Tips for Purging Your Closet

Okay, so it has been almost two weeks since I did my yearly purge of my own closet, and I am just now getting a post written about it. Maybe some of you have not done it yet and will find this post helpful!

I make it a practice of going through my closet and touching every single item at least once a year. It really isn’t all that difficult for me now, because this is what I own. Except for a rubbermaid of maternity clothes, this is everything. We don’t even have a dresser! Now, before you think I am absolutely crazy, I do know that this is on the low side. But I have gained/lost 50 pounds due to pregnancy and nursing three different times in the last four years. Most things were stretched and worn beyond wearable condition. I am slowly and intentionally rebuilding my wardrobe with clothes I truly like wearing. So now that you see what I own, let’s move on! :)

When I clean my closet, I take everything out. Yes, every single item. I then wash down the closet with a homemade cleaner of water, baking soda, and white vinegar. 

Tips for going through your wardrobe.

  1. Have a box for throw-away and a box for donations.
  2. Every item gets touched and immediately gets placed in throw, donate, keep, or not sure piles. Try to limit the “not sure”  items if at all possible, but we’ll deal with those later.
  3. If it is ripped, torn, or stained, throw it. If you haven’t taken the time to fix it, you are not going to. And, please, please, please do not donate items that are not in a condition that you would wear (my pet peeve at thrift stores).
  4. If it doesn’t fit, is not a good color for you, the style does not fit your body shape, or you just don’t “feel good” in it, put it in the donate pile.
  5. If you have not worn it in over a year, donate or throw it based on the condition. If you have been waiting for something to grow on you, enough is enough. Obviously, it hasn’t, so just get rid of it. It is taking useful space in your closet. 
  6. Now tackle the “not sure” items. Try them on in front of a full-length mirror. I read once the tip of taking a picture of yourself in the mirror and then looking at the picture. Sometimes it is easier to be more objective when seeing it through the camera lens. Make a decision. Don’t leave it in the unsure pile.
  7. Thoughtfully put each item back in your closet and take note of any needed items you might need. Make a list so that you have it on hand next time you are shopping.
  8. Now go back to that donate pile and take a look. This is often overlooked, but something I have found very helpful. Do you notice a common thread in the things you gave away because you didn’t wear them? Is it a color, a particular style, or a particular brand? If you notice that you donated everything pink in your closet, chances are you have noticed that pink doesn’t look good on you. Take note of that, so that next time you are shopping and you spot something pink that looks cute on the hanger, you will walk right by it with confidence, knowing it is not your color. The same goes for styles or brands that don’t seem to work well on you. 
  9. What about those items that were in the “not sure” pile that you decided to keep? Put it on your calendar to wear them in the next two weeks. No, seriously. If you don’t intentionally wear them, you will just keep going back to the old standbys and next year you will be wondering about them again. So plan to wear them right away.

Do you know that most people only wear 20% of their wardrobes and the other 80% is just taking space? If it is in your closet, make sure it is because you love it, you wear it, and you feel good in it. Otherwise, give yourself some extra space and get rid of it!

What are your best tips for purging the closet? 


  1. We have very similar strategies of closet purging. :) I wrote about my recent experience here. I had never thought about going through the things I was getting rid of to look for a common theme. I will definitely be trying that next time. Thanks for the hint!

  2. Thanks so much for all the helpful tips!

  3. Must be we were thinking alike today…I had just finished cleaning out my closet/drawers and sat down at the computer and saw your article. I must say, however, I have a long way to go to have as little as you do :)

  4. Johanna, Your blog has been such a blessing to me! I struggle so much with staying organized, and I know it is because I simply have too much! Your suggestions have been so helpful to me!!! I have to go now. I have 80% of my wardrobe to get rid of! :) ~Robin

  5. So funny–I just finished a huge, long-overdue closet purge this last week. My walk-in closet (the only storage space I have like it in the house) was barely walk-in-able :). Now it looks almost empty. One suggestion, sometimes a seasonal purge is easier (for remembering/knowing whether you actually wear it). When it’s time to start using summer clothes again, go through all the winter ones and get rid of any you didn’t wear that winter, or didn’t like when you did, and go ahead and make a list of what you’d like to get before next winter (to match such-and-such for example). That way you can take advantage of any winter clearance racks you come across. Same at the end of summer clothes/beginning of winter clothes. Purging and organizing really does feel great when it’s all done!

    • Yes, that is a great tip! I don’t have many clothes so I usually remember, but I can imagine if I had more that would definitely help. Thanks! And yes, it feels so good once it is done!

    • And I just re-read the comment (I am reading this way too late at night!)…thinking about the clearance items is a great idea! That would definitely help if you had just evaluated that seasons clothes. Okay, now I’m going to bed. :)

      • Ha! Please go to bed if you must :). I do the same (try to anyway) with my kids clothes and it really helps me! Then i just hang onto the list and it helps a few months later, too. Good night–I’m heading that way, too :).

  6. Nancy Kellner says:

    Thanks Johanna for all your tips. It does feel really good to get rid of all that extra baggage. Now its all in the spare room awaiting a garage sale. Pray that will come soon, then I will really feel good.

  7. I so need to do this!! I am good about going through my tween’s closet with her and putting away seasonal items… but not so good about my own. Thanks for the kickstart!

    • Isn’t it amazing how we often take care of our kids first and neglect our own things? I hope you enjoy your freshly purged closet. :)

  8. Becky Rulapaugh says:

    Okay, Johanna! Great tips for my closet, but how do you go about organizing/cleaning out the kids’ closet? That is where I’m stumped!

  9. Great suggestions! Thinking of doing some purging once we get back home from this trip… have to fit all our new clothes in somewhere :)

  10. You wouldn’t believe what my room looked like about 30 minutes ago. I’m about halfway through my closet purge. I was shocked to have so many scarves (some nice ones I completely lost in there) and clothes I can’t wear (don’t ask why!) and various and sundry things people gave me that I wouldn’t put on myself. I am going to donate them to a group of friends, since they’re new clothes, and see if anyone can use them . . . . Makes me feel all good inside. The closet is the cleanest it’s been in awhile, and I’m soon going to be finishing up. I do want to buy a nifty storage unit to put under the shirts. :o) Excited! So glad you made me do this! Happy New Year to you and the family!!!

    • I LOVE the feeling after cleaning out a closet. Now you have me wanting to go purge a closet just so I can have that feeling! :) Enjoy your “new” closet!

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