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How to Clean out Your Closet (And Let Go of What You Don’t Need)

After living in Manhattan for six years (the last two of which included our son), I learned how to maximize closet space. Living in the burbs now with exponentially more closet space, I have come to appreciate the gift of extra space. But, I have also seen how more closets can equal more stuff — and this, unfortunately, equals more precious time wasted. That’s where knowing how to clean out your closet is key.

Graphic with a photo of a professional organizer in a closet with the title, 'How to Clean Out Your Closet.'

Today, I’ll show you an easy way to clean out your closet fast, and learn to let go of all those things you don’t actually need.

The Problem With Your Closet

Photo of a large, organized closet with built in shelving.
If you are like most, you wake up every morning, go to your closet, and sort through the same 5, 10, 50 tops that you never wear. I get it – each item has a reason for being there. 

The red top was a gift from your grandmother who was so happy to buy it for you that you feel compelled to keep it. That cashmere sweater never fit you right, but you spent SO MUCH on it, you just can’t get rid of it. You look at the black lace top that you wore to the clubs in NYC when you were just out of college. It doesn’t fit you anymore, but maybe it will again . . . someday. 

Large, white shoe cabinet.
The list goes on, and on, and . . . on. So, you keep it. All of it. And every day you spend time and energy sorting through the same items that you never wear.

If this sounds like your closet experience, you are not alone. So many of my clients battle this on a daily basis. It can be disheartening to start each day sorting through clothes you don’t wear and don’t feel good in. But, it doesn’t have to be this way! Your morning routine could be quicker and more joyous with just a little time and effort.

The Most Important Step in Cleaning out Your Closet...

Getting started can be the hardest part. But if you’re ready to tackle your closet, set aside 15 minutes on Sunday night. Yes – Sunday. Night. THIS Sunday night. At 8:30 pm. 

Clothing hanging on a rod, with labeled dividers.
Now you’ve got a plan to get started! But, if getting started is the hardest part, the second hardest part is deciding what should stay and what should go. Between now and Sunday, look at this super simple (and fun!) flow chart to help you with those decisions.

When Sunday at 8:30 arrives, go to your closet with a donation bin. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Start on the left side of your closet and work your way to the right. Each article of clothing you pass should be given the test. When the timer goes off, you are done for the night. 

Organized, labeled drawer with neatly folded pants.
Now commit to doing this same 15-minute exercise over and over again until your closet is only full of stuff you wear. And, from now on, make a promise to yourself that you’ll only buy clothes that you LOVE.

For more tips on a tricky closet (like one without doors!) read my contribution to the article 'Designing and Organizing your Dream Closet: Tips From the Experts' here

If you’re ready to organize your closet once and for good, check out my Main Bedroom + Closet Organizing Bootcamp! The Bootcamp includes video trainings, step-by-step instructions on how to purge and organize your space, and links to the best products to purchase to keep your home organized. What are you waiting for? Get started today! 

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