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A Step by Step Guide to Closet Organization

The Daunting Task of Closet Organization

Cleaning your closet and organizing it might be one of those tasks that sits on your 'to do' list forever. Unless you're one of the rare few that is obsessed with cleaning and organization, it's something most of us just dread. Actually if you're obsessed with cleaning, your closet organization probably isn't the daunting task it is for the rest of us because you probably just cleaned it a few weeks ago, right. The process of tidying up makes us really evaluate the worth of our material possessions and face the fact that we're messier than we wish we were. Knowing you have a messy closet can add to the 'clutter' in your life, just like if you pile mail up forever and the thought of going through it all is too overwhelming. I know it's hard to do, but pick a day, maybe a weekend morning and just do it. I've always enjoyed (and I use that term loosely)cleaning on a Saturday morning because it kicks your weekend off in a motivated fashion and when you're finished you feel accomplished and able to really relax and enjoy the rest of the weekend.

Organized Closets

A Small But Organized Closet

A Small But Organized Closet

A Closet Organization System

A Closet Organization System

Ok, lets do this. Open that closet door and get ready to de-clutter and organize your life!

1. Take things out one by one and start categorizing on the floor or bed. For instance:

  • Make a 'trash' pile. Only put things in this pile that are truly of no use to anyone. If it's a piece of clothing with just a button missing, it doesn't necessarily need to go in the trash.
  • There should be a pile to take to Goodwill or to drop off at a church, homeless shelter, sober house etc. Sometimes it's easier to get rid of stuff that you don't wear if you know it's going to someone that needs it more than you do.
  • You can usually break clothing up into three sections, warm weather and cold weather and anytime of year clothing. This might change depending on where you live, so adjust accordingly.
  • Within those sections, make piles based on type of clothing it is. Jeans, dress pants, casual pants, skirts, dresses, short sleeve shirts, long sleeve shirts, sleeveless shirts. This makes it much easier when you go to put the closet back together.
  • Get rid of anything you haven't worn in a year or anything that doesn't fit. I know we all keep the fat clothes or the skinny clothes, but over time that ends up being more 'just in case' clothes than actual clothes to wear on the daily basis. Only keep things that you would consider putting on tomorrow morning when you get up. If you wouldn't wear it tomorrow, you don't need it. Plus, with the fat clothes/skinny clothes thing, those clothes you kept just in case are probably horribly out of style by now.
  • If you're trying to also jam a bunch of bulky items, like coats, sleeping bags, huge sweaters etc in your closet, put bulky things aside for now. We're going to try to find a new home for them later. I'll give you ideas on what to do with them to get them out of your everyday life, but keep them accessible for future use.
  • 'Weed out' your shoes. If you've got a ton of shoes and they're just piled in your closet, this might be your toughest 'weed out' task. Lots of people are obsessed with the idea of shoes, but when it comes down to it, they don't even wear most of what they have. Put aside the shoes you wear all the time, trash the shoes you used to wear all the time but now look like hobo shoes and prepare to weed out the ones that look super cute on display but shred your feet if you actually wear them. Depending on the size of your closet and how many pairs comfortably fit, pick a number of 'novelty' shoes to keep. These are the ones you wear once a year or to weddings/dressy occasions or they're ones you try to wear every now and then but the blisters deter you from doing it again for a while or they're the ones that just look really good, but are impractical. Pick a number of those that you can keep (be honest about the amount of space you have!) and get rid of the rest. Just do it, you won't miss them I promise. You never wore them anyway right.
  • Deal with Accessories. This might come in a close second in degree of difficulty when you try to weed them out. Make piles just like you do with your clothes. Accessories come in and out of fashion much more quickly than even clothes do. So if it's OUT, then just get rid of it. It'll be like 20 years before it's back in style so just get rid of it. This goes for the belts you've had since jeans fell at the waist and now don't really fit because they're falling at your hips. I don't care if they're made of the best leather on the planet, they're made for 'mom jeans' and you're not wearing 'mom jeans' - right?!!
  • Handbags. Get rid of the ones that look dirty. Be realistic. I swear I get 'beer goggles' when it comes to my handbags. I can totally convince myself that they don't look that bad, but then I throw it in my closet and pluck it out a year later and can't believe I didn't notice that the seams and edges are completely dirty and grubby! Even if you paid a lot for it, if it's looking gross, just part ways. It's tough, I know!! I'm actually ok with you keeping a few extra handbags because I have some good storage ideas that I'll go into with you.

2. Bag up the Goodwill stuff and the trash stuff and remove it from the room. Put the Goodwill bags right into the car so that you don't shove them in the garage and make them one more thing on your 'to do' list. Take them to Goodwill TODAY. Once you have this stuff out of the room, you'll already feel better. The sheer volume of 'stuff' will be smaller and hopefully seem more manageable.

3. If you don't already have the basic things you need for closet organization, take a trip to Target, Walmart or even the 99 Cent store to get them. Or if you have the money to, get one of those pre-designed closet organizers. Here's what I recommend if you're just getting a few things to organize:

  • Shoe Organizer. It's a must. Depending on your space, there are a few choices. If you're really pressed for space, try the one that hangs over the back of the door and holds about 12 pairs of shoes. There are also the kind that attach to the clothing bar or the kind that sit on the floor. Your choice, but just don't pile up your shoes on the floor of your closet.
  • A Bunch of Hooks. Hooks are inexpensive and can really make your closet much more organized. You can hide hooks all over the place in there and not really even see them at first glance. Look at your piles of stuff and see what there is that doesn't go on a hanger or can't neatly be folded up, like your bathrobe, long sweaters, handbags and belts. A hook that is made for ties works great for belts. You can even put hooks behind the clothes to store things like handbags and those toiletry organizer bags that you only use when you travel.
  • A box or bin if you have small loose stuff that you want to store in your closet. Make sure it'll fit comfortably on one of the shelves and not take up too much space though.
  • A Laundry Bin. Especially if you're one of those people that just makes a pile of dirty laundry in the closet, get a bin! Take a measurement of the size you need to the store with you.
  • Additional Storage Drawers. If you're really pressed for space for storing clothes, underwear or something like sporting clothing there are lots of options for putting a mini dresser in your closet. They're short and only come up to where your hanging clothes end. They're inexpensive and you can find something that will work at any of the big stores. If you have an Ikea in your area, try that. They're pros at organizing small spaces.

3. Put it all back together.

  • Put up your hooks, shoe organizer and anything else you bought for your closet organization.
  • In your head, make a visual plan of what goes where.
  • Start putting things back in. For clothes, you can take it as far as you would like to. You should at least put all of the long sleeve shirts together, then short sleeve, then sleeveless. With in those categories though, you could arrange by color or by dressy/casual or collared then no collar.
  • Be open to changing your plan. Things might not fit like you thought they would, so change it up if you need to or do a second round of weeding things out.

4. Deal with the Extra Bulky Items. If you have sweaters that just don't fit in your closet, get one of those under bed storage boxes and put them out of sight but within reach. For sleeping bags and other bulky items (like winter coats) that aren't in use, try a big rubbermaid bin that can go in the garage or storage space.
5. The Most Important Step - Look at your masterpiece and feel accomplished! I bet your closet is looking good, right! Hopefully de-cluttering your closet is also feeling a little bit like you de-cluttered your life.

Tips on Organizing a Closet

Other Resources for Getting Organized

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    Getting your kids to keep their stuff organized can sometimes be challenging. If you give them some assistance it can really help. Using a closet organizer can make keeping their things organized a lot easier...
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    Some of us live in rented homes and there are those who stay in college dorm rooms. If this is your scenario, you may be on a budget or your property manager may not allow you to install a permanently fixed...
  • Closet Organizers
    Closet organizers are one of those things that have been provided as a solution to the age old problems of wasted closet space and disorganized bedroom closets. Whether its a walk in closet, a small closet...
  • Baby Closet Organizer
    Taking care of your bundle of joy takes more than just parental love and attention. There are other manifestations of making sure that your infant receives only the best care from you either in emotional...
  • Closet Organization Ideas
    Can you find your favorite shirt or THE pair of jeans without searching and searching in your closet? For me it seems I am always reaching back in ot depths of my closet ot still yet find more clothes...
  • Closet Organizers Increase Closet Capacity
    Do you need more closet space? If so, you are in good company. The most commonly heard complaint from homeowners relates to inadequate storage space. It is possible to solve this dilemma without creating a...


lucille12 on April 13, 2015:

You will also be able to fit any other numerous items - clothing or otherwise - into your organizer, all the while, keeping everything separate and neat.

Amy Messer on May 04, 2013:

Hi I took my closet doors off and after hours of looking for the perfect curtains I keep coming back to the ones in your post. Do you know where I could buy those?! Thx

Paul Cronin from Winnipeg on August 16, 2011:

Very good hub, you really covered everything. We all have closets that need to be organized. I can really follow the steps you've noted. I guess I can start tomorrow... Thanks for sharing!

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Vallison11 on August 03, 2011:

The organizing was great, but not if you have tons of tops like me. haha

Better Yourself from North Carolina on March 01, 2010:

Great hub, this is indeed very useful!

shazwellyn on February 28, 2010:

I am not a good organiser.... fancy coming over and doing mine? hehehe x

Katie Butler from Sensual, USA on February 27, 2010:

Thanks for the tips! I need to try some of these.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on February 27, 2010:

Yipppeee..go and vote and promote your hub janejordan...go go go..if you any questions, ask okay?

janejordan (author) from Sunny California on February 26, 2010:

Aw, thanks for the nomination! yay!

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on February 26, 2010:

I love the photo you've posted..gosh I'm feeling suddenly guilty for my messed up cabinets! LOL Guilty feelings aside, it is with pleasure that I announce to you today that this hub has been nominated for the Hubnuggets! woohooo...

See for yourself:

Good luck with the voting and the promoting!

janejordan (author) from Sunny California on February 15, 2010:


ShalinIndia from Gurgaon,INDIA on February 15, 2010:

very useful hub.....I LIKED IT ....thanks for sharing with us Janejordan.....way to go!!

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