Picking Up the Threads: 10 Steps to Clean Out Your Closet

posted in: House and Home, Marissa | 13

I often get asked the question, “Why do you blog?”  I often ask myself the same question.  Who really wants to read about me cleaning out a closet?  My mom, of course.  But that’s because she is my mom.  Other than that, maybe no one!  More often than not, the best reason for this blog has been motivation.  There are so many times where I only complete a project simply for the fact that I said I would blog about it.  This cleaning challenge has been no exception.  Motivation has been hard for me to find in many aspects of my life, including, but not limited to: exercising, eating healthy, and cleaning.  The first two, I’m still working on.  This post is a great start for the cleaning.

If you don’t know, Jen and I talked about things we wanted to do for the blog in 2014 and cleaning was a big subject.  So we created this challenge, Picking Up the Threads.

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Thank goodness, because otherwise I would probably still be sitting on my butt with dirty closets.  Since we said we were going to do it and blog about it, it needed to get done! So how do I think you should go about cleaning out and organizing?

1. Empty Out the Space COMPLETELY (or as reasonably as possible).

I, just like Jen talked about with her linen closet, totally empty out the space that needs to be cleaned.  I love having a one hundred percent fresh start.  There is nothing like working with a blank pallet to give you new inspiration and motivation to get rid of junk you don’t need.

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2. Trash everything that is expired, old, or just plain unusable.

This is particularly true in bathroom closets with medicine, make-up, etc.

3. Throw away or donate anything you haven’t used in 3 months (or 6 months if 3 is too strict)

I know this is the HARDEST part for most of us.  You find that eye shadow, or bag, or clothing item or whatever it may be that you totally forgot you had and you PROMISE yourself that you are going to start using it.  Well guess what?  There is a reason you forgot you had it.  You have chosen not to use it so many times that it found its way to the back of your closet to hide itself away in hopes that you wouldn’t throw it out.  Repeat after me, “I do not need that.  It is the wrong size/shape/color/fit/smell/insert your own reason here.  It is time to part ways.  I must throw you away or donate you to someone else that might want or need you.”  Now, walk to the trash or donation bag and get rid of it.

Still can’t bring yourself to part ways with it?  Are you trying to justify keeping it by thinking about how much money you spent on it in the first place?  Was

it given to you by that special someone?  Okay, I am willing to compromise with you.  Get a cardboard box and put anything in here that you think you want to keep but can’t get rid of.  After you finish cleaning your space, put the box in the bottom of the closet or your garage or other out of the way space.  Put a reminder on your phone to alert you three months months from now.  Anything you still haven’t used in that box when the three months is up, get rid of it.

4. “Cherish the memory, not the crap.” 

This is a regular saying at our house.  Like, almost daily.  Anytime we are questioning throwing something out, either my husband or myself have to tell the other, “cherish the memory, not the crap.”

See step three to part ways with these items.

5.  Do not fall victim to MISSION CREEP!

My husband accuses me of this all the time.  I empty out the entire closet, the mess is all over the floor, and somehow this turns in to ten different projects.  Before he knows it, I’m repainting and tiling the whole upstairs.  The mess from the closet is still on the floor.  Start the day with a plan.  “Today, I plan to clean out my bathroom closet.”  Do it.  Do only that until it is DONE.  If you still have time once that is done, you may do something else.  But only when the first project is complete.  “But,” you say, “part of cleaning the closet meant I found unfinished projects.”  See the next step.

6.  Beware of UFOs!

UFOs, are UnFinished Objects you found during your cleaning.  For me, it was a door knob that was intended for the guest room, and a magnifying mirror to hang in the master bathroom.  Both were purchased over a year ago and have been sitting in the closet ever since.  Really useful, hmm?  I knew installing the mirror would be quick so I did it right then and there.  The door knob, however, is a job almost anyone in this house can do at any given time.  BEWARE though…don’t just take it out and let it sit.

Choose a REASONABLE amount of time to complete this UFO.  Put a sticking note on it with it’s deadline date.  Put the item out in the middle of your life in your house somewhere.  If you still do not complete the UFO by that time, donate, or trash it.  Note:  I cleaned January 9, 2014, put my deadline on as today, the 12th.  It still isn’t done yet.  Guess what I just asked hubby to go do?DSC_2542

7. Do not buy new organizing products until AFTER you have cleaned out.

You probably need less storage than you think you do.  You also probably have more storage solutions in your house than you think you do.  I RARELY get rid of small storage options.  You know: drawer organizers, miniature plastic crates, etc.  I keep them neatly stacked in the bottom of a closet because you never know when I might need something in the future.  Especially with a growing family of five, our organizing needs are ALWAYS changing.

If I still need something to organize my items, I take a picture of it with my camera so I have it at the store with me while I’m shopping.  That way I get just the right size.

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8. Stay away from deep, cavernous spaces!

You know what I mean…those big bins – anything bigger than say 10 to 12 inches – cubes, boxes, bowls, baskets, etc.  Big bins are meant for one thing: big items.  Big items that you want to store and keep away for long periods of time.  Stay. Away.  When you are out buying organizers, buy small, functional ones that are shallow and allow you to see what is inside, or can be easily labeled.

9.  Leave a little room for growth.

Despite your best efforts to follow step number 10, the things will manage to creep back into your life.  If you currently have 5 bottles of nail polish, make sure you purchase an organizer that can hold 6 or 7 of them.  Just make sure you are strict with yourself.  Want a new polish?  Promise to get rid of one you already have and rarely use.

10. Think about Steps 1 – 9 every time you go out shopping.

Do you really need that touristy tote bag?

Can you survive with the nail polish you already have?

Do you have enough time to add another craft project to the pile?

95 times out of 100 the answer is going to be no.  You can do it.  Be strong!  Save your closets!

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Marissa

Marissa is an avid builder, knitter, baker, and mathematician.She keeps busy with her family of three kids and Navy husband and stays up way too late working on the next big project!

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13 Responses

  1. The “after” photo is so tiny. I can’t see it. I love seeing the photos along the way.

  2. Love it! I am so ready to get my house organized and that means getting RID of CRAP! Ready to purge.

  3. Thanks for the great tips! I need to do this to our whole house!! :)

  4. This is great! I am doing the apartment therapy January Cure right now and this can easily be a part of that as we tackle “the bedroom” this weekend.

  5. OMG. I need to do this so badly, but as another comment-or said, I need to do it to my entire house!

    Great post!

  6. Inside Cleaning And Maintenance

    Thanks! One phase at one time and before you know it the whole home will be done!

  7. Kellys' Cleaning Service pty ltd

    I need to do this so poorly, but as another comment-or said, I need to do it to my whole house!

  8. I so badly need to do this again but I am very scared, lol. I also start by taking it all out. seems so much easier! I learned a few more tips, thanks!

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