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  • Kara Richardson

Have too much stuff? Here's a simple way to clean out your closets this fall (for real).

One of the first things you can do to live a more sustainable life is to take ownership of what you actually own. For me, that means actually going through my closet and getting a handle of my own shopping issues. Being a responsible steward of your resources means that you know what you have, how you use it (or plan to use it), and where it will be stored. So as I sit here helping my mom go through her clothes, I want to share some tried and true tips to help you start your own closet cleanout process. This is the process we take whenever we're going through things in our home and has helped us to responsibly get rid of things that we don't need and make several donations of goods to local organizations that can actually use them.

Have too much stuff? Here's a simple way to clean out your closets this fall (for real).

1. Account for a full day to clean out your closet.


If possible, don’t plan on doing anything else during this time period (aside from eating, taking a break every now and then, or even picking up the kids). You should be able to start and finish this project in a waking time period.


2. Have a friend available for emotional support.

Whether in the home or on the phone (or even Zoom), having a friend to help you with your closet clean out project can really help you. In addition to the honest opinion a good friend can give you, you’d be amazed at the memories that a good (or bad) outfit can dredge up.


3. Take everything out of your closets and drawers.

This will include clothing, shoes, underwear, and pajamas-literally everything! This even includes everything you’ve been hiding in bags from yourself and others so they won’t find it (hint: they already know you have it).


4. Sort everything that you’ve pulled out by category.

Organize everything that you’ve pulled out by what it is: tops with tops, bottoms with bottoms, jackets with jackets, etc. Plan on tackling each category one at a time. Don’t move to another category until you’ve moved completely through one.


5. Look at each item individually and intently and decide whether that item should be kept, given away, or tried on.

Items that can be kept should include closet staples that fit well, like jeans, white blouses, little black dresses and dress slacks. They can include fun items that still fit well and look good that you actually wear on a regular basis. They can also include sentimental pieces like your wedding dress, your cap and gown, etc., as long as you plan on finding ways to permanently store them. Things that should be given away should include costumes that you never plan on wearing again, ill-fitting items or things in poor condition, and items that have sat in your closet, untouched, for 6 months or more. If you’d like, you can also move those items into the try-on section, where you give them a second chance at life. Things that you move into the try-on stack should be things that you genuinely aren’t sure about. If you try them on and they feel right, look right and seem like you should give them one more chance, then keep them, at least for another 6 months. But don’t confuse feeling right for sentiment. We’re not talking about keeping that shirt you wore at your child’s PTA meeting, or that dress that reminds of that ex that didn’t treat you right. We are talking about things that fit you well and make you feel like the queen (or king) you are.


6. Quickly bag up giveaways and promise yourself that you won’t go back into that bag. Ever.


Have an immediate game plan to get those giveaways out of your house as quickly as possible. This might mean having a friend help you take them to a donation drop off, gifting them to a family member or having an organization come and pick them up. But don’t give yourself time to change your mind.


7. Put keep items back in their appropriate spots.

Everything should have a home, whether it’s in a drawer, on a shelf or on a hanger. Consider separate storage for out of season items to free up space.


Have some good closet clean out tips? Need help in a specific area of your home? Let us know in the comments below.

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