Simple Tips + Must-Have Organizers for a Clutter-Free Closet

Assess what you have and eliminate what you don't need to get your closet ready for a transformation.

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April 07, 2020

First, start by clearing out. No matter what kind of closet you're planning, take the time to think ahead and really consider what you need to store and where you want to store it. Taking a hard look at what you have will help you understand the kind of storage you need.

Designate a staging area and empty your closet out. You can use your bed or a cleared-out corner of the room. This important first step requires you to remove everything: clothes, hangers, boxes, folded blankets or piles of old magazines.

$32.97
Amazon

Use a collapsible clothing rack to hang clothes so you can clearly see and sort exactly what you have. The rack is a nice addition to your laundry room once the closet project is over. Take your time with this process. Play some of your favorite music and ask a friend or family member to help if heavy items need to be moved.

$25.99 (Pack of 6)
Amazon

Organize items into specific categories and take inventory. You can place like items in cardboard boxes, plastic containers or in piles, and use labels to help keep track of each group of items. Some organizers suggest starting with "keep," "toss" and "donate" piles, while others prefer their clients to start with broad categories (clothes, shoes and linens) and then divide everything into smaller subcategories (sweaters, winter boots and sheets).

3.99 - 5.99 each
The Container Store

During this stage, take the time to group small items like batteries or toys together in bags or jars, so they don't end up lost among the boxes or piles of larger items.

White Walk-In Closet

White Walk-In Closet With Clear Bins

Drawers, shelves and see-through bins make this closet a master at solving the what-to-wear daily dilemma.

Photo by: Garett + Carrie Buell of Studiobuell

Garett + Carrie Buell of Studiobuell

Make Sure Everything Has a Place

Eliminate items that don't belong. Disorganization causes major clutter problems. Over time, the temptation to stuff a box of appetizer plates in a bedroom closet or extra towels in the entry closet can cause you to make some bad storage decisions. This is the time to return out-of-place items to their rightful home. But try to stay focused on planning one closet at a time. You can turn your attention to other closets at a later date.

A vintage piece from Kenzo adds a splash of color to this minimalist bedroom. Nana Yaa has a way of using clothing as unique decorative touches in her interior.

Clothing As Art

A vintage piece from Kenzo adds a splash of color to this minimalist bedroom. Nana Yaa has a way of using clothing as unique decorative touches in her interior.

Photo by: Patrick Cline

Patrick Cline

Remove Unwanted Items

This might be the most difficult part of the closet planning process. It helps to establish some basic rules up front, like anything with holes or pairs of shoes or socks missing their partner must go. Ask yourself some questions:

Have I worn this shirt or skirt in the last year?

Does this jacket still fit?

Do I really need 12 baskets that look exactly the same?

The answer to many of the questions will likely be "no", and then you can decide if you want to donate items to charity, try selling them online, hold a garage sale or take unwanted items to a local consignment store.

White Transitional Walk-In Closet With White Shelves & Dresser

Walk-In Closet in Master Suite

Built-in white shelves provide ample space to organize clothes, shoes and accessories in this master walk-in closet. A small white dresser with several drawers keeps jewelry and other small accessories neatly stowed away. A graphic, multicolor floor runner adds a punch of color to the design.

Photo by: House of Jade Interiors

House of Jade Interiors

Clean the Closet Itself

While you might think an empty closet is clean, now is the time to wipe down the closet walls and vacuum or mop the floor. Once items are removed, you will probably find stray clothing tags, store receipts or dust bunnies. If the walls need painting, choose a paint that is specifically formulated to be mold and mildew-resistant. If you find your closet walls have mildew or mold after you remove items, have a professional examine your walls and properly clean and paint them.

$16.49 (Pack of 30)
Amazon

Now that you've pared down your closet, it's time to get organized. Start with slimline hangers. Not only do they save major space in your closet, but the non-slip strips keep clothes from sliding off the hangers.

$10.99 each
The Container Store

Bring order to shelves with clear dividers that create definition for sweaters and purses. A valet knob on the end of each divider adds an extra hanging spot to your closet.

14.99 - 27.99 each
The Container Store

Cultivate a neat and tidy aesthetic with smart storage solutions. These clear boxes help you maintain an orderly closet while also keeping the contents visible so you can find what you need in a glance.

$18.99
Amazon

No more piles of dirty clothes littering the floor of your closet. Stick this double laundry basket under your clothing rack to keep your darks and lights separated. Handles allow you to easily tote the hamper to your laundry room.

$20 each
Anthropologie

Hooks are a handy essential for any closet. Toss purses, necklaces and bracelets on them for simple storage you can maintain even when you're tired.

$31.49
Amazon

Use all the square footage of your closet to the max. Place shoe racks under your hanging clothes so that no floor space is wasted. These tiered bamboo racks give you three times the amount of storage for your slip-ons, heels and tennis shoes.

$9.99
Amazon

One of our favorite accessories can get a little unruly when it comes to storage — taking up way more space than needed. Streamline your scarf collection with this clever hanger that holds 18 pieces (also, perfect for stashing belts or ties) and allows you to clearly see each item.

$9.99 (Pack of 3)
The Container Store

Use labels, like these that clip on, to help you stay organized. When everything has a specific place, you're able to maintain a well-kept space.

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