Closet Decluttering: The Simple How-To Guide!

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It’s not easy to get me to clean out my closet.  Can you feel me?  I like my clothes.  Who knows, I may even wear that shirt again one day…the occasion may arise when I really, truly need it.  But even I had to admit that the time had come to do some closet cardio.

My closet was bursting; I am surprised a bar didn’t come crashing down in the middle of the night.  To hang up one more item, I’d literally jam every hanger over to squeeze in an extra quarter inch of space to hang up yet another shirt.  Plus, I was taking over about 3/4 of the closet and poor Chad was left with a paltry 18 inches of hanging space.  Laundry was great, because it meant I didn’t have to find closet space for those clothes being cycled through.  I had casually brought it up with Chad and he said, ‘well, we have to film this!’.  I was hesitant guys, my closet was so bad I didn’t want to show you!

But the good news is, I know many of you can feel me and might feel a little embarrassed about your closet, too. So I got over my very important self, and agreed to do it.  And here you go – my explosive closet in all its glory, which I’ll declutter, in front of your very eyes for your viewing pleasure and to hopefully motivate you to do the same.

I will say that I do feel better now.  I really do.  I’ll miss some of those clothes, but I wasn’t wearing them and they were just taking up space.  Out with the old, in with the new.  We can do this!

What you need

After picking myself up off the floor and making several jungle animal grunts and groans, I got a few baskets ready and labelled them ‘donate’ or ‘hand me down’.  My sister or nieces may be interested in the things I thought I’d love.  Position these very close to the bed.

Then, I got a vacuum cleaner ready to get into the corners and the floor space that never gets touched.  I also grabbed a spray bottle and microfiber cloth for some dusting of the shelves and racks. As well as a trusty, old garbage bag for the random items that simply belong in there!

And finally, I ensured I had a clear bed space where I could do my sorting.

Oh, oh, and music.

How to start

Working top to bottom (as in shelf, racks, floor), remove all clothing, garments, purses, shoes etc.  Absolutely everything comes out.  Place it on the surface you’ll be working on.  Pile it on, lay it out flat, who cares.  Just get it done.  I love doing this on the bed because it means I have to finish it that day, or else I can’t sleep (see how I tricked myself?).

Get Cleaning

Next up, I cleaned the whole closet. I wiped down shelves and racks that hadn’t been dusted for way too long! Then I, well Chad, did a quick vacuum and we have to admit there were a few dust bunnies hiding out in the corners. Then we took any garbage we found while emptying out the closet and through it into the trash.

The Purge

Then, I picked up each item and held each garment up keeping the following questions in mind: ‘do I LOVE this’?  ‘Do I look GREAT in this’? ‘Am I PROUD to wear this’? ‘Is this flattering’? ‘Do I pick this over other items, or pass it over’?  ‘Does this still FIT me’?  I didn’t dwell. I worked fast.  I could try things on and deliberate, etc. but this job needs laser focus.  Forget how much money you spent on any given item (like my AG jeans that I was a little too ambitious about when selecting the waist size), or how many times you wore it (like that Aritizia blazer that everyone has which didn’t look so great on me), and just do away with it. Don’t think twice. Bye, Felicia.  Someone else will get more use out of it than you will and you can hold that sentiment with you when you shop for new stuff. It may also help to have a goal in mind of how much you’d like to slim down your closet. I knew I wanted to get rid of about 40% of my wardrobe because when I go to get dressed there are really only 6 out 10 items that I actually wear. This isn’t a hard and fast rule but it may help to keep you focused.

This was also a great time to go through our hangers. By removing everything off the hangers we were able to sort through them and put our clothes back on the good ones, toss the bad ones, and put an extras away or repurpose them in another closet.

Reorganize

Now that I knew what I was keeping and what was heading out the door, everything was headed back into the closet. I made sure everything was hung proper, folded nicely and placed in an organized manner back into the closet. If you need any reminders on how to hang or fold make sure to check out our folding videos!

The Results

Once everything was placed neatly back into the closet I immediately felt so much better! I could see my favourite items of clothes, I could get dressed knowing I could chose from things I actually like and I could breathe again in the space! It was very cathartic! And Chad was pretty proud of himself, too!

I have to tell you that I have one item that I just didn’t know what to do with….my wedding dress! When I pulled it out it was honestly the first time I have touched it in five years, but I wasn’t sure that I could part ways with it. It obviously has a lot of sentimental value and I do love it, but was it really doing me any good sitting in my closet? Could someone else make better use of it or is it just one of those pieces that I permit myself to hold onto? I thought about it long and hard and decided it just means too much to me, so even though it takes up space, it is space I am willing to part with for something I love.

I hope I’ve inspired you to conquer your fear or embarrassment over the state of your closet and get in there and declutter! I’d love to hear about it if you do so and please share any before and after pictures with me!

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Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.