Decluttering clothes? Or . . . trying to declutter clothing? Overwhelmed because you have a hard time identifying which pieces are clutter?
I feel your pain. Clothing seems to multiply when I’m not looking, and decluttering clothes is a constant battle in our home. While a big purge is awesome, there are clues I find on an ongoing basis that help me stick things straight into the Donate Box.
Clue #1: It’s in the dirty clothes (again), but it’s clean (again).
This is a common frustration for moms. I roll my eyes and think unkind thoughts when it happens in our home. I lecture, remind, and re-lecture.
And usually, after a particularly profound lecture, I run across one of my own still-clean items of clothing while sorting for Laundry Day. Ugh.
When that happens, I’m reminded that many clean things which end up in the dirty clothes pile actually need to be decluttered. Usually, they are there because I thought about wearing them but changed my mind. I might have even tried them on.
The beauty of decluttering these clothes is that they can never end up clean-but-in-the-hamper again once they’re gone.
Yay for that.
Clue #2: They’re at the bottom of a drawer that won’t close.
I put away clean clothes and the drawer won’t shut. Instead of throwing my hands in the air at the pointlessness of even trying to do the right thing (right thing = putting clothes away), I take a look at the clothes in the bottom of the drawer.
The ones I’m putting away are ones we’ve recently worn. We like those. If the ones in the bottom of the drawer have been there a while, we haven’t worn them.
Which means we don’t like them as much as the ones we have worn.
Clothes we wear deserve drawer space more than clothes we don’t wear.
Clue #3: There’s a dust line on the shoulders.
This is hanging-clothes specific. And a little embarrassing.
If a closet is overstuffed and I know we need to purge, I look for clothing with dust on the hanger’s line.
We haven’t worn those items in the amount of time that it takes for dust to become visible on them. This isn’t a perfect or thorough decluttering strategy. It’s simply a clue to help me yank out some easy stuff and get going on decluttering clothing.
Getting going cures Decluttering Paralysis, and even if I stop after I remove the dusty-shouldered items, we have less than we did before.
And less is good.
If you’re decluttering clothing (or your kitchen or your bedrooms or your craft room), you need my new book: Decluttering at the Speed of Life.
Great tips! Clean clothes in the dirty pile is such a nuisance. One that I use personally in my own closet is that a couple times a year (like at the start of the warm season, and the start of the cool season) I flip all my hangers backwards on the bar. Then as I wear things, I hang them back up the right way. When that season is over, I can see which clothes I didn’t even wear once during that season (like a sweater during the cool season or a tshirt during the warm season) and declutter those. If I didn’t wear them once from September to March, they don’t need to be in my closet because I clearly never reach for them.
jean parr says
What a good suggestion!!
jean parr says
Keep it simple!! What a time saver!
Simple and effective methods that, unfortunately, had not crossed my mind. I am going to incorporate these new rules when deciding whether to keep or donate clothing. Thanks Dana, for making “decision-making” painless and possible for me!
I would also add the “I’ll wear this top when I have the right pants/skirt/mindset” type of clothes. Or items that don’t make you feel and look good. Or that you are always tugging at and/or adjusting. If I’m doing that, I will usually get rid of the item, so that I don’t accidentally put it on again and then spend the day frustrated. Great tips Nony!
Kit Kauffman says
I just finished your first book – second time listening to the audio version. I love it! I appreciate your candor and humor. I took away lots of good points, learned much about myself, and how to have compassion for my own slob nature.
This weekend I did the 4th purge of clothing from my closet. There may just be enough room for the whole lot of my remaining clothes!
I look forward to your second book as I’ve got a home office/craft room that is in need of purging.
Keep up your good work and writing – it is a gift to me and so many others.
Dana White says
This was such a great article because I feel the same way about when something is clean and CAN be worn once or twice more. Clothes are always hard to declutter because I find some items I haven’t worn in a while and fall in love with them all over again! But I will take your advice and really be tough on myself when it comes to getting rid of clothes.
Thank you for the great article!
I agree with the ‘falling in love with clothes again’ part which makes it REALLY hard to get rid of some stuff. I skip wearing it for a few years, then it ends up on the favorite list again. Maybe the solution is to pack a *FEW* potentials away for a few years and clear out all the others that are not recently worn to get rid of at least some of them.
Pat.A recovering slob says
am right now reading ‘how to manage your home…’ which i borrowed from the library, but clearly Must.Have.My.OWN.Copy so will be buying it. along with the new book. LOVE your way of making it all look doable & also getting real yet merciful about how we fool ourselves.
& dust lines on the shoulders of hanging clothes may not indicate so much in my country (Tucson). The dust here is nasty desert dust and takes no time at all (we’re talking a few days here) to pile up on all horizontal surfaces and stick to them like glue. i’m going to follow kim’s method (right side out / wrong side out) for my clothes purge. whatever works, yes?
I’m sure there are clothes I could get rid of but reading this made me feel so much better! I never have clean clothes in the hamper, nor dust lines on hanging items. I beat up on myself way too much and this gave me a bit of breathing room. Sure, I have some overstuffed baskets/drawers to streamline but I’m doing okay. I’m not the best housekeeper but I’m doing okay.
I always tell people the “okay” is okay.
THAT, not THE
Deb Bishop says
After reading your book I started a “new” trick that is working for me. When hanging up clothes in my closet O always but the most recently washed clothes to the right and after a few months I check out what is to the left still and purge from there!
I used your one-in-one-out concept when I was going through hand-me-downs this week. We were blessed with two different families giving us hand-me-downs on Sunday. I know I only need to keep so many play shirts so I tried picking the ones I liked best within my set limit. Thank you for all your helpful tips.
Melinda J Mitchell says
I need to do the backwards hanger thing. I have so many purple T-shirts, I have no idea which ones I have or haven’t worn!!
Looking forward to reading your new book. I enjoyed your first one so much!!
And your e-books too, before that.
Marilee Henneberger says
Your suggestions are great. I apply another good closet decluttering rule… if I haven’t worn an item in two years, out it goes. Why keep clothing I’m not wearing? There are excuses, such as maybe it was expensive, or it’s too small, or it just doesn’t look or feel right, or it doesn’t go with anything else. No matter, it’s taking up space I need for things I actually wear and should go.
I want to AVOID clutter and wasted money, so I only buy clothing to replace things I’ve removed from my closet or drawers. While this is similar to the one item in, one item out idea, it’s more specific. I only replace an item if it goes with other things I actually wear or is a stand alone, like a dress. This means no more buying on “speculation”. Spec is the false premise that I “might” want, fit into it or need something one day or just because it’s a bargain. If I’m not wearing an item, it becomes clutter and is a complete waste of money.
While raising 8 children I washed and folded items and put them on the various beds for them to put away. There was a time that the stack ended up back in the hamper put there by the lazy ones and I threw a fit and gave instructions at a family meeting, so that any child tall enough to reach the washer controls was old enough to wash their own dirty clothes.
End of the lecture,remind and relecture cycle, and the beginning of growing up and being responsible.
Debbie McArdle says
Lol! Thank you, Nony. I’m glad to know I’m not the only person who suffers from #3. Decluttering at the Speed of Life was my introduction to you. Your perspective helps me understand my mindset.