Decluttering clothes CAN be a relatively easy (and painless) experience!
Believe me mama, I know the prospect of decluttering clothes can seem overwhelming, especially if your closet looks anything like mine used to.
Does your story sound like my story?
Four years ago, walking into my closet brought frustration and overwhelm on the daily! My closet was jam-packed with literally hundreds of shirts, over sixty pairs of shoes, and a ridiculous number of unworn pants and shorts.
To be honest, I often felt guilty when I took a good look at my closet. I knew there were SO MANY things that I never wore.
Most of those things were pieces I bought myself, so I felt badly that I’d wasted good money on them.
Other items were gifted to me by my relatives or friends. I felt that decluttering clothes my loved ones had given me would be dishonoring their kindness.
Finally, a few things were those wishful thinking pieces – the ones I wore as a college cheerleader, hoping that someday I’d find a way to squeeze my mom of five hips back into.
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You are NOT alone if you need to do some closet decluttering
Does my story sound at all like yours? Do you feel overwhelmed by your closet clutter? It’s okay, mama.
I’m here to tell you are not alone!
The average woman in America has 103 items in her closet, according to a 2016 study by ClosetMaid.
Of those 103 items, 33% are deemed unwearable or are unworn.
And beyond that another 57% of the clothes in our closets are described as being too tight or too loose. That’s 90% of our wardrobe that isn’t serving us well!
Check out this awesome infographic from ClosetMaid:
But here’s the kicker: of the 41% of women who report not being able to find something in their closet at least once a month, 66% of them go out and BUY MORE NEW CLOTHES to “solve” the problem.
I think you get my point: most of our closets are full to the brim of things we don’t wear.
Free mini course to help you with decluttering clothes
To really help you get through the process of decluttering clothes, there is a FREE 6-module mini course to walk you through the decluttering process step by step!
With checklists, questions to ask yourself, and fun videos, this quick mini course is one you don’t want to miss!
Okay, are you ready to get started with decluttering your clothes?! Let’s do it!
Decluttering Clothes Step 1: Mental Preparation
Now before we get started with the actual physical work of decluttering your wardrobe, we need to do some mental work.
First, tell yourself that you ARE doing this!
You are capable of conquering your closet clutter! I’m serious. Say this out loud, okay?
Like so many things, it is the mental preparation that will have the biggest impact on whether or not you’ll be successful!
Next, resolve to make quick decisions
The longer you allow yourself to deliberate over a particular piece, the less likely you will be to let it go.
Studies show that the longer you physically touch an item, the more likely you will be to keep it.
So don’t stand there holding that favorite shirt of yours from GAP that you bought in 2004 – but that you haven’t worn in ten years.
Third, accept these three facts:
- Keeping an expensive item in your closet will not bring back the money you spent on it. The money is gone. If you don’t wear the piece, let it go too.
- You do not need to hold onto clothes to preserve a memory. If you are honestly worried about forgetting the person or event that you associate with that piece, first consider if you have any photos or mementos from the event or of that person. If not, take a photo of that item of clothing. Store all of these types of photos in a folder on your phone called “Memories from clothes.”
- If an item is more than two sizes too big or too small, it is likely that piece will be out of style by the time you work yourself back into it. I promise, I’m not trying to sound harsh. I just want to be honest with you – everyone needs a friend who will shoot straight even when it’s difficult.
Also, choose where to donate before you start decluttering clothes
Having a destination in mind for these items will help you to feel a sense of purpose and intention with your decluttering.
You can certainly take your donations to a thrift store or donations center.
But it may even be more helpful to think of a few specific people who would be blessed to receive the items you’ll be parting with that are still in good shape.
Decluttering Clothes Step 2: Physical Preparation
Okay, are you ready to get to work decluttering that closet?
First, put all of your clothes on your bed!
Yep, just dump ‘em all there. Remember, you’ve resolved to work quickly, right?
I imagine you want to sleep in that bed at night, so this is your insurance that you’ll get this project done. Tell yourself that you are DOING THIS! You are not going put any of these clothes on the floor at the end of the day.
Next, grab 3 large bins, boxes or bags.
They can be 3 of the same type of container or 3 completely different containers. Use whatever you already have on hand. Go ahead and give them labels such as trash, donation, and wait.
Decluttering Clothes Step 3: Sort
Now we’re ready to sort through your clothes quickly. Remember, you need to work quickly and make fast decisions.
The longer you physically touch or hold onto an item, the harder it will be to part with it. We respond to physical touch and sensation in a deeper way than if we just observe something, so make it a point to not pick up each item and examine it for any real length of time.
First, select your favorite items
Go through the piles of clothes and choose all of your favorite items first. Simply put them back in your closet before they get too wrinkly.
These will be the clothes that you wear on repeat or the ones you often receive compliments on.
Take these items off of your bed and and put them back in your closet.
It’s often said that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. The 20% you typically wear will most likely go straight back into your closet.
Next, locate anything that is beyond repair and is not worth donating
Put these in the bin marked trash. These are the clothes you can quickly identify that are not serving you at all and wouldn’t be a blessing to ANYONE.
Is the piece torn, frayed, or stained beyond repair? Is it missing a button that’s been lost? Zipper broken?
Stop thinking you’ll get these things fixed. If you didn’t do it within the first two weeks of it needing a repair, that shows the item is simply not that important to you!
You trash pile will probably be a fairly small pile, so jump right in and get it done.
Let’s move onto the third pile: Donate
Now, the vast majority of people let themselves get bogged down right here, but not you!! You are going to keep pushing through, trusting your gut. Believe in your ability to make good decisions.
If you are feeling frustrated, take the FREE mini course to help you get rid of that clothes clutter! I’ll walk you through these steps in even more detail there.
Identify any item that you have not worn in the past year and place it in the donate box. Ahh! I know that seems hard! But, friend, it’s time to STOP holding onto clothes for those “just in case” moments.
There is a reason you haven’t worn that piece for a YEAR (or longer). If you don’t like an item enough to wear it right now, you don’t like it enough to keep it.
Questions to Consider
A few more questions to consider about whether to donate a piece are:
- Do you find yourself pulling and tugging at the neckline or hemline throughout the day?
- Have you wondered if the color is off for you? (If you have no idea about what colors are best for you, you can purchase your own individual color consultation in the Jen Bradley|MOMs shop!)
- Do you wish the material was thicker, or less itchy, or less stiff?
If the answer to any of these questions is YES, donate these items too. For a list of 10 deep-dive questions to help you get crystal clear on what to keep and what to donate, take the Decluttering Clothes mini-course to help you declutter clothes the easy way!
Your pile on your bed should really be dwindling now. This is awesome!
A note about your donation pile:
Your donate pile will probably be quite large – and that’s a good thing. Do not be afraid to send very nice or expensive pieces out into the world.
Tell yourself that the good we give is always returned in one way or another.
Remember what Anne Frank wrote:
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
The last pile: your fail safe
Now if you are having a hard time with some of your clothes and you just can’t decide what to do with them, here’s fail safe option for you!
It’s called the WAIT bin.
Take all of the remaining clothes on your bed (after collecting your favorites, gathering the trash and choosing what to donate) and put them here.
These are the things you kinda like and think you might wear, but you don’t love them.
These are the things you’ve worn a few times in the past year, and that you don’t necessarily love. You could see yourself wearing them if you had at the right pair of pants or the right top to wear with it.
Put all of these in the wait bin.
Now, place that bin somewhere you won’t see it often. Some great spots for the wait bin are under the bed, in the attic or garage, or in the guest bedroom closet.
Then if you find yourself looking for a particular piece in the future, go back and get it out of the bin and return it to your closet.
But only take that one piece!
Make an appointment
Finally, look at your calendar and set an appointment for yourself six months from now.
When you see your reminder, get out your wait box. If you haven’t thought of any of the pieces inside this box, it is time to donate these too!
There will be things in there that you’ve completely forgotten about. If they haven’t crossed your consciousness in six months, give these away too.
Victory over clothes clutter can be yours!
Okay, friend, when you get through this process, it’s time to celebrate!
You will feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose when you walk into your closet every morning!
Now, if your closet is looking pretty bare, I have two options to help you refill it with intention!
- I now offer Personal Closet Consultations and Body Shape Analyses to help moms know exactly what clothes to buy to flatter their natural beauty. Go to my shop now to book yours!
- My online course, The Confident Closet, launches again in Spring of 2021. I’ll be teaching women just like you how to stop wasting time and money on clothes they don’t wear. We’ll identify your style, learn your perfect color palette, how to shop for your lifestyle, and learn how to buy the best clothes for your body shape and size. Join the Jen Bradley|MOMs newsletter to get all the info about enrollment and discounts!
Final thoughts on decluttering clothes
I know this process of decluttering clothes can seem daunting! But I also know that if you are motivated, that you CAN DO IT!
Before we wrap up, take just a minute to focus on all the benefits about decluttering clothes from your closet!
The benefits of decluttering clothes
I want you to just close your eyes (but keep reading, too, okay?! :)) for a moment and picture your closet completely decluttered.
Just imagine how it would look. Your clothes would all have space to breathe and your hangers would be ordered nicely. Every item would have its proper place. (Speaking of hangers, these wooden clothes hangers are some of my favorites.)
You would be able to open your closet door every morning, take a deep breath, and feel that you were living mom life on purpose – right at the beginning of the day. And you’d be able to quickly chose an outfit that flatters you and makes you feel confident.
Ahh … isn’t that nice?
I am telling you from one friend to another, that it is WORTH it to declutter your closet. You are worth it. Repeat after me: I AM WORTH IT.
There are many psychological benefits to decluttering. In a 2018 Psychology Today article, decluttering is linked to increased confidence and competence. What mom doesn’t need those things, right?!
The very act of decluttering has proven to be energizing, helping us to make quicker decisions and act on the tasks before us.
I absolutely love the twenty life-changing benefits of closet decluttering, that Marie-Anne Lacour shares on her blog all about French chic style. Some of my favorite positive things that she mentions about decluttered wardrobe are:
- being able to save time getting dressed
- actually enjoy putting together an outfit everyday
- being motivated to start decluttering your life and home in other areas
Okay, are you ready?! You’ve got this!
Don’t forget to join the free Decluttering Clothes mini course for printable lists, decluttering questions to ask yourself and further help and instructions to make this project a big win!
Related articles about decluttering:
–The Ultimate Decluttering Checklist – 101 Things You Can Get Rid of ASAP
–6 Reasons Why We Hold Onto Clothes We Never Wear
–The Best 29-Piece Capsule Wardrobe for Fall You Need to Copy
–What I Needed to Learn Before Creating My Capsule Wardrobe
–The 33 Piece Easy Summer Capsule Wardrobe You Need to Copy
70 thoughts on “3 Easy Steps To Make Decluttering Clothes Painless”
Thanks for sharing these practical tips on decluttering. I like the idea of the wait bin. There clothes I have attachment to although I have not worn them in about a year.
I’m so glad to hear it, Bunmi! Yes, putting things out of sight in the wait bin is so helpful! So glad that resonated with you.
It is crazy how much our thoughts play a role in women wanting to keep articles of clothing, even if they are worn. Those statistics are shocking but I totally believe it! My mother-in-law likes to buy me clothes, I’m the daughter she never had. Most of the time, her picks are spot on, but occasionally, there are misses and I feel bad getting rid of them. These are some great tips for decluttering a closet in the quickest, easiest way possible. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for reading, Elizabeth! I can totally see how it would be hard to get rid of those picks from your mother-in-law. You are right, so much of what we hold onto is all in our minds!
Ugh, I really need to do this! And to our kids’ closets as well. Thanks for the reminder. I’ll finally do it as soon as I work up the motivation.
Oh! You bring up such a good point about kids’ closets too! You can do it, mama!
Decluttering my closet in definitely on my to-do during this shutdown from socializing. This article will definitely be my guide. Your three facts under mental preparation are powerful!
Thank you so much, Carletta! I appreciate that so much. Good luck on your decluttering, lady!
Excellent run down on how to declutter. I definitely need to get back in there and do it again!!
Thanks, Lee Anne! I know what you mean – decluttering is something I try to do every six months or so. You can do it!
I love your tips and steps to decluttering. I think it’s awesome that you devoted a whole step to mental preparation- it’s So important to decluttering FOR GOOD, and I think so many people overlook it. You’ve definitely motivated me to get to work!
Thanks, Kelly Marie!! I’m so glad to hear it! And you are so right about the mental preparation – it is the foundation for any long-lasting decluttering!
You mean I just can’t take over my husband’s closet? lol
It’s about time to change out my winter wardrobe for my spring wardrobe so I will keep these tips in mind.
Melinda, your comment made me LOL! Good luck with your seasonal switch-out – I hope it goes well!
These are such great tips! I declutter my closet about twice a year, to help with keeping it tidy.
Thanks, Anitra! I think decluttering twice a year is a wonderful time line to keep up!
I too have been decluttering in these days a bit in all areas of my life: from home, to hobbies, to wardrobe and jewelry. It is tough, but satisfying.
That is awesome, Cristina! I agree – having a decluttered space is definitely satisfying and definitely work the work!
I love your tips and steps to decluttering. Decluttering my closet in definitely on my to-do during this shutdown from socializing.
That is great! I hope your closet decluttering goes really well!
Clutter drives me crazy, so I am constantly trying to decrease the excess. Thanks for sharing your tips! I especially like the one that keeping an expensive item will not bring the money back. So true!
Thanks for reading, Sara! That truth can be a harsh reality for some – I know it was for me at first!
These are all such amazing tips! I’m pretty good about consistently decluttering my closet, but I’m definitely guilty of hanging on to a handful of pieces that I’ll probably never wear or wear again…I loved your advice about not being able to bring back the money, so just let it go!
-Madi xo | http://www.everydaywithmadirae.com
Thanks, Madi! That was a big hang up for me too when I first decluttered! That’s awesome that you keep up with yours pretty consistently!
These are such great tips! I personally find decluttering my closet therapeutic and I basically do it every season!
Charlene, I’m with you 100%! Thanks so much for reading and commenting!
Great info on decluttering. Before I can declutter, I need a closet revamp! One thing I do not agree and I am probably in the minority here…but all clothes come back in style at some point in our lives…I often get upset when I see fashion come back and I got rid of something that I once loved…because of it – then I miss it. Secondly, I have kept some of my favorite pieces since 2014 – it is a great thing because this year I have lost over 10 lbs and fit into all of the items that I once did and boy does it make me not want to beverage and eat like I normally do – and this started before social distancing!
Judean, thank you! I think you are right that many pieces do come back into style over time. But it’s a matter of storing them and seeing them unused for that length of time that I feel is rather draining. That is awesome about your weight loss journey – what a big accomplishment for you! Way to go!
Love your step-by-step process …makes it feel more “do-able.” Thank you for the tips. I now feel inspired!!
Thank you, Rosemary! I’m so glad to hear it! I appreciate you reading.
I decluttered my clothes a few years back and it was liberating. I finally felt like I had a style.
That is so cool, Charlotte! I completely agree with you about the liberating feeling!
I SO need to do this and soon! My closet is overflowing with stuff. I moved almost 4 years ago and got rid of SO much but I still have more to go.
Hi Desiree! It is crazy how things just accumulate over time! Good luck with that decluttering – you can do it!!
So many good tips and I think you advice is spot, you have to be semi harsh when it comes to going through a closet unless you just have the extra space.
Thanks, Jen! Yes, that was a stretch for me at first, but there were too many times that I “decluttered” but didn’t make a big enough dent because I was too nice! 😉
I need to do this so badly! I’m definitely in the mental preparation stage– I have so many clothes that just don’t fit my lifestyle anymore
Hi Ainsley! That is such an important stage – and so essential!! If you’re looking for more help on identifying your style, come back soon! 🙂
Great tips! Your de clutter is inspiring. I think I might need to get up and start racking our closer project now!
Thank you, Amanda! I say go for it!
These are great tips! Decluttering is energizing, I love it.
Thank you Kinzy! That’s awesome, lady!
Love this. Definitely giving me motivation to go clean 🤣
I’m so glad to hear it, Yana! You can do it!
I’ve been meaning to do this for so long but instantly get overwhelmed when I think about tackling it. This is super helpful and makes me feel like I can do it!
Yay, Krystn! That makes me so happy to hear! It can be overwhelming, but having a plan and mental preparation makes a huge difference!
This comes at the perfect time! I’m moving so will be using this to declutter my closet!
Rella, that is awesome! I think moving the absolute BEST time to declutter! Good luck to you!
This post is full of awesome tips! I decluttered my closet a few weeks ago, but I didn’t have a”wait” bin. Now I wish I did!
Christy, way to get that decluttering done though! That is a big accomplishment!
This is a great guide!
Thank you, Jennie!
I have decluttered my closet, well my entire home, last year. It is a process for sure. I love your tips for decluttering your closet and it will for sure inspire others to declutter. The 3 facts you wrote about are so true. It is so worth it.
Thank you, Amanda! Way to take on that big project last year! I’m glad to know you find the work to be worth it for sure!
Needed this! I’m currently 1 month postpartum, so I don’t want to get rid of much yet, but after a good amount of time I want to be sure I do a good decluttering of my closet! Will pin to use your tips later 🙂
Sophia, congratulations on your new baby! I hear you .. there definitely is a time and a season for decluttering your closet. Right after baby is not the time for sure! I’m so glad you brought that up. Thanks for pinning and best wishes for these next few weeks and months with your little one!
Whoa this article is really good. It was eye opening to read the three facts one has to accept. Especially the one about holding on to clothes for memory. Some hard truths but very needed. Thank you!
Thank you, Bumo! I appreciate your comment so much! I’m glad you found those hard truths useful!
Great read! I definitely need to do this soon 🙂
“Keeping an expensive item in your closet will not bring back the money you spent on it.” You mean my over the top shoe collection isn’t an investment? :).
Seeing that in writing just gave me the motivation to get rid of a few pairs. Thank you!
Such great advice. I do believe clutter can effect your mood- it gives me anxiety!! I love your closet!
Decluttering my closet gives me a piece of mind! I love having everything in order.
Man, #1. I find myself saying “But it cost__ dollars!” Your advise really helps. I have so much to do!
I love these tips! Especially the part about not having to keep something to preserve a memory! I’ve definitely been guilty of that!
This has been on my to do list along time now. I’m definitely saving this so I can finally get this done!
Ahhhh it stresses me out to even THINK about my closet right now. It totally needs a good decluttering. Going to run with some of these ideas and just do it this weekend! Thanks for the inspo!
Yes! Great tips—your closet looks awesome!
This is a great step by step guide to declutter the closet. I SO much need to do this and feel like maybe I can now do it with this guide!!
This right here->>> “Believe in your ability to make good decisions.”
That is such a good point that goes way beyong closet organization. I’ve moved so much over the years I’ve done this on average every two years.
I don’t have many clothes, but I do have some of those yo-yo weight clothes. I need to get rid of my skinny jeans for like the 3rd time.
Really great tips and very encouraging.
This is great. I usually wait for my mom to help declutter bevause she loves going through the clothes and folding them. Maybe this will make it more painless…