How to Clean Your Closet With a Minimum Amount of Life Drama

Get your mood on and just do it.

I said I’m sorry, mama, I didn’t mean to hurt you. I didn’t mean to make you cry but tonight I’m cleaning out my closet. – Eminem

Cleaning your closet can be an overwhelming job to be sure, but just like your taxes, it needs to be done on an annual basis. Depending on your shopping habits, it may need to be done more than annually, but for now let’s focus on spring cleaning.

Wouldn’t it be nice to just open up your closet or dresser and choose your outfit for the day without digging through piles of unworn and unflattering items or causing a clothing avalanche of epic proportions? Wouldn’t you love to LOVE everything you own, even on laundry day? It is not an impossible dream; just follow these steps:

Get In The Mood

The first step is to get in the right frame of mind: you want to be in a “get down to business” mood, not an emotional “but I loved that INXS concert from 1988 and need to keep that commemorative t-shirt” mood. Make sure you’ve had something to eat and water to drink; you have a job to do and you need energy to get through it. Put on your favourite upbeat music. May I suggest the theme from Rocky?

Start With One Type of Clothing

Maybe going through your entire closet is too big of a task right now. That’s okay! Start with one type of clothing item; let’s say tops and sweaters. Take every single top and sweater out of your closet and dresser and pile them on the floor.

Ask Yourself The Hard Questions

You have now reached the point of no return. You need to deal with the pile of clothing on the floor. Each item will go into a new pile; the “Keep” and the “Deal With.” Pick up each and every one item and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this fit? Life is too short to have a closet full of ill-fitting clothes on the off chance that they may fit again.
  • If it fits, is it flattering? Fit is one thing, but clothes should flatter your body and make you feel good about yourself.
  • Can I remember the last time I wore this? Even if I can’t remember, is it likely I will ever wear it again? Be honest! Does that neon yellow Flashdance sweater you bought for a costume party in 2007 really need to be taking up valuable closet real estate?
  • If this is damaged, will I ACTUALLY get it repaired? There’s no sense in keeping a skirt with a broken zipper or pants with no buttons, unless you are willing to get them repaired.
  • If I saw this in the store right now, would I buy it? This is a key question, particularly if the item is trendy, out of your comfort zone, or something that is not indicative of your own personal style.
  • Do I love it? The goal is to clear your closet of ill-fitting, unflattering, unloved clothing. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you loved EVERY ITEM in your closet? If every time you opened your dresser all you had to choose from would be items that you loved?

If you’ve answered “no” to any of those questions, the item goes into the “Deal With” pile. Everything else – the clothes that fit and flatter, the clothes that are in good repair or are repairable, the clothes that you love and feel represent YOU – those clothes go in the “Keep” pile.

Go Through The “Deal With” Pile

First things first: anything that is in very poor repair may need to be thrown in the garbage, or turned into rags. Old stained t-shirts or worn-out flannel pajamas make great cleaning rags!

Next, ask your friends to come over and take their pick of your discarded pile. What might not flatter you may be the perfect item for one of your girlfriends – or even one of their teen daughters! I have purchased too-trendy items that have eventually ended up on my friends’ girls, to everyone’s delight.

The things that are left over need to go into bags and boxes for donations. I know, it can be hard to get rid of things that cost money and that were worn so seldom. I had a whole collection of bridesmaid gowns and prom dresses that I kept thinking I could somehow change into an item for everyday wear. But there are so many ways to turn your unwanted items into good karma: there are charities that outfit women for job interviews, and re-entry into the workplace, and formal dresses can be donated to associations that help disadvantaged teens find prom dresses. Even the puffy-sleeved, eggplant-hued satin grad dress can find a home at your local thrift store – hey, sometimes people just need Halloween costumes.

The point is that if you cannot use or wear an item, someone else CAN. Now, get to it – and don’t forget to repair those items that you said you would! Enjoy your new closet full of ONLY things that you love!




RELATED: Time-Saving Cleaning Tips from an Interior Stylist