How to Organize a Closet: Start By Making Piles and Other Tips from a Pro

BY: Aimee Algas Alker |Jan 24, 2019


Chaos. Complete chaos. If that’s what your closet looks like, then you already know what a source of stress a messy closet can be. Pawing through the clutter can make it difficult to get ready in the morning, and the last thing you want to do when you get home is find a place for everything.

So if you’ve decided it’s time to manage that clutter, take a look at some of our tips, some based on advice from professional organizer Amy O’Donnell of Magic Maker Solutions for how to organize a closet.


1. Begin slowly.

She advises people not to pull everything out of the closet at once, as it can be overwhelming and have people stopping before they even start. “Take a pile of things or a couple of piles of things out” and start there. “If you’re keeping things categorized, you’re organizing as you go, and it will work itself out.”


2. Look at what’s on the floor.

Not many people don’t have anything on the floor of their closet, so don’t be embarrassed if you have so much you can’t even see the floor. “I like the start with the floor, making two separate piles.” One pile is for things that do belong in the closet (clothing, shoes, and accessories), and the other is for items that don’t (paperwork, books, toys) that have somehow found their way there.

Sweep or vacuum out any dust bunnies or dirt before moving on to the next step.


3. Choose the least-overwhelming part of your closet.

When Amy does this for clients, she typically goes top to bottom, left to right, but if you’re doing this yourself, she advises that you choose “the least daunting space,” whether that’s a shelf, the closet rod, or a drawer. As you finish each area, go on to the next least daunting space.


4. Keep your favorites.

Pull each item out and consider it carefully. Make a pile of the items you “look and feel best in,” and that are still in good condition. When that section is done, put your favorite items back and sort them by category. Put all the pants together, all the tops together, etc.


5. Get rid of stuff.

Appraise what’s left, the clothes you aren’t as crazy about. Are any of them too damaged or worn? Have you worn that shirt in the last year? Things that are not in wearable condition can get thrown out. Put the rest in a pile for Goodwill, or if it’s still in good condition, take them for consignment.

If you do still like something and it just needs cleaning or minor repairs, put it in a separate pile, and set a reminder to take them in.


6. Get good gear.

You might already have what you need at home. “You’d be surprised at what a difference repurposing a bin or adjusting a closet rod can do.” Beyond that, she recommends hanging clothes on space-saving hangers, and stashing casual clothes, such as tees, jeans, and athletic wear in drawers or shelves. Also good practice: stowing away off-season items in bins or space-saving bags.

Click here for our recommendations for great closet organization products.


7. Once you’re organized, do little things to stay that way.

“I think you should go through your closet each season. For example, when you’re switching out from winter to spring, filter through things as your put them away. That way, you don’t have to worry about it next season.” She also recommends that you take the few extra minutes each day to put clothes where they belong—whether it’s in the hamper or in its appropriate place in the closet. “Just stay mindful of, if I leave it now, what will I be walking into later, when I really don’t want to deal with it.”



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