How to Organize a Closet in 5 Easy Steps

By Mary Hunt

October 28, 2019 5 min read

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?

If the latter, you might ask the president for federal disaster relief funds — or you could just get organized.

Here are simple steps to find calm in all that chaos. By the way, the same principles for organizing a clothes closet apply to linen or utility closets, too.

No. 1: Everything Out

That's right. Remove everything from the closet — all of it. Every last hanger, belt and shoe. This lets you see exactly the space you have to work with.

No. 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.

No. 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.


Get three big boxes, plastic bins, garbage bags or other containers that will allow you to separate everything you took out of the closet.


The only items you put into this bin should be ones 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.


Clothes and other items that are not right for you 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 schedule a yard sale.

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


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.

No. 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.

No. 5: Equipment

At the minimum, you need a sturdy shoe rack, good hangers and shelves, in addition to your standard hanging rod.


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.


I can tell you from experience that 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.


A good shelving system that optimizes the space in your closet will make all the difference when it comes to keeping your closet organized. 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 I know 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.

Mary invites questions, comments and tips at, "Ask Mary a Question." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of Debt-Proof Living, a personal finance member website and the author of the book Debt-Proof Living, Revell 2014. To find out more about Mary visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at

Photo credit: sdnet01 at Pixabay

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