The First 4 Things You Need to Do to Declutter Your Closet

updated Jun 10, 2020
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There are lots of reasons to declutter your closet. Whether you want to make your morning routine easier, maximize storage, or simply part ways with items you don’t wear, a good closet or dresser cleanout can make a world of difference in your space. But it you don’t plan well, editing your wardrobe can also be a little overwhelming.

The trick to a stress-free declutter? Break down the process and focus on just the first few things you have to do. Here are the first things everyone should do to start a closet cleanout, as recommended by Claire DeBoer, a professional organizer based in New York City.

1. Define your personal style

The point of decluttering isn’t just mindlessly getting rid of things: If you don’t have a vision in mind when you’re paring things down, you’ll just accumulate more clutter later on. DeBoer recommends cultivating an intentional mindset as you prepare to clean out your closet or dresser. 

Ask yourself: What types of clothes make you feel most like yourself? If you’re more of a visual person, create a Pinterest board of styles you like. If you’re a words person, come up with a few key words that define your personal style. The point is to keep this vision in mind through the clean out so you know what to toss or donate and what should stick around. A clear vision for your personal style will also help prevent clutter in the future, since you’ll be more mindful about purchases in the future. It’s a win-win!

2. Come up with a system

When you’re in the mood to declutter, it’s easy to rifle through everything just to cross the task off your list. But a lack of “process” might make a bigger mess, and add unnecessary stress to your closet clean out. To keep things tidy as you tidy, create a system where you have a place for everything before you start. Use labeled bags or bins for unwanted items, labeling one container for items to mend or repair, one to resell, one to donate, and one to recycle.

3. Round everything up

Chances are, your closet isn’t the only home for clothing clutter. Before you begin your decluttering, gather clothes from every area of your home into one space where you can work through them. Make sure you don’t miss anything by rounding up all the clothing, shoes, and accessories that might be scattered in under-bed bins, other closets, in your dresser, or other storage areas. 

4. Flip your hangers

A bonus pro-trick that will prepare you for your next declutter: Make a practice of flipping your hangers. “Spend a month or longer reversing the hanger of every item of clothing you wear,” suggests DeBoer. If all your hangers hook over the bar right now, for example, flip the hanger so it hooks from behind when you hang every worn-it-already garment back up. “This gives great insight into what you actually wear and makes editing easier,” she says.