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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Hopkins

Organized. How to Quickly Clear Your Closet Clutter

Updated: Apr 8, 2022

When I wrote this step-by-step closet cleaning system for my book “Staging Your Comeback,” I didn’t realize it would lead to days of “research” as I attempted to streamline the process for myself. What a mess I had. And what emotional angst discarding beautiful, designer clothes that had nothing wrong with them. But they were obviously dated. And even if they might come back in style it would scream time stamp on someone who wore it when.

Letting go of the past allows us to move forward and flowers can’t flourish in a weed-filled garden.

So let’s do it!

First, here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Note paper and pen, or electronic tablet

  2. 6 Large plastic bags

  3. Stick on labels

  4. Collapsible rolling rack (optional)

  5. Full length mirror

  6. Hand mirror (for the back shots, of course)

Step One:  Create your space. Put on some beautiful relaxing music, make a cup of tea, and create a positive energy of change and improvement.

Step Two: Label your bags; Charity, Trash, Friends/Family, Alterations, Cleaners and Undecided

Step Three: Clear out the clutter. I prefer to do things in sections. Trouser, shirts, jackets, suits, shoes and so on. Take each section, place on your bed then move to step four.

Step Four: Try on each garment and examine in the full length mirror.

Step Five: Ask yourself the following questions (and be honest)!


  1. YES:  if it needs alterations or cleaning put it in the alterations or cleaning bag. If not put it back in the closet.

  2. NO: Put it in the Charity, Friends/Family or Trash.

  3. I’M NOT SURE: Sometimes you don’t love it, but it suits a purpose. Put those items in in the undecided bag and leave it until later. (I also call it the procrastination bag).


  1. YES: Put it back in the closet.

  2. NO: If it can be altered to fit or flatter put it in the alterations bag. If not put it in the Charity, Friends/Family, or Trash.

  3. I’M NOT SURE:  sometimes a garment doesn’t fit or flatter but you can’t let go. Put it in the “undecided” bag.


  1. YES: If it doesn’t need alterations or cleaning, put it back in the closet.

  2. NO: Does it fit an alternate you? Vacation wear? A theme or costume party? If not. You know where to put it.

  3. I’M NOT SURE: Undecided bag.

4.  HAVE I OUTGROWN THIS? (Is it appropriate for my accumulated wisdom, experience and good taste?)

  1. YES:  Be honest. It’s difficult, but if you feel at all like this may have worked a few years ago, but you’d rather not risk looking desperate or dated get RID of it!

  2. NO: If you feel confident that from all angles represents you and your life experience with pride, INTO THE CLOSET!

  3. I’m Not Sure: If you squint and can imagine if you lost that weight or maybe you’re being too hard on yourself ask yourself this. Do you feel 100 percent confident in it? Still can’t decide?  Undecided pile. You may have to enlist the eye of a friend who can be brutally honest.


  1. YES: If it doesn’t need alterations or cleaning, put it back in the closet.

  2. NO: If it’s a trend that says 5 or more years ago. Ta Ta. That was then.

  3. I’M NOT SURE. Give it away anyway. Your undecided pile is becoming it’s own project.

Step Six: Analyze your undecided pile. Ask yourself some serious questions as to why you’re hanging on. If you haven’t worn an item because it goes with nothing, note on paper or e-tablet what you need to make it an outfit and start a shopping list.

Step Seven: Archive anything you just can’t give up. Put it in a box, label it and give it an expiration date of two years, noted on the box. If it turns out you’ve still not worn or missed any items by the expiration date, let them go.

Step Eight: Once you have gone through the process with all the items in your closet, move on to your drawers and do it again. Repeat with accessories.

Step Nine:  Take your alterations to the tailor, your shoes to the cobbler, and any jewelry that needs repairing to a jeweler.

Step Ten: Take the soiled laundry to the cleaner. Give your family and friend their new hand-me-downs. Donate your charity bag and discard your trash bag.

PHEW!  What a relief!  Don’t you feel better just reading that?  Imagine how you feel when you DO it?  Here’s a thought.  While you’re inspired, why not just do one simple thing right now?  Before you do anything else, right now collect the items from the “What You’ll Need” list. Put them in place.

The beginning of a thousand miles begins with just one step. You’ve already made it, you’re here, at the end. Print this off. Give yourself a date on your calendar and commit. Make it fun, exciting, thought provoking, whatever. Any time you clean out the clutter your mind clears, the future looks brighter, and hope and possibility fills your mind. How’s that for a no cost project that inspires and improves your entire life?

Cheers to the new, fresh, motivated, organized and forward thinking you!

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