Never worry about organizing your closet again. Our fool-proof, step-by-step guide (with photos) shows you how to easily organize your closet for good. If you’re anything like us, you’ve probably decluttered and organized your bedroom closet many times over the years, and yet every few months it still ends up looking like a bull busted through your walk-in.
Maintaining an organized closet will always be an ongoing process (because updating your wardrobe is an ongoing process), but there are certain things you can do to ensure you never spend more than 20 minutes rearranging your clothes ever again.
Follow these 18 easy strategies to organize your closet for good. It may take a little time, but we promise it’ll be worth it.
1. Declutter your clothes by category.
A fast, easy way to declutter your clothes is to sift through them by type. Tossing every piece of clothing you own into a massive fabric mountain on your bed is overwhelming and inefficient.
Instead, separate your clothes into categories like pants, dresses, tops, outerwear, accessories, and undergarments. Then sort through every item in a single category before moving on to the next.
Why is this method better?
Because it’s way easier to compare similar clothes when they’re all grouped together in front of you, making it easier to get rid of the things you know you have too much of or don’t want.
As you go through your stuff, make a commitment to only keep the clothes you know you love and wear with frequency.
If anything gives you reason to hesitate, toss it in a pile for donation.
Want more decluttering advice? Check out these 15 actionable decluttering tips from Certified Professional Organizers.
2. Empty and clean your closet.
Once you’ve made separate “donation” and “keep” piles for your clothes, shoes, and accessories, give your closet a once-over and pull out anything else still lingering inside it.
When only the occasional lone safety pin remains, dive in and give your closet a proper deep-clean. Vacuum the carpet, wipe down the shelves, and scrub any scuff marks or dirt off the walls.
3. Design your ideal closet space.
Within reason, obviously. If you have the time and money for a full-blown Carrie Bradshaw closet renovation, go for it.
If not, get creative to work with what you have (and yes, it’s possible to organize a closet without an actual closet). Take note of your closet’s best features: Maybe you have tons of vertical storage space, built-in shelving, or multiple hanging rods. Use these to your advantage.
For the areas of your closet that aren’t so great — your hard-to-reach upper shelves or total lack of shelves altogether, for example — figure out what you can do to fix these problems.
Kadi from Wizard of Homes used a hanging shoe organizer to store t-shirts, and large plastic bins to store beach clothes, bathing suits, and hats.
Maybe your open-plan closet would benefit from plastic rolling dressers or a small armoire tucked inside. If you have too many shelves and not enough hanging space, maybe you can remove a few shelves and hang hooks on the walls instead.
The possibilities are infinite.
4. Store your clothes by category.
This tip may seem obvious, but it makes all the difference when you want to locate your cozy gray alma mater sweater in a flash.
Keep like items with like items. Store all your belts in the same spot, hang your sundresses alongside each other, and keep your workout shirts separate from your pajamas.
5. Hang anything delicate, fancy, or sturdy.
Maybe you have enough space to hang every single T-shirt you own, but if you don’t, then stick with hanging the obvious stuff.
That means delicate items like dresses, skirts, and lingerie, fancy items like suits, and sturdy, structured pieces like coats and blazers.
Here’s a tip from Marie Kondo (the most organized person in the world) to give your closet a neat, happy look: Hang everything facing the same direction, with longer items on the left and shorter items on the right so the bottom of your clothes creates an upward sloping line.
Bonus Tip: Use this KonMari method cheat sheet to declutter your home the Marie Kondo way.
6. Use coordinating hangers.
Nothing screams closet chaos quite like a collection of wire and neon plastic hangers trying to peacefully coexist alongside one another.
Limit the visual clutter and give your closet a sleek, streamlined look by using matching hangers for your clothes.
Just make sure you invest in hangers that actually work for what you have. Opt for sturdy velvet hangers over the thin plastic varieties if you have heavy suits to hang, for example, and steer clear of wooden hangers if you have lots of slippery silk blouses.
7. Stack thick items like denim and sweaters.
Save yourself precious drawer and hanging space by stacking bulky winter sweaters and stiff denim jeans (in separate piles, of course). These items make perfect stacks for your shelf space because they’re sturdy and thick, meaning they won’t slump, crinkle, or lose their shape when you stack them.
Not only that, you’ll be able to see each item in a stack clearly, making it that much easier to find what you’re looking for.
8. Roll t-shirts, pajamas, and workout clothes into storage boxes.
Things like cotton shirts, leggings, and polyester shorts tend to be thin and pliable, making them perfect candidates for the roll and tuck technique.
This technique is a major space-saver if you do it right. Rather than folding and stacking your softer, thinner clothes, simply fold them in half and roll them into neat little tubes.
Tuck your rolled clothing into open boxes (great for sliding into drawers), or use wire baskets or clear bins (perfect for shelves).
Pro Tip: Learn how to fold and store a shirt like Marie Kondo.
9. Store your most used clothes at eye level.
Keep everything you wear on a regular basis in the middle of your closet at eye level so it’s easy to find and grab in your early morning pre-coffee haze.
Put lesser-used pieces directly above or below your most popular clothes, and relegate your least-worn items to the top shelf.
10. Color-code your wardrobe.
It’s true — organizing your clothes by color can be tedious, but the end result will make picking out an outfit so much easier, especially if you’re a visual person.
No need to drive yourself crazy trying to remember the exact order of the colors in the rainbow (but it’s ROYGBIV if you want to be precise). Even creating the most general color distinction will make your closet totally Pinterest-worthy and easy to navigate.
11. Maximize your vertical storage space.
Every closet has a secret storage weapon that, when used properly, changes the entire layout of your closet: vertical space.
This means walls, top shelves, doors, and even that dead space between your floor and the hems of your hanging dresses.
How do you take advantage of your vertical storage space?
Hang an over-the-door shoe rack over your, ahem, door, or hang it facing sideways on a tension rod. You can also use extra wall space to install DIY shelves that hold jewelry boxes or handbags.
Free Bonus: For more creative vertical storage ideas, check out our collection of 53 insanely clever bedroom storage hacks.
12. Use drawer dividers for your undergarments.
Drawer dividers are the key to getting dressed with a smile on your face — and to knowing exactly when you need to do laundry.
To maximize space in the compartments and make everything easy to see, roll your socks, tights, underwear, and belts.
Aesthetically pleasing and functional.
13. Hang scarves on hangers.
Sure, you can roll them up or stack them if they’re really thick, but tying your scarves on a hanger is a way better option for organizing them.
Hanging your scarves keeps them wrinkle-free and easy to see and access, meaning you’re more likely to actually use them on a regular basis.
Bonus Tip: Here are more brilliant ways to store scarves, hats, gloves, and boots in the least floorspace-eating way possible.
14. Utilize empty wall space for hanging jewelry and accessories.
Got a few spare inches of wall space? Get creative and use this area to hang accessories like belts, jewelry, hats, or ties.
How do you hang everything?
You can use a hanging jewelry organizer or towel hooks, or opt for a more personalized approach like a stylish coat rack or LEGO key holder.
Other cool ideas?
A pegboard, canvas jewelry organizer, a piece of burlap with safety pins attached, or even a repurposed metal rake head (check out The Thinking Closet’s easy tutorial).
Free Bonus: Pinched for time? We are too. So we created a list of awesome DIY storage and furniture projects you can make in an hour or less.
15. Organize your drawer contents in the order you get dressed.
How much simpler would your morning routine be if you woke up and didn’t need to think about where to find all your clothes?
The answer: way simpler.
If you’ve got a dresser or set of drawers that house a substantial amount of clothes, be smart about how you organize those drawers.
In the top drawer, store the items you put on first when getting dressed in the morning — like undergarments. Follow that with pants in the drawer below and tops in the drawer below that.
16. Turn your hangers backward to mark how often you wear your clothing.
This closet hack saves you the hassle of figuring out which clothes you wear all the time and which ones you never touch, despite somehow justifying their utility or beauty every time you do a major clothes purge.
Here’s how it works:
Turn all your hangers backwards. If you’re feeling crafty, you could tie pretty ribbons on the hangers instead or wrap pieces of electrical tape on them with the date written.
Every time you pull an item out of your closet to wear it, turn the hanger so it’s facing forward.
Any items that have backward-facing hangers after six months or a year has passed go straight into the donation pile.
17. Use the “one in, one out” rule to keep your clothes collection in check.
Despite your best organizational efforts, you may still end up with massive heaps of ill-fitting, outdated, or unloved clothes at the end of every year (or every season if you’ve got a serious shopping addiction).
So how do you prevent things from getting out of hand?
You do what 90-square-foot-apartment dweller Mary Helen Rowell does and adopt a simple, ruthless little rule called the “one in, one out” policy.
What is it exactly? Just what it sounds like.
For every new item you bring into your closet, you get rid of another. Got a new pair of sassy fall boots? Let go of the black strappy heels you haven’t worn in two years. Bought a fresh leather jacket? Say goodbye to an old shirt.
It’s simple, easy, and ensures your collection of clothes never gets too large to manage.
18. Use MakeSpace to easily store the clothes and shoes that just won’t fit in your closet.
Maybe you have stacks of shorts and short-sleeved shirts that need a loving home during the cold fall and winter months. Or maybe your collection of rarely used but very important hiking gear is commandeering your shoe section.
Or maybe you just have too many fabulous clothes to squeeze into your limited closet space. (Don’t have a closet? Here’s how to live without one.)
Whatever you want to store, MakeSpace has you covered.
Here’s the breakdown:
Simply pack up your stuff, schedule a pickup, and leave the rest to MakeSpace. We’ll come to your home, pick up everything, transport it to our secure and temperature-controlled storage facility, and create an online photo catalog of your stuff so you never forget what you have in storage.
Whenever you need something back, all you have to do is log into your MakeSpace account and click the item’s photo. We’ll deliver it to you.
Top image via Flickr/Rubbermaid Products
This article was written by Paige Smith, a freelance writer from Orange County, California who specializes in lifestyle, wellness, and travel topics.