How to Clean a Closet and Find Happiness

Add a splash of color to your closet

Add a splash of color to your closet

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 them.

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 wardrobe.

1. Start with a clean slate, then imagine the possibilities.

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 accessories.

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 to buy.

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 vertical space.

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. Check out our closet organizing services if you would like some help.

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