What’s behind your closet door? Orderly rows of shoes, stacks of folded t-shirts and hanging clothes arranged by color and season? Or do you have a situation that could be declared a national disaster?

If the latter, you might ask the President for federal disaster relief funds or you could just get organized.


Knowing you would feel guilty taking funds from earthquake, fire,  and flood victims, here are simple steps to find calm in all that chaos. By the way, these same principles for organizing a clothes closet apply to linen or utility closets, too.

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Step One: Everything Out

That’s right. Remove everything from the closet. All of it—every last hanger, belt, shoe—everything. This lets you see exactly the space you have to work with. Prepare to be shocked by the pile of stuff that came out of that closet.

Step Two: Deep Clean

Now that you can see the light of day, give that closet a good cleaning from top to bottom. Follow with a fresh coat of white paint.

Step Three: Separate

Most people hate this step because it means getting rid of everything you do not use or wear. But what choice do you have now that you’ve hauled it out? There’s no way you could get all of this back into the closet, so buck up and let’s get this job done.

Label three containers

Get three big boxes, plastic bins, garbage bags or other containers that will allow you to separate everything you took out of the closet.

KEEP. Put only items into this bin that you have worn or used at least twice in the past year. Be brutally harsh. If it doesn’t fit today, it’s not likely to fit any time soon. Get rid of it. If in doubt, do not put it into this bin.

SELL OR DONATE. Clothes and other items that are not right for you (as evidenced by the fact that you never wear them) but still have a useful life for someone else should go into this bin.

What you consider ugly may be perfect to someone else. What no longer fits will someone Take them to a consignment store or arrange soon to hold a yard sale. Consider donating your good used items to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. You may get a tax break but more than that, you will feel good. Put all of these items in the garage or the back of the car.

THROW AWAY. Clothes and shoes that are worn out, hopelessly stained, broken or in some other state of calamity go into this bin. Work quickly to ease the pain. Empty this bin often to keep the process moving.

Step Four: Organize

Divide the Keep Bin by season, type and use. If possible, store out-of-season items in another place in your home. Next, separate your work or professional clothes from your casual attire. Now divide each pile into common-wear and infrequent-wear, arranging them so the items you wear most often are the handiest.

Step Five: Equip

At the minimum, you need a sturdy shoe rack, good hangers, and shelves in addition to your standard hanging rod.

SHOE RACK. You have lots of choices but it all depends on the space you have to store shoes. If your closet just can’t handle shoes and clothes, you might want to consider storing your shoes in another area. This shoe rack is really nice, affordable and sturdy. But it’s just one idea.

HANGERS. I can tell you from experience when you have matching hangers throughout your closet, you’ll be more prone to hanging up your clothes and keeping things organized. Again you have lots of choices. I love these hangers and they’re the only ones in our closet because they really do save space and keep clothes from sliding off.

Investing in a few good organizational pieces will make organizing your closet—and keeping it organized—a snap!

In closing, let me assure you that it’s easy for me to tell you what to do! Just do it, right?

Truth be told, these steps are not as easy for me as I might have led you to believe in the title of this post. But I have done them so I know just how cleansing the results can be. It’s a routine I need to  repeat twice a year just to keep organized.

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