When your closet is organized, everything is easier to locate.  Your favorite jeans and those pair of shoes you love to wear are readily accessible.  Closet editing is just one component to closet organization.  While performing a keep or toss system periodically will keep your closet fresh and full of clothes that fit and that you actually want to wear, closet organization can be a lot more involved.  Below are six steps to perform to get your closet into tip top shape.

1.  Gather Organization Supplies

Measuring Tape

Before you begin, gather all the supplies that you anticipate that you will need in your closet overhaul.  Be sure to set aside ample time (about 2 to 3 hours) to complete the project.

Here’s some supplies that might be handy during closet organization:

  • Shopping Bags: These sturdy bags work well when transporting clothes to the donation center, tailor, and dry cleaner. If you don’t have bags, boxes and bins will work as well.
  • Tape Measure: This is useful to measure shelving and hanging space. Don’t forget a notebook to jot down your closet’s measurements.
  • Full-Length Mirror: This is useful to decide between “toss” and “keep” when trying on articles of clothing.
  • Catch-All Basket: This bin can be used when you find loose change, papers, rubber bands, hair clips, and assorted receipts that you’ll find in pockets. You don’t want to have to stop to file these small items so just put them aside for now.

2.  Empty and Clean Your Closet

Empty Closet

Remove everything from the closet, including hangers, baskets, bins, and anything else that might be on the floor or shelves.  You need a clear, clean space to plan and visualize how you’re going reorganize your closet.

First, dust the shelving and hanging rods. Next, vacuum or sweep and mop the floor. Finally, wipe the shelving, hanging rods, walls, and baseboards down with an all-purpose cleaner. Don’t forget any baskets or bins that could be collecting dust.

3.  Declutter Your Closet’s Contents

Now comes the part that you’ve either been anticipating or dreading. Some people fear decluttering because they love to hold onto things they “may need one day” or “used to fit/be in style.”  Focus on what to keep rather than what you want to discard. If you need help, check out this list of signs it’s time to get rid of clothing.

Closets are limited spaces, so choose wisely when giving up valuable real estate. Be prepared to separate your clothes into distinct piles:

  • Keep: Anything you love and wear often.
  • Consign: To sell or consign items, your clothing, shoes and accessories must be in good condition. Most consignment stores prefer them to be name brands.
  • Donate: These items should be in good condition. Think “gently used” when adding to this pile.
  • Trash: Clothing to trash would include anything stained beyond repair, ripped, or completely out of style.

Note:  If you’re having a hard time deciding whether to keep an item, create a “maybe” pile. Put your maybe pile into a bin and revisit it one, three, or six months later.  If you forgot about these items or never thought about wearing them, you can confidently donate or consign them.

4.  Purchase Closet Organizers

Closet storage solutions aren’t going to create more space in your closet.  However, closet organizers can help to make more storage space accessible to you.

  • A step stool will make it easier for you to reach the top shelves of your closet.
  • A double hang will make better use of horizontal storage space in the closet.
  • An over-the-door shoe rack can turn your door into the perfect place to store either shoes, accessories, or both.

Considering a major closet overhaul?  Think twice about a total redo and then consider the following:  Measure the space, assess what you already have, and then plan your closet accordingly. Buy only what you need to store your clothes, and, if it’s possible, reuse what you already own.. Small bookcases, cubbies, and baskets are great for storing handbags, shoes, accessories, and gym clothes.

Finally, don’t forget to measure a space several times before buying a new storage item. Nothing is worse than buying something only to find out that it doesn’t fit the space.

5.  Organize Your Closet’s Contents

Finished Closet

This is where you put everything back together in a way that makes sense to you, utilizes all of your available space, and is attractive enough to motivate closet maintenance. Think about where it makes sense to store each category of clothing and then think about the easiest spots to reach in your closet.

  • Group Like with Like: Gather belts, sweaters, long-sleeve shirts, pants, dresses, button-down shirts, jeans, shorts together in groups of items. Decide the best place to store each item as a group (i.e. hang pants in closet, fold and stack sweaters in a bureau). Working in groups of items will help you figure out how much space you need and the best way to store each type of item.
  • Properly Utilize Prime Space: Reserve the front and middle of your closet for clothes you wear most often. If you have to get dressed for work each morning at 6 a.m., make sure your work clothes are at the front of your closet. Lesser-worn items like formal wear and out-of-season should be stored toward the back and on the upper shelves.
  • Tuck Away Least-Used Items: Use the very top of your closet for out-of-season items and stuff you only wear a few times a year, such as Halloween costumes and super-fancy shoes.

6.  Closet Maintenance

The more often you work on closet maintenance, the less time it will take. Go through your closet and complete a quick makeover (or make-under) once a month, and tackle the full reorganization process twice a year.

Make it easy on yourself by following a cleaning schedule, either by season, by date (such as your birthday or New Year’s) or by event. In other words, the next time you can’t find an important piece of clothing, that’s a good sign you need a closet reorganization.