Conquering Clutter

Thanks to Bonnie Holeman of Storage by Design for this great guest post!


Ask a dozen people what drives them crazy about their home, and most of them will confess that it is clutter. Therein lies the problem. Most people don’t know where to start correcting this chaos in their lives. If it takes more than 3 minutes to find something, you know it’s time to reorganize! Following are some simple guidelines to help you get started decluttering your closet, one of the biggest causes for concern when it comes to organizing your home.

First, set aside about 2 hours, gather 3 large boxes, baskets or bags and label them as follows:

1) Throw Away

2) Donate or Give Away

3) Mend or Repair

Next, clean out your closet. That’s right. Remove everything from the shelves, rods, hooks and floor. By the way, this is a great time to vacuum and wipe down the shelves and clothing rods.

Now that your closet is empty, and your boxes or bags are prepared, you’re ready to sort it all out. Go through every item as you put it in its proper place. If it is an item of frequent use, it can be put back in its designated place in the closet. (We’ll talk about that shortly.)

Here is what to get rid of:

  • A basic rule of thumb, and people who are pack rats have difficulty with this: If the item has not been used or worn in the last year, it’s outta here! Chances are, if you haven’t used it in this amount of time, you never will, so don’t let it take up valuable real estate.
  • Anything with a stain that’s never going to come out.
  • Anything with a hole or tear that can’t be mended.
  • Anything that you like on the hanger, but hate on your body.
  • Old, worn purses.
  • Outdated garments.
  • Ratty weekend clothes. (How many paint shirts do you really need?)
  • Clothing that is the next size (or two) smaller, that you keep thinking you might “get into”.
  • Worn out shoes.
  • Anything that is not the better quality that you are wearing now, but keep hanging on to.
  • Dead lingerie with spent elastic, holes or snags.


As you are sorting these items, consider whether they are good enough to be of use to somebody else. This might include the “too small” clothing, or the party dress you’ll never wear again. These items should go into the “Donate or Give Away” box or bag. There are many charitable organizations that would be delighted to have your good cast-offs. Consider the Salvation Army, the Women’s Crisis Center, or Dress for Success. Even party dresses can be donated for prom night!

Also consider the usable items that are merely missing a button, or that need to be hemmed, but you haven’t taken the time to do it. Be realistic. If you really believe that you’ll repair the garment to make it wearable, put it in the “Mend or Repair” box or bag. Now, here’s the catch…Put this box in plain sight, so you will see it and have to do the mending or repair. If this has not been done in a predetermined amount of time, (say, a month), the box goes! Consider having it professionally done if you are not inclined to do it yourself.

Everything else, obviously, goes into… you guessed it, the “Throw Away” box or bag.

Now that you have cleansed your closet and your soul by taking any unnecessary stuff out of your closet, it’s time to think about putting the keepers back in. Having reduced the amount of things going back into the closet has some obvious benefits. And putting a little thought into how they will be arranged will enhance those benefits. As you are reorganizing your closet, think about these things:

  • Visibility (Can I see it?)
  • Accessibility (Can I get to it?)
  • Ergonomics (Can I reach it?)


Keep in mind, too, that the things used most often should be the most accessible.

Group items by category. For instance, slacks with slacks, shirts with shirts. This is a great space saver and you may see new combinations for a great new outfit.

Group items within a category by color.

Use “double-hang” wherever possible. It‘s a great space saver, and if you hang slacks on the top rod, you increase the visibility in your closet, and it clears access to the shelf above the bottom rod.

Store off-season clothes in another closet if you are short on space, or have a small closet.

Don’t hang sweaters or knits. Fold them and put them in short stacks on shelves.

Put belts on hooks or coiled on a shelf or in a drawer.

Shoes should be put in cubbies or on shelves, not on the floor. If your closet is small, consider using an over-the-door shoe rack.

Stuff purses loosely with tissue and place on a shelf. Use slide-on shelf dividers to keep purses upright in rows.

Use hooks to store robes, night gowns and “around the house” clothing.

Label any boxes used for storage on shelves.

Get rid of excess hangers. Dead hangers (that you are keeping) should be stored together, rather than intermingled with your clothing. They are more accessible and look neater.

Another word about hangers…Use proper hangers. Avoid wire hangers.

They are dirty, they tangle and they can snag your clothing. Purchase heavy duty tube hangers and metal open-ended pant hangers.

Hang your clothing so it all faces the same direction. It will be easier to see and use. If you are right handed, your clothing should face left, so as you lift the hanger off the rod, you can see the front of your clothing.

Remember that you have an investment in your wardrobe, both in time and dollars. An organized closet helps take care of that investment. Consider also investing in the appropriate tools to maintain your newly organized closet. Decent hangers are a must. Nice storage boxes or baskets, shelf dividers, and attractive hooks or racks are helpful too.

For the ultimate in an organized closet, you might also consider having a custom closet system designed and installed in your home. These units provide a place for everything, great accessories, and complete adjustability for changing needs or lifestyle. You’ll never go back to a messy closet again! Call Storage by Design today for a free consultation!