How to Clean Out Your Closet (And Keep Everything You Love)


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Over dinner the other night, I discovered that one of my girlfriends was struggling to keep her room neat.  It turned out that the issue was that she found the process of stuffing clothing back into her closet so unpleasant that they ended up… well… everywhere.

Been there!  I spent all winter stuffing my wardrobe excesses into corners and struggling to get my closet doors closed.  My summer stuff took up space in shared storage in the living room and hallway, so storing items in those closets was also a nightmare.

If you’re also sick of a never-ending closet Tetris game, here is my fool-proof closet clean out solution.  At the end of it, I guarantee that you will have 30-60% less stuff, everything will fit comfortably in the same space, and you will STILL have a fabulous wardrobe.

Step 1: Clear space to be able to pull out all your clothing (both summer and winter).

This process will quickly devolve into a nightmare if you don’t have space to pile up everything you own.  Take the time to sweep your bedroom floor and make your bed.

Step 2: Put everything you own (including accessories) into three piles: definitely donate/consign, definitely keep, undecided.

Definitely Donate/Consign:  This is the critical pile.  Be honest and aggressive.  Most women only wear 20% of their closet, so why are you holding on to all that other stuff?  This the pile for items that you like in theory (good brand, quality material, fashionable, pretty design, sentimental) but that you rarely wear.  Here are some helpful questions to ask yourself as you work through each item.  If the answer is “yes,” it belongs in this pile

  • Is the item uncomfortable?
  • Does the item have an awkward cut?
  • Is it a fashionable cut but unflattering on your figure?
  • Is it too low/short/long/loose/tight?
  • Does it requires a camisole (is the item transparent)?
  • Is it in an aspirational (too small) size?
  • Has it been more than thirty days since you wore it (in-season items)?
  • Does the item have significant value if you consign it?

Definitely Keep.  This pile is for those items you wear literally every laundry cycle, for the items that make you feel slim and attractive, and for items with significant sentimental value.  This pile will probably include fewer designer items and more basics.  Be conservative with this pile and honest with yourself.  You only need 7 skirts/pants, 7 tops, a couple jackets, and a couple dresses to make a working wardrobe, so if this pile only contains 20 items when you are done sorting, that’s ok!

Undecided.  This pile is for everything else.

Step 3.  Put away all your “Definitely Keep” items.

Step 4. Put away your “Undecided” items, until your closet/dresser is filled, but not stuffed.  This includes all winter storage capacity.

Step 5. Put any remaining “Undecided” into the “Consign/Donate” pile

Step 6.  Split the “Consign/Donate” pile into Consign versus Donate items.


Consign items are the items in impeccable condition from higher end brands.  To consign, I’m a huge fan of  They are the largest consignment shop on line.  They will ship you a “Closet Clean Out” bag with return postage for free and then take care of everything else.  Commission is paid up front for everything except big ticket items, which earn a higher commission rate and pay out after they sell.  So far, I have earned more than $200 using the site!!


Donate items are in wearable condition from less expensive brands.  If you itemize your tax return, you can get a rebate on the value of the clothing you donate.  Drop off at your closest thrift shop or other charitable organization

Step 7. Breath deep and enjoy stress-free use of your closet and dresser!


photo credit: hang via photopin (license)


One thought on “How to Clean Out Your Closet (And Keep Everything You Love)

  1. Thanks for writing this 😉 Between your suggestions and the KonMari method I’m bound to make some progress! Marie Kondo similarly suggests to pull out every item of the same time and go through them one at a time, holding each in your hand and asking, “Does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, it gets donated.

    I think your process of definitely not/definitely keep/undecided might help clarify this a little further for me. I get stuck on the Undecided pile. The emotional and rational sides of me go NUTS lecturing me: “But you haven’t worn this enough to warrant giving it away. But this item is so practical, surely you should keep it. But what if you need it?”

    Marie says with her process, you should be able to pare down your belongings to one-third of what you had before. The thought of that stresses me out, but I KNOW I want to live with less stuff. Thanks to the minimalist wardrobe movement, I have been thinking for a while that counting the number of each item I have and deciding “this is my end-goal” will help me be more ruthless in editing my closet.

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