Decluttering Clothes: 11 tips to make clearing out your closet easier

Decluttering Clothes: 11 tips to make clearing out your closet easier

Decluttering clothes is one area many people struggle with when simplifying and decluttering. Today I’m sharing 11 tips to help make clearing out your closet easier.

If you want to know how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes, these 11 tips and tricks will help! Use these tricks to make it easier to downsize your wardrobe and clear the clutter from your closet.

Decluttering clothes: why fewer clothes make life easier

It’s no secret that I love a simplified wardrobe. In fact, creating a capsule wardrobe has been one of my favourite simplifying projects ever!

Having a capsule wardrobe and embracing a small, simple wardrobe has brought so many positive benefits to my life. Getting dressed is faster and easier, it saves money, my closet is organized and clutter-free and easy to keep that way, and more!

Even if you aren’t ready to go all in simplifying your clothes and create a capsule wardrobe, decluttering your clothes can still have a wonderfully positive impact on your life.

“If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet. Often it’s what we hold onto that holds us back.”
~ Cheryl Richardson

Decluttering clothes: 11 tips, tricks & hacks to make purging your closet easier
Photo by Amanda Vick on Unsplash

Tips & tricks to make decluttering clothes easier

In today’s post, I’m sharing 11 of my favourite tips and tricks I use to help make decluttering clothes easier. If you’re struggling to clear out your closet and be ruthless when decluttering clothes, these tips will help!

Sometimes all you need is to approach decluttering your clothes in a different way to make letting go easier. Use these tips and tricks to help downsize your wardrobe, get rid of the clutter and enjoy the benefits of a simplified wardrobe!

11 tips & tricks to simplify decluttering clothes

1. Wear it today

As you’re decluttering your clothes, if you come across something you don’t wear often but are struggling to let go of, make a point to wear the item today or in the next couple of days.

This is one of my favourite tricks to use when decluttering clothes, especially clothes you’re having a hard time letting go of. It’s easy to keep things you hope to wear, or wish you wore, or think you wear, but in reality, rarely wear. The best way to challenge this is to make a point to wear the item right away and see how you like it.

Often, the things we want to keep, but rarely wear, are things we want to work for us, but don’t really work. By making a point to wear it right away and paying attention to how it fits, feels and how you feel while wearing it, can help you decide whether you honestly want to keep it or not. So you can weed out the clothes that don’t work for you.

For example, if you notice it bugs you in some way when you’re wearing it, doesn’t fit as well as you thought or hoped, doesn’t feel good, or just doesn’t make you feel great when you’re in it, get rid of it! Aim to only keep the things you look and feel your best in when you wear them.

If you don’t want to wear it now, when will you want to wear it?

And further, if there is something you think you want to keep in your wardrobe, but don’t want to wear in the next few days, when will you want to wear it?

Of course, this doesn’t apply to special occasion clothes. But if there is something from your everyday wardrobe that you want to keep, but don’t want to wear in the next few days, that’s a good sign you don’t really love it, to begin with!

2. Turn your hangers around

This is a well-known trick to use when decluttering clothes. And it’s well known for a good reason – it works!

Most people wear the same small selection of their favourite clothes most of the time. In fact, it’s often estimated that most people wear 20% of their clothes, 80% of the time.

But even knowing this, you might think you need more clothes to give yourself options and variety. However, keeping track of which items you wear, and which items you don’t, is a great way to give yourself a push to be more ruthless when decluttering clothes.

Here’s how it works:

Turn all your hangers to hang backwards in your closet. Set a deadline to revisit your wardrobe in a set amount of time, say 3 or 6 months. Then, each time you wear an item, hang it back up with the hanger facing the right way.

When you reach your deadline, see if there are any hangers still hanging backwards. If you haven’t worn an item in the past 3 to 6 months, you can feel more confident getting rid of it.

3. Track your wears

The hanger method works great to show you which items you never wear. But what about items you wear only once in a while, but don’t love or wear frequently?

A great way to take the backwards hanger method to the next level is to keep track of how often you wear each item of clothing in your wardrobe.

You can track your wardrobe and which items you wear in an app. Or simply make a list of your clothes and tally up how many times you wear each item over a set period of time.

For example, after tracking your wardrobe for 3 months, you’ll be able to see which items are the go-to pieces you wear often. As well as which items you rarely wear and can likely get rid of.

Often, seeing exactly how many wears (or how few wears) you’re getting out of your clothes is a great way to make decluttering clothes easier.

4. Pay attention to what’s always left on laundry day

If listing your clothes and tracking how many times you wear them sounds like too much work, another great option is to simply pay attention to which items are always left on laundry day.

Before you put your clean laundry back into your closet, take a minute to notice which items you didn’t wear. If you notice the same items sitting unworn week after week, you might feel more confident getting rid of those items.

Another way to use laundry day as an experiment to help declutter your clothes is to see how long you can go before doing your laundry. This forces you to wear some of the clothes you usually pass over in favour of your favourite, go-to items.

As you’re wearing the clothes you don’t wear as often, pay attention to how they fit, feel and look on you. If you don’t love the fit, feel or look, get rid of them!

5. Try it on!

Just like making a point to wear items you’re struggling to let go of, another great way to make decluttering clothes easier is by trying on each item you want to keep.

As you try each item on, honestly assess how it looks, feels and fits. Look in the mirror, take pictures of yourself, or ask a friend you trust to be brutally honest with you to give you their opinion. Often, having a fresh pair of eyes to help you sort your clothes can be really helpful to decide which items make you look your best.

Sometimes you think something looks and feels great on you, but what you think isn’t always true!

Maybe styles or your style has changed. Your body size or shape might have changed. Or maybe the style, color or fit of an item just doesn’t flatter you as much as you thought it did.

And sometimes even though you want to love an item, something about it bugs you. Maybe you notice you’re adjusting it constantly, the material is irritating, the color isn’t the best on you, etc.

Here’s another important tip to help when you’re decluttering your clothes: if you have to ask someone else what they think of an item, it’s usually a good sign you don’t love it.

If it’s something you love, look great in and feel great in, you usually know right away. Asking someone else if they think you should keep an item or not is usually a good indicator you don’t love it to begin with!

6. Give yourself deadlines for repairs or alterations

Clothes waiting to be repaired or altered can be another source of clutter in your closet. It’s easy to keep clothes around that need repairs or alterations, but never actually get around to getting the repairs or alterations done. Then, the clothes sit in your closet but aren’t actually be worn.

The best way to deal with this type of clothes clutter is to give yourself deadlines to get the repairs or alterations done. If you haven’t got the repairs or alterations done by the deadline, get rid of the items.

If an item isn’t important enough that you want to get the repairs or alterations done in a timely manner, you probably don’t need it in your wardrobe.

7. Give the clothes you don’t need to someone who really does need them

Another great way to help you be more ruthless when decluttering clothes is to shift your mindset. Instead of thinking about you, think about how other people could use and appreciate the clothes you aren’t wearing in meaningful ways.

For example, ­­­­Dress for Success collects business clothes for women trying to enter the job market to wear to job interviews to increase their chances of getting a job.

Another great organization is The Glass Slipper Project that collects formal gowns to give to girls who otherwise couldn’t afford a prom dress.

Other examples are women’s shelters, homeless shelters and other organizations that support people who otherwise may not have access to clean, weather appropriate clothing in good condition.

Often, thinking about how you could help others with the clothes you don’t wear or need can help make decluttering clothes and getting rid of them easier. And even feel rewarding, knowing you’ll be helping make someone else’s life better.

8. Have a donation box in your closet

Make sure you have an ongoing donation box in your closet. Any time you come across something you don’t like, doesn’t fit, you’re just ready to let go of, etc. put it straight in your donation box. When the box gets full, drop it off at your donation center and start again!

The easier you make it to get rid of the clothes, the more likely you will follow through and clear the clutter from your closet!

9. Ask yourself the right questions

If you want to downsize your wardrobe and be more ruthless when decluttering clothes, asking yourself the right questions about your clothes is important.

Here are my favourite 6 questions to ask yourself to make decluttering clothes easier:

  • Does it fit?
  • Is it damaged, stained or needing repairs?
  • Do you feel good in it? Is it comfortable?
  • Do you look good in it? Do the color and style flatter you?
  • When was the last time you wore it?
  • Would you be happy wearing it for the rest of the day?

You can read more about how to use these 6 questions to declutter your clothes more effectively here.

These questions can help you figure out which items you love wearing and wear frequently. As well as which items don’t work for you, your lifestyle or your wardrobe.

10. Stop buying more clothes!

If you want to declutter your wardrobe and simplify your closet, it’s important to stop adding more clothes to your wardrobe while you’re trying to declutter.

Focus on decluttering your clothes first. You can even put yourself on a shopping ban if you need to.

Once you have decluttered your clothes, there may be items you need to replace or gaps in your wardrobe you need to fill. But be sure you add items to your wardrobe slowly, thoughtfully and intentionally. You won’t get anywhere by decluttering your wardrobe just to fill it back up again!

Pay attention to the clothes you’re getting rid of and the clothes you’re keeping. Look for trends or similarities between the clothes you’re getting rid of. Use these similarities to help you avoid making the same mistakes when buying clothes in the future.

Also, pay attention to the clothes you’re keeping and wear most often. Do they have anything in common? This can help you hone in on your personal style and preferences so you can buy clothes that will work best for you in the future.

11. Use a maybe box

My absolute favourite trick when decluttering clothes is using a “maybe box”.

Here’s how a maybe box works:

If you’re struggling to let go of an item, especially if you know you don’t wear it often, put it in a box and put the box out of sight. Add a reminder in your phone for a date in the future, say 3 months from now. If you haven’t needed, wanted or even thought about the items in your maybe box by that time, get rid of them knowing you can live just fine without them!

A maybe box is like a decluttering safety net. It lets you be more ruthless with your decluttering decisions by taking away the fear of regretting your decisions. If you really miss something, you can get it out of the box. But it lets you experiment with living with less without being afraid of regretting getting rid of something.

Figure out what makes decluttering clothes easier for you

When you tackle decluttering your clothes these tips and tricks can make the process easier.

You can try some of these decluttering strategies or all of them! The key is to figure out which decluttering tricks make it easier for you to let go of the clothes you no longer love or wear.

What is your favourite trick to make decluttering clothes easier? Which trick are you going to try to clear the clutter from your closet? Let me know in the comments below!

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  1. Really great tips, especially the “maybe” box! I’m going to try that and at the end of 6 months I haven’t missed it, I’m not even going to open the box, just donate it.

  2. Melissa, I used to keep the donation box in my closet but it was too easy to pull things out and hang them back up. So my donation box is in my bedroom where I can weekly bag up anything that’s in there to go to the Christian Mission or some other charitable drive. I don’t keep a maybe box in my closet either. Too tempting to hang it up. But I have been using your tip about wearing things that I know haven’t been worn in a while! Thanks for all your posts and help!

    1. Yes, it’s definitely important to figure out what will work best for you. Good for you for knowing you need to keep your donation box out of your closet. That’s great! And I’m glad to hear you’re wearing things you haven’t worn much as well. I find that’s a really great way to help me declutter my clothes too. Thanks for reading!

  3. Reading this post makes me want to finish cleaning out my closet..ha! I love these tips so much and they’re definitely helpful. I have heard of the backwards hanger trick for some time, but I think you finally convinced me to try it! I also LOVE the tip of the maybe box because I am *always* using that excuse..ha! I also am so glad you reminded me of the tip to give yourself a time to wear it by. That really forces me to either start using the item or get rid of it! Honestly, just thinking of it will probably be enough to change my mindset and make me get rid of things. Thanks for the post!

    1. I’m so glad to hear you found this post helpful & it’s inspired you to finish your closet. That’s awesome! I’ve found using these tricks has really helped me be more ruthless and figure out whether I really love something or not. I hope they will help you too! Thanks for reading 🙂

  4. I ask myself… if I would buy it again if I saw it in the store?
    ………………..Does it coordinate well with my other clothes
    or can I never find what goes with it ?

  5. Not going to buy any clothes until the end of 2019. ( 3 months)Make one rack with all the clothes with tags on them. Dozens of items?. When I want something new to wear to an occasion…go to that rack & shop!

  6. Great idea of wearing the item to see if you still want it. You can tell yourself you like it and want to keep it- but you truly won’t know until you actually wear it. I’m going to do that this week while I’m off. Thanks for helpful ideas!

  7. I love the “maybe box”. I’m going to take the advice of the other reader and not even open the box after 3 months. If I haven’t missed it then I don’t need it. It goes straight to the Goodwill! And I’m going to start using the backwards hanger method too. And “stop shopping”. That will probably help me more than anything! Thanks for all of your great ideas!

    1. You’re welcome, Angie! I’m so happy it was helpful for you! The “maybe box” has been so helpful for me too. And I agree that donating it without even looking in it is a great idea! Don’t want to give yourself the chance to second guess your decisions! Thanks for reading 🙂

  8. Great ideas, especially the “maybe box”.I think I will start under the bathroom sinks since some of the “stuff” we moved with 6 years ago ,is still there. Again, a wonderful article with great tips. Thank you.

  9. I love these tips! I declutter my clothes on a constant basis and have been really trying to be more intentional with my purchases; there’s nothing worse than spending money on something you never wear!
    I just started the hanger backwards trick and so far so good. I’m hoping it will give me incentive to start giving away or selling the pieces I’m not wearing soon!
    xx Victoria

  10. Thanks i am going to try these tips. The are great i am the one like to whole on to things hate to get ridding of them sometime i do give them away but i seem like i am not giving anything away but am going to try very hard on these tips thanks

  11. I have a rule that you can only have a maximum of 7 pieces of any 1 color. Some colors might not have 7 pieces because you have it as an accent color. Also my closet is divided by colors. This makes the process so much easier. I have a few special occasions pieces and some summer tops separate. If I decide to buy new that means some of the old has to go. You have to rotate your clothing or you are right back with too much again.

  12. I enjoyed this article! Since coronavirus hit, I’ve been going through my closet with a closer look, since I have the time. I’ve also lost several pounds since the last time I cleared out my closet, so quite a few pieces are leaving just based on fit! I’ve noticed a distinct trend in the colors of clothes that I’m keeping (lots of black and white), so hopefully that will help me make informed choices when I have to replace pieces in the future. As I go through sections of my closet, I do the hanger trick with the clothes I’m hanging on to.
    Once stuff opens back up, I want to have a clothing swap with my friends! It makes me feel better about getting rid of clothes if I know they’re going to directly benefit someone I know, instead of a big corporation thrift store.

    1. This is so great, Ashley! Good for you! It sounds like you’re doing a fantastic job of simplifying your wardrobe and paying attention to what types of clothes work best for you. That’s such a big piece of creating a wardrobe you love. Way to go! I love the idea of hosting a clothing swap too! That’s a perfect way to help clear out your closet and ensure the clothes will continue to be loved and worn. Thanks for reading and sharing about your experience!

  13. I greatly appreciate the part of your article that lists different questions to ask when evaluating old clothes and if they’re still needed. We’ve had a lot of different events and parties go by where we were asked to dress up in all sorts of costumes, and these aren’t exactly clothes we can wear on a daily basis. Because we won’t be finding any use for them any time soon, I’ll take your advice and arrange them orderly so we can hire a decluttering service to help us get more space in our house.

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