Cleaning Out The Closet: A Fresh Start

By now most people have heard of Marie Kondo’s method of “sparking joy.” She suggests that in order to declutter and organize your home, you must first pay attention to the details of the objects in your home, and any emotional attachment you might have to them. You can then remove or repurpose things that don’t bring joy to your life. Maybe you’ve tried this method and found that you don’t have the time for it, or you have children, roommates, or a partner who’s, er… ‘organizational techniques’ (or lack thereof) don’t fit with the KonMari method. If a full household overhaul seems out of your reach, you might want to focus on an area you can tackle in one day. By dedicating just 2-5 hours to cleaning out your closet, you can turn your bedroom into a more relaxing space, save time in your morning routine, make space for summer fashion, and feel good about checking something off your to-do list.

pile of colorful folded clothes
Sort items that are in good condition for donations or consignment, and recycle.


First, gather your supplies: a trash bag, donation box, consignment box, and labeling supplies. 

If you have 2 hours: 

  • The Cut & Dry method: go through pieces that no longer fit or have obvious damage or stains. Be meticulous: try items on to evaluate their comfort and fit, be realistic about getting items repaired, and call in a second opinion if necessary. Sort items that are in good condition for donations or consignment, and recycle or repurpose the rest (think scraps for weaving, household polishing cloths or rags, or compost if they’re made of natural fibers). 

If you have 3-4 hours:

old dry cleaners shop
Ask yourself if the clothing is high maintenance and requires dry cleaning. It might be too expensive to take care of.
  • The Thoughtful method: If you’ve completed the cut & dry method and want to go further, try asking yourself the following questions:
    • When was the last time I wore this? If it’s been longer than one season, it’s time to consider if it still fits in with your style; if it doesn’t, let it go. Is there something more seasonally versatile that serves the same purpose in your wardrobe?
    • Does it require a high maintenance cleaning method (steaming, dry cleaning)? For some people, steam cleaning or trips to the dry cleaner are within their time or budgets. If that doesn’t work for you, it might be time to pass it on to someone who is more willing to take care of it.
    • Do I have multiples of this item? In the name of downsizing, it might be prudent to cut back to just one pair of  black jeans, or a single white button down. 
closet full of colorful dresses.
After looking at your clothing, it’s time to go one step further and assess your personal reaction to pieces in your closet.

If you have 5 hours: 

  • The Personal Reflection method: After looking at your clothing critically, it’s time to go one step further and assess your personal reaction to pieces in your closet. This can be hard! Some of us have attachments to articles of clothing – a hand-me-down from an old friend, Grandma’s shawl or Grandpa’s sweater. It is 100% okay to keep articles for sentimental value. But let’s think about what happens next – do you actually wear grandpa’s sweater? If not, consider making it into a decorative pillow or passing it on to someone else in your family who might also love it. Your emotional connections to articles of clothing may also be based on how they used to make you feel. Perhaps you associate them with a past lifestyle, job, or relationship. Ask yourself, “How do I feel when I wear this now?’ You may find they no longer fit, both literally and figuratively. 

Once you complete the downsize, where does it all go? Look into local thrift stores, maternity coalitions, homeless shelters, or outreach programs. For high-quality pieces in excellent used condition, you can look at consignment stores or an online consignment store. They sustainably recycle the clothing they don’t accept, and you can choose payout in the form of cash, store credit, or donation. Other options include posting on your local buy-nothing group or giving hand-me-downs to friends and family.

If you’ve completed one, some, or all of these steps – congratulations! Take pride in your thoughtful curation of your clothing, fill in the gaps with staple items that you may need, and cross one more thing off your to-do list.

About The Author:
Cassandra Love

With over a decade of helpful content experience Cassandra has dedicated her career to making sure people have access to relevant, easy to understand, and valuable information. After realizing a huge knowledge gap Cassandra spent years researching and working with health insurance companies to create accessible guides and articles to walk anyone through every aspect of the insurance process.

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