, you may no longer need so much hanging space. Did you cut your shoe collection in half? Then perhaps you need the freed-up space for folded sweaters or jeans.

7. Get Appropriate Clothing Storage Items

When deciding how to set up your closet, get storage solutions that make sense for what you’re keeping. (Don’t buy any organizational supplies until you’re done decluttering.)

Also, rethink what you store in your closet versus a dresser or other storage options. For instance, it might make more sense to put your jeans in a dresser drawer to have more closet space, etc.

8. Create Your New Closet Space

After you purge, plan, and prep, it’s time to put everything in its new home. Give your closet a good wipe-down before you start adding things back in. Add your things back to your closet in a way that makes sense for you, whether by occasion, color, type, etc.

9. Live With It, And Tweak As Needed

Give your new closet a few weeks to see how it works for you. As you get dressed for the day, you may realize it makes more sense to move your jackets to the other side. Or you may rearrange your blouses so you can reach them easier because you wear them frequently.

If something isn’t working, adjust it. Tweak your new arrangement as you use it until it’s functioning as you need it to.

10. Revisit The Five-Minute Purge

Decluttering isn’t a one-and-done thing. Sure, the first time will take more effort, and you may need to break it up over a few days, depending on your schedule. But, to keep it clutter-free takes occasional work.

Think of your closet as a garden. When you first create your garden bed, you need to prep it, plant flowers, pull weeds, add mulch, water it, etc. It takes some time.

But after your garden flourishes, you can’t forget about it and expect it to stay beautiful. You need to routinely weed it, water it, and care for it to keep it in good shape.

Enjoying Your Clutter-Free Closet

Remember, before you start decluttering your closet, work on sweeping away the clutter that’s clouding your brain. A huge part of taking back control of your space is how you think and feel about your stuff. Once you’re ready to make some decisions, start simply by tossing and donating the things that are easy.

This helps reduce your inventory quickly, so you have more physical and mental space to work through the tougher decisions. Then concentrate on only keeping clothing for your current lifestyle, no “what if” or “maybe one day.” Inventory your remaining items to assess what you really need, and set up your closet to hold your newly reduced wardrobe.

A closet that functions and doesn’t hold clutter can completely change your outlook on life. After paring down your things, you’ll reap the rewards of a clutter-free, organized closet. You’ll have more time to do things you want to do. Plus, you won’t stress about items that no longer fit or don’t go with your current style.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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