If you are thinking, “I need to clean out my closet,” but you have no idea where to start, check out these tried and proven methods to clean out your closet.
There is no right or wrong way. I have tried a few of these methods in my simplifying journey and every time I had the desire to clean out my closet.
This post contains affiliate links for your convenience (which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, I will earn a small commission but it won’t cost you a penny more)! Read my full disclosure policy.
Methods to Clean Out Your Closet:
Backward Hangers Method
Made famous by Oprah Winfrey, the backward hanger method is one way to declutter your closet.
Take all the clothes in your closet and turn all the hangers backward. At the end of the season, anything still backward goes.
I like this method in that it’s in your face what you wear and don’t wear. I don’t like backward hangers.
The mornings before caffeine make this method annoying at times. However, it does work.
KonMari Method of Cleaning out Your Closet
Take out all your clothes, put them on the bed or floor, and only keep the ones that bring you joy. You aren’t looking at what to get rid of from your closet, you are looking at what to keep.
Marie Kondo suggests only keeping items that spark joy for you.
Marie Kondo also states to make sure you handle each piece of clothing. You must touch it and make a decision. You can’t pick up a group of items and simply hang them back up.
Marie Kondo is not a fan of off-season storage. She suggests keeping all your clothes in your closet, ready to wear at any time of the year. It is a huge time saver, and I adopted this method when I made the move to clean out my closet.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has been one of my favorite inspirational reads in learning how to declutter.
One Category at a Time
This is a method I’ve been covering with a 30-day decluttering challenge to tackle your clothes and your kids’ clothes.
Maybe decluttering your closet fast and all at once is too much. Maybe you are the type that likes to eat an elephant one small bite at a time.
If so, then try decluttering your clothes and your closet in small, 20 minute or less chunks of time.
Start with your socks, then your underwear, tops, bottoms, pajamas, athletic wear, swimsuits, etc. You get the picture.
You don’t have to do it all at once.
Courtney Carver is the mastermind behind a favorite blog of mine and creator of Project 333.
Project 333 is a method for creating a capsule wardrobe of just the necessities, narrowed down to only 33 pieces.
When I first created a capsule wardrobe, I used her method as inspiration to pick and choose exactly what I wanted to stay in my closet.
While I LOVE Courtney’s method, I never could get down to 33 items! I think it is because I live in a climate where you need summer clothes in the afternoon and winter clothes in the evening. Therefore, I have modified my approach to creating a capsule wardrobe.
Courtney tells you that you don’t have to stick to only 33 items too.
Purge just one bag of clothes
Maybe tackling your closet, even one category at a time seems like too much.
If this is the case, take the challenge to fill one garbage bag full of clothes. If that’s too much, fill one grocery bag.
Go ahead and set yourself a five-minute timer, and get ready to fill the bag with items you know with no hesitation you don’t enjoy wearing or never plan to wear again.
Then, throw that bag into the car and take it to your local donation center in the next 24 hours.
No laundry method
This method intrigues the heck out of me, as it works. Plus, you get a break from the laundry.
Here’s how it works:
Stop doing laundry. Yep. You heard me right. Stop doing any laundry.
Eventually, you are going to look into your closet, probably one day very soon, and see nothing you want to wear.
When you get to this point, you have successfully done the hard decision making for decluttering your closet.
You don’t like what is left. You don’t want to wear it, and you want to do laundry. That’s how you know you can get rid of the stuff left.
Go ahead and take the clothes left and box them up. You don’t have to completely purge them yet, but my guess is you won’t miss them a month from now, as you don’t want to wear them now, and you probably will not want to wear them in a month.
Now, there are exceptions to special occasions wear, but you get the point of this exercise!
Empty the entire closet (Method I used first to clean out my closet)
When I went to clean out my closet the first time, this was the approach I used. I was desperate for a fast transformation.
Take all the items out of your closet and empty them onto your bed. My guess is you will have a mountain of clothes pretty soon.
As you are taking clothes out of the closet, go ahead and start bagging up the ones you know you don’t wear any longer, don’t fit, are broken, or no longer fit your lifestyle. This will give you a head start on what gets purged.
Then, start looking for combinations of outfits. If you are stuck with pieces that are so unique or have no corresponding piece, it may be time to find it a new home.
Next, start looking for color patterns. Do you find yourself buying the same colors? Maybe these should be the base for your new capsule wardrobe.
Consider if you want to pack up any seasonal clothes or if you will have an all-season closet.
When I cleaned out my closet, I chose an all-season closet since we live in a climate where the temperatures can fluctuate up to 30 degrees in one day!
Pack up any clothes that don’t fit you.
If you are experiencing weight changes, and it would not be economical to give away your clothes, then at least get them out of your closet space, if you can. Worse case, pack them in a storage container and store that container in your closet. At least those pieces won’t be cluttering up your current selection and cause decision fatigue every day!
Try on all your clothes
One way to know for sure if you want to keep a clothing item or not is to try on all your clothes.
When I had to clean out my closet, there were some items I came across I was unsure about keeping, so I would try them on.
This became an effective method for answering the question, “Would I buy this today?” It was almost like I was in a department store fitting room.
Try on your clothes. If you don’t like how they fit or make you feel and you would not buy them today, then maybe it is time to purge them from your closet.
Create a capsule wardrobe and store the rest (for a short time)
When I first had to clean out my closet, I had never had a capsule wardrobe. I had never even heard of the term “capsule wardrobe”!
Basically, a capsule wardrobe is a timeless selection of clothes that can be mix and matched and kept at a minimal. You can have 20 pieces in your capsule wardrobe. You can have 100 pieces. There really isn’t a wrong answer.
You can create a seasonal capsule wardrobe, or you can create an all-season capsule wardrobe.
The point of a capsule wardrobe is to give yourself a fairly minimal wardrobe to take away the decision fatigue of getting dressed every morning. It also gives you a whole lot more space in your closet!
After you create a capsule wardrobe, store the rest for a bit. If, after an entire season you haven’t missed any of the items in storage, you know you can part with them safely.
Want more help? Check out my Ultimate Guide to Creating a Capsule Wardrobe.
You can also read more here on how to create a capsule wardrobe.
Clean out your closet
There is no right way to clean out your closet. When I decided to clean out my closet, I was desperate for change but unsure how to go about it.
I have tried a few of these methods to clean out my closet, and I like them. They have each helped me at different periods of my cleaning and simplifying journey.
What is your favorite method to clean out your closet?