I’ll admit it: Even though I’m ruthless in the face of clutter, I don’t clean out my closet as regularly as I should. While our team has walked you through how to declutter every room in your home, I know the closet can be a different story. In fact, once the pandemic hit, I clung hard to items that I was on the fence about getting rid of: Well-worn sweatpants that had seen better days seemed like they’d be getting a lot of use now; sweaters that hit at a weird length now found a second life as Zoom replaced IRL meetings; blazers that I typically wore to work went unused, but what if a return to the office was right around the corner? I resolved to do nothing for months until one day, I almost broke my vintage dresser trying to close one of its drawers.
But cleaning out your closet is one of the most satisfying experiences you can get these days—especially if you work from home amid your closet’s contents. And while it can be time-consuming, the good news is that you don’t have to go into it blind. Ahead, how to tackle your seasonal closet clean-out with ease.
Before you scoff, know this: A proper closet clean-out will take an entire day. I highly recommend scheduling it when you don’t have a hard stop and can instead finish when the job is truly done. You’ll also want to budget some time in case you need to run out to the store for bins, hangers, or anything else you may need.
Empty It All Out
That’s right: Empty everything. It’s impossible to go through a drawer of clothes if you can’t see every single item hiding in there. I recommend finding a common spot for everything to make it easier to sort it into piles later. (For me, it’s my king-sized bed, but my sister prefers her empty living room floor, for instance.)
Clean Your Closet + Drawers
Most people miss this step, but cleaning out your closet should always involve cleaning your closet, dresser, or whatever other vessel holds your items. Grab some All-Purpose Cleaner and get to work on the insides of drawers, closet rods, and underneath your dresser.
Sort Into Four Piles
You can use the Marie Kondo method if that speaks to you, but we’re big proponents of going with your gut: You know when you look at an item if you’re going to wear it. Then, sort it into items to keep, items to donate, and items that are too worn to donate. While most people like to sort them into three piles, I always recommend adding a fourth: Items that need to be cleaned or tailored, but you haven’t gotten around to it yet. First, be honest with yourself: Will you ever get it done? If it needs to be cleaned, make sure you pre-treat any stains right then and there. If it needs to be tailored, make time to go within the next week—and if you don’t, it has to go straight into the donate pile. Make an appointment with a local donation center to pick up your items within the week, which gives you a hard deadline to stick to.
I also recommend being generous with your keep pile, then going back to refine it based on everything you already saw. If you wanted to keep a ratty tee because it’s comfortable but realized you have half a dozen other well-loved tees, maybe it’s worth tossing.
Decide On A System
In my opinion, this is the hardest part. What goes back onto hangers? Into drawers? Into under-the-bed storage? Take a quick assessment of what will fit where, as well as how you’ll want to access those items later. Do you need to have all of your handbags at the ready or can they fit in a bin under the bed? Is it imperative that your sneakers be in plain sight so you remember to work out? Do you need a bigger catch-all for your jewelry? Pick those up now.
Put It All Back
Once you’ve decided what should go where, now’s the time to do it! Give everything a good spritz with Garment Groom, then start filing. And while you can rejoice in all the extra space you have, try not to fill it back up.
Once you’re done, light a candle, pour a glass of wine, and enjoy it!