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How to Clean Out Your Closet.

How To Clean Out A Closet


Closet Cleanout: Get Rid of Clutter for Good

Cleaning out the closet is a daunting project that’s often put off. But with tightly crammed clothes and hangers sticking out in every direction, finding the shirt you need amongst the outdated fashion choices you can’t seem to let go of can be exhausting. Stop spending so much time getting dressed in the morning. Get rid of the clothes that are wasting space with closet cleanout tips from the following experts: 


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How Do You Want to Clean Out Your Closet?

Steps to Clean Out Your Closet

  1. Mark Your Calendar
  2. Take Everything Out
  3. Clean the Inside
  4. Sort Into Piles
  5. Refine the "Keep" Pile
  6. Toss What You Don't Need
  7. Put Everything Back



How to Get Rid of Clothes in Your Closet

It’s time to get yourself into the organization mindset. Tackling a closet cleanout is no simple task, so use these tips to help you work through the job.


1. Schedule Time for Your Cleanout

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably either started thinking about tackling this project or committed to finally getting rid of all the clothes you don’t wear. But you might be asking yourself, “How do I start cleaning out my closet?”

Cleaning out your closet can be overwhelming, so go in with a plan. Prepare by setting aside some time and marking it in your calendar. Scheduling this as an essential task will make it difficult to avoid. Then, clear the whole day if you need to. You might even hire a babysitter so you don’t get distracted. Play some music that will keep you motivated over the next few hours, put away your phone and dive in.

Less is More Logo.

“Work in smaller blocks of time. Set a timer for 30 minutes to two hours, select a clothing type to go through and declutter until time is up.”

Sarah Giller Nelson, Owner & Professional Organizer | Less is More 

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2. Empty Your Closet Into One Giant Pile

What is the best way to clean out your closet? Start by taking every last item out, including your hangers, and placing them on your bed. Now you can’t go to sleep until you finish the project, giving you no excuse to stop until you’re done. This will also give you a visual of the space available in your closet so you can see what will fit comfortably as you replace pieces you want to keep. 

Minima Logo.

“This may seem a bit intimidating, but starting fresh is the best way to create lasting change and do a thorough review of what you own. If you have clothing overflowing into other areas of your home, pull that in to sort as well.”

Kristen Ziegler, Organizing Expert | Minima 

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3. Give Your Closet a Good Scrub

Next, clean the inside of the closet while it’s empty. Dust and wipe down shelves and racks, vacuum or sweep the floor and clean light fixtures. Leave the door open so the closet can air out while you decide which clothes to keep and which to get rid of.

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4. Sort Clothes Into Keep, Give Away and Toss Piles

It’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Create three distinct groups as you go through each item on your bed: 

  • Clothes you’re going to keep.
  • Items you don’t need that are still in good condition.
  • Anything that needs to go straight to the trash.

Once you’ve put an item into a pile, don’t second guess yourself. Keep moving so you don’t lose momentum.

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5. Refine the “Keep” Pile

Sorting clothes into the “keep” pile is the easy part, but remember not to get too carried away – you can’t keep everything. Stick to this list to help you figure out what should stay in your closet.

  • Layering pieces that are good for any season.
  • Things you want and have actually worn in the last year.
  • Clothing and accessories you can incorporate with any trend.
  • Staple and everyday pieces that you wear at least seasonally.

How to Decide Which Clothes to Keep

If you’re still wondering, “what should I keep in my closet?” then answer the following questions or check out our closet cleanout quiz to decide if a particular item is valuable to your wardrobe.

  • Would I buy this today?
  • Does this fit my lifestyle?
  • When was the last time I wore this?
  • When will I wear this in the next few months?
Less is More Logo.

“Hold your wardrobe to a very high standard. When we look good, we feel good, and you deserve to always feel your best. When decluttering, be very picky and honest.”

Sarah Giller Nelson, Owner & Professional Organizer | Less is More 

Try the Marie Kondo Method

“Does this item bring me joy?” That’s the main question famous Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo says to ask yourself when you’re decluttering. So, as you’re cleaning out your clothes, think about each item. Does a certain top make you feel less than your best? If it doesn’t make you feel good, you’re not going to wear it. There’s no point in letting it take up space in your closet.

Kondo also says to think about what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Shift your thoughts to focus on items you truly love instead of worrying about some old clothes you really don’t want.

Take Our Closet Cleanout Quiz

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Cleanout Quiz

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6. Toss What You Don’t Need to Free Up Space in Your Closet

Now it’s time to figure out what’s not going back in your closet. Use this list to easily decide what to purge.

  • Clothes that don’t fit.
  • Anything you have multiples of.
  • Items that no longer suit your style.
  • Apparel you haven’t worn or only used once.
  • Things you used to wear often but now dislike.
  • Accessories and items that can’t be styled with other clothing.
  • Anything you tell yourself you’ll get repaired or altered but haven’t.
Minima Logo.

“Be bold. Most people wear the same few items over and over, so just let the rest go.”

Kristen Ziegler, Organizing Expert | Minima 

You can donate, sell or give a friend any of the above items that are in good condition. Don’t waste time getting them out of your house – you just went through all that hard work paring down your clothes, so don’t let them continue cluttering your space.

Anything you haven’t decided to keep, give away or sell likely needs to be tossed. If it’s in poor condition, send it to the trash or find a local textile recycling organization that can reuse your old clothes. This means getting rid of anything ripped, stained, faded or otherwise unwearable.

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7. Put the Keep Pile Back in Your Closet

Now it’s time to neatly refill your closet, but have a plan to keep your clothes organized. Consider installing new shelves, buying organizing drawers or adding additional rods if space allows to help you create a cohesive system. As you put things away, store them in a way that compliments your daily routine. For example, if you work out every day, try putting athletic wear near the front of your closet with the items you regularly wear to work. Your more casual weekend clothes don’t need prime real estate, because you won’t need to access them quickly as you’re rushing out the door during the week.

Life Organized Logo.

“Fold or hang like items together, such as pants, long-sleeve tops, short-sleeve tops, etc. Within each category, group items by color. Also, consider moving out-of-season clothing to another closet, a rack in the basement or in storage bins under your bed.”

Barbara Reich, Professional Organizer | Life Organized 

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5 Fast Tips for Cleaning Out Your Closet

Here are a few quick pieces of advice to help you clean out your closet and tie up some loose ends on the items you still may be unsure about.

1. The One-Year Rule

If you haven’t worn it in the last year, you likely won’t ever wear it. Don’t hold onto a T-shirt or a pair of shoes hoping you’ll use it again and don’t try to convince yourself you will someday. It’s time to let it go. Stop letting it take up valuable space.

Minimalism Made Simple Logo.

“When cleaning out your closet, choose the items that reflect the person you are today, and separate the ones that reflect who you used to be. We all naturally grow and change overtime, and our clothes can highlight our transformation."

Rebecca Crespo, Founder | Minimalism Made Simple 

2. Force Yourself to Wear the Maybes

Clothes that still have you hemming and hawing about whether to keep or get rid of call for a trial wear. Choose a day in the next week to wear them and take note of how you feel in them. Do these jeans make you feel good? Will you wear this sweater again? Can you find a way to style it?

3. One Thing In, One Thing Out

Moving forward, for every new article of clothing you buy, something has to go. This will help you prevent your closet from getting cluttered again.

4. The Hanger Trick

When you’re putting your clothes back in your closet, make sure all your hangers are facing the same way. After you wear an item, turn the hanger around when you put it back. Wait a month, then take note of which hangers are still facing the original way. Reevaluate your need for and use of these clothes and consider donating them. This will help you keep your closet clutter in check on a regular basis.

5. Slow and Steady

If the idea of devoting several hours to cleaning out your closet is just too overwhelming, try making it part of your daily routine. Set up a donation box in or near your closet and aim to put five items in every day.

Declutter in Minutes Logo.

“As you’re grabbing a shirt for the day ahead, find another that you no longer wear. Looking for a belt? Donate any that are out of style. By doing the decluttering as you go, you will turn an intimidating project into just another simple task on your daily to-do list.”

Tracy Lynn, Founder | Declutter in Minutes 


Closet Cleanout FAQs

Here are Reich’s answers on some common questions people have about cleaning out their closets.

1. How often should I clean out my closet?

At least twice a year, but every season is preferable.

2. How can I keep my closet clean?

Label everything in your closet. When you take something off a hanger, move it to the front of the closet so you always know where your empty hangers are.

3. How long does it take to clean out a closet?

This depends on how much clothing you have. It could take an hour or a whole day.


Time to Wear Your Favorite Clothes

You made it through the project! Your bed is cleared off, your closet is clean and you have the tips you need to keep it organized. Now you can reach into your closet as you get dressed every day and always wear the clothes that make you feel your best.


Recommended reading: Decluttering and Organization Rules




Hall Closet Organization | How to Clean Out a House



Expert Contributors

Rebecca Crespo

Creator Rebecca Crespo has three years of experience with minimal living. The blog is dedicated to simple living, an intentional lifestyle and minimalism. She works to inspire individuals to explore their own journey of minimal living that is not defined by others.

Tracy Lynn

Blogger and founder Tracy Lynn of Pennsylvania uses techniques to help her readers learn how to take charge of overwhelming projects and break them down into small steps to make progress. She has helped thousands of people learn how to clean out the clutter and organize their homes.

Kristen Ziegler

Kristen Ziegler is an organizing expert and owner of Minima. Based in Richmond , Minima offers professional organizing and redesign services. Since 2010, the company has developed a clear process to ensure lasting results for its clients.


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