I’ve got another closet cleanout project looming over my head! I started it last year, got distracted by another project, and never finished it. But now that I’m homebound, I’m determined to finish this project. My closet is FULL. No, I’m not a hoarder, but I have way too many clothes and shoes and it’s time for me to do something about it. This is why I have a dreadful closet cleanout project that is chasing me even in my dreams!
Closet Cleanout Step #1: Be Honest About the Situation
I’ll start by confessing my own situation. As I mentioned, I’m not a hoarder. I’m just someone who hasn’t transitioned from an old career to a new one. You can check out my story, but in summary, I left Corporate America 4 years ago. At the time, I didn’t know if I’d ever go back, so I kept all of my clothes and shoes. My transition to my new career evolved over the next 4 years, and as I bought more stuff for that career I didn’t let go of my corporate gear. So now I have a closet full of clothes and shoes for two very different careers.
But the underlying problem is really deeper than not being able to get rid of my corporate clothes. The real issue? I wasn’t fully committed to my new career. I kept the corporate clothes as my backup plan, or my “Plan B” in case things didn’t work out in my new career. It was like a security blanket because I wasn’t confident in my skills and abilities in my new career. Once I identified my problem, I became fired up to do something about it because I realized that the clothes were actually a crutch. I knew that I needed to embrace what I was doing in my new career and be completely confident!
And that’s why my first tip for tackling a closet cleanout project starts with getting to the root of the problem.
Important Questions to Ask Yourself:
- Why am I really putting off this project?
- Why am I holding on to the items?
- By holding on to the items, how does this make me feel?
- Are they giving me a sense of security? If so, why?
- If I let go of the items, what’s the best and worst that could happen?
I think it’s important to ask yourself these questions so that you can avoid being in the same position in the future. Because who wants to go through this again, right?!!
Closet Cleanout Step #2: Establish Your Plan of Attack
Decide on Your Approach
You have two ways to approach this project. You can do everything at once, or you can do it in stages. Depending on the size of your closet cleanout project, it may be more realistic for you to plan it in stages. Here’s what each option would look like:
Option 1: Do It All at Once
In this scenario, you’ll take everything out of your closet and put the contents on your bed and/or floor. Once the closet is empty, take the opportunity to give it a good cleaning.
After cleaning, start sorting the items. Put everything into four piles: keep, repair/alter, trash, and donate/sell. Go through this process until everything is sorted into a pile.
Option 2: Do It in Stages
Let’s say you have a massive closet cleanout project and there’s no way you can do Option 1 in a day. Or, maybe you could do Option 1, but the very thought of it is extremely overwhelming. Say hello to Option 2! Break your closet into sections, and complete the cleanout one section at a time. In other words, instead of putting all of your items on the bed and/or floor, only put your shirts on the bed and/or floor. Clean that section of your closet once it’s empty. Then, sort your items into the four piles. Repeat for the remaining sections in your closet.
Schedule a Meeting with Your Closet
As soon as you’ve decided on your plan of attack, you need to make a date (or several dates) with your closet. Just like you’d schedule a meeting with your boss, schedule this meeting (or meetings) on your calendar with yourself so that you’ll be inclined to keep it. And, don’t schedule anything immediately before or after it that could infringe on your closet cleanout time.
Closet Cleanout Step #3: Be Focused
Be clear about what to keep and what to discard. I love these sorting rules:
- If you haven’t worn it in a year and it’s still in good shape, it goes in the donate/sell pile.
- Examine the clothing. If you notice holes, worn-out elastic or rips that can’t be repaired, throw it in the trash pile.
- If it needs a button or has a hole you or a tailor can easily fix (and you vow to actually fix it) put the item in the repair/alter pile.
- If it’s not your style, it goes in the donate/sell pile.
- Ask yourself: is it fantastic? Do I love to wear it? If so, put it in the keep pile.
- If it has stains put it in the repair/alter pile
- If it doesn’t fit, donate it.
Shut Out Distractions
It will be very tempting to do something (or really, anything) else during this closet cleanout process. Know that in advance, and plan for it. Turn off your phone or set it to “do not disturb” during your closet cleanout time. Don’t turn on the t.v. It will be very tempting to stop working and watch something that comes on t.v. Be proactive by not turning it on!
Get Your Reinforcements
This is going to be work, so you need to keep your energy level up. Get enough rest the night before. The day of, have water and snacks readily available so that you can power through. Plan to take breaks at various intervals just to recharge. Commit to staying in cleanout mode during your set meeting time with your closet. Music can be a great motivator, so have your favorite tunes ready to go!
Kids are reinforcements too! You can totally make this a family effort. Your kids can help you sort your clothes. In addition, they can help with step #4 below!
Closet Cleanout Step #4: Get Rid of the Items
After you’ve sorted your items into 4 piles, you can put the keepers back into the closet. For the items to be discarded, put them in the trash immediately and don’t look back. For the clothes to be repaired, if the repair is laundry related, put them in your dirty laundry basket. If the clothes need to be altered, put them in a labeled bag, then into your car so you can take them to your seamstress/tailor immediately. Divide the last group into two piles: donate or sell.
Option 1: Donate
There are so many great organizations that accept gently used clothing. You can do some research, but here are a few that I love:
- Dress for Success
- Salvation Army
Option 2: Sell
If you have new or gently used clothes, there are ways for you to make some cash by selling them. Check out this article for 9 ways to sell your clothes for cash!
Closet Cleanout Step #5: Decide How You’ll Handle New Items
After you complete the once dreaded closet cleanout, you don’t want to be in the position to do it all over again, right? No way! So have another plan of attack for the new items that will come into your life in the future. Before they even tempt you, reflect on your answers to the five questions above. This will help you choose what deserves to come into your closet, and what should exit your closet. In addition, consider using the following approach: for every new item that you add to your closet, another one must be discarded/donated/sold.
After you complete one closet cleanout, move on to other closets in your home. If your kids have helped you clean your closet, move on to their closets! And, here’s some good news. The process will probably go faster since you know what to expect!
So, are you ready to conquer your closet cleanout project? I think you are! And, I’ve got something that will help you get the job done. Simply click the link below to get a flowchart that will walk you through the steps that I’ve listed above.GET THE FLOWCHART
Now you have all that you need to tackle your closet cleanout project, friend. Go forth with confidence and just do it. Believe me, you will feel a sense of accomplishment and renewal by doing so. I wish you all the best!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!