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Cleaning out your closet

Most of us are familiar with the phrase “Spring Cleaning.” It’s that time of year when we feel everything is new, and as such we do our best to make our personal environments feel like new as well. There is so much information out there about what a good spring-cleaning entails, from closets to medicines to food. However, we prefer to think of smoke detectors, when thinking of our closets. Why? Because once a year simply isn’t enough.

If you live in a 4-season climate, you’re already doing this… sort of. With the dawn of warmer temperatures and the inevitability of colder temps on the horizon, most of us go through the ritual of switching our closets and clothes around to accommodate the climate. Unfortunately, most of us just move things from one space to another – but we say it’s a perfect time to really organize and clean things up! Here’s how:

There are many “rules” touted when it comes to cleaning our your closet. We like to keep it simple. The first thing to do is schedule time for this task. Write it on your calendar. It’s a date with yourself, a date that will result in more peace of mind, less clutter, and ease of getting ready in the mornings. Quite a date! As for the rest, let’s break it down:

1) Designate three areas in your space for three distinct piles of clothing, as follows:
a. Donate
b. Fix/Clean
c. Trash

2) Donate: Let it be a blessing to someone else. This is the easiest form of charity. If something in your wardrobe hasn’t been worn in a year and is in good condition, let someone else have a chance to love it. For this pile, get some shopping bags, or a box, and keep a pen and paper next to this area. As you put things in the bags/box, write down what it is. You won’t have to re-visit the item and second-guess your decision. Once it’s in the box, it’s donated. The list will be used for your donation form.

3) Fix/Clean: This pile is for those items that you meant to fix or clean, but never got around to it. Grab a bag, put them in, and set them aside. Here’s a rule though, If you don’t take them somewhere to be fixed or cleaned within a month, it’s time to donate them.

4) Trash: Easier said than done. We’ve invested a lot of our hard-earned money on our wardrobe, and throwing something away seems counter-intuitive. The rule to go by on this one is: is it torn, broken, stained? Basically, is it beyond repair? If it is, throw it away. If it can be cut down into something else (and you’ll do it), put it in the Fix/Clean bag. If it can be cut down and used as rags for cleaning, so much the better. You know what we say: Re-Use, Re-Purpose, ReCycle. Otherwise, it’s trash.

Once you have your three piles and your rules established, it’s time to go piece by piece in your closet. If something is staying, it goes right back in after you’ve inspected it for repairs. No need to drag everything out to sort it all. Do it in place. Less steps means less time. A few other “rules” to think about:

Have you worn it in the past year?
Does it fit?
Does it flatter?
Does it still have tags on it? (Yes, we all have those pieces in our closets.)
Do you like it? (Color, cut, fabric)

Cleaning out our closets does not have to be a huge production or challenge. We know many people who postpone this task for just that reason. The key is to do it twice a year. Once you get through the first two sessions, everything thereafter is easier. Why? Because it becomes about maintenance, rather than cleaning. You might even find that when something needs repair, it never makes it back into your closet after wearing it, until it is repaired. Now that’s a goal we can all aim for.

One more thought: These tasks are always more fun when you have someone to do them with. So, that ‘date’ we were talking about? Why not invite one of your friends over, grab a bottle of wine, and ask him/her to be brutally honest with you as you go through each item? We can almost guarantee giggles will ensue. We’ve been there, done that, and it’s vastly more fun!

Stay tuned next week for tips on repurposing things from your closet and all over your house….

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