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De-clutter Guide: How to Clean Out the Closet

Jon Fesmire | August 8, 2013 @ 4:10 PM

When cleaning, where do you put something that you don’t have a specific place for? One common answer would be “in the closet.”

The fact is, our closets can get pretty cluttered, so when you’re looking to organize and declutter your home, it’s a good idea to start by getting your closets under control.

Here’s some advice to help you declutter all your closets:

Sort Your Stuff

Whether it’s clothes, other items, or a combination of the two, start by sorting your closet. Make sure the floor is clean and lay everything out there. You can sort clothes by owner, if the closet has clothes for more than one person, and by item type. Sort other items by type. So, books will go with books, files with files, knick knacks with other knick knacks, and so on.

Next, you’ll start figuring out where everything belongs.

Focus on Off-Season Items

In the middle of summer, do you have boxes of Christmas ornaments taking up space in your closet? Do you have thick winter coats and sweaters? Alternately, in the middle of a snowy winter, do you have tank tops, shorts, and Hawaiian shirts filling your closet? You won’t need these off-season items for half a year, so it makes sense to put them elsewhere to make your closet more functional.

We recommend getting a self storage unit to use as your off-season closet. A 5x5 unit is the size of a large walk-in closet and is generally ideal for the task.

Say Goodbye to Sentimental Items

Even if you don’t tend to hoard a lot, it can be tough to decide what to get rid of. One major reason for that is sentimental attachment to items you neither use nor need.

Store these items in a storage unit, or recycle or donate them.

Set Aside Things You No Longer Use

This works for clothing as well as other items. Do you have a friend who wears the same size clothes as you, or maybe just the same size shirts or pants? Or, perhaps a friend with very similar interests who would enjoy having some of your old things? Invite them to come over, make them lunch, and go through your closet with them.

This will help you get rid of some things you don’t need and know that they’re going to someone you like. Your friend will also get a great deal out of it, in the form of a free lunch and free stuff! Plus, it feels good giving to people we like, and this will give you additional incentive to clear out that cool tee shirt that you like, but that you never wear, or that book series you enjoyed but just don’t have room for.

Better yet, this friend can also help you decide what sentimental items you should let go of in general.

Get a Six Month Box

Another method that can help you decide whether you need a certain item or not is a six month box. Get one or two plastic storage bins. Inside, put the items you’re not sure if you will need or not. For example, perhaps you have a skirt you like but that you seldom wear. That can go in your six month box for clothes. If, within the next six months, you decide one day that you’d like to wear it, take it out of the box and put it on. When done, wash it with the laundry and put it back up in the closet, out of the box. It has passed the test.

After six months, check the box or boxes again. Chances are you’ll realize you really don’t need, or particularly want, the items in it, and you’ll feel like selling or donating them.

Sell, Donate, or Recycle

What should you do with those items you no longer need and that you haven’t given away to a friend? You’ll have to decide for each, but you can always sell, donate, or recycle them. Sites like Ebay and Craigslist are great for selling or giving away items. You can also donate to thrift stores like Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul, and The Salvation Army. Recycling can be a bit tricker, but it is possible to recycle all sorts of materials, from electronics to wood.

Once your closets are decluttered, you can use some of these same ideas on the rest of your place. We think you’ll find that having spaces decluttered is mentally liberating, and will help you feel more comfortable at home.

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