How the $20 Decluttering Rule Can Eliminate Mess in Your Closet

published Jun 29, 2023
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Credit: Liz Calka

What started as a viral video about one professional organizer’s favorite way of culling closet clutter may actually be the smartest way to tackle a bulging wardrobe

Quick Overview

What Is the $20 Decluttering Rule?

Professional organizer and TikToker Spaces By Emily shares this organizing hack for eliminating clutter in your closet: If it costs less than $20 to rebuy, and you don’t use it, get rid of it.

In the video, professional organizer and TikTok user Spaces By Emily shares, “If you are trying to figure out whether or not to get rid of something, use this rule: If it costs less than $20 to rebuy, and you currently don’t use it and haven’t in a while, get rid of it.

If it costs you less than $20, she says that you’re more likely to let it go, as it’s not going to cost a lot to replace. This guilt-free organizing hack appears to be a smart way to eliminate excess while keeping an eye on your bottom line. 

How the $20 Decluttering Rule Works

As most organizers will tell you, overflowing spaces usually have more to do with having too much stuff than too little space, and that’s especially true when it comes to closets. After all, many people hold on to stuff that hasn’t fit in years on the off-chance it’ll one day work for them.

Knowing how people tend to hold onto clothing pieces “just in case,” Emily came up with a foolproof plan for deciding between which clothes are keepers and which are just taking up your closet’s valuable real estate. 

If this idea sounds familiar to you, it may be because it’s part of another pretty popular decluttering method called the 20/20 rule.

What Is the 20/20 Rule?

Created by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus of The Minimalists, the 20/20 rule consists of asking yourself two key questions while decluttering your home: Can I replace this item for less than $20, and can I replace this item in less than 20 minutes?

Both rules rely on the $20 figure with the understanding that it’s unlikely that you’ll throw away, donate, or recycle something of value while keeping that dollar amount in mind. 

Not Everything Under $20 Has to Go

Emily’s rule is very self-explanatory, but she did open up a bit more about it in a separate TikTok video after facing some backlash about getting rid of items costing less than $20. 

She clarified her rule, admitting that she’s not telling people to get rid of anything that costs less than $20, but instead asking them to focus on those lower-cost items when they’re first starting on their decluttering journey. 

Emily says it’s easier to start at a lower price point because you know you can replace these items if you mistakenly part with something you love. It also helps you learn how to make these sometimes hard decisions (like about that top you’re really hoping to get back into) when the stakes are lower. Then you can work your way up to those more expensive pieces of clothing that you may have more financial or emotional ties to, setting yourself up for an even cleaner and more organized space.