Clear the clutter and get organized with this foolproof plan.
Does throwing open the doors to your closet every morning inspire excitement or dread? "Women don't realize that your state of mind is often linked to the state of your closet. If it's a mess, you feel like a mess," says Melanie Charlton Fascitelli, author of Shop Your Closet: The Ultimate Guide to Organizing Your Closet With Style. "But when your clothes are presented in an orderly fashion, you're instantly more relaxed and confident."
If you've been putting off closet cleaning because you don't know where to start or think it will cost too much, it's time to kick the task to the top of your to-do list. This step-by-step plan, culled from top closet cleaning pros, will help you clear out clutter with a minimum of anxiety and cash. And who knows, your newly tamed closet just may become your favorite spot in the house.
Toss: "Anything that's damaged beyond repair or too worn out to donate with a clear conscience should go into the toss pile.
Give away: Pieces that are out of style, don't fit (that includes those size 4 jeans you've been holding onto for years), or that you no longer like get thrown into the giveaway stack," says Fascitelli.
Keep: "The keep bin is only for clothing that meets three criteria: You love it, , and you've worn it within the last year and know you'll continue to wear it." If you think you'll be indecisive about which pieces should go in which pile, enlist an unsentimental friend to help. Jettison the giveaway items either by donating them to a charity (try dressforsuccess.org) or selling them at an online auction site, like ebay.com.
A dresser or hanging rod. These will help you take advantage of that dead space under shorter garments in your closet. Store folded tops and sweaters in a dresser or put short items on a double-hang closet rod from Organized Living ($11; organizedliving.com), which slips over the existing bar, no power drill required.
A hanging sweater bag. This is another option for folded clothes and usually takes up very little of your closet space. An eco-friendly version from the Container Store ($30; containerstore.com), is made from recycled materials, has durable bamboo shelving, and holds up to 24 cardigans and crewnecks.
Shelf dividers. In most closets, shelf space is at a premium. Lillian Vernon dividers ($12 each; lillianvernon.com) keep towering stacks of clothes in place. The 12-inch-square grids are available in either plated chrome or white vinyl-clad steel and slide easily onto wood or wire shelves.
A purse caddy. Give your bags their own home up above with the Park-a-Purse organizer ($30; lillianvernon.com), which fits standard-depth shelves.
Hooks. Hang some on the back of your closet door or on a wall and loop scarves and belts on them. For a secure yet easily removable option (no holes) try Command hooks ($9 for 3; amazon.com).
Keep that in mind as you put all your stuff back into your closet. Group clothing types together: blouses, jackets, dresses, skirts, and pants. If you want to be even more organized, arrange the clothes within each grouping by color. "Once you can see everything, you'll no longer stare blankly into your closet each morning wondering what to wear," says Walsh.