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How To Painlessly Purge Your Closet

How To Painlessly Purge Your Closet

If you are following the Konmari method, clothing is the first category of stuff you go through when you start decluttering.  Alright, do the easiest stuff first, right? 

Yet when I’ve asked the question in the Declutter and Organise Facebook group, many shared that decluttering clothes is one of the things they find THE HARDEST!!

What is it about clothing clutter that makes many of us feel like we would rather do anything else?

Here are my best tips to make decluttering your clothes much easier. Get rid of the clothing clutter, but more importantly have a wardrobe of clothing that you love!

10 Tips For Decluttering Clothes

 1. Choose The Best Time

Decide when you want to make time to clean out your closet.   Getting rid of clothes actually involves a lot of decisions and so takes effort and energy. 

Decision making is often easier in the morning when you are less tired.  So if you can, go for a morning time or at least a time when you are not hungry, tired or distracted.

2.  The Container Concept

Do you ever lament the lack of storage space in your home?

The Container Concept as coined by Dana White, Decluttering at the Speed of Life, suggests that the container sets the boundary for how much stuff you can hold on to.  Not whether you like or love every item you own.

This means that your closet or clothes storage space is the limit for how many clothes you can own.

The task is to accept the limitations of the space you have and declutter to the point that your stuff fits comfortably in that space!

So make a mental note of the current clothes storage you have and use it as a guideline when deciding what clothes you can keep. For example; will these t-shirts comfortably fit in the space I have for them?

3.  The Goal Is Less, Not Perfection

How many clothes do you need?  There is no one size fits all answer to this question.

It depends on…

  • What season of life you are in
  • What roles and responsibilities you have
  • How much storage space there is for clothing in your home (as mentioned above)
  • Your personality
  • Your hobbies
  • The weather

However, now days with the popularity of capsule wardrobes increasing, you may feel pressure to have only 27 pieces of clothing, or 40 or 33 pieces…

If that’s suits your personality, lifestyle and the kind of clothing you wear, I say go for it!

But really, it’s perfectly OK to just end up with a closet with LESS, after going through this decluttering process.   There is nothing wrong with that either!

Less clothes, is a successful closet purge I reckon!

4.  If You Feel Overwhelmed…

I chose to declutter my clothing all at once!  Meaning I went through everything I had in my drawers, in my closet, on the floor, hanging on a chair etc.  But I had already done a major closet purge as part of decluttering my whole home, about 18 months ago.  So I knew it would be manageable for a couple of hours work.

Sometimes that’s not the case, and if you have been feeling completely overwhelmed by the idea of decluttering all your clothes in one go, here’s a suggestion…

Just don’t!  No I am not saying don’t tackle your closet.  What I am saying… is break the project down into smaller steps.

It’s perfectly OK to sort through one drawer of clothing each day or do a hour every Saturday for a month.  Or go through one category of clothing at a time. If you follow the tips below and take action, I guarantee you will still make progress!

5.  Take Your Clothes Out

I hope no one read that as take your clothes off… hee hee!!

What I am really referring to is, take your clothes out of their storage space to go through them.  Either the contents of one drawer at a time if you are doing this with small steps (see above) or ALL your clothing if you are purging your closet all at once.   Piling them on the bed works well!

purge closet by taking your clothes out and putting them on the bed

The benefits of taking everything out:

  • You can see how MUCH clothing you really have.
  • You can see WHAT clothing you actually have.

I was surprised several times, as I pulled clothes out of drawers, to find items I had completely forgotten about.  I was also shocked at how much stuff I had even though it felt like my wardrobe is very minimal!

If you start to feel overwhelmed by the visual clothing clutter…

Pat yourself on the back for the progress you have made so far, and take a short minute break if you need to.  When you come back to it,  turn on your favorite music and read on for an easy way to purge those clothes.

6. Declutter Clothes By Type

I always think it helps to have a systematic way to go through everything rather than randomly picking up clothes off the bed to try on.  This also makes it easier if you plan on putting each pile of “keep” clothes away as you go.

So here’s a checklist you can follow in order:

  • Tops (shirts, sweaters etc.)
  • Bottoms (pants, skirts etc.)
  • Clothes to hang (jackets, dresses etc.)
  • Socks
  • Underwear
  • Sleepwear
  • Bags
  • Accessories (scarves, belts, hats etc.)
  • Clothes for specific events (uniform wedding, maternity, swimming, exercise etc.)
  • Shoes

7.  Get Rid of The Obvious Stuff 

What is the obvious stuff? Even, as you were pulling out clothes from where ever they were stored you may have noticed some of these.

Its clothes that you know without even trying them on that you don’t wear them because…

  • They don’t fit.
  • You hate the color, or pattern, or feel etc.
  • They are torn, have holes, the zip is broken etc. and realistically you are not going to spend time mending it.
  • You no longer need to wear that type of clothing.
  • They are ugly worn out (as opposed to comfy worn like a good pair of jeans or a favorite t-shirt).

These are the easy, “why on earth am I still keeping this?”, decisions.  Not much thinking or effort involved!

Now you have two choices with your “I’m not keeping clothes”… 

In the trash or donate.

The whole process of getting those clothes out of your home will be much easier if you have two large bags (or more) already set up for the purpose.  One that will go straight into the rubbish and one for dropping off to your local charity shop.

Yes you could make the system more complicated and put aside stuff for friends or family to go through, or clothes to repurpose etc.

But if you have a closet of clothes that need purging and you want it to be painless as possible, keep the system simple.  Trash and Donate!

8.  Give Away Clothes

Hands up, if you have brand new clothes that you have never worn sitting in your wardrobe?  Yes, that’s me!

Well, rather than feel guilty about it, let’s donate those items and give someone else the chance to use that clothing.

You want to love wearing what you own and not be stuck with “I should wear this because I spent money on it”. Same with items that are still have lots of wear in them but you no longer use.

The thing is, clothing deteriorates in condition over time sitting in your closet anyway, whether it’s worn or not.  Way better that someone else can make use of it!

And as for above, if you are after a painless closet purge because you have way too many clothes, make life easy for yourself.  You may think about keeping a few things to try and sell online.  But you will enjoy your clutter free bedroom a lot quicker if you choose to just take them to your local donation point.

9. Try Clothes On

After the obvious stuff, THIS is the secret to decluttering clothes by knowing what clothes to keep and what clothes to get rid of.

By trying on your clothes, especially the ones you don’t wear often, you will get a sense of whether its a piece of clothing you LOVE or one you don’t.

Of course, you want to keep what you love to wear and get rid of anything you don’t.  Exception is those super ugly brown shirts that some guy in head office chose as work uniform.

Questions to ask yourself when trying on clothes:

  • Does it fit well?
  • Is it feeling comfortable?
  • Do I like how it looks on me?
  • Do I have at least 2 other pieces of clothing that would look great with this top or bottoms etc.?

And try those pieces on, as well!

If it’s a yes to all of those questions, it goes in the keep pile or hung back up in your closet.

What about when you like everything?  Then go back to Tip 2: The Container Concept and choose your favorites from what you like to fit the storage space you have.

10. Organize Your Clothes Storage

Ok you have gone through all your clothes and decided what you want to keep.

Here’s how you can easily create pretty clothing storage and bonus, everything stays neat and organized too.

  • Organize clothing by type.  Eg.  T-shirts, shorts, skirts.
  • Then put similar fabrics, and or colors together within that section.
  • In drawers, fold vertically rather than stacking clothes on top of each other.
  • Use baskets in drawers or on shelves to contain different types of clothing.
  • Hang clothes by length from longest to shortest.

More Helpful Ideas For Decluttering


Thursday 11th of October 2018

Great tips! Your drawers look so good with everything sorted through and folded. I'm doing my bedroom for the ORC too and we got new dressers, so definitely went through and got rid of some things--but it's so hard sometimes! Like when my size hasn't changed much but my style has, and I feel guilty getting rid of old things that still fit!


Thursday 11th of October 2018

Get rid of the old stuff I reckon Suzannah! :) There is something very healthy about opening drawers or your closet and knowing that everything in there you love and wear and its your style.

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