How To Clean Out Your Closet

January 20, 2020

Neat Method Closet Review

In my 2020 goals and priorities post, I shared that this year shopping less and supporting more sustainable brands is going to be of more importance to me. Part of successfully accomplishing this has been consistently doing closet clean outs to evaluate my wardrobe. For a long time I’ve been asked to share advice on how to do efficient closet clean outs so I’m happy today to be sharing how to effectively tackle cleaning out your closet and beginning to build out a more reliable wardrobe.

Do it all at once.

Set aside the time to do the closet clean out process thoroughly. For major clean outs, take everything out of your drawers and closet and go through pieces item by item.

Toss, sell and giveaway.

I create three piles as I begin going through my items. A pile of items to toss (they aren’t suitable to giveaway), a pile of items I plan to sell and a pile of items I plan to giveaway/donate. For selling and donating I recommend using ThredUp. They send you big bags (I recommend ordering more than you think you need!) and you send them off for them to list and sell or to donate.

Try things on.

This step is crucial. For items you’re unsure about, trying them on will often answer your internal “yay/nay” dialogue. If the fit is off or if it is uncomfortable, get rid of it. You won’t reach for it if you don’t feel good in it. Period.

Let Go.

If I haven’t worn something in two seasons, it goes. I know that if I haven’t reached for something in two years it means I won’t in the near future. And I never miss the item after I get rid of it.

Set aside items that need some TLC.

During your clean out if you find items that need dry cleaning or a visit to the cobbler, set those items aside so you can later properly get them taken care of and begin wearing them again.

Force yourself to wear your maybes in the next week.

Unsure of an item after you try it on? Force yourself to wear it out of the house in the next week. In doing so you’ll easily determine whether you want to keep it or not.

Store items you hold onto for sentimental reasons.

Some items need to be kept but don’t need to be taking up valuable real estate in our closets. If there are items you want to hang onto for sentimental reasons, add them into a pile of their own and find proper storage for them outside of your closet.

Part ways with high maintenance items.

Is it not comfortable? Can it not be worn with a lot of other items you own? Are the heels so high you never wear them? Are the pants too short now? Is the zipper annoying? It’s time to say farewell to any of these items.

Organize carefully.

As you begin to put items back into your drawers and your closet, do so in a way that makes sense and allows you to see what you own. I always recommend Marie Kondo’s folding method in particular.

Make a list of what’s missing.

An important part of making your wardrobe work for you is having investment pieces that you can rely on. As you go through your closet clean out, take stock of what your closet may be missing. Do you not have a go-to sweater you love for all of Winter? Begin a list that notes the items you want to begin to purchase in the coming months. Then, the next time you are shopping, instead of buying several impulse buy items at fast fashion shops, instead look at your list and put that money from three or four items towards one investment item that you’ll be excited to style all sorts of ways moving forward.

. . .

As for some tools that’ll make a closet clean out & re-org better? I suggest thesethese & these to make your life easier and much-improved. And don’t miss my review of Neat Method professional organizers. The post will give you a peek into my closets as well!

p.s. thoughts on starting a new year and my wardrobe MVPs.

comments +

  1. Melanie says:

    Going to be using this as my guideline for cleaning out my closet! Trying things on is so important – I have a ton of clothes so it’s time to part with the ones that don’t feel good on or make me happy, and spend time wearing the ones that I love!

  2. This is great advice. I have promised myself I would do a closet clean-out this year and I am not too sure I will be able to follow through and get rid of everything that does not “bring joy”, so I loved reading your post and story. Thank you for sharing!

    The Career Edit

  3. Christine C. says:

    I love how I stumbled across your ig story linking this article just as I pulled all my clothes out of my closet for a deep clean/organization! I love your tip to wear a maybe item the next week to determine if you want to keep it, and to make a list of missing items. Once again your blog proves to be a valuable spot for practical tips we can all use (especially us city gals with limited closet space)! Thanks for all you do. 🙂

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