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How to Clean Out Your Closet and Donate Unused Items
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How to Clean Out Your Closet and Donate Unused Items

From spring-cleaning your home to creating a capsule wardrobe, here are tips to help you get started on that wardrobe detox.

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6 min read

May 14, 2021

Do you ever stare at your closet and feel like you’ve got absolutely nothing to wear? We’ve all been there. You may think the only logical solution is to go shopping. But since your closet is already bursting at the seams, shopping is, in fact, the last thing you should be doing. 

The Ultimate California Closet Clean Out Guide 

Clean out your closet and you’ll find your mind decluttering in the process. From spring-cleaning your home to creating a capsule wardrobe, here are tips to help you get started on that wardrobe detox.

Closet Cleaning Tips

How much do you love that sweater? Organize your clothes based on style and the wear-and-tear.

Divide your clothes into Three Piles 

If you see random pieces sticking out of your closet, that’s red flag number one. Not only does the disorganization make your space look messy, but it also drains your energy until you finally choose what to wear. All the clothes you don’t want to wear are piled on top of your favorites, making that dreadful “not knowing what to wear” feeling a regular occurrence.

Decluttering is an integral part of the closet cleaning process. You’ll know what you need, what you don’t need, and what is actually a hanging pile of money sitting in the back of your closet. 

Start by creating three different piles of clothes. Categorize them as “keep,” “donate or sell,” and “recycle”—your once overwhelming closet will now have room to breathe.

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Six Months Rule

This one’s simple. If you haven’t worn something for six months and it isn't a seasonal staple, chances are you’re never going to wear it again—it has got to go. This rule is one of the best ways to purge your clothes. Don't get rid of your camel-colored trench coat, it's timeless, but your fast-fashion 2015 Coachella outfit? Be gone.

Use clothing dividers to easily sort through your clothes and find exactly what you're searching for.

Insert Clothing Dividers

Have you ever noticed that you feel much better after you’ve cleaned up your room? Well, closets work the same way. Not only are busy closets visually unappealing, but they also affect you mentally. The more disorganized your closet is, the less control you feel like you have over your own life. Thankfully, the smallest of changes can do the trick.

Clothing dividers are an easy way to sort through colors and types of clothing. The great thing about these is that you can make them yourself. Print the divider tags onto cardstock and hang easy.

Fold More Neatly

There are 100 or more ways you can fold your clothes more neatly, so why not start today? Pros: folding your clothes nicely frees up space in your closet, leaving it flawless and clean. Cons: we couldn’t think of any.

It may have been fine to hang that cardigan on a hanger when you were reaching for it in winter, but it's best to fold it during summertime.

Organize By Season

If you find a bikini next to your heavy winter sweaters, it’s time to take control of your closet situation. Seasonal sorting—one of the best ways to clean out your closet—will make you look at your space in an entirely new light.

Start with shoes (they’re usually sorted rather quickly) and provide yourself a boost of organizing confidence. Make four piles—one for each season—and put off-season shoes aside. Place the shoes you frequently wear in an accessible location, so you don’t have to look for them every time. As for your special occasion shoes, it’s best to keep them in the back of the closet.

Now that you have your shoes sorted, continue this process with your clothes. Empty your closet and create seasonal piles just like you did with your shoes. You can even go the extra mile and sort your clothes into the following categories—everyday wear, special occasions, donation, and trash.

Outerwear can be hung up; avoid wire hangers and go for wood or padded hangers, which offer more support.

Pick the Right Hangers 

If you’re not a clothes hanger connoisseur—and really, who is—then finding the right one might be a little puzzling. There are many factors to consider and, if you choose the wrong one, you might end up with wrinkled clothes and unnecessarily occupied closet space.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when buying hangers:

  • Make sure that the hanger’s size fits your items perfectly
  • The shape of your hanger matters a lot. Curved or contoured hangers are used for suit jackets and coats, whereas flat ones are better suited for thin and lightweight clothing like T-shirts and skirts
  • Fewer clippers, more folding. If you want to save space in your closet, fold your pants or ties over the crossbar of your hanger. This will end up saving plenty of space in your closet
Let's face it, how many blue T-shirts do you own that look exactly the same yet you end up wearing the same one?

Get rid of Doppelgangers 

Be honest, do you really need four crop-tops in the same color? Sometimes, we get too excited when buying something we like, and we end up getting too many. These similar clothing items often hang around our closets, wasting space—there really is no point in having multiple. If you’re serious about purging your clothes, these should be the first on the list to go.

What to Do After Purging Clothes from Your Closet 

Gift Things You’ve Never Worn 

You really liked that soft, chunky sweater when you bought it. Maybe you even thought it would go perfectly with a pair of low-rise jeans. Yet, it’s been sitting in your closet this whole time, untouched. 

Whether it’s the lure of a bargain or the appeal of something new, we’re all guilty of buying things that we don’t really wear. With all the closet cleaning tips in mind, put a spin on your wasteful consumption and gift clothes you’ve never worn before. 

Gathering items to donate to churches, shelters, or charity organizations is a great way to give back to the community while cleaning your closet.

Donate clothes 

Decluttering your closet and helping others at the same time—sounds pretty good, right? Well, what if we told you that donating your clothes is also something you can do to live more sustainably? Reduce the amount of carbon emissions on our planet and reach those who are in need of clothing.

After you’re finished purging your clothes, pick the ones you don’t see yourself wearing—someone else might. Nearly 100 percent of the textiles at your house can be recycled or donated, so there’s really no reason not to help out.

Make This a Routine 

Let’s face it, you’re going to buy new clothes. And if you think that cleaning out your closet once will help you make better-informed decisions, we hate to burst your bubble. Truth is, clothes are fun and shopping gives you an endorphin kick.

The best closet clean-out guide is one that encourages you to revisit your wardrobe a couple of times a year, at least. Get rid of clothes you no longer need to make your space as efficient as possible. This way, you’ll always find what you’re looking for and regularly curb those impulse buys. And when it’s time to buy new clothes, opt for eco-friendly fashion brands to make your wardrobe a little greener.

The Best Places to Donate Clothes in California

Dress for Success is a nonprofit organization that provides professional attire for low-income women to help support their job-search process.

Dress for Success Worldwide-West

Admit it, we’ve all bought a blazer or ten that we rarely wear. If your closet is overflowing with professional clothing, why not donate it to those who need it to get hired? Dress for Success is a non-profit organization that empowers low-income individuals, providing them work-appropriate attire as they seek employment. Since it was founded in 1997, Dress for Success has expanded to nearly 150 cities and 25 countries, helping more than one million women secure jobs and develop careers.

Accepted donations: Nearly new and ready-to-wear women’s clothing; business casual. Everything donated must be laundered or dry-cleaned and in good condition.

One Warm Coat has worked with volunteers to host nearly 39,000 coat drives and given away more than 6.6 million coats across the U.S.

One Warm Coat

Care to share some of that warmth during the colder months? Donate your spare coats and jackets to One Warm Coat—a non-profit that provides winter attire to people in need. Aiming to raise awareness across the country, the organization has held over 38,000 coat drives and has provided six million free coats.

Accepted Donations: New or rarely-worn coats. Check for holes and stains before donating.

Goodwill

After you’re done with your big closet clean-out, donate your used clothes to one of the most well-known nonprofits in the country. Goodwill is funded by a massive network of retail and thrift stores across the nation, aiming to avoid landfills at any cost. 

The revenue from the stores goes directly toward helping individuals. This includes finding employment and growing their careers by providing adequate job training, placement services, and other community-based programs. 

Accepted Donations: New and gently-used clothing, including shoes and accessories. Household items such as books, furniture, and kitchen appliances are also acceptable.

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