6 Essential Steps for a Successful Closet Cleanout

Evelyn Long

Feb 21, 2023

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A closet cleanout is one of the most dreaded household chores. Years and years worth of clothes and random items pile up, creating a tangled mess that looks impossible to sort through. We’re here to help you execute a successful closet cleanout. Just follow these seven essential steps, and you’ll have a reorganized closet in no time!

1. Splurge on Supplies

Before you tackle your cluttered closet, you need to gather these supplies for junk removal, deep cleaning and organization:

  • Heavy-duty trash bags: Don’t settle for cheap and flimsy trash bags. You need durable leak-proof bags to get through this project.
  • Boxes: Large boxes will allow you to separate items into different categories and safely get them out of the house.
  • Rubber gloves: Disposable and nondisposable rubber gloves will be crucial for your health and safety.
  • Towels: Paper towels will be crucial during the first few steps, while microfiber versions will take over later.
  • Cleaning supplies: Get your hands on mops, brooms, vacuum cleaners and any other required supplies.
  • Disinfecting devices: Having sprays, wipes and other disinfecting devices at your disposal will help you sanitize every nook and cranny.
  • Stepladder: You might need a small stepladder to clean hard-to-reach places, depending on the severity of your clutter problem.
  • Closet organizers: Get some shelves, storage bins and other similar items to reorganize your closet after removing the junk.

Once you have these resources, it’s time to get to work. Set aside at least a few hours for this project so you don’t feel rushed. Giving yourself enough time will allow you to sort through the clothes with careful consideration.

2. Get Rid of the Junk First

Start by clearing out all of the trash. Closets are the most common resting places for old, forgotten items. Get rid of anything you don’t need. You can make some exceptions for items with sentimental value, but you need to be honest with yourself. If something was collecting dust in the closet for years, you’ll forget about it again after a few days.

3. Separate Items Into Piles

As you sift through the trash, start separating items into designated piles. Paper, clothes and home appliances should be the three main piles. This strategy allows you to determine which items are salvageable. Your nostalgic feelings will flare up during this stage, so lean on your friends to bolster your mental health. 

4. Keep, Donate or Discard

This step is perhaps the most important in your closet cleanout. You must decide whether to keep, donate or discard each item. It will be the hardest test thus far, but you need to climb this mountain to permanently solve your clutter problem. Take input from your friends. They can serve as the collective voice of reason and keep your hoarding tendencies in check.

Take as much time as necessary to process this stage. An all-or-nothing approach works for some people, but you should start by taking baby steps. Decide the fates of small objects before moving to the biggest and most sentimental items. See how your subconscious reacts before making any drastic decisions. Don’t feel pressured to let go of everything if you’re not ready. 

5. Give the Closet a Deep Clean

Now it’s time to bring life back into the house. Open the windows to let the cross-breeze freshen the home’s air quality and remove the foul stenches. Bring in some houseplants and air fresheners, too. It will take days to completely neutralize the bad smells. Deep-clean the walls, floors and countertops to make them look good as new. 

You should also consider buying new furniture and repainting the walls and ceilings. Giving the interior a fresh and stylish appearance will solidify your transition to a clutter-free home.

6. Reevaluate the Keeper Pile

No one is ever completely rational when it comes to keeping clothes. We’re willing to bet your first keeper pile still has some unnecessary articles. Reevaluate the pile and be honest about which clothes you need. If you’re holding onto items that you might wear for a specific hypothetical occasion, you will probably never wear them.

Keep Your Closet Organized

Clean closets are one of the most obvious signs of a homeowner’s organizational skills. They show that you care about your clothes and have a strong awareness of your fashion sense. These six steps will help you declutter your closets and get back to a functional wardrobe in no time!

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