A room filled with furniture and a mirror

How to Organize a Closet in 5 Easy Steps

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?


A pile of clothes on a bed


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 disaster 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.

1. 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.

2. Deep Clean

Now that you can see the light of day, give that closet a good cleaning from top to bottom. If after thorough cleaning the space still looks a little grungy, follow with a fresh coat of white paint.

3. 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.


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 for someone else. What no longer fits you will fit someone else. Take those items to a consignment store or arrange schedule a yard sale.

Consider donating your good used items to the Salvation Army or another thrift store. 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 or in some other way, get them out of the house.

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.

4. 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.

5. Equipment

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.


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.


A good shelving system that optimizes the space in your closet will make all the difference when it comes to keeping your closet organized. There are so many options, depending on the size and configuration of your space. This all-in-one organizer kit by ClosetMaid, which includes a small shoe rack, is just one way to use shelves to turn an inefficient nightmare of a closet into a well-organized dream-come-true.


A room filled with furniture and a mirror

Photo: ClosetMaid.com

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 and the sense of peace that comes with a well-organized space. And it’s a routine I need to repeat at least twice a year to keep it that way.

You may also enjoy:

Beat the Clutter Improve Your Life

How Materialism Leads to Discontentment

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8 replies
  1. Tonya says:

    I like those hangers for my daughter’s clothes that are often wide in the neck and fall off plastic hangers, but I hate them for my clothes. I like being able to slide things right off the hanger, and the “non-slip” hangers really don’t allow that sliding. It’s a small thing, but I don’t like them for anything that will stay on a regular hanger.

  2. Judy says:

    How do I organize my husband’s cowboy boots and wrangler jeans? We did my closet and I’m happy with it but shoe racks won’t work for him! Help!

  3. Susan Sheffield says:

    You might like to encourage your readers to donate those clothes that are deemed not wearable due to stains, tears, etc. Agencies like the Salvation Army collect and resell these items which are then recycled for other purposes.

    • Sue in TX says:

      Susan – Please be aware that those unwearable items are sorted, baled (literally) and shipped at great expense (labor volunteer or paid sorters, shipping costs & the pollution caused by shipping) only to be sold for pennies per pound. Much of what lands in Mexico or even further away ends up in landfills or burn piles because it is truly unusable. With so many synthetics and mixed-fabric items, this is especially true because it is too time-consuming and costly to try to separate. Exceptions: 100% cotton items without fasteners of any kind – tshirts, sheets, towels that are recycled as rags or for paper and blue jeans, which are desirable even in terrible condition. Please be considerate of our non-profits and throw away the junk before you donate.

  4. Marilyn Fox says:

    I feel so frustrated with our closet because of its insufficient depth. It barely accommodates my husband’s jackets and shirts. I am not sure what to do to improve it.

  5. Patti says:

    Marie Kondo inspired me to organize my house with her simple way to decide what to keep and what to give away – Does this bring me joy? Seems corny but it works in the entire house. Many articles out there about Kondo and she has a tv show as well. Might be worth checking it out.

  6. Gina Stevens says:

    I’m ordering those non-slip hangers today! I also find color-coordinating my closet to be a time-saver. You know exactly where to look. It also prevents a navy/black mix up in the early morning hours.Hugs!

  7. Elizabeth says:

    I have some very nice work clothes that I’m just one or two size away from fitting into. I have stored them in boxes marked with the size. It sort of serves as inspiration & a reminder of my “blossoming” body. Plus I know if I’m successful, I’ll have just a few things to wearthat I know I really like. Thoughts?


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