How to Clear Out Your Closet Quickly Without Regret

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How to Clear Out Your Closet Quickly Without Regret

The weather this weekend was sunny with just a bit of evening rain, perfect for the first weekend of spring. Now that I’ve gotten a glimpse of the good weather coming to us, I can’t wait to get out some of my warm weather clothes. My closet is currently full of sweaters and long-sleeve shirts.

I know I’m not the only one with a bunch of clothes hidden in the back or high upon the shelves too. Last week I wrote 10 tips for spring cleaning your house quickly. This week I’m tackling clearing out your closet quickly without regret.

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Why it’s hard to get rid of stuff

In the past, one of the toughest things about clearing out the house and closets was the sadness or regret I would feel about getting rid of something. Maybe I’d need that item again. Or maybe I’d need that certain dress or odd pair of shoes for some special occasion one day in the future. I spent money on it and it would be wasted if I threw it out.

Some things I loved because of their sentimental value. The unfashionable denim jacket my grandmother gave me, that hand-me-down jacket that was much too big, that strange thing from a friend that had no name but had rhinestones on it…I wanted to keep it all.

Whatever the reason, it’s understandable that clearing out your closet can cause disappointment. After years of having too much stuff, I moved into a much smaller place and had no choice but to leave a lot of it behind. What are some of the things I told myself?

  • You have something else in your closet to wear for that occasion.

  • You already spent money on that item. Let the item go.

  • Sell your stuff and make some of the money back.

  • Take a picture of the clothes that have meaning to you.

  • Give it to someone close to you who you know will use it and love it.

  • Donate it knowing that someone who needs it more will get use from it.

With those thoughts in mind, let’s tackle the closet! These are a few of my best tips for clearing out the closet quickly and without regret.


1 | Set aside some time

How much time you need will depend on how fast you move and how much stuff you have. You may like to take a weekend afternoon and clean at a leisurely pace. I have a wall closet, but I know I can make decisions about my clothes quickly. I love racing through my errands and chores too, so gave myself two hours to completely clean my closet. Give yourself the time that you need.


2 | Create a few piles

Start by taking everything out of your closet so that it’s empty. If your closet gets dusty like mine does, this is a good time to wipe down the walls and shelves. Then go through your clothes and sort them into four piles:

  • Keep – These are the items you want to keep and put back in your closet.

  • Donate – These items may not be for you anymore but they’re still in usable condition.

  • Throw away ­– Items that are too worn to use again or donate go in this pile. They can go in a textile recycle if that’s available.

  • Giveaway – These are the items you know others might want and appreciate.

If you’re struggling to get rid of things you know you really don’t need, try adding “maybe” pile. I don’t recommend it because I think it’s too easy to put everything into that pile. Then you end up keeping too much stuff and adding complexity and time to the task. But you may find it works well for you.


Questions to ask yourself as you sort

  • Have I worn it recently?

This is one of the best questions to ask yourself as you go through your closet. If you’ve worn it recently, you’re likely to wear it again so it’s earned its place in your closet. If it’s been hanging in your closet for over a year without being worn, it’s a sign to let it go.  Judge seasonal items by whether or not you wore them during that last season. Did you wear the winter coat last winter or the sundress last summer?

  • Will I need it again soon?

If you foresee yourself needing the item soon, go ahead and keep it. I find this to be true for seasonal items and special occasion items.  I have some heels I only wear for events such as weddings. I know I’ll have another wedding to attend next year, so I’m going to keep them at least until then.  

  • Does it fit?

It can be tempting to keep clothes that don’t fit, especially if your weight fluctuates. But those clothes are just taking up space in your closet. For a clean start, give away those items that just don’t fit your right.

  • Do I like it?

Your style and preferences have probably changed over time. Try on items you’re uncertain about and see if you still like them. Do you like how you look in them? Are they comfortable? Say goodbye to pants with baggy bottoms and shirts that ride up on you.

  • Is it in good condition?

It’s tempting to keep well-worn items. You love them and they’re probably really comfortable. If they’re too worn though, cut ties and throw those ratty tatty items in the garbage pile.


3 | Put it back organized

Now that the hard work of sorting is done, it’s time to put the things you’re keeping back in the closet. Everyone has their own way of storing clothing. I like to hang clothes that are prone to wrinkling. These velvet hangers keep clothes from slipping off. They’re thin and lightweight, so you can fit more clothes on the same rack.

Sweaters do best on shelves or in drawers rather than hanging. I use cloth baskets to hold scarves, small purses, and other small items. A shoe organizer can do wonders too for making better use of space, whether under the bed or hanging in the closet.

Related: How to Make Your Clothes Last Longer


4 | Store what you don’t need

Now’s a good time to switch out your wardrobe if you live somewhere with seasonal weather. There’s not much change in the seasons here in San Francisco, unfortunately. When I do tuck things away, I put them in storage containers with sealing lids. Just ensure that the clothes are clean and laundered before storing them.


5 | Sell what you can

After clearing out my closet, my favorite thing to do is to sell the stuff I don’t want anymore. That’s how I got started selling online on platforms like Poshmark, eBay, and Mercari. It was easy to sign up on the sites and list my items. I sold several items in the first few days and got hooked on selling more.  

Besides selling home goods, toys, and electronics, you can make decent money selling your unwanted clothes. You’re even more in luck if you have popular name brand and designer items to sell because those are in demand.

If you want to get started and don’t have a Poshmark account, you can receive a free $5 bonus when you sign up with my code SFGIRL2015. On Mercari, you can currently get $10 when you sign up with the code JENMHM. The credit varies depending on the promotion.

Related posts:  

Coming up next on the blog, I’ll be sharing the items I use to run my side hustle reselling clothes and accessories. Stay tuned!

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