Closet Organization Tips and Tactics

Closet organization is a job that most folks dread but feel so good about having done. Here are a few helpful hints to make your closet organizing effort easier and more productive.

  1. Start with a clean slate.
    That means emptying your closet as a first step. Give it a good cleaning, top to bottom, dusting off shelves, polishing hanging racks, sweeping and washing walls and floors. Is it a dark closet? Install a light fixture or even a portable light. One reason people rummage through closets is the inability to see what they're after

    What about shelves? Make good use of the plethora of organizing tools and tricks in the marketplace. Use shelves, baskets, boxes, shoe bags, Lazy Susans and racks to solve your storage problems.

    Recycle wherever you can. Egg cartons are wonderful for small objects, such as earrings, small ornaments and small toys. Use old shower-curtain rings to secure belts and scarves. Be sure you're using all available space efficiently.

  2. Make a use-for list.
    Think about how you want to use this closet. That use won't necessarily be identical to its current use. Make a list and begin narrowing down your content choices. Is it a clothes closet? You can simplify its contents on paper by limiting it to seasonal clothing while boxing up and storing out-of-season items. Is it a toys and games closet? Put a limit of toy sizes that can occupy the space, both large and small. Vow to box up anything larger than your hand.

    Linen closets are notorious thing-gatherers. Try to combine like uses as much as possible to impose a logic on your closets. Bowling balls and tennis rackets could occupy the same location, but not necessarily. If you're in a weekly league, you may want your implements handier; they could be stored with coats and jackets. Do whatever works for your family.

    Be practical. If something keeps finding its way to a wrong closet over and over again, then maybe it belongs there after all. It's okay to keep your umbrellas in the linen closet and your seasonal window decorations in with the fine china and crystal, if that's where you're accustomed to finding and replacing them.

  3. Sort, toss, label.
    Start by sorting the contents, with the most frequently used items kept handiest. That typically means front and center.

    As you sort, set aside anything you haven't used in more than a year and label that for storage in a garage or basement. If it's clothing that's unused, or something you know you won't use again, why not give it away to a charity that will find a very good use for it?

    Use sticky notes to identify and label anything that really needs to move to another location. Use this approach carefully, or you'll simply end up moving one closet mess to another closet. It's helpful to keep separate boxes or bins with you when you clean out a closet, one for every other room in the house. That way you can fill them as you go along, and make just one trip when returning the misplaced items to their rightful locations.

  4. Clean as you go.
    Keep a couple of rags and some polish in your apron pockets, and clean up and wipe down items before you return them to the closet. Set aside coats and gowns for dry-cleaning if necessary. Scrub the mud off of boots and empty all pockets . You don't want to attract mice to the packet of soup crackers in Susie's jacket or the Christmas candy in Joey's coat. The rule in our house is that any money Mom finds left behind in any pocket belongs to Mom.

    It's sometimes helpful to keep a small hamper or clothes basket in each clothes closet. That way you can be reasonably sure that children won't re-hang dirty clothes or just drop them on the floor rather than make a special trip to the laundry hamper.

  5. Post a list on the door.
    When you're done organizing your closet, post a list of its contents on the inside of the door. No more guessing, no more rummaging.

Remember that organizing your closet is supposed to make your life easier and simpler, not more frustrating. Simple solutions to organizing challenges are almost the best ones. Why not vow to simplify all around, to cut down on that clutter and make next year's closet organizing a breeze?

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