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Cleaning the Closet: Tips To Help You Simplify Your Clothes

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I know that cleaning the closet doesn’t sound like a ton of fun but…

Imagine opening your closet and seeing…space. And neatly organized clothes and shoes!

With a closet like that, getting ready in the morning would be so much easier. No more searching for your favorite shirt that’s stuffed between the other clothes hanging in there. No more feeling like you have nothing to wear even though your closet is overflowing.

Unfortunately for us, our closets don’t usually look that way, right?

Our closets range from “slightly organized chaos” to “I don’t even want to open the door because it scares me”.

Either way, it’s not a good feeling.

But the thought of cleaning the closet is so daunting and so not fun that we just deal with it. We buy more hangers so we can shove more stuff in there and continue feeling bad every time we open the door.

That ends today, my friends.

Today we’re going to learn the right way to clean out your closet with some closet cleaning tips and make smarter decisions about what we buy in the future! 

Cleaning a Messy Closet

Tips for Cleaning the Closet

Cleaning out my closet is never at the top of my “things I want to do today” list. It’s draining and exhausting. Plus, there’s the thought of dealing with everything that I’m not keeping. So…more work after the real work is done. Yay.

Sometimes it just has to be done.

But where to start?

  1. Pull Everything Out

    To truly deep clean and purge your closet you need to pull everything out.

    If you don’t, you’re likely to miss things that are tucked away somewhere if you don’t completely clear it out.

    Just pile it on the bed or somewhere you have some room to spread things out a little.

    You want to make conscious decisions about what you’re choosing to put back in. You can’t really do that unless your closet is empty.

  2. Cleaning the Closet…Literally

    Enjoy the sight of all that beautiful emptiness.

    Hey floor, I remember you. It’s been a long time.

    Speaking of which, now that your closet is empty it’s a good time to give the space a nice wipe down. Vacuum the floor if you have carpet or use a dust mop for hardwoods. Dust any shelves and wipe down the walls.

  3. Designate Areas for Discards

    Designate areas for the discarded items. You should have separate spaces for things you can sell (more about that later), things you will donate, things that need to be thrown away and things you’re keeping.

    It’s best to wait until you’re completely done going through everything before you start loading things back into your closet. We want a nice, tidy closet and not just a slimmed-down version of what we started with.

    You can use storage containers for your different groups or just put things in a pile until you’re done.

  4. Decide What’s Going and What’s Staying

    Now the fun starts.

    It’s time to start looking at your stuff. As you pick up each item, ask yourself some questions before you decide to keep it.

    When was the last time I wore this?

    Unless it’s a seasonal item if the answer is “uhhh…I don’t remember”, think about why you haven’t worn it. We want to have things left that we really love and feel good about wearing. If you haven’t worn something for a long time, there’s probably a reason.

    If it’s something you wear often, think about what you love about it. Is it the color, the style, or do you just feel good when you wear it?

    Identifying your style is going to help you in the future when it’s time to buy more clothes. It doesn’t matter if your style is trendy or not. The important thing is that you feel your best when you’re wearing it.

    Does this still fit me?

    This is my least favorite part of cleaning out my closet. The inevitable “trying things on” portion of the exercise.

    If it doesn’t fit, GET RID OF IT.

    If it’s something you just can’t bear to part with, at least store it somewhere that you don’t have to look at it every day.

    Hanging on to clothes that don’t fit anymore are daily reminders of what used to be. If you’re trying to lose weight you may hold on to them because you want to fit into them again.

    If you leave those things in your closet, you’re going to have to look at it every single day and know you’re not there yet.

    For some people, this is motivation to try harder.

    For me, it’s a reason to go to the kitchen for a snack.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

  5. Which Pile Should It Go In?

    It can be hard to decide whether to try to sell something or just donate it. If it’s a higher quality item (i.e. expensive) and it’s still in good shape, I’d say you should try to sell it.

    You might as well get something back after all this hard work, right?

    The alternative to selling your used stuff is donation. There are a ton of great places to donate that support worthy causes. If you don’t want to mess around with selling or would prefer to give to a good cause, a donation is a great option.

    I’ll list some places at the end of the post where you can sell and donate used clothing.

    Just a quick PSA here. Please don’t donate clothes that are damaged or completely worn out. If you have something that’s simply beyond repair, go ahead and toss it in the trash pile.

  6.  Put Back What You’ve Chosen to Keep

    Now the real fun starts. No, really. This is the good part. I was being sarcastic earlier.

    It’s time to start putting back the things you’ve chosen to keep.

    Holding your favorite shirt up like Simba and chanting the opening lines from the Lion King is optional but totally encouraged.

    Which is “Nants ingonyama, bagithi baba” in case you needed a refresher. You’re welcome.

    There are a million tutorials out there about how to organize your closet. And to that, I say, “Bah”.

    Just do you, boo. Whatever works for you is the right way to do it.

    Organizing by type and by color pleases my eye, but I am Type A which means I’m probably in the minority on that one.

    I like organizing things in a way so it’s quick for me to choose clothes. I’m also super annoying about things matching so grouping by color works for me.

    Whatever method you go with, take another opportunity to reflect on the things you’re keeping.

    I know it seems like I keep harping on this. Maybe it’s because I read Marie Kondo’s book too many times, or because I’m realizing that it’s just a waste of money to keep buying things because they’re “in” even if I don’t like the way I look in it. Check out our post on Why We Buy to learn more about the psychology behind our need to keep buying stuff.

    I think you’ll be surprised that there actually is a recurring theme with the clothes you really like. You might not have noticed it before because we buy so much on autopilot and without a lot of conscious thought.

Woo Hoo! You’re Done

Now that you’ve purged all the things you rarely wear and no longer fit, everything that’s left should be your favorite clothes. These are the clothes that make you happy and feel good when you wear them. If you kept things that you really don’t have that lovin’ feeling for, reconsider your choice.

When it’s time to buy clothes in the future remember what you’ve learned from this little exercise. The last thing we want is to be here in six months cleaning the closet yet again.


If you’re interested in selling some of your used clothing, here are some sites for you to try:






If you’d like to donate your used clothing instead, here are a few sites to check out:

Dress for Success


Out of the Closet


Salvation Army

You can also look locally for social service organizations, churches, and charities that would gladly accept your used clothing!

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