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How to Clean Your Closet in 7 Steps

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I'm a mom of two boys living in Denver. The Fox & She is where I share my easy outfit ideas, style tips, beauty hacks and wellness tips for inspired, happier living—everyday.

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At the beginning and end of each season, I find myself desperately needing a closet clean out. Sometimes it terrifies me how much stuff I can accumulate in such a short amount of time. Of course, blogging about style definitely doesn’t help. But I also feel like it’s a great way to start a new season—a closet purge and refresh, if you will!

I usually put off cleaning out my closet for a few weeks, but after I finally do it, I always feel so much better. Now that I’ve been doing it for a while, I have some tips on making the process easier, more efficient and successful. By successful, I mean, you’ll be left with a least a bag full of stuff to donate or resell and you’ll finally be able to navigate your closet again.

How to Clean Out Your Closet

1. Take Everything Out

I know, this sounds daunting, doesn’t it? But, it’s the key to this whole process though, so just do it. Seeing my bare closet makes me more decisive when going through the clothes. You already have to put everything back up or in a donation pile, so it’s easier to make a final decision than if it was just hanging in your closet (because let’s be real, it’s easy to just leave everything in there). Tip: Start with clothes and do shoes and accessories separately! Once you see the cleaned out closet, getting rid of excess shoes, bags, etc. will be that much easier!

walk in closet

2. Create Piles

You should have 4 designated piles. One for donations, one for trash (clothes that are too old or worn to donate), one for resale and one for on the fence pieces. Any things you’re definitely keeping will simply get hung back up. When you go through your clothes and start making decisions, go ahead and fold the items and neatly put them in their pile. Not only will it look less cluttered, you’ll have less work to do once you’re finished!

3. Go Through Each Piece Individually

When you’re going through, ask yourself some questions. When the last time you wore that piece? Is it too old/worn out/out of style? Does it fit? Do I have duplicates? Do you really love it? And lastly, will you wear it again? If you can’t definitely say yes to those last two questions, the piece should probably go.

4. On the Fence Pieces

I always have a few pieces in this pile that I can’t decide on. Once I’ve gone through everything, I’ll come back to this pile. Usually after seeing the other piles and the progress I’ve made, it’s easier to make a final decision. If you just can’t let it go, keep it, but place it in a more visible spot in your closet so that you’re tempted to wear it. If you still haven’t worn it after a month, it’s time to let it go.

ikea walk in closet

5. Drop Donations ASAP

Once you’re done, put each pile in a separate bag and make plans to take them to a resale shop or donation drop-off that day, or within a few days. I find that if stuff sits around too often, sometimes I go back to the piles and start pulling things out or second-guessing myself. It’s best to just send them off immediately so you can’t re-clutter your closet just a few days after you’ve cleaned it. If you’re not sure of where to take it, do a quick search to find donations spots in your city. In Chicago, there are Green City Project donation boxes all around the city so you can easily just pull up, open the box and drop your stuff off.

6. Resell Items

This is my least favorite part about closet cleaning, but when I do sell something, I’m reminded that it’s totally worth it! There are several different ways to resell clothing and accessories. You can take it to a local consignment store or a place like Buffalo Exchange, sell it on eBay or Poshmark or I typically only end up selling items like handbags and accessories because they don’t have sizes and I don’t have to worry about someone trying to return them.

7. Repeat

Repeat this whole process at the end of every season to keep your closet looking spick and span!

Do you clean your closet on a regular basis? What tips do you have for making it a smoother process?

BTW, how to do a closet cleanout properly, and 10 chic Ikea hacks you can actually complete.



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