How to Purge Your Closets

27 August 2014

I don’t know about you, but my closets are a bit of a wilderness. I’m never quite sure exactly what’s in there, and periodically an avalanche of forgotten hats and too-small sweaters falls down on my head. It can get scary.

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Show of hands: How many of you out there have your closets under control? That’s what I thought.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. I am here to tell you that closet organization is within your grasp.

The principles are simple. The hard part is axing those things that have sentimental value or that you “might wear someday.” But if you come at it with a steely will, you too can have tidy closets full of useful things.

Here’s the golden rule, according to Lisa Adams, owner of LA Closet Design: If you haven’t used it in a year, it goes. “People get paralyzed under all the stuff,” says Adams. So the key is action.

First, organize: Make a pile for stuff you are sure you want to keep (i.e., that has been worn or used in the last year, or that for some other reason you simply cannot part with) and another for stuff you aren’t sure about. Don’t try to decide about each piece in this first stage; just sort stuff into “definitely keep” and “other.”

The “other” pile will then become your discard-unless-there’s-a-compelling-reason-not-to pile. This means that the vast majority of stuff in this pile should be headed for a new fate. Donate it, toss it in the trash, make a bonfire with it. Whatever you do, don’t keep it. And don’t even think of starting a new “maybe” pile; you’ll just become paralyzed anew.

Next, organize the stuff you’re keeping. Separate clothes by season and type, then fold or hang everything neatly. Put non-clothes items in labeled boxes and stack them with labels showing.

The key to maintaining order is visibility. “If you can’t see it, you don’t use it,” says Adams.

Once you have your closets ship-shape, guard fiercely against the inevitable slide back into chaos. Put each item back in the place allotted to it, and resist adding new items unless you are certain they are things that will get regular use.

If you stay vigilant and disciplined about closet upkeep, you may never face a hats-and-sweaters avalanche again. Are you closets under control? How do you keep them that way?

Visit Storage Blog for more tips on Moving and Organization.

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