HOW TO CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET
Take a deep breath friend, because shit’s about to get real over here. Today marks the beginning of a series of blog posts that will (if you know me) shock the hell out of you and I wanted to give you fair warning. We’re talking minimalism. And we’re starting in our closets because let’s be honest, that was the hardest part for me and I know you can relate. Today I’m sharing how to clean out your closet in 10 steps and it’s going to be intense.
I’m not going to feed you the usual bullshit and I’m not going to sugar coat this (hence the already more aggressive than usual language). I’m going to give it to you straight! And, from the lips of a recovering hoarder (that’s me), I’m also not going to coddle you on this one. Why? Because I know that what I’m going to share in this series will absolutely change your life but you’ve got to be willing to get uncomfortable.
Are you ready? Let’s do this thing!
10 STEPS TO CLEAN OUT YOUR CLOSET
1. Clean Out Your Closets (literally)
This is the only lesson I borrowed from Marie Kondo. Don’t worry, I’m absolutely not going to suggest you hold each article and thank it. Frankly, that didn’t work for me and I think it’s a massive waste of time. I also think it can send you down a rabbit hole of keeping too many things, especially if you’re anything like me and have a tendency to “justify” why you’re holding on to things.
That said, I did like this one practice from the Kondo method. So, gather everything you own and throw it in a giant pile. Anything you wear! Clothes, shoes, jackets, scarves, socks, underwear – all of it.
PRO TIP: Once you’ve made your pile. Let someone else go through the house. If they find anything else in any closets, drawers, etc they get to throw it away. This will stop you from “hiding” things!
2. Create 5 Piles
Get out 5 boxes, hampers, tote bins – anything works. You’re about to start sorting but you’re not going to have time to ponder, commiserate or negotiate with yourself. Having the bins ready eliminates one more obstacle for you and saves you time in this process. In addition to your bins, you’ll also make a “maybe” pile (it doesn’t need a bin).
Your bins will include:
PRO TIP: Choose opaque bins so that you can’t see what you’ve already tossed into them. This is very helpful if you’re the kind of person who’s ever “cleaned out your closet” only to go back and reclaim things after the fact. Don’t worry girl, I know you – I was you!
3. First Pass: Sort & Go Fast
This is your first pass. The goal here is to go as quickly as you can, making your decision on each item in less than 5 seconds. Yep – I said it. LESS THAN 5 SECONDS. 2 is better. Don’t stand back and look at your pile, don’t think about each item, don’t dwell on old memories that are attached to items and for the love of God, don’t hold on to each one and thank it. Just GO! FAST!
Here are some non-negotiables I used in this process that might help you:
- Anything that doesn’t fit. We’re all guilty of this and I know you’ve heard it before but if it’s too small OR too big, get rid of it.
- Anything that has stains (even if it’s a white camisole that you “only wear under sweaters”.
- Anything with damage. Holes, pulls, freys, pills, any sort of damage – let it go.
- Anything that’s out of style, uncomfortable or doesn’t make you feel f*&#ing fantastic.
Go through every last thing. When I did this process I picked my favorite playlist (The Ultimate 90’s Playlist if you’re wondering) and just went for it. The biggest mistake you can make here is overthinking. Just put your head down and get it done.
4. Bag Your “Toss” Items
Use a garbage bag, load those clothes into it, tie it up and get it out of sight. I recommend disposing of it right away because that momentum is really helpful moving forward but at the very minimum, send it to the garage with the rest of your trash. This serves two purposes:
- It starts forward momentum (as I said). This is something we’re going to leverage through the rest of this process. The beauty of using momentum no the easy stuff (like the “toss” pile) is that it makes the hard stuff (like the “maybe pile”) much easier to deal with.
- It clears space physically and emotionally. This whole process is about making space for things that matter more!
5. Bag Your “Donate” Items
Donate items should include anything of lower quality but that is still in great shape. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to sell everything. Think about what you can send off to another person who really needs it and approach this from the perspective that you’re helping someone who doesn’t have what you have. The bigger your “donate” pile, the more good juju you get to keep forever.
6. Sell Quality Clothes (using my smart selling framework)
Remember how I said that I wasn’t going to sugar coat this for you? Well, this step is what I was talking about. Here’s how I sorted and sold about 50% of my clothes, step by step.
- Categorize high-quality items. I created “lots” of similar clothing like blouses, fitness apparel, summer clothes, sweaters, outerwear, and dresses.
- Take photos of the lots. Don’t mess around taking photos of each individual item. That’s a massive waste of your precious time. Lay them out and take quick pics that give people an idea of what you’re selling.
- Put a LOW price tag on them. You guys, please trust me on this! Don’t dick around trying to squeeze every penny you can out of your stuff. The goal here is to IMPROVE YOUR LIFE by getting rid of things that don’t serve you so you want these to move quickly. Price them that way!
- Post them immediately. I used my personal profile on Facebook (and I sold EVERYTHING in under an hour).
PRO TIP: Don’t move on until you post them. This is a great self-accountability method that I use often. If it’s sold, you can’t take it back! I sold lots between $50 and $150 and made about $500. Did I get my money back? Hell no, but that’s not the point!
7. Handling Your Maybe Pile
This is usually the biggest pile. We’re indecisive creates by nature and labeling something as a “maybe” is a cop-out. No judgment, I had a giant maybe pile too. I’m just calling a spade a spade here. Here’s how I handle my maybe pile:
- First, go through the first set of guidelines again (does it fit, is it in good shape, is it in style, does it feel great on, etc)
- Next, consider your lifestyle. What kinds of outfits do you need most of? For example, if you work in a corporate office then you’ll need more business attire but if your environment is smart casual or business casual your wardrobe will look different. A fitness professional will need far more athletic wear than someone who attends formal events several times a week. You get my drift right?
- This can also be the time to start trying things on. If you’re really struggling, put it on. Do you feel amazing in it? If yes, keep it. If not (or if you’re indifferent), add it to the sell or donate pile.
8. Wash Your Closet
Let’s be honest. You need a break from your clothes AND when’s the last time your closet was actually cleaned. Give it a good wipe down and air it out while you tackle the second pass (coming next). This is also a great time to take a walk and get some air.
9. Second Pass
What you should be left with at this point is a “yes” pile, your “donate” pile, and your “sell” lots. Mindset is crucial for this step so step out of your bedroom, take a deep breath and remind yourself of the following:
- You’re letting go of things that no longer serve you
- They are just clothes – they have nothing to do with YOU. You’re amazing as you are, without a mountain of clothes.
- You’re making space for more important things in your life.
I’m a little competitive, so when I got to this step I turned it into a game which really helped me to get on board! My aim was to reduce my “yes” pile by another 10% at least. You could also set targets for how many of each type of thing you’re going to keep. For example, I decided that I would only keep 10 pairs of shoes, 5 pairs of tights, 3 swimsuits, etc.
The good news is, at this point, you should have some solid momentum which makes this (the hardest part) much easier. Ask yourself the following questions about your “yes” pile:
- How often will I wear this?
- Is this something I want to carry with me in life?
- Will someone else be able to get more from this than I can?
- Am I attaching emotion to this?
- Would I go to the store and buy this today?
10. Create a Space That Brings You Joy
Put everything back in your closet and find an organizational system that works for you. I love hanging almost everything and organizing by color. This becomes especially easy when you start building a capsule wardrobe (coming soon) because your colors will all coordinate.
One of the things I love most about having far fewer clothes is being able to organize and display everything I have in a way that inspires me, rather than overwhelms me. This might be a great time to invest in some organizational tools, beautiful hangers, and clever storage solutions to really create your dream closet space.
PRO TIP: pack away your seasonal clothes and put them in storage. Make sure you use an airtight container that will keep your clothes safe. Sorting through seasonal clothes this was services a couple of key purposes:
- It keeps your closet uncluttered
- It gives you a break from seeing everything you have. So, when it’s time to switch over you’ll likely realize you don’t need everything that’s been in storage.
I hope you find this helpful and I’d love to hear about your own plans for decluttering and minimizing your “stuff” to make space for bigger and better things! Leave us a comment and let us know what you thought!