Closet Cleaning Follow-up

Last week I wrote about how I wanted to unplug for the weekend. One of the things I wanted to do was clean my closet. Luckily, it wasn’t really in bad shape, but it was too full. Clothes were getting smushed and wrinkled. It was hard to find things. But more importantly, it was full of clothes that I didn’t wear.

Yes. Was, as in past tense.

I’ve tried to do big purges in the past. Following all the rules. Touching things only once. Asking myself do I wear it, does it fit, do I love it. Making a decision about each item. Then moving on to the next.

It wouldn’t take long, like oh, two items in, for me to get bogged down with a difficult decision, and the whole process would come to a screeching halt.

It was easy for me to stop, too, because I didn’t need to do it. I had the space, even though it was a little tight. My closet was good enough. But, it was eating at me that I had all these things that felt like an annoyance or burden to me, that could be loved and put to good use by someone else.

What finally worked.

It occurred to me that there are things I obviously want to keep (my favorite jeans, that new silky blouse). And there were things I obviously could get rid of (that weird long dress I wore to a costume party, the pants that are at least two sizes too big). So why not start there.

Go for the obvious first.

It seems so, um, obvious now, but it had never occurred to me that I could clean my closet this way. Oh those secret rules that pop up when you’re trying to get things done.

Well, not only did it work. It worked spectacularly. It was the easiest, most pain-free decluttering session I’ve ever done, and I’ve done my share of decluttering.

My painfree closet cleaning system.

  1. Clear a space on one end of the hanging rod, that’ll be for keepers.
  2. Do a quick scan and grab the first three most obvious keepers.
  3. Do another quick scan and grab three obvious things that I can let go of.
  4. Rinse. Repeat.

I recommend doing it for no more than 30 to 60 minutes at a time. Definitely stop when you aren’t seeing obvious choices whether it’s for things to keep or let go of.

This is key.

If you go away and do something else for awhile, when you come back, there will be new obvious choices.

I did this for just two thirty minute sessions and managed to open up about two feet of hanging space. I ended up with box of stuff for Goodwill, Dress for Success and the consignment store.

The final, and perhaps most important but also slightly weird, tip?

Do it in your underwear. I know, but really, give it a shot.

It might seem like not that big of a deal, to be wearing clothes, but consider this: How much easier is it to slip on a pair of pants and take them off compared to take off your pants, put on another pair of pants, take those pants off and put back on the first pair of pants. And how much easier is it to make a decision about whether you love something, it fits and is flattering when you put it on and actually look.

Trust me. You’ll thank me for this one!

Where else?

I have the same situation with my bookshelves as I had with my closet. Not a disaster, but definitely more crowded than I like. This process will work beautifully with books!

Can you think of other places to use it?

I hope you’ll give it a try for your next decluttering efforts and let me know how it goes.



6 comments to Closet Cleaning Follow-up

  • I like the tip about doing it in your underwear. That does make a lot of sense.

    A few years ago, I got a tip from someone that works magically.

    At the beginning of the year or whenever, take all of your hangers and hang them the awkward way (you have to unhook them by the back to get them out.)

    Once you’ve worn an item and putting it back in the closet, switch the hanger around. At the end of the year, check the items whose hanger are still in the same position…. If they haven’t been worn for a year, they are good candidates.

    • That is a great idea Christine, particularly for keeping on top of an already decluttered closet or if you don’t want to take time to do things all at once. I did that once, years ago, and was really surprised to discover how many things in my closet I didn’t wear over the course of a year.
      Shannon recently posted..Cultivating Good EnoughMy Profile

  • I bought a skirt the other day and it prompted me to say goodbye to the last few things that were hanging in my closet that I really thought should go but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Buying the skirt that I loved let me get rid of the one that wasn’t really flattering even though it was cute and comfy and seeing the neat necklines on the shirts in that same store let me get rid of the shirt that I was keeping just in case I needed it only because I loved the neckline and couldn’t get rid of it. (Which seems silly .. because it’s a million years old and of course there are clothes in the world that will have unusual necklines that I like). But still .. :)
    Elizabeth recently’s fort july day!My Profile

  • […] How valuable it is to prep for the next phase by clearing out the old, the no longer useful, the extraneous. In some cases I can be really great at this, like with clearing my closet. […]

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