16 Genius Tips For Getting Rid Of Old Clothes

Your closet will thank you.

Inspired by Marie Kondo, find tips for getting rid of clothes and how to decide which clothes to get...
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Between the start of the new year and Marie Kondo's show about decluttering — appropriately titled Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix — it feels like almost everyone is talking about getting rid of clothes we no longer need. In fact, it's almost impossible for most of us to resist the urge to purge our closets and our homes. But while some people may have no problem tossing the items that no longer bring them joy, not everyone feels that way. It’s not easy to gauge how to decide what clothes to get rid of. Still, it feels super refreshing to declutter, so it's something you may want to consider. If you need some tips on how to get rid of clothes when you find it difficult to let go of things, you're in the right place.

There are two main psychological reasons why people hang on to items they no longer need. Dr. Frank Niles, PhD, social scientist and life and business strategist, told NBC that one reason it’s hard to get rid of clothes is "our need for safety, security, and stability." Basically, you can't stand the idea of tossing something you might one day be able to use, like that little black dress you haven't worn in years. Another reason is nostalgia: many people feel connected to old clothing for sentimental reasons, and it results in a buildup.

If this sounds like you, then you need a little extra help purging your items. It might be hard in the beginning, but in the end you're going to feel like a totally new person — and your closet will be super clean, which is just a bonus. Scroll down for tips for getting rid of clothes when you find it difficult to let go.


Take Everything Out And Look At Each Item Individually


It might sound overwhelming, but the best way to go through your clothes is to physically handle everything instead of just staring at whatever is hung up or folded. Put aside a few hours of your time, then take absolutely everything out of your closest and your dresser, and put it all in a huge pile on the bed or the floor. Now it's time to go through everything, even the little stuff. A huge pile you can't ignore is going to force you into going through it, even if you don't want to.


Make Piles To Stay Organized


Going through a giant pile of clothing is daunting, and the key to getting through it is to stay organized. Make piles: things you're going to get rid of, a maybe pile, and things you definitely want to keep.


Start With The Obvious Stuff


Having trouble getting rid of anything? Start with the obvious items, like any piece of clothing that is ripped, destroyed, or very worn. There's no reason to keep a shirt that has a big rip in the armpit, or jeans that are stained in an awkward spot. Starting small like this can encourage you to keep going. (Make sure to look into where to recycle these items of clothing that you can't donate!)


Try Everything You Want To Keep On


If you love to hold onto clothes, you might fall into this trap where you think there's a slight chance you'll still wear the shirt you haven't worn for like two years. This is a dangerous mindset, and one reason is because it just makes you hold onto things you clearly do not wear anymore.

Try every item of clothing on to see how you like it. If it doesn't immediately make you feel great, take it off put it in the pile of things to get rid of. You can donate these items, and feel good about it instead of keeping it for no reason.


Ask Yourself Two Questions About Each Piece Of Clothing


For every item of clothing, ask yourself two questions. First, when is the last time you wore it? If you haven't worn something in over a year, it's a safe bet that it's time to get rid of it. Two: does it bring you joy? Yes, this is straight from Marie Kondo, but seriously.

Think about it: does that shirt you haven't worn in six months bring you joy, or are you keeping it because you feel guilty getting rid of it after only wearing it once? Does that dress bring you joy, or are you just keeping it because it was a gift? Be honest with yourself here.


Make A Maybe Box


There are probably going to be a bunch of items in the maybe pile that you just can't seem to let go of, even if the reasoning doesn't really make sense. If that's the case, put these items in a "maybe" box. Seal up the box and mark it with a date a few months from now, then set a reminder in your phone to look through the box on whatever date you chose.

The box serves as a safety net: you're not really getting rid of it, you're just sort of having a trial run on what it would be like if you did. If you really missed it during those months, keep it. If it didn't affect you, get rid of it.


Have A Specific Place For Mementos


Maybe you're keeping some clothing for sentimental reasons: a gift from a grandparent you don't want to get rid of, something you inherited from someone that you'll never wear but you can't part with. Maybe it's something like shoes you wore to your wedding that make you happy but will never be worn again.

Whatever it is, create a spot for these mementos, like a nice box or a specific space. Do not let it overflow. Keep these items there so you're not getting rid of them, although you're still giving yourself more room.


Think About What You Want To Keep Instead Of What You Want To Get Rid Of


This is a tip from Marie Kondo's book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Ask yourself "What do I want to keep?" instead of asking "What do I want to get rid of?"

According to Kondo, going into the process thinking you're only keeping items you truly love makes it easier to say goodbye to items you don't really want to keep. It's a simple mindset shift to keep in mind.


Consider The Rule Of One


There are some items it's nice to have duplicates of: it's always nice to have a few white t-shirts, or a basic black tank, especially if you wear them all the time. But do you have doubles of things you barely even wear? If you have two floral dresses that are almost identical, get rid of the one you don't like as much and don't wear often.


Visualize The End Result


Why did you decide to get rid of things to begin with? Was it because your closet is a mess and you want it to be more aesthetically pleasing? Was it because you feel guilty about owning too many clothes and you want to donate to those less fortunate? Whatever the reason, think about the end result of getting rid of things.

Think about how clean your space will be. Think about how much easier it will be to look for an outfit you really want to wear. Think about how great it will feel to donate things. This could help motivate you.


Identify Wardrobe Staples

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While keeping in mind the pieces that spark joy Marie Kondo-style, also consider the clothing staples that should make up the foundation of your wardrobe. Maybe that classic white T-shirt doesn’t make you smile, but you can pair it with a printed skirt or a bright pair of pants that does. From chambray shirts to LBDs to black pants, make sure you hold on to pieces that will stand the test of time in your closet, even if they may feel ‘boring’ at first glance.


Consider Clothing Damage

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That classic white tank that’s yellowed under the arms? Your favorite black leggings that are thinning at the thighs? It’s time to say goodbye. Don’t be afraid to shop for replacements for damaged clothing that can’t be fixed. If your favorite item is past its prime, now is a good opportunity to shop for a replacement that looks as good as new.


Feel Good About Donating

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One motivating factor while cleaning your closet? The item you don’t really wear often can be the highlight of someone else’s thrifting or donation experience. Whether it’s a vintage T-shirt, cashmere sweater, or prom dress, there are plenty of Goodwill stores, consignment shops, and more that will take those pieces with open arms.


Sell Items That Are Still In Good Condition

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On the flip side, if you have a few designer bags, stiletto heels, or wedding guest dresses that you only wore once, it might very well be an opportunity to make some extra cash. Try sites like Vestiaire, The Real Real, Poshmark, and more to make a bit of a profit.


Don’t Be Afraid To Take Breaks

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Cleaning out your closet can be totally draining. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, consider taking a break and going back to it later. If you feel stressed by the experience, there’s a good chance that you’re going to be less likely to make smart choices about what to give away and what to keep.


Remember It’s All Just Stuff

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At the end of the day, remember that everything is just stuff. Your health, happiness, family and friends is paramount and material things are just that... things. Even if you end up regretting donating something, you can always invest in a similar piece down the line. And once you see the space it frees up, chances are you won’t miss it much at all.

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