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Clear the Clutter Challenge #2: Closets and Clothes

The closet can be one of the most intimidating spaces to declutter and organize. A lot of people hang onto clothes for a long time, so part of decluttering your closet is deciding what you should keep and what you should give away or toss. To help you in this process, we’ve divided this guide into two parts: 1.) Declutter 2.) Organize

The declutter stage will include emptying your closet and tidying up your room. You will organize all your things and begin weeding out things that will be donated or tossed. The organize stage will include rearranging your closet and giving everything a new place and purpose.

Hopefully, between these two stages, you will be able to appreciate all the things you have, accept that you need to toss and donate things, and enjoy the process of making your life a little less messy.

Declutter

Throughout the first part of this week’s declutter challenge, keep a few things in mind:

  • Just because you own it doesn’t mean you need it.
  • There is more room than you think there is.
  • Where there is a will, there’s a way.
  • Decluttering your home helps you declutter other aspects of your life.

The declutter stage is all about knowing what you own and getting rid of what you don’t need. First, you must clear everything out of your closet and organize the items into categories. Follow these helpful steps to declutter your closets.

Cycle Through Laundry

This entire process will be more rewarding if all your clothes are clean when you find a new and organized place for them. To make the declutter process quicker, follow these simple steps before you proceed to the next section:

  1. Collect all your dirty clothing.
  2. Pick up any clothes that you may have scattered throughout the house.
  3. Sort through clothes that can go through the dryer and clothes that must be hang dried.
  4. Put all the clothes that must be hang dried through the wash first.
  5. As the clothes that cannot be quickly dried are hanging, begin a cycle with clothes that can be machine dried.

Once all your clothes are going through the drying process, you can begin the second stage of your closet declutter: emptying and organizing your closet.

Empty It Out

The first step is to place everything in a neutral space. Try to organize all your things by category as you take them out of your closet. Here is a list of categories to get you started:

  • Shoes
  • Shirts
  • Dresses and Skirts
  • Jeans and Other Pants
  • Socks and Underwear, Belts, and Ties
  • Odd-and-Ends

Under Odds-and-Ends, there are a few specific things that you might want to use as categories. While we can’t account for everyone’s closet, there’s a good chance yours has a few of these:

  • Jewelry
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Backpacks and Purses
  • Shoe Boxes and Other Storage Containers

Begin to weed out the things you don’t want to keep. It could be an article of clothing you know you won’t wear or a pair of shoes that are too old to be worn. Whatever it is that you know you don’t want, set it aside. Then add it to the donation pile or toss it out if it is no longer useful. The more you can get rid of early on, the easier re-assembling your closet will be.

Once everything is out of your closet and organized around your room, you can move onto the next step.

Organize

At this point, everything should be in organized piles outside of the closet. Hopefully, you have also gotten rid of a few things. Now it’s time to create the closet space you want.

Shoes

Regardless of how many shoes you own, it’s important to organize them all. Your shoes should be the focal point of your closet.

There are a few simple ways to organize shoes without spending a lot of money:

Over-the-Door Organizers

These door organizers make your shoes easily accessible without taking up space that might be used for other items. We suggest that you try an over-the-door shoe bag if:

  • You only have a small collection of shoes.
  • Your shoe collection is over-flowing and you need all the space you can get.
  • You want the most accessibility to your shoes.

There are several things to keep in mind with over-the-door shoe organizers. They may cause your door to not close properly, especially if the hooks that go over the door are thicker. They also range the most in price. However, there are some that offer very affordable storage, like this design from The Container Store.

Tip: If you hang anything over the door, make sure it doesn’t damage the door or the doorframe.

Hanging Shoe Bags

This type of shoe organizer is much like an over-the-door organizer, but it hangs from your closet rod. Hanging shoe bags are a great option if:

  • There are a lot of built-in closet rods.
  • You don’t have many shirts or pants to hang.
  • You prefer accessibility without the visibility of an over-the-door organizer.

These tend to be less extravagant than over-the-door hangers, so their prices tend to simply reflect the size of the bag. Check out The Container Store’s basic hanging shoe organizer.

Shoe Racks

To maximize those corners and floorspace along the bottom of your closet, consider traditional shoe racks. They come in many different sizes and offer a wide range of shoe storage space. Shoe racks are a great option if:

  • There is a lot of floor space (walk-in closets, especially).
  • You have an abundance of shoes.
  • You want your shoes to be on display.
  • The shoes you have range in size.

Because both hanging shoe bags and over-the-door organizers offer limited space for each shoe, a shoe rack is the best option for anyone with a lot of high tops, heels, or boots. They also come in a wide range of styles, sizes, and prices. Check out The Container Store’s collection for a better of idea of what is available.

Once you have where your shoes organized, you can work around them for the rest of your things.

Tip: Get the amount of storage for the number of shoes you want to keep. Whatever doesn’t fit in the storage should be donated.  

Shirts

There’s a good chance you own more shirts than anything else. So, the question is, what do we do with them?

There are quite a few things you can do to take that pile of shirts and turn it into a manageable collection of your favorite things to wear:

  • Donate unused shirts.
  • Utilize the closet rod.
  • Fold shirts you don’t need to hang.

Donate

First and foremost, when organizing shirts, you should evaluate how many you wear. Shirts are often the easiest to have sentimental attachment to. We pick them up at sporting events and concerts and collect them for organizations, clubs, and schools.

So, when you begin to sift through what you own, think about the last time you wore a given shirt. If you can’t remember the last time you wore it, or if you can’t think of an occasion for which you would want to wear it, put it in the donation pile.

Make a pile and then visit your local donation center once you’ve finished decluttering your closet.

Something to consider: if you don’t think you’ll wear it, think of how many other people could benefit from this item.

Hang Your Shirts

Most every closet comes with a closet rod. This is the ideal place for storing your shirts. When you organize your shirts back into your closet, make sure you have the necessary number of hangers. If you have extra hangers, you can easily add new shirts to your collection. This will keep piles of clean clothes from lying on the floor waiting for a spot on the closet rod.

Fold Your Shirts and Sweaters

There’s more than one place to store a shirt for easy access. Not all shirts need to be hung, and this is especially true of heavier clothing. If hung, sweaters often get stretched at the shoulders. For the best care of your sweaters, fold them.

To save on space, decide upon a portion of your closet to go toward folded clothing. T-shirts and tank-tops, when hung, can end up taking up valuable space. But, if you fold them, they take up hardly any room at all.

If there is room, consider putting a small dresser along the wall. Or use stackable boxes and storage bins for placing T-shirts and other clothing that can be stored in small spaces or in the bottom of your closet.

A great example storage bin can be found at The Container Store. Storage bins like this don’t take up much space, and they are great for holding a lot of clothing, not just shirts. Socks, underwear, bras, ties, and other odd-and-end clothing will fit perfectly into their respective cubby spots.

Sort by Occasion

Especially with shirts, blouses, dresses, and other tops, clothes are often very relevant for certain occasions. To make your life easier, put all your clothes away in order of occasion. Here’s a small list of categories that might help you sort your shirts and other tops:

  • Everyday work clothes
  • Event and meeting clothes
  • Yardwork and outdoor clothes
  • Date night clothes
  • Comfy lounge clothes
  • Athletic clothes

Not only will this save you time when you’re trying to find the right outfit for any given occasion, but it will also make it easier to organize and keep clean.

Jeans and Other Pants

Depending on the size of your closet, storing away jeans and pants can be quite difficult. That’s why it’s important to be smart about organizing bulkier clothing, like jeans, sweatpants, slacks, and other dress bottoms.

To make organizing easier, this section is divided into two parts: Hanging and Folding.

Hanging Pants

There are several ways to store pants. You can either fold them up and put them away, or you can hang them.

Hanging most of your pants along with your shirts is one viable option. And while you probably don’t want to hang your shorts – they are easiest when folded – you will probably want to hang any professional clothing. The more you hang your clothing, the less you’ll need ironed.

You may want to hang your pants if:

  • You have a lot of extra hanging space.
  • There aren’t that many shirts in your closet.
  • You hang-dry your pants.
  • You have a modest amount of clothing left to organize.
  • A lot of your pants are delicate or business-professional attire.

Folding into Cubbies and Dressers

Another viable option is to fold them and place them in their own separate storage container. If you still have room in your closet, get a small cubby like the ones we discussed using for shirts. Another option is to get a dresser for your bedroom.

Your closet isn’t the only place to put clothing. If you are running out of room in your closet, consider using a dresser in your bedroom. Not only does it act as storage space, but a dresser can also double as a TV stand or a vanity of sorts, where you place jewelry, pictures, or other odds-and-ends.

Socks and Underwear, Belts and Ties

These smaller things are often the first to become unorganized because of the number of items.

Socks and Underwear

Socks and underwear pair well when it comes to storage. Both items are necessary for your everyday outfit, so you probably have a lot of each, but you don’t want to put them on display.

So consider having three separate containers or drawers for them. If you have a dresser, designate three spots within one drawer or use smaller drawers. If you have cubbies, designate one cubby for each category:

  • Underwear
  • Matched socks
  • Unmatched socks and bras

Belts and Ties

Belts and ties have two solutions. Both can be hung next to your shirts, and both can be rolled up and placed in a drawer. If you own a dresser, the smallest drawer is often big enough to store a decent number of belts and ties. Roll them up and organize in any way you see fit.

But, if you have room, you can hang your belts and ties. Or you can easily organize them on racks made specifically for ties and belts. These racks can either be placed in a few places around the closet, depending on the type of rack you get. There are racks that hang on your closet rod, like this one.

By now, you should be able to tell where you have space and where you do not. These should be the last clothing accessories you have to find a place for, so use your best judgement to know where they will be out of the way but also easily accessible!

Odds-and-Ends

Odds-and-ends is a broad title that covers many different things. Here’s a small list of items you might have lying about in your closet:

  • Iron and ironing board
  • Old photo albums
  • Stacks of old papers
  • Memorabilia boxes
  • Hampers
  • Jewelry
  • Hats
  • Scarves
  • Board games and other things that don’t fit anywhere else

You want to consider these things last, when putting your closet together. If need be, they can be put elsewhere.

How much space do you have left in your closet? Is there room along the shelving above the hanging rod? That’s a great place for putting nick-knacks, photo albums, board games, and other paperwork that you want to store in safety. Or, if you have a few more cubbies left unused, these are excellent spots for keeping other odds-and-ends.

Sentimental Items and Seasonal Clothing

There are several other tricks to keep in mind while organizing your closet:

  • Put sentimental shirts into a memory box.
  • Store away clothes that are out of season.
  • Sort by occasion.
  • Use a hamper.

If you follow these tricks, you’ll find that you have even more space in your closet and your daily routine will become that much simpler.

Memory Boxes

There is some clothing, especially shirts, from our past that we simply don’t want to part ways with, and that’s okay! However, some of those clothes probably aren’t being worn much. To keep these unused personal treasures from cluttering your closet, consider using a memory box.

A memory box is a great place to keep old shirts, photos, and other memorabilia you’ve collected across time. There are a lot of charming little chests and boxes you can use for this type of thing. Here’s one example from The Container Store. Consider where to keep your memory box, and then decide how big of a box will fit. Here are a few places, both in an out of your closet, where you can keep a memory box:

  • Under the bed
  • In the attic
  • Corner of the closet
  • On built-in shelves in the closet, above closet rods
  • Under couches

Seasonal Clothing

Closet space can be taken up by a lot of clothing that isn’t even in season. Large coats, sweaters, and scarves take up valuable space. So, during off seasons, put away those bulky clothes you don’t use.

Get a bin for under your bed or to place in your basement or attic. Fill that bin with all the out of season clothing and don’t worry about it until the seasons change.

Have a Hamper Ready

Nothing makes a closet stay cleaner longer than a hamper. If you have room in your closet now that everything else is organized, place a hamper there. This will help you keep your clothes together.

But, if you do not have room in your closet for a hamper, there are still plenty of other places to put one:

  • Near your bed
  • In the bathroom
  • By the washer and dryer
  • At the doorway out of your room

All these places listed above are easily accessible. But no matter where you put it, remember to use it. Your closet will continue to remain that much cleaner!

Thanks for participating in the Invitation Homes Clear the Clutter Challenge! We hope these tips help you as you declutter your closet. Keep your eye out for next week’s challenge. And don’t forget to share your best closet organization tips with us here for a chance to win.

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