Cleaning And Organizing Your Closet
One great Spring cleaning project, is to clean and organize your closet/s. If you do one or two really big closet cleanings per year, maintenance and upkeep will be much easier to achieve throughout the year. Start small if you feel overwhelmed at the thought of doing all of the closets in your house. Set a smaller, more realistic goal to tackle one closet only.
In order to narrow the scope of my blog, I found one pretty good Website with some good closet cleaning tips:
Do whatever works for you. Not all closets are the same, and you will have to come up with a different plan for each closet. The plan for your clothes closet is going to be much different than the plan for your broom closet, or your child’s closet.
Size does not matter! No matter the size of your closet, these same tips can apply for any closet. I have a large walk-in closet, but we have other smaller closets in the house for which I employ the same methods.
Tip: Take a picture of your closet “Before,” and take another picture “After.” You will be able to visually see the amazing difference, and feel an even greater sense of accomplishment. Keep the “After” picture as motivation for how you want to maintain your closet.
Mellie’s Tips to Organize Your Closet
Below, I put my own spin on closet cleaning and organizing. This is what works for me…
Before: Here is my closet before I start working on it. Now, I keep up with my closet on a regular basis and rarely do a big clean out. So, my “before” picture doesn’t look too terrible. Coming from a neat-freak like me, this is about as messy and disorganized as it gets.
01) Take everything out of your closet. And I mean everything! The best way to clean out a closet is to completely empty it first. It sounds like a major pain, but trust me, if you’re serious about cleaning your closet out, you need to take everything out first. It is much easier to physically clean the closet, and to organize and sort, if you have removed all items from the closet first.
During: I have emptied everything from my closet.
02) Purge, purge, purge! Do not put everything right back into your closet! Have a plan for where your purged items are going to go. One easy way to divide up your purged items is: 1) Donate 2) Sell 3) Throw Away. As I worked on my closet, I put items in a bag to donate. If you have the patience and know-how to sell items, that is a great way to make a few extra dollars. Finally, be ready to throw items away.
03) Decide what you will keep, and what you will put back in your closet. Ask yourself “Do I really, really want/need to keep this item?” Or you can ask yourself “Do I want this item taking up valuable space in my closet?” If you have random items in your closet that don’t belong there, find a new home for them.
Tip: Avoid sentimentality and nostalgia. While cleaning out your closet, “when in doubt, throw it out.” Do you really need that stained free t-shirt you got at that bar-crawl back in the year 2000? Well, okay, that might be a tough one. But, get honest and real about your items! You deserve to have a great-looking and organized space. Don’t take up valuable space with old items. It is okay to throw things away. It’s very freeing and takes a huge weight off your shoulders.
Streamlining and uniformity is key! Employ different techniques to make items in your closet appear more uniform to the eye.
04) Hangers are a big key to a great closet. If you can, invest in the same, uniform hangers for your entire closet. There is not one “right” hanger. Just choose hangers that you like and that will work for you, and use them throughout your closet. If you don’t have the budget up-front to do this, work towards it and do it over time. I started making my hangers uniform in college, and it took several years to build up all of the same hangers that I wanted. I like white, plastic hangers for my shirts. I am a small person, thus, I have small clothes. I love wood hangers, but they are too big for my shirts. We do use uniform wood hangers in my husband’s closet, and they give his closet a nice, uniform, masculine look. For my pants and skirts, I like the hanging wood hangers, as they are fairly sturdy. I don’t have anything nice enough or fancy enough for satin hangers, but those are also very pretty and nice. Some hanger styles fit better in a smaller space. Do whatever works for you.
Tip: Do not ever hang those wire, dry-cleaning hangers in your closet. We don’t dry clean very often, but when we do, I throw away the hangers. Wire, dry-cleaning hangers are not great for hanging clothes on, and are not a good addition to any closet. You may find other uses for them, but don’t hang your clothes on them. Recycle them if you can.
05) Find storage solutions that work for you. This will be different for everybody. If you have a smaller space, research some good storage solutions, and invest in a few key pieces. This might be an over-the-door shoe rack, or a vertical garment stacker. Make use of your vertical space if you have a smaller space to work with. Go all the way up to the ceiling if need be. Items that you don’t use very often, or don’t need to frequently access, place higher up in the closet. Every-day items should be placed at levels you can reach. Except if you’re very short, like me, in which case almost everything is out of reach. I keep a small step-stool in my closet for that reason.
06) Set your closet up in “zones” according to function. A “zone” is any way that makes sense to you, and what works best for you. For example, a seasonal zone is an easy way to organize. That is how I organize my closet. I keep short sleeves, shorts, and shorter-style pants on one side of my closet for warmer weather. Then, I keep long sleeves and long pants on the other side of my closet for colder weather. I also place my shoes according to season. My warmer weather shoes go front-and-center during the warmer season, and I store my colder weather shoes away. When the season changes, I reverse the zone.
Another zone might be “work/professional” clothes, and then casual clothes. My husband’s closet is organized in that way.
Tip: Weight and size fluctuations are normal. If you fluctuate between weights and sizes, like most women, that’s okay! Just incorporate those differences into your zones. I couldn’t find one closet-cleaning website with this tip. Even though so many women will go between different sizes throughout their lives. Maybe you can create a zone for bigger sizes, and a zone for smaller sizes. In the beginning of the process, while you are purging, be realistic about what sizes you want to keep. Don’t stress yourself out about trying to get back into smaller clothes. Ditch them! If you’ve lost weight, be proud, and ditch your bigger sizes.
Choose zones that make sense to you. Keep your zones to a minimum, maybe two or three zones only. If you have too many zones, than there really is no organization at all.
07) Color code your zones. It doesn’t matter how many zones you have, color code each zone. Color coding sounds intimidating, but it looks so nice and pleasing to the eye when you do it. Doing a color code according to the colors of the rainbow is an easy trick. Just think “R-O-Y-G-B-I-V.” That is: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet. Yes, I stole that from Sesame Street, but hey, whatever works! Tweak ROYGBIV as needed, since it doesn’t have every color you will have in your closet. I like to put whites in the front, use ROYGBIV, and then finish with brown, gray, black. Black is my favorite color, so I have lots of black items, which I like having grouped together at the back of the color scale.
During: Here is some of my “warmer weather” zone, color coded using “white, ROYGBIV, brown, gray, black.”
08) Actually clean your closet! I have a built in closet organizing system that attracts dust like crazy. If you read my blogs, you know that “dust is my enemy!” 🙂 While my closet was empty, I wiped down every surface in the closet. I wiped down the baseboards. I wiped down the “troll doors” (that is what we call the little tiny doors for fire access). I cleaned the light fixture, and changed out the bulbs with better bulbs for better lighting. I vacuumed the floor. I cleaned the hanging racks. I wiped down any dust on my wood hangers. I cleaned items (like boxes) off before placing them back in the closet.
If you have wire shelving, cleaning is trickier, but you can still do it. My son has wire shelving and wire drawers. I use my handy-dandy baby wipes to wipe down the wire storage. Even wire shelving accumulates dust!
09) Enjoy the final product! Be proud of your hard work, and your willingness to even tackle the project. Take an “After” picture, and look at the difference!
After: My closet “After” I cleaned and organized.
10) Maintain, maintain, maintain!! The easiest way to clean and organize your closet, is to do it a little bit at a time. Maybe 15 minutes a week. Or an hour per month.
Also, limit your shopping, and that will limit what comes into your closet. I am probably that rare woman that hates to shop. I hate it with a passion. Number 1, I’m cheap and I hate to spend money on shopping. Number 2, pants never fit my short legs. Number 3, I can’t find shoes at an average store in my tiny size 5. Where my short girls at? Can I get an “Amen!?!” Okay, enough of the short-girl rant. My strong dislike of shopping, helps me to maintain a neat closet. I don’t bring new items into my closet very often. I only have a few handbags. I don’t have many accessories. I don’t even own one sweater (I hate sweaters, I don’t know why, I just always have). I have a very simple approach to shopping (don’t do it), combined with a limited array of items (I don’t have ’em).
Tip: When you bring a new item into your closet, purge one item out of the closet at the same time. It is much easier to purge along the way, than to do it all at once.
11) Employ the “backwards hanger” technique. I’m pretty sure I saw this technique on a talk show many, many years ago, like in the 90s. It always stuck with me, and it’s something I use in the house. I use it mostly in my husband’s closet, because he always swears he’s going to wear stuff, and then I trick him with this technique. But, now he’s on to me, and he knows I use it!
When you are done cleaning and organizing, when place your items back into the closet, turn all of your hangers backwards on the rack like this:
Every time you wear an item, wash it, and hang it back up, flip the hanger around the correct way and hang it back up the correct way. After several months, you will easily be able to see which items you have actually worn, and which items you have not touched. Do this for one year, and if you have not worn it after a year, get rid of it. Don’t cheat and turn the hangers around without wearing the items first!
I hope some of these tips will be able to help you on your journey to a cleaner, more organized closet.
Happy cleaning and organizing!