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how to clean your closet

image via | edited by Nicole Allio for A Dash of Gold

I used to avoid cleaning my closet out like the plague. Before I could even start getting rid of things, I would have to first get organized which inevitably meant I had to do a lot of laundry (which is actually the worst chore). Once I got organized, the last thing I wanted to do was get rid of things I just spent time washing and folding. But something has shifted in me the past few months. I LOVE cleaning out my closet. It’s almost cathartic. I love the reminder of all the things I’ve forgotten about and still love. I love purging things I don’t love. And I love admiring my refined closet at the end of the process.

Lately, I’ve been closet purging about once a month so I feel pretty good about the efficient process I’ve come up with.

Sort everything you own so like pieces are either in piles or near each other in your closet. All dresses together, all shorts together, all sweaters together, etc. You can either keep everything hanging or throw everything on your bed to sort. If its been awhile, take everything off the hangers so you don’t miss anything.

Go through each and every piece and create three piles: Definitely keep, get rid of, and undecided.   You can put the definitely keep things back on the hangers to get it out of your way.  Be critical -- get rid of things you haven’t worn for awhile, that don’t fit, and that need to get tailored but you know you’re not ever going to bring to the tailor. Get rid of things that are old, faded, or is pilling. If you’re unsure, throw it in the undecided pile (for now).

Go through the “get rid of” pile and make two piles: sell and donate. Plan to sell clothes that are high quality but no longer fit or don’t suit your style anymore. Consignment stores like Crossroads Trading, Plato’sCloset, and Buffalo Exchange will buy your clothes for you in exchange for cash or store credit. Often times, the clothes they choose not to buy, they will donate on your behalf. Word of advice: don’t be offended if they don’t choose to buy any of your clothes. If you don’t want it, you can’t be offended that someone else doesn’t. If you don’t have a consignment store nearby, try ThreadUp online. They send you a bag and you return it full of your clothes. Anything they can sell on your behalf, they do. Anything they can’t, they donate or mail back to you.  Don’t get tempted into things like Poshmark or Ebay; you know as well as I do, those things will just sit in your closet waiting to sell and you’ll end up keeping half of it. Take the donate pile to your local Goodwill ASAP. Don’t let it sit there or you will never end up donating it. Trust me on this one.

Start the process over with the undecided pile and really be critical here. My guess is most of the undecided things should probably be in the toss pile but you can’t quite pull the trigger. Just do it; it will feel good. I promise.
(This is the big one)
Once you’ve gone through all your piles and hung everything you plan to keep, go through it one more time. This time pull out anything that you don’t LOVE. You should only keep things you’re obsessed with. If you had a hot date, or you wanted to show off your favorite outfit, you would pull these things out first. You want to end with a closet full of your absolute favorite things. At the end of it, you will have a closet full of your favorite things and your closet will always inspire you.  This is definitely the hardest step but well worth it.


This upside to cleaning out your closet, and perhaps why I love it so much, is that that it makes shopping so much more enjoyable. First, you’ll know what your closet voids are so when you’re shopping, you can keep an eye on exactly what you need. Second, if you’ve done it right, all your favorite things should match or be similar style. When you’re shopping, you’ll have a better idea of what will match what you already have and hopefully only buy things you will love.

1 comment

  1. Nicole, these are awesome tips for cleaning out your closet -- way more out of the box than what I usually read! Come over and clean mine? ;]

    xo katie // a touch of teal