Organize & Clean

8 Things You Should Purge from Your Coat Closet

published Feb 5, 2015
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After spending over a decade living in studio apartments that featured just one little closet (if I was lucky), I’m thrilled to have a proper hallway closet. So thrilled, in fact, that it’s a bit of a jumble. Bring the magic back by kicking out these 8 interlopers:

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1. Broken-ish Umbrellas

How long have I held onto umbrellas because they were only 30% broken? And whenever it rained I’d curse my cheap, hoarding past self. Now is the time to make sure each and every object in your closet actually, you know, works- especially the ones that keep you dry.

2. Useless Flashlights

We keep our flashlights in the hall closet- the little ones hanging from a hook and the large Maglight on a shelf- because it’s a perfect central spot that helps us remember to grab them on the way out the door (as needed). The other afternoon the power went out for a while so I checked on our flashlight stash, and there wasn’t a functioning battery in the bunch. Check all of your flashlights and lanterns, make a note of what batteries are needed (with enough for backups), and pick them up on your next trip to the store.

3. Off-Season Coats

The idea of having different spots to store different kinds of jackets seems like a ridiculous luxury, but I tried to maintain such separation even in my smallest homes. This doesn’t require having multiple closets- though we can dream- but rather packing things away when they’re not in use. Right now, for example, my winter coats (everyday, dressy, and dirty work) are in the hall closet, but my spring/summer raincoat and jackets are folded gently in bins in the basement. In the past I’ve kept off-season coats hanging out of the way in the back of a closet, or in storage bins on the closet floor.

4. Just-Worn Coats

If you live someplace with seriously snowy or rainy winters, your coat is probably damp right this second. Putting moist coats directly into the closet after taking them off leads to all kids of grossness and smells, as well as the terrible feeling of having to put on a damp coat. Hanging wet coats on hooks, a coat tree, or even a chair pulled up near a radiator when you arrive home gives them a chance to dry out before you trap them in a crowded, airless closet.

5. Off-Season Gear + Accessories

By the same token, you don’t want to have to look at/deal with all of your stuff, all of the time. Our gloves, mittens, earmuffs, hats, and wool scarves are currently in bins in the closet, while sun hats and baseball hats hang on hooks along the basement stairs. The reverse will be true if warm weather ever returns. In the winter we keep our snowball launcher, a bag of salt, and snow boots in the closet in the winter, and the rest of the year keep gloves and baseballs, folding chairs, and sunscreen and bug spray at the ready.

6. Unrelated Gear, Just Rollin’ Around Loose

Let’s face it: many of us have a shortage of storage space and have to squeeze things in wherever we can. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your camping gear, children’s keepsakes, or holiday baking supplies in the hallway closet- just be sure they’re corralled in a labelled bin so you don’t have to deal with them every time you open the closet door.

7. Anything Outgrown

If your household includes children (or any adults who may be changing size), a yearly try-on is totally necessary. Has any kid ever been able to wear the same hat and mittens two years in a row? Get them out of here! (Our closet was overflowing with adorably tiny winter gear, perfect for donating to a coat drive.) Does my favorite winter coat fit…but only if I don’t wear any sweaters underneath it? It’s gone.

8. Receipts

Am I the only one whose closet is consistently littered with receipts? I don’t know if it’s because we keep our reusable grocery bags in there, or because they fall out of the the useless pockets that are a signature of women’s coats, but they seem to multiply in the dark. Purge your closet and your life of the equivalent inexplicable infestation!

What items do you need to banish from your hallway closet?