8 Tips For Cleaning Out Your Closet From Someone Who Learned The Hard Way

I buy a lot of clothes, which means I probably have to clean out my closet more than the average human. Call it superficial or silly or blame it all on a serious lack of self-control; I've heard it all. For me, though, it's pretty simple: I love clothes. I eat, sleep, breathe, and write about fashion all day long, most days. You try to write articles with shopping suggestions every week and not feel the impulse to buy a jacket of five somewhere along the way. 

I'm a big supporter of retail therapy, emotional shopping, and dressing to build your confidence and general level of sassiness. I'm a creative person, and clothing is part of that. Sure, I like expensive things, but I'm also a 22-year-old college senior, so those pricey items are few and far between in my closet. My wardrobe is mostly made up of more affordable pieces; you know, the kind of items that after six months don't make much sense in your closet anymore. But I rarely get rid of any of them, and this, my friends, is where I run into a giant, messy, overwhelming problem. As much as I love all my clothes, I hate, hate, hate the clutter that comes along with them.

You see, I love organization. I'm the person with 20 lists going on at once and making sure all my hangers are facing the same way. I had a walk-in closet at my last apartment, and everything hanging up was color coded; yes, I am that person. It's annoying. But sometimes, when I have less space to work with (which is what is happening now, in my new apartment), things just get a little crazy. Clothes start to pile up. Random hangers start to get worked into the mix. Shoes are lined up against the wall because there's just nowhere else to put them. And suddenly I am very, very overwhelmed. When my clothes and closet are unorganized, everything else seems to get less organized. My closet is a mess, my room is a mess, my whole life starts to seem like a mess at a certain point.

You know when you get to the point of closet craziness that you have no idea how you're going to recover from it all? Yeah, that's where I was for about four months before I decided I was going to have one giant spring cleaning closet/wardrobe organization session (and write an article about it because, why not?). I could hardly walk around my small room without a pile of clothes popping out from a hanging rack or hidden drawer. But this was me, right? Me, who LOVES organization and having things in their place? I could overcome this. I could get back to that color-coded, matching-hangers closet I once had. So I sourced all of the closet cleaning tips I could find, and I went for it. Hopefully you all can learn some things from this, so you don't have to clean out your messy closet the hard way like I did. You're welcome. 

But before I get there, it's important that you get an idea of what we were working with to begin. 

1. Evaluate The Damage

You have to know what you're working with before you can really sort through everything. For me, my closet was the main issue, followed by my floor (aka extra shoe storage, as you can see above), and hanging rack. Try not to judge me too much for the before shots.



Like I said. Not. Good. 

2. Find Some Old Boxes/Trash Bags

Alright, so now that you've reviewed the horror of it all, it's time to get organized. Take some trash bags or old boxes and separate them into different piles. For me, I have a couple trash bags for Goodwill, and then a few boxes for Poshmark, an app I use to sell clothes I don't wear anymore, but spent a decent amount of money on or have barely worn in the first place. It makes things slightly easier to let go if you know you're selling pieces to people who actually want them. I did this closet clean-out a week ago, and listed seven or so items on the app. I've already sold three of those and made around $45. 

3. Sort Through Your Clothes One Area At a Time 

For me, I started with my closet, the main source of the mess. I went through each rack and each drawer, and started taking out the things I hadn't worn in over six months or things that I just didn't have any use for anymore (or didn't fit in anymore). Sometimes, I took things out that I wasn't sure about, just to get a better look at them and evaluate whether I really needed the item or not.

4. Use Marie Kondo's Method Of Cleaning Up

Marie Kondo wrote The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and one of her methods to effectively clean up your space is pretty basic, but very important: Keep the things that “spark joy" in your life and get rid of those that don’t. Pretty straight forward, right?

5. Just Do It 

Going off of Kondo's method, it's important to stay focused when you're throwing things away. It's easy to convince yourself to keep something and much more difficult to throw something out, but the fact of the matter is that if you haven't worn it in 6 months to a year, you're not going to wear it any time soon. You need the space, and you'll feel better once you've purged yourself of whatever it is that you haven't worn yet and is making you feel guilty!

6. Stay In The Present And Avoid Nostalgia

So you wore that dress on a first date with someone special or it reminds you of a certain trip you took in high school. OK, that's great, but do you REALLY need it? Keep only the VERY most important things to you, and try to avoid being too nostalgic about everything. It doesn't matter what size you're planning to me or what size you were in high school — if it doesn't fit you, get rid of it. It's only bumming you out anyway, and you deserve to feel great about yourself no matter what. When in doubt, throw it out.

7. Hangers Are Super Important

Please, if you do one thing, invest in hangers that are all the same style. If not the same color, at least have them be the same material and make. Nothing looks worse than mismatched hangers, and having ones that are all basically the same helps your closet look tidier. Throw out all the hangers that don't fit in with the rest, and you'll be glad you did. 

8. Enjoy The End Product 

Before you know it, your space will be cleaner and more organized than before. Things may not be perfect depending on how much space you have in the first place, but they'll certainly be a little better, and sometimes that's all you need to add some positive energy to your personal space and start to relax a little more. Being able to give a lot of clothing away to those in need or sell your favorite old pieces at discounted prices to those who will actually enjoy wearing them doesn't feel so bad either. 



Images: Emily May/Flickr; Olivia Muenter (10)

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