One of the places in all of our houses that tend to get cluttered up and messy over time is our wardrobe. Everybody who is not military-style meticulous about their clothing storage has at some point experienced a completely messed-up closet. The problem with these situations is that they don’t arise quickly, but rather over time, gradually, which usually results in the typical “I’ll clean it tomorrow” mentality.
However, if you are really starting to have trouble because of your cluttered and messy wardrobe and think it is time to get things organized, this article is perfect for you. In this article, you will find a step-by-step guide to cleaning your wardrobe and some extra tips and info on how to do it more efficiently or keep it clean and organized for longer periods of time to avoid large-scale cleaning processes. If you want to learn more about how you can effectively clean your wardrobe once and for all, read on!
Why Is It Important?
Okay, but why should one clean and organize their wardrobe? You will wear the same clothes every day, and pieces of clothing like jeans or sweaters don’t really show wrinkles or other marks of not being taken care of, so even if you just throw everything on a shelf, it will be fine, right?
Well, not really. Aside from just the psychological stress of having things disorganized around you (click here for an article on that by PsychologyToday), having a messy wardrobe comes with a bunch of negative consequences.
One of them is that in fact, your clothes will age faster when they aren’t kept properly or are squeezed together. Even if you don’t throw your clothes in a pile, but only squeeze them together into your wardrobe due to a lack of space, the constant friction between your clothes will, in fact, over time, speed up their aging process. This is especially true for sensitive fabrics like cotton or silk.
Another problem you will run into is just an added layer of stress every day when not being able to find the clothes you want to wear because your wardrobe is just too messy. Having to dig through 50 pairs of socks to find a proper one is very frustrating, especially when it goes on for weeks or months. You can make choosing your outfits much easier and stress-free.
You can also save money by reviewing all the clothes you have and perhaps wearing some forgotten but good clothing items, or just by not having to buy as many hangers after getting rid of the unnecessary clothes in there.
There are really more areas of your life that decluttering and organizing your wardrobe might improve. These changes and benefits are not dramatic, but remember, many small things can go a long way, so don’t disregard them and write them off as unimportant parts of your daily life.
A step before the first step, but still crucial, is to get determined about it and to develop a positive attitude when it comes to cleaning your wardrobe. One of the most common reasons why people develop messy wardrobes in the first place is because they do not think an organized wardrobe is something worth the fuss. However, you need to establish taking care of your wardrobe as a fundamental part of creating your image and living comfortably.
This part is only meant for the people who have trouble with this, so if you already are determined and organized when it comes to keeping your wardrobe clean, you can skip this part.
Most people don’t question the fact that daily dental hygiene practices or taking showers are a fundamental part of taking care of yourself and having a positive image. Although a larger portion of women cares the same amount about their clothing and their wardrobe, many men don’t. Regardless of your gender, if you don’t have a properly developed clothing- and wardrobe-care routine, you are missing out on an important aspect of creating your image and reducing stress and mess in your life.
Step 1: Taking Everything Out
After having gotten the fundamentals and the mindset in place, it is time to actually clean your wardrobe. The way you should start this process is by opening all your drawers, closets, or your wardrobe, and taking all the clothes you see, and just dumping them all out on your bed (which is covered so you don’t potentially get any dirt on it if there is any) or some other place which is clean enough. At this point, you don’t need to be too careful, but make sure you don’t damage the clothing and that you do place the clothes in separate piles, depending on the type of clothing it is. Don’t throw shoes in between your underwear or fancy clothes, for example.
You can also do it the other way around, which is to take clothes out one-by-one and then decide on their fate, but I believe that you can see through the whole situation a lot better if you take all clothes out first.
This is the first and probably simplest step, and honestly, it is also fun. Don’t get intimidated by the potentially gigantic heap of clothing, you will get through it quickly, and you will also have fun. Time for the next step!
Step 2: Cleaning Out The Furniture
By furniture, I mean the closets, drawers, boxes, or other spaces you hold your clothes in. You probably won’t do such a large-scale process too often, so make sure you do this step very thoroughly. If there is a lot of dust or other types of dirt, consider vacuuming out the closets or other places you put your clothes. If there is no need for that, you can just use some wet wipes meant for wooden surfaces or some universal ones, or perhaps just a wet cloth and a conditioning/cleaning spray which is suitable for the material you will use it on.
Don’t only wipe off the top of the horizontal shelves you place your clothes on as many people would. Though it is true that that is the surface that will be in contact with the clothes most often, that doesn’t mean that dust or other types of dirt won’t fly around and fall onto your clothes from other areas. Get every nook and cranny, every surface that you see inside your closet, may that be the ceiling of the closet, drawer or panel, or the sides, or even the garment rods.
Aside from providing a feeling of absolute satisfaction when done, this process will help you to keep your clothes from accumulating dust or other types of lightweight mess. After this part is done, it is time to think about possibly reorganizing your shelves or compartments!
Step 3: Consider Reorganizing Your Wardrobe
This is a step that most people won’t have to or want to do, but it is one that should not be left out nevertheless. In this step, your task will be to take a long, hard look at your empty and clean closet, and think about reorganizing it or dividing it up differently. Once you start putting clothes in, you won’t want to start again or you might not even be so easily able to change the order and placing of clothes, so make sure to put some effort into this step.
Visualize the clothes in your wardrobe, and where they would look best or be kept the safest. If you kept your sensitive clothing like suits or ballgowns on hangers outside of your closet, you could consider switching their places with some items you kept inside the closet to avoid them from losing color or wearing out.
If you haven’t thought much about organizing your clothes efficiently, here are a few tips to follow in order to keep your clothes in the best shape and also to make choosing an outfit easier:
- Take note of your height. Place clothes you wear often (t-shirts, jeans or other pants, sweaters, etc.) at head- or chest-height if you can to make choosing, taking them out, and folding them back in all easier.
- Keep sensitive clothing on hangers, in closets that are wide enough to accommodate your clothes. If you have some sort of a ball gown that has a large skirt, squeezing it inside a small hanger area or folding it up might damage it.
- Divide clothes however you think it is the best. Either by seasons, colors, fabrics, etc. Dividing them according to seasons usually works better for someone who has more room in their wardrobe, but you can also just distribute your clothes according to their purpose, keeping training gear in one place, formal attire in another, and casual garments in a third to keep it simple.
- Don’t place your wardrobe near direct sunlight or near a potentially humid place like your kitchen or bathroom. Both sunlight and humidity might damage certain fabrics or wear out their color.
Step 4: Sorting Your Clothes
Now comes the central part of cleaning out your closet: sorting out your clothes. This is the point where you will have to decide which clothes are going to stay, and which are going to go. Also, one of the most important activities you can do regularly to keep your wardrobe fresh and functional, sorting out your clothes can also be very fun, especially if you do it with a friend or loved one and turn it into a fashion show.
The first step to sorting your clothes out is knowing the categories you will sort them into. By this I mean the three piles of clothes you will place your clothes in keep, charity, and garbage. Though all of these are obvious in their meaning, I will quickly run through some general outlines on what should qualify as belonging to either category.
First, the keep category. These are all the clothes you are willing to keep. Any new or used clothing which isn’t damaged, torn, too pale, or discolored will belong in this category. Remember, if you have some t-shirts which are somewhat pale and somewhat older, you don’t need to give them to a charity or throw them in the garbage. If you can’t afford or want to buy pajamas, but would rather like to sleep in some old, comfortable clothing, you can keep some and save money on sleeping wear.
The next category is the charity category. Any piece of clothing that you wouldn’t wear happily or be able to use at home but is not absolutely destroyed would belong in this category. Make sure to try your best to give the highest-quality clothing to a charity that you can, and avoid giving clothing that is too torn or pale, since it can be viewed as immoral to give horrible and unusable clothing to people who don’t have a choice but to wear them. However, if you think that the clothes are in a really bad situation, you still should consider giving them to charity. In the worst-case scenario, they will throw it in the garbage, in the best, someone who is really in need might wear it for a while before it becomes unusable.
The third category should be the garbage category. This is the category where the clothes that are completely destroyed or unusable go. Make sure you don’t put any clothes in here which are suitable for charity. This section doesn’t require much thinking. All the clothes which don’t fit into either of the two other categories end up here.
Sorting Them Out
Now for the actual sorting. The reason I believe it is way easier to start the whole process by taking all your clothes out is that you can now try on every piece of clothing separately, and then immediately place them in their spot. If you try on a t-shirt and decide you want to keep it, you can immediately fold it together and then place it where you want your t-shirts to be.
If you first selected all your clothes as you took them out of the closet, you would have to keep them organized in smaller piles on your bed or some similar place which takes up more space and is harder to do than just dumping them out all at once, and then you would have to clean the closet after the longest part of this process, and then pack everything back in order.
With first taking all your clothes out, then cleaning your wardrobe, and then placing your clothes back immediately if you deem them usable, you will shorten the time and effort needed to complete the whole process by combining the act of trying the clothes on with placing them in their spot.
There is no science to this part of the cleaning process; you just need to try on every piece of clothing you are unsure about and then decide for each of them which category they belong to. The reason you should think about reorganizing your wardrobe (or just picking the spot for the different clothes you own) before you start this step is because now that you know exactly where you want to put the different types of clothing items, you can complete this step smoothly and swiftly, and it won’t be too repetitive either.
Step 5: Finishing Up
After finishing the previous step, you have successfully cleaned your wardrobe, thus creating more space, a better collection of clothes, and also an easier way to choose an outfit for the day. However, your job is not over yet, since there are two more piles of clothes on your floor or bed which are waiting to be dealt with. In this part of today’s article, I will be going over the things you can do with the clothing that you want to donate, and also the ones which go in the garbage.
The Garbage Pile
Let’s start with the easier one first: the garbage pile. As discussed earlier, this is the pile that is full of clothes unfit for human use. This cannot be worn by even the poorest of people, since they are too worn out, too rough in their material, or just torn. Even though it seems intuitive that there is only one thing you can do with this pile of clothes, however, there are a couple of things you can do with them if you want to get the most out of them. Here are some tips:
- Make dog toys out of them. One of the things people tend to forget when throwing out clothes is that they are amazing for dogs and cats to play with. Though there aren’t as many toys you can make out of clothing that are suitable for cats, you can definitely make some for dogs if you have any (or perhaps a neighbor or friend?).
You can tie some knots on some piece of clothing that is made from a tougher material to form a toy that can be used to play tug with your dog, for example. You can take some wooden rings and wrap them in used clothes for a great fetch toy idea. You could also weave the fabric together to form an even tougher toy. The sky is really the limit with what you can make out of these materials.
- Make dog pillows or dog house padding. Toys are not the only things you can make for dogs out of fabric that you would otherwise throw away. Of course, you can buy all of these things made specifically for dogs, but if you are feeling creative or just want to save a couple of bucks, there are awesome things you can make out of fabric.
One of them is a doggy pillow. Take some fabric, cut it out into a large square or circle (depending on the size of your pet), stitch it together while leaving one end open, and fill with softer clothes and fabrics. You can even cut the clothes into smaller chunks to have a more even filling. You can also use these clothes to make padding for a dog house or cat tower.
- Make a DIY punching bag. Punching bags are usually quite expensive, however, there is a cheaper way to make them at home. Of course, you are likely going to sacrifice quality and durability, but you can still get a couple of weeks or months of training out of some used clothes and a cheap bag-material.
You can purchase sheets of synthetic leather, but if you want to go for something even more budget-friendly, you can take some old denim and cut it into shape for a boxing bag. Then fill it up with shredded old clothing and ta-da! You have a DIY punching bag. Again, these won’t last long and won’t be as high-quality, but if you are just looking for some resistance to your punches which resemble striking humans, this is a great option. Also, don’t forget that many high-quality bags are actually filled with shredded fabric!
The Charity Pile
It is obvious what one should do with a pile of clothes intended for charity, however, I would like to list a couple of the best charities to donate clothes to and also links to their websites so you can check out the work they do and also the nearest drop-off place!
- American Red Cross. The Red Cross, and in this case the American Red Cross is one of the largest (if not the largest) charities you can donate to. They are known for diligently distributing all goods, clothing and items donated, and are usually the first ones on the site of any catastrophe or larger-scale tragedy. They have been known to help out people living in poverty for a long time, so donating some clothes to people in need through them is one of the best options you have.
- Room to Grow. Room to Grow is one of the largest associations that work on providing clothing and other items to families in need, more specifically aimed at babies and toddlers. The idea is that the most vulnerable people are the youngest ones among us, and those living in poverty often do not have proper clothing, toys, or food to eat. If you happen to have small clothing for newborn babies or toddlers, consider donating it to ones living in poverty through Room to Grow.
- The Salvation Army. The Salvation Army is another large, international charity, which focuses on providing clothing, money, food, and other useful items to people living in the worst conditions. It was founded in 1865 by the Protestant church, which it is still a part of, and has saved countless lives and families throughout its activity. If you want to help out people in need with the clothing you don’t need, check out their webpage and choose a drop-off location or organize a pick-up.
Cleaning your wardrobe might seem like a tedious and time-consuming activity, which honestly, it is. However, that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done regularly. Not only will you declutter your living space and make it more fresh and clean, but you will also make it easier for yourself to pick outfits or keep your clothes in good condition. Aside from this, you can also help some people in dire need of warm or functional clothes. Who knew you could provide happiness to some people who usually live tragic lives, just by cleaning a bit once in a while?
In order to make the most out of your wardrobe and to keep it fresh and organized, I would advise most people to do one of these larger-scale cleaning and sorting activities at the very least every 6 months. You could time one near New Year’s, and another near the end of June, or any other way you like. If you want to be extra pedantic with your clothes, you could clean your wardrobe out every 3 months, or perhaps even every single month. It is totally up to you to decide how much cleaning and sorting out you need, but I would recommend cleaning out your wardrobe completely every 2-3 months.
This way you won’t let too many pieces of clothing build up, and you will have an easier time completing the process each new time. You will be more familiar with your clothes this way, and you can keep your wardrobe cleaner and in better shape. Also, this way you can regularly donate, which comes as more of a help for some people than you can imagine.
At the end of the cleaning, you can sit down, lay back with a cup of tea or coffee, and enjoy the satisfaction from all the productivity and the knowledge that you might have put a smile on someone’s face. After a while, you might even start to like cleaning your closet this way!