Closet Cleanout: Our Best Reader Tips

Closet Cleanout: Our Best Reader Tips

Jennifer Hunter
Mar 4, 2014
(Image credit: Kim Lucian)

Who wants more space in their closet? You do! Take charge of your closet destiny and free up massive real estate by clearing out what you no longer need/want/fits you. What's left will be an edited, organized collection of pieces you love to wear. Need help? We've collected some of our smartest reader tips to inspire you to make a commitment to closet happiness.

From Pi:

If you're going to donate your clothes, try starting out with a list of organizations that will accept your clothing so when it comes time to pare down, you know these clothes are going somewhere worthwhile and you won't be tempted to shove them back into the closet.

From anastrophe:

The lazy method of closet decluttering: don't do laundry for a month, or two weeks, or however long it takes for you to get into the "things I only wear when I'm out of quarters" territory. Anything that's left in the closet, that you refuse to wear even though you're totally out of clothes, goes in the bin. Anything you wear reluctantly also goes in the bin. This won't help you if you totally lack personal style, but it will help if you have a lot of clothes you don't wear because they don't fit or aren't emotionally comfortable.

From ecandle96:

My trick is between putting things in a donate or consignment box and actually giving them away, I put the box in an out of the way place, like my car trunk. If I go a few weeks without noticing that any of those items are gone, I feel more comfortable giving them away. And I never notice they're gone.

From CaseyinTO:

I used to keep clothes because i might fit in to them again one day- but then I realized that if I did finally lose that 10 lbs, then I'd want NEW clothing, not my old stuff!! Now I only keep what fits :)

From Girl Jen:

My brother came up with an idea that I'll be implementing: Cut up the clothing, and use it as art. The wildfire medical logo will be cut out and framed. The purple knit fabric will be a blanket for a teddy bear who will hang out in a shadow box. The shirt I wore when my mom died will be used as matting for a photo of her.

From Miami Elaine:

I try on every item in front of a full length mirror. That motivates me to release unsuitable clothes quickly and without regret! A three-way fitting room mirror would be even more helpfully merciless. It's kinder than asking my husband that no-win question, "Does this make me look fat?"

From Velourcat:

I only buy what I absolutely love and that I can see becoming a favorite (and I only want to have favorites) and generally do not buy unless it is to replace something worn out.

From darcidoodle:

It's also a good idea to weed out the things that don't make you feel good about yourself. If a shirt hangs funny, you're constantly adjusting a skirt, or a jacket doesn't fit through the shoulders, it's time to get rid of it! Sounds like common sense, but it's surprising how many clothes people keep because they "spent good money on that". I see it all the time...

From Anne Helene@Du Sel au Plafond:

I'd add something: don't keep items only because they fit and are in a good shape. I've done it for years, and you end up wearing items you don't like anymore, and don't buy new, more flattering ones because you already have that shirt in that color.

From 33:

My bad habit is that if I'm obsessed about something, I buy similar items.
Upon realizing it, I now try to limit myself to one style and/or one color (or two colors, if the style is particularily flattering). I impulse buy, but always evaluate during the 30-day return period. If I do decide to keep an item, I'll purge an older/similar item to make room for the new purchase.

From SherryBinNH:

I do a wardrobe purge twice a year, spring and fall. I make snap decisions about things I finally know I won't wear again, and I try on things I haven't worn to see if there is a reason I've forgotten (like fit.) I have developed a "style" for myself, based on years of realizing what works for me and what doesn't. I rarely buy things that don't fit the pattern.

From Viktoria_:

This will sound so wrong, but here is my totally wicked solution: After trying all the different tips on AT and elsewhere, I still couldn't pull a clean closet. That's when it hit me: I hold on to all those clothes because I don't have enough clothes that fit well, are in good shape and can easily be matched with other items. So I've been buying clothes like crazy for the past year. At first, the clutter worsened, but this was expected and I did not despair. When I started feeling like I had a scarf to match all my jackets, and that I had a neutral to match all my patterns (and each of these matched with several pieces, not just one), I did a whirlwind declutter. This merely consisted of picking out ALL items that I love wearing to keep and removing the rest. The result is a clutter-free closet that is easy to browse and care for. The bonus: I now love what I wear and feel great at the prospect of opening the closet rather than dreading it.

From CharlotteK:

I had my best dressed friend come over one Saturday when I was swapping winter for summer clothes and we put a white sheet on the living room floor, took all my clothes out of the closet and drawers and she helped me make outfits. I got rid of everything she told me to, and we made a list of a very few items I needed to add. This was a few years ago. I've added a few pieces and got rid of a few since, but having someone with taste help me structure things really helped as a basis.

From gquaker:

When I clean my closets, I found out that I need a step between "cleaning" and "purging." I put items that I'm not sure about in cloth bags in the back of my closet. If I find myself pulling items out, I know that they should be kept (or replaced with a similar item). If I haven't reached for it, I donate it. Most of the time, I find that when an item is out of reach, I find that I don't miss it.

From esrsbb:

One thing to add - when donating, keep track of what you're giving; it's unbelievable when you go through your donations for income tax purposes and see how it starts to add up. I just went through this and couldn't believe how those three bags of clothes turned into cash for a donation deductible!

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