How to declutter a closet

Tips for decluttering your closet.

How to declutter a closet

Tips for decluttering your closet.
  • Clutter is one of a peaceful home's worst enemies. It causes frustration (when you can't find something), produces anxiety (when there's so much visual noise), and makes it at least twice as hard to clean an area. People often feel daunted when facing the task of decluttering. It's easy to get overwhelmed, so here are some ideas to make it a little easier.

  • Choose a single area

  • Usually, decluttering a whole house is too hard to do all in one swoop. Reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed by starting with a small area, such as the front closet. A small success here can help you get the confidence to take on a bigger area later.

  • Gather three containers, which you'll designate "Donate," "Trash," and "Elsewhere."

  • While the closet is empty, take the opportunity to thoroughly clean it

  • It's much easier when it's empty. Wash the walls and shelves and vacuum the floor. Dust the ceiling and corners.

  • Go through the pile, looking at each item one by one

  • The "elsewhere" container is key to this process because it allows you to keep on task and not get distracted by taking things to other rooms where you can get pulled away into other tasks. Decide if each item is something you use often and something you'll keep. Make a pile for these "keepers." The rest, including things you want to keep but you don't use often (that you put in the "elsewhere" container), should be put into one of the three "Donate," "Trash" or "Elsewhere" containers. If you haven't worn or used the item in six months, consider moving it to a less "up front" storage area. If you haven't used it in over a year, consider donating it.

  • Look at your keeper pile and decide what is the most organized way the items can reoccupy the closet space

  • Be creative. Many closets have unusable space above their top shelves. Can you make use of it by installing a second shelf or using stackable containers? What about using hanging storage like a shoe sorter? Don't put frequently used items on a top shelf that's out of your reach.

  • Reload your clean closet with your keepers

  • Deal with your three containers

  • by taking out the trash, putting the donation container into the car for easy drop-off at the nearest thrift store, and then taking the "elsewhere" items to the rooms where they best belong.

  • Your closet — and you — will take a big sigh of relief to have the burden of clutter lifted. Try these tips the next time you feel the need to declutter your closet.

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Margot Hovley is the author of the novels "Sudden Darkness" and "Glimmering Light." Her self-reliance blog is at, and she blogs about her writing adventures at


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