In this post: Want to know how to organize your closet? Follow these closet organizing tips when purging and organizing so your closet isn’t an awful mess.

Even from behind closed doors, messy, disorganized closets in our house bother me. And sometimes it can’t be helped, life happens. But if you’re ready to tackle them at your house with me, here’s how to organize your closet! 

how to organize your closet chair and mirror in closet

How do I declutter and organize my closet?

Decluttering and organizing a closet is much like decluttering and organizing any other space – purge, sort, and re-organize. 

01| Empty and clean your closet

Take everything out of the closet Yes, I mean EVERYTHING! Every shirt, sweater, extra pillow, and stray sock needs to come out of that closet. Pile it on the bed, the floor, anywhere nearby but outside the closet. 

02| Declutter and purge your clothes, shoes and accessories

Now ask a few questions about each item that you’ve removed from the closet (depending on whose closet it is).

  • Does it still fit?
  • Is it in good condition?
  • Is any damage repairable?
  • Does it look good on me/him/her?

If the answer is yes to those questions, create a pile of “keepers.” Remember only keep what you/they wear and LOVE and get rid of the rest. 

If the answer is no to any of those questions, toss that item in a separate pile.

What to do with your purged items

When you are finished going through your clothes, take a look at the pile of items you created of the items you’re not keeping and decide whether to sell, donate or toss each item. Here are some guidelines for that: 

Sell it if:

  • it is in great condition
  • it was expensive, to begin with
  • you really need the money AND have the time to do this now

Donate it if:

  • you can’t or don’t want to sell it
  • it isn’t damaged or stained

Toss it if it’s:

  • damaged beyond repair
  • stained
  • underwear or socks

03| Sort your clothes, shoes, and accessories

Now, sort like with like. Sweaters with sweaters, blouses with blouses, shoes with shoes, etc.

You can still have piles on the bed or floor for this. The key is just to sort by category. 

04| Plan your closet organization

Whether you can afford your ideal closet organization at this point or not, doesn’t matter. You can still organize your closet, and make it more functional and beautiful on a tiny budget. Here’s how. 

closet with shelves and hangers

Maximize your vertical storage space

When it comes to standard builder closets with one hanging rod with a shelf up above, there’s a lot of wasted vertical space. Space that you could use to store less frequently used items like seasonal clothes or special occasion items in storage boxes. 

If you’re on a budget and have to work with the single rod and shelf, think up by utilizing stacking bins or boxes that go from the shelf to the ceiling to make the most use of that valuable closet real estate. 

If you’re completely redesigning your closet, consider installing your new system from floor to ceiling to make the most of the vertical space. 

Use floor space wisely

Floor space in closets can easily become a dumping ground, so make sure to use them wisely. 

Line up your shoes on store-bought or DIY shoe racks. Stack boxes for scarves and seldom-worn shoes. 

Using the floor space well can expand the usable square footage of your closets.

Install drawers and shelving/purchase closet organizers

If you can swing it, install drawers and shelves in your closet. Many off-the-shelf closet organizers can be adjusted to fit just about any space and can be built onto little by little if you’re on a budget. 

For example, when we made over our master closet, we added new rods and some shelving. We also added a drawer. Our plan is to add more shelves and drawers over time to the modular system we used. 

we used these closet organizers

Bins and baskets are your best friends

Even if you can’t change a thing about the structure or built-in storage in your closet, you can absolutely add bins and baskets. This can expand your closet storage greatly while making it look nicer too!

Dean's shelves and hangind

05| Put everything away by category and color

Sort long-sleeved shirts with other long-sleeved shirts, blouses with blouses, etc. Then within those sections sort by color. Or use whatever organizational system works for your brain.

  • Store your most-used clothes at eye level. 
  • Hang anything delicate, fancy, or sturdy.
  • Fold all the non-hanging clothes, like pants and t-shirts.
  • Stack thick items like denim and sweaters.
  • Organize your drawer contents in the order you get dressed.

Sweaters and heavy items all lose their shape if hung. You know those weird little hanger bumps on the shoulders of sweaters after they’re hung? Stack them folded on shelves, in baskets, or in drawers instead.

Invest in special hangers for skirts and pants (if you’re hanging those). 

Don’t forget to set aside a space for your accessories like purses, belts, ties, jewelry, and scarves. Purses, backpacks, belts, ties, and scarves can hang on hooks, regular or specialty hangers or they can be put into bins or drawers. Jewelry can be sorted on a shelf with smaller items put into jewelry organizers. If money is tight, consider hooks for necklaces and egg cartons or ice cube trays for smaller pieces. 

Does it all fit back in the closet? With plenty of wiggle room? If not, reevaluate what you’ve already gone through and either purge more if necessary or store more off-season clothing elsewhere in your house.

Finally, label, label, label

Once you’ve decided where things are going to go in your closet, label everything. Label the drawers (inside if you want), baskets, bins, you name it. This will help to keep your closet organized. 

shelf and drawer in closet

7 Best Closet Organizing Tips

Now that you know how to organize your closet step-by-step, here are a few more tips to keep them looking fabulous!

1. Use coordinating hangers

You can buy fancy wooden hangers or just cheap dollar-store plastic hangers like we have in all our closets. Regardless, having matching hangers makes a closet look much neater.

(Plus it’s good for type-A people like me to see everything all matching in a row. #happysigh)

white hangers in a row with clothes in closet

2. Use hooks to create extra storage for hanging items

If you have some wall space that isn’t suited to shelves or closet organizers, you could install hooks for hanging items on. Think of things like purses or backpacks. Even jewelry can hang on hooks!

3. Store off-season items

If you have a smaller closet you may find that there’s not enough room to keep four seasons’ worth of clothing and accessories in it.

In that case, you will want to store your off-season clothing in closed boxes, totes, comforter, or vacuum-sealed bags elsewhere in your home. The top of your closet, or under the bed works well, as does the basement or another closet. 

4. Add a mirror 

If you have the space for it, hang or prop a mirror in your closet to make it look better. This can also help bounce the light around in a darker closet and it makes it easier to try things on too. 

mirror in closet to make it look larger

5. Repurpose pool noodles as boot inserts

This is a silly trick, but it works. You can use old pool noodles or pick some up from the dollar store in the summer. Then just cut them to fit and slide them into your boots to help them stay upright and keep their shape. 

6. Add a trash can, hamper, and donation bin to the space

Simplify your life and make it easier to put things where they belong instead of piled randomly in your closet. Include a trash can, laundry hamper, and donation box or bin in your closet makeover so that you can put those things where they belong right away. 

jewelry hanger and organizer with women's costume jewelry

7. Organize your small jewelry

If you can’t find or afford to buy jewelry organizers, you can use ice cube trays or even egg cartons to organize smaller pieces of jewelry like earrings and rings. 

More Organizing Ideas

So that’s how to organize your closet. Do you have any closets that need cleaning out? What are your best closet-organizing tips?