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The Closet Cleaning Checklist that Gets Rid of Clothing Clutter

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Have you ever torn apart your closet because you can’t find that one thing you want to wear? That’s why I started following this closet cleaning checklist every three months or so. I just got so tired of getting dressed being such a struggle!

The big problem with deep cleaning your closet is how easy it is to get distracted. Things start off well, then you find something you forgot about owning, so you try it on to see if it fits.

Only, then your closet deep-cleaning session turns into a frenzy of trying on clothes because nothing fits right anymore.

Just me? Okay then. I’ve got ice cream calling my name, so let’s get on with it.

And don’t forget to grab the printable cleaning checklist at the bottom! It’s a subscriber exclusive.

Step 1: Grab Your Cleaning Supplies.

Nothing derails a cleaning session like having to complete a side-quest searching for your cleaning supplies.

So make sure you’ve got everything you’ll need.

  • Empty boxes or bags
  • Tape and marker to label them
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Long-handled duster
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Vacuum and attachments
  • Mop and floor cleaner

Step 1: Prep.

We start the closet cleaning checklist by creating a space to walk. So, pick up the trash and put the clothes on the floor in the hamper.

Then, grab anything that doesn’t belong in your closet and put it in a box outside the closet door. (I finally found the TV remote I’d lost and replaced. No idea why it was there.)

Step 2: Empty It.

Deep cleaning your closet isn’t just about dealing with clothing and clutter. It’s also about getting the actual closet clean to eliminate dust and musty odors.

To do that, we’ve got to pull everything out of the closet but don’t just do it willy-nilly. Make piles of things on your bed by category: pants, shirts, dresses, skirts, jackets, etc.

Don’t worry yet about what to keep or get rid of, just add things to the right pile until you’ve pulled out all the clothes, shoes, and accessories.

Step 3: Clean.

Haha! Now that everything in your closet is sitting on your bed, you have to finish the job or you have nowhere to sleep. Genius, right?

Time to clean. Grab the long handled duster and work from top to bottom: ceiling, light fixture, walls, door frame, and baseboards.

Next, use the microfiber and all-purpose cleaner to wipe grime off the walls, shelves, trim, light switches, doorknob and door. Rinse the rag and wipe the closet rods, too. It’s wild how dusty they get.

Finish the cleaning step by vacuuming around the base of the walls with the crevice attachment, then clean the rest of the floor and mop it.

Step 4: Declutter.

You already know not to donate worn-out clothing. Turn it into cleaning rags or give it to a local textile recycling service.

But let’s have some real talk about the other clothes you’re holding onto and shouldn’t.

See, two things make us hold onto clothing that we don’t really need: wishful thinking and fearful thinking.

Wishful thinking about clothing clutter convinces us:

  • We’ll soon be wearing clothes we haven’t fit for over a year.
  • We’ll get around to sewing that hole or treating that stain. Some day.
  • We’ll need the formal gown we haven’t worn for a decade.
  • We’ll suddenly look good in ochre. (News flash: no one does.)

Fearful thinking about clothing clutter convinces us:

  • We should hold onto something because we may need it some day.
  • We are wasting money if we get rid of something we never wear.
  • The person who gave us an item will be upset if we get rid of it.

If any of those reasons are why you’re holding onto clothing, put them in a box, write the date on the outside, and carry them to your garage or basement. If a year goes by and you haven’t needed anything in the box, get rid of it.

Step 5: Organize.

So now all that’s left on your bed should be separate piles of clothes you love to wear and which fit.

Now it’s time to put things back in your closet, which is so much easier since you sorted it into categories already. (You’re welcome!)

Hang up each category of clothing. I usually sort things even further, like long-sleeved shirts separate from short-sleeved ones, but you do you.

Put the long categories at the ends. Hanging things like dresses or coats so they’re near the wall makes everything else easier to see.

Pair up shoes. If you keep your shoes on the floor, put pairs together.

Hang accessories. Fold scarves and hang belts from hangers and keep those in an accessories section of your closet.

Step 6: Finish up.

We wrap up the closet cleaning checklist by taking steps to keep the donations and clutter from creeping back. Put the box for charity in your car, toss the trash, and return clutter to where it belongs.

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  1. This is great. I know many people who struggle with keeping clothes for way too long. I play a game called “dressing room” to sort through clothes or to make choices on things to buy. It’s sort of like deciding between two items and keeping the one you like the best. It really helps at the end, especially since I only give myself 5 seconds to make the choice. A friend of mine spends her 5 seconds deciding if she would wear the new item immediately after getting home! This way we only have fabulous things in our closets!

  2. lisa holbay says:

    i suffered a head injury in 2005 and my memory sucks My son still at home a god senf just yelled at me for no doing anything I start and forget whsay im too be doing . I AM GRATEFUL THAT THESE CHARTS WERE FREE . I CAN CHECLKOFF WHERE IM AT OR someone -hubby or son can tell me , I can remember how to do it hust not what im to do . AS soon as i have extra money ill be buying your book gopefully TY AGAIN Lisa

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You are so welcome. My husband had two TBIs as a child and had memory problems all his life. Checklists were so helpful for him, too. Take care.

  3. Thanks! I’m going to schedule a day to do this.
    I have struggled with my clothes because my weight fluctuates so I just kept everything in my closets, drawers.
    I can’t throw my clothes away like most people.
    Thank you for the steps!

  4. Diana Rambles says:

    I have been diagnosed with ACDD. Attention Cleaning Deficit Disorder. I really don’t like to clean and get easily distracted. I need this flowchart all around my house!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      ACDD. That is FUNNY, Diana! I like cleaning, provided I’m not getting interrupted by a dozen other things. When that happens, I have a very hard time getting back on task. I made these flow-charts so it’s easier for me to get back to what I was doing… and for my husband and son, who think “cleaning” involves stacking things in piles and calling it done.

  5. Marnie Byod says:

    Oh I got to print this too.
    This is indeed very helpful for my organization projects and clutter clearing works. I really appreciate this particularly the Weekly Closet Cleaning Routine!

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