How to Finally Clean out Your Closet for Good

How to Clean Out Your Closet for Good

Closet purging and decluttering can be a life long battle. Until I started dressing with 33 items or less every 3 months, I cleaned out my closet seasonally.

I’d go through my clothes, move things around, take a little out and add more in. I’d drag storage containers in from the garage, swap out items, try to make a little space, and then go shopping to celebrate a new season. Notice the vicious circle pattern I’ve got going here?

5 years ago, when I finally decided to clean out my closet for good, all of these crazy questions and emotions came up.

  • Guilt asked, “Why did you spend so much money on things you don’t wear?”
  • Frustration asked, “Are we going to have to do this again in 6 months?”
  • Fear asked, “If you let go, will you have enough to wear?”

I listened to each question, filled with emotion. After hearing the same questions seasonally for decades, I knew it was time for a change. If your closet decluttering patterns are feeling a little vicious circle-ish, clean out your closet for good.

How to Finally Clean out Your Closet for Good

Have fun with this step-by-step guide to cleaning out your closet. This could be the last time you ever have to do it.

Round One

  • Put it on your calendar. Depending on the state of your closet, you may need 2-5 hours or more. Clear the day, hire a sitter, unplug and make it important.
  • Make two playlists: One with your favorite happy, uplifting, everything is going to be ok music, and one filled with songs that calm you down. You are going to need good music.
  • Bring a water bottle. This is a marathon. You will need water. (and snacks)
  • Empty your closet. Yes, the whole thing. Completely empty.
  • Don’t worry about sorting yet, just move everything to your bed. If you put everything on your bed, you’ll be motivated to complete the project before bedtime.
  • If you have clothes in bureaus, storage containers, or other areas of your home, get those too. Dump them on the bed.
  • While you are at it, add your shoes, accessories, and jewelry. All the things.
  • Wash your closet. Make it really clean in there. Air it out.
  • Take a break. This is a great time to take a walk. Get away from your closet, clothes, guilt, frustration, or any other emotions that are coming up. Walk and breathe. Let go.

Let go.

Round Two

  • Drink water and turn up the music.
  • Move the clothes on your bed to piles on the floor with a ruthless first pass sort. Don’t give it too much thought, just go with your first reaction. Sort items into the following piles:
  1. Love: I love these items. They fit me well and I wear them frequently.
  2. Maybe: I want to keep this but I don’t know why. (you know you have those items)
  3. Donate: These items don’t fit my body or my life.
  4. Trash: These items are in poor condition. (repurpose if possible)
  • Keep going until your bed is clear and you have 4 piles on the floor.
  • Roll around on your bed, kick your feet up in the air and scream, “almost there!”
  • Drink water and eat snacks.
  • Box or bag up your items to donate and bring them to your car or garage. Get them out of sight immediately.
  • Throw out the trash.
  • Take a second pass at your two remaining piles. Try on clothing you aren’t sure about and ask the following questions:
  1. Would I go to the store and buy this today?
  2. Will I wear this in the next 3-6 months (or ever)?
  • If the answer is no, start a new donate pile and immediately add it to your other items for donation. Out of sight.
  • Put the remaining items back in your closet, or into seasonal storage containers, OR move on to the bonus round.
  • Take another walk before the bonus round.

Dress with Less and Create a Capsule Wardrobe

Bonus Round

You’ve done enough already, so if you are ready to wrap it up, close your closet and celebrate.

But, if you love a good challenge, and really want to redefine your relationship with clothing, and the other stuff in your life, finally clean out your closet for good and give minimalist fashion challenge Project 333 a try. I started this challenge 5 years ago, and still stick to 33 items or less every three months. It’s that good.

You’ve done the hard work already, so take the next step and experiment with dressing with less. You’ll discover surprising benefits like these and learn what you really want and need in your closet. Spoiler alert … it’s less than you think. 

  • Do it on your own with the instructions below, or for extra inspiration, instruction, and connection, try the Dress with Less Course.
  • Choose 33 items from your remaining 2 piles including clothing, shoes, jewelry and accessories.
  • Box up the rest and revisit it in 3 months. You’ll have a whole new outlook on what remains.
  • Don’t include underwear, sleepwear, loungewear, or workout clothes, but make sure you are actually sleeping, lounging, or working out in your designated clothes. If your yoga pants go to the grocery store more frequently than yoga class, count them as part of your 33 items.

The next season of Project 333 officially starts on October 1st, but you can start anytime.

Check out the official rules here.

Get inspired on Instagram here. I’ll be posting images from my Project 333 capsule wardrobe and frequent round-ups from people using the #project333 hashtag to feature their daily outfits and capsule wardrobes like this …

How to Finally Clean Out Your Closet for Good

When I finally cleaned out my closet for good, peace replaced guilt, joy replaced frustration, and love replaced fear.

  • Peace says, “Mornings are easier with fewer choices.”
  • Joy says, “It’s so nice to wear your favorite things everyday.”
  • Love says, “This is enough.”