The weather’s getting chilly here in Chicago, which means it’s time to break
out the sweaters and put away the shorts. It’s also a great time to clean your
closet. As daunting as the task may seem, I assure you there’s a little bit of
happiness waiting for you when you’re done. Closets when cluttered and
overstuffed can be a major source of stress. You may not even realize that your
closet is making you chronically late and sucking up your time. You can’t find
anything to wear so you keep on buying more clothes with nowhere to put
As a professional organizer, I get to help people change the way they think
about their closets. Looking in your closet should be like going to your
favorite store to shop – only better, because you chose everything in it! An
organized space will help you maintain the de-cluttered space with minimal
effort, while allowing you to make the most of your space, time, and
1. Start with a clean slate, then imagine the
The best way to clean a closet is to take everything out of it first. A clean
slate will help you imagine what you want your closet to be. With everything
removed, it’s also easier to dust, paint and vacuum. I recommend a lighter color
for smaller spaces, but if you have a larger space get creative. Why not have
your closet put you in a great mood. Consider a beautiful wallpaper, glamorous
mirror, bold accent wall, artwork or even a painted ceiling. In addition to
adding function to the space, think about lighting. What about replacing that
boring flush mounted fixture for a cool drum pendant or even a chandelier.
Florescent fixtures give off less heat than incandescent bulbs. Check with an
electrician who knows your building codes.
2. Sort it out.
Start sorting. Separate clothes by item type, then group similar items by
color. Button-down shirts, dress pants, blazers, dresses, skirts, etc. should
all be batched together so you can quickly see and assess your options. Make a
separate pile for each category of casual clothing, such as pants, t-shirts, and
sweatshirts. Also group together purses, belts, and other
3. Start clearing your closet.
Only keep your current clothes in your main closet. If you are short on
space, consider storing seasonal clothes, maternity, and “other size” items in
another space if you have it. Many people can reduce the amount of clothing in
their closet substantially if they follow this guideline.
4. Eliminate a little more.
Get rid of those items that don’t fit, are out of style, or are not
practical. To help maintain your closet, keep a box in the closet to collect
items you want to donate. Keep another bin for items that need to be mended.
Place a note pad or memo board right in your closet to jot down items you need
5. Measure it.
Do you have enough room for it all? A good rule of thumb is 1 ½” to 2” of
space per item. If it won’t fit, consider some space-saving storage solutions
such as a double rod or additional shelves. Be sure to make good use of your
6. Put your clothes back in.
When you return your clothes to the closet think about what kind of system
will work well for you. Do you always wear outfits or do you like to mix and
match what you have? I prefer to organize by type and then color. Place items
you use most often nearest the front. Using the same type of hangers will give
your closet a uniform look. Vertical dividers can help you neatly store
t-shirts, sweatshirts and sweaters on shelves. Corral loose items such as
scarves and belts into clearly marked containers. Your jewelry and purses can be
a work of art when hung on decorative hangers.
7. Make sure everything has a home.
Things get disorganized when we don’t know where to put them. If everything
has a home you will be more likely to return it after use.
Cleaning a closet is a big job, but the end result can be rewarding both
spiritually and financially. In our harried lives, a little bit of happiness
while getting dressed is a good way to start the day.