Spring Cleaning

Here’s a Game Plan for Decluttering Your Clothes in One Day

published Apr 7, 2020
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Decluttering is technically different than cleaning, but clearing out storage is a major part of many peoples’ spring cleaning to-do lists. Especially decluttering clothes. As the weather shifts—and while you’re scrubbing every other inch of your home—it makes sense to do a little audit of your wardrobe, too.

Decluttering your closet means not only gaining a little bit of physical and mental space when you get ready every morning (even if every morning’s outfit is sweatpants), it also gives you a chance to do a seasonal swap-out. To put away sweaters you won’t need again until fall, and make space for shorts, bathing suits, and sundresses.

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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

Day 7 Assignment: Declutter Clothes

Today’s mission is to filter through all your clothes storage. The goal is to make some cuts and send little-worn clothes off to donation centers, but also do some seasonal sorting to make getting dressed go smoothly in the coming months.

I have coached people through a lot of decluttering projects, and there is no better way to begin this task than to take everything out of your closet and dresser drawers. If that feels mentally overwhelming, or you don’t have a few hours to dedicate to the task today, it’s OK to shrink the job to fit your current resources. But I want to encourage you to shrink it in scope, not in depth. If you can’t empty everything, empty just one area. But go all-in with the steps below—even if you’re just focusing on one drawer, shelf or closet rod.

  • Take everything out of your clothes storage area(s), whether that’s a closet, dresser, wardrobe, or all of the above. I like to make my bed and rest all my clothes on the bed (leaving garments on their hangers), but the floor works just as well if it’s clean enough. As you’re pulling things out, try to place them into sections or piles that vibe with how you organize your wardrobe—i.e. keep sweaters with sweaters, jeans with jeans, etc.
  • While the shelves and drawers are empty, quickly vacuum and wipe them down inside. Vacuum the dust bunnies in the back of the closet. Don’t spend too much time here, just give it a little spruce up.
  • Go through each of your sections of clothes (the sweaters, jeans, tops, dresses—whatever piles you made in the first step), and take two or three of your favorite garments out of each pile. Return those—your top can’t-live-without-them pieces—back to your closet, shelves, and drawers.
  • After you do just two or three things from each pile, reassess your storage areas. If they look pretty empty still, go back and grab a handful more favorites from each pile. But as soon as your storage starts to look almost-full, take a breath and a step back. Could you live with this wardrobe? Picture getting ready in the morning. You might find that it feels better to have a curated selection of clothes you feel great about than to have a closet so stuffed with options that it’s literally impossible to navigate.
  • Once you reach that almost-full point, box up everything else that’s still on the bed or floor. Set it aside in another space in your home for a while, to make sure you feel great about the things you chose to keep.
  • When you’re ready, you can donate everything you cleared out. Best practices for clothing donations are complicated right now; your best move might be keeping your clothes boxed up in the bottom of your closet or trunk of your car until you can safely hand them off to a donation center.

I love this favorites-first technique. It’s really hard to part with things when you see every garment you’re pulling off a hanger as a loss. Instead, when you start from scratch with an empty closet, you’re empowering yourself to choose what you love, and you can confidently know you don’t need any of the rest.

Read more: So You’re Using Quarantine to Declutter. Here’s What to Do With the Stuff.

Here are a few more things that might help: