Are you daydreaming about a good closet cleaning? I can tell you from experience that cleaning out your closet is a fantastic way to feel better, for two reasons. First, when the clutter is gone and your closet is organized, your mental clutter tends to disappear too. Second, you can get dressed much more quickly when you can see your clothes and they're not smooshed to the max and falling on the floor.
Keep reading for tips on how to clean out your own closet and “spark joy.”
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When I leave clothes in my closet that are out of style, ugly, unwanted gifts or unflattering in any way, I feel crappy. I feel obligated to wear them. Then if I do wear them, I feel ugly or at the least meh. I don't want my picture taken. I don't want to be seen in them. And I fidget with them all day.
When I finally allowed myself to get rid of clothes that I didn't feel 100% confident in, it was like I had a whole new wardrobe. Beautiful pieces had been hiding behind ugly clothes. Or I was so overwhelmed when I looked in my closet or drawers, I ended up just grabbing the first thing my hands fell on. The result was a mish-mash of ugly outfits.
After a good closet cleaning, a new wardrobe emerged. (Also, when I saw closet cleaning, I'm also counting my dresser drawers. Those fill up fast with t-shirts so it's a task I try to stay on top of.) I loved every piece I put on. (I was way ahead of Marie Kondo.) Plus, I was able to see where I needed new pieces to fill in gaps, like silky camis to wear under button-ups or dark denim jeans to replace faded ones.
I also made it easier to find what I need by organizing my closet by categories, rather than higgledy-piggledy. Dresses are on the left, with shorter ones toward the middle (because I wear them more often). Tops are smack in the middle (again, they get worn more frequently). Then on the right are my pants, with the fanciest (and least frequently worn) ones on the far right.
I also categorize my drawers. I have a drawer for jammies; two drawers for t-shirts; a drawer for gym clothes; a drawer for jeans; and a drawer for leggings.
To decide what to keep and what to get rid of, here are the rules I follow for closet cleaning. I should also note that when I say “get rid of,” that means donate, unless it's something that would be better off as a rag. I wouldn't gift that to any poor soul.
- Have I worn it in the last year? If not, it goes. The only exception would be super-fancy clothing that I paid a fortune for and might need for some kind of formal occasion.
- Is it in any way stained, faded, torn or shrunken? I will try to wear something that's shrunken as long as I can. When my long tops shrink, they get short, not tight. It kills me to get rid of them, but when they're almost to my waist, it's time to go.
- Do I already have multiples of the same thing or something like it? This rule mainly applies to t-shirts. For instance, if I have a generic Outlander t-shirt and an official Outlander t-shirt, I'll keep the official one and ditch the generic.
- Am I keeping it because I might fit in it again one day? This is the deadliest of traps when it comes to hanging onto clothing. I had a lovely navy blue, white polka-dotted dress that I held onto for YEARS. I even moved it around the country with me. After I had children, I knew I would never wear it again and that it's only purpose was to torment me every time I looked at it. I finally donated it and I never looked back. (Until this blog post, that is.) Would you stick with a boyfriend who did nothing but taunt you all the time? Nope. So don't stick with a piece of clothing that's going to torture you. Look, if you do get back to that size, you can always buy new! That's more fun anyway.
Closet Clean-Out Bingo
If these rules are hard for you to follow, I also created a closet cleaning bingo game to make the whole process a little less painful and a little more playful. Here's how to play.
Download and print your Closet Clean-Out Bingo card.
Choose what your prize will be when you win. Try to make it something really enticing so you're more likely to follow through. Mani-pedi? New outfit? Day trip? Something geeky you've had your eye on? First run movie ticket?
Lately, my favorite incentive for anything I don't want to do is permission to do nothing. Sounds kinda basic, I know, but as a mom, wife and someone who works for herself, it's seriously difficult to let myself off the hook for a day. For instance, playing Lego Marvel Superheroes 2 for an hour or two is a big, big treat. Or giving myself permission to watching something on Netflix for a couple of hours. Mmm, downtime.
Now, get to work cleaning out your closet and/or drawers.
When you cross off five squares in a row, you win!
If you really want to do the most damage possible, don't consider it a win until all the spaces are crossed off.
That's it! I'd love to know if these rules or this game helps you tackle those unwanted clothes. Snap a pic of your newly organized closet and post it on Instagram, then tag me @plussizenerd. Or tell me about it in the comments!
Best Books for De-Cluttering
Need more help? Check out these highly rated books on Amazon.