The Wardrobe Detox: Top Tips for Cleaning Out Your Closet

Your wardrobe shouldn’t stress you out. Standing in your closet, you might think you have little to wear despite full shelves and drawers. How did you accumulate so much? Perhaps memories or guilt or a need for visual abundance have prevented you from detoxing your closet until now. However, a thoughtful wardrobe can facilitate your life and even boost your mental health. Don’t beat yourself up too much – various studies, like those by Dr. Catherine Roster, reveal how our brains play tricks on us, making the act of decluttering more difficult. According to research from fMRI brain scans, the positive effects of detoxing your space are less surprising when considering how exposure to clutter can affect our cognitive resources and even drain our productivity. 

Think of decluttering as self-care rather than a chore to avoid. It might be years before you pay off debt or fulfill other goals, but detoxing your closet can bring your life an immediate sense of groundedness in less than a day or two. 

The basics of detoxing your wardrobe include categorizing, editing, and making sure everything has a home, so you never have to think twice about where to find something. One major mistake people commit when decluttering is to invest too much energy into choosing a system to apply to their closet rather than spending time editing their items and considering whether their belongings still suit their lifestyle. When we buy storage bins to hide our things, we never grasp what we own, so we end up accumulating more. 


1. Prepping for your wardrobe detox

Every good catharsis requires some preparation. Set yourself up for success by breaking down your task into smaller goals. Especially if you’ve been avoiding a wardrobe detox for reasons centered on emotional attachment to things, you’ll need to make a plan on how to tackle your work ahead. Don’t hesitate to ask yourself why you’ve been holding on to clothes that no longer serve you. Visualize how you’d like your closet to look instead.


Assess the damage and make a plan

To know how much you’ll need to declutter, gather all of your clothes and shoes, and accessories in one place, KonMari style. This will help you address all of your items at once. In your plan, consider where and how you’re going to get rid of your items.

Schedule time to clean

Set aside some time for your wardrobe detox project. Likely a day or two may help you to dig deep into your belongings. Consider how much time you’ll need based on how many clothes you have and how much time you have to spare. Don’t hesitate to commit your project to your digital calendar. Schedule at least 15 percent more time than you think you’ll need. Inevitably, you might slow down at some points to bask in your memories and say goodbye to items you’ve been holding onto for as long as you can remember. We also underestimate how much we may have and how long it can take to figure out how you want to rearrange things.

Gather supplies

Yes, even detoxing your closet requires gathering more stuff before your Great Purge. For a detox, you’ll need trash bags or storage bings, as well as hangers that match and properly support your clothes.  

Shore up support as needed

Perhaps you’ve put off detoxing your wardrobe because you’re not ready to part with sentimental items. Or maybe the sheer size of your mountain has been intimidating until now. If so, it might be a good idea to rowdy up some support from within your immediate family or perhaps a neutral third party that can join you by video. Whomever you choose, consider them an accountability partner who will keep you on track. 

Music playlist or records

Music makes most things better or, at least, less tedious and painful. It can also seem to speed things up as you get into the “zone,” forgetting the passage of time.

2. The Initial Cleanse

While there are several methods to clearing out your closet, the KonMari Method is perfect for a deep cleanse. You can scale up this organizing technique or scale down depending on how much of a minimalist you are and your detox goals. According to this method, there are three main principles:

Pull out everything you own – shoes, accessories, bags, and hats, as well – and place it in one location where you can see it all together. Doing this will help you understand the task at hand while leaving no stone unturned. In this way, you can get to the heart of your belongings.

Divide and conquer. Place like items with one another. This will help you to understand how many reiterations of the same thing you may have. This technique will also help you to identify the pieces you like most and which serve you best. 

 Thank your belongings. Before parting ways, consider how you use or wear the item; does it still bring you consistent joy? Does it add to your current life and style? If not, it’s time to give your items a new life by rehoming or recycling them.


3. Disposing of old items (consciously)

When letting go of your belongings, organize them into various piles: to give away, to recycle or upcycle; and maybe. Address your pile all at once at the end of your cleanse so that you can work through priorities.  

Take care to dispose of your clothing ethically. Not all donation centers are created equal. About 90% of clothes donated to Goodwill or the Salvation Army aren’t sold back to the community but shipped overseas in a hidden trade economy that prevents local economic development. In the U.S. alone, throwing away your clothes ensures they end up in a landfill, joining 25 billion pounds of textiles, which end up polluting groundwater as fibers break down or contributing to greenhouse gas emissions if they’re burned. 

Rather than a thrift store, sell your gently used, clean clothes to a consignment shop locally or online where you can make a small profit. You can also give your clothes to a local house of worship or your friends and family. 

Lastly, consider sending your stained, torn, or even shredded clothing to one of several textile recycling organizations that repurpose the fibers in your old clothes. If clothing is wet or molded, it goes straight to the landfill. If you’re interested in textile recycling and downcycling, consider Terracycle. Terracycle offers Fabrics and Clothing Zero Waste BoxThe Bra RecyclersSoles 4 Souls; Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe program; companies like the American Textile Recycling Services and websites, like Recycle Now, that help you find bins in your area.


4. Rebuilding your closet

Get the most out of your wardrobe and rebuild with versatile pieces. Rather than building your wardrobe according to some stylist’s advice, consider what your life looks likes and which pieces can serve you best. If you uncovered some significant gaps or needs in your wardrobe, buy what you need slowly and well, if you have the ability.

According to your lifestyle, your wardrobe should consist of several layers that reflect your needs. Choose what you’ll need in different climates, occasions, at work, and daily at home. Basics look different for other people’s needs. However, some versatile pieces include quality plain t-shirts, pants, denim, dress shirts, formal wear, and leisurewear. For ladies who like to wear them, consider dresses and skirts by weather: summer dresses vs. formal, workwear, or special events. Consider blazers, if you use them, hoodies, and sweaters. Don’t forget accessories, such as hats, undershirts, underwear, beanies, belts, ties, socks, and bags, among others. 

As a bonus, if you want to simplify your life and the time it takes to get ready, create a capsule wardrobe, which is a mini wardrobe that reduces style to its essentials, changing only seasonally or annually. Like in Italy, many cultures have already been doing this for centuries, especially since their average living space is smaller than in the U.S.


5. Organizing Your Closet

How you choose to organize your closet is a personal decision impacted by how you live. As well, your style can influence how you put your wardrobe back together. In re-organizing clothing, it’s crucial to think about how you can optimize your closet for your life – what helps you visualize and make sense of what you own the fastest? It’s not the same for everyone.


Organizing by color

For some, organizing clothing or books by color brings a certain sense of harmony or joy or both. If you’re an individual who considers what to wear by color more often than clothing type, this might be a useful technique for you. You can organize by ROYGBIV (rainbow) order or by color blocking. The latter works better for people with more black, white, and grey clothing and who may not have a bold array of various colors. You can apply this method down to your socks and underwear if it suits you.


Organizing by style

When organizing by style rather than color, you can reduce the time it takes to select your clothes for the day. Think like-with-like here and don’t get too technical. For an added layer of organization, you can organize by color within each style group. For example, t-shirts can be grouped by colors even if not in ROYGBIV order. The result may not always be the color-coded closet of your dreams, but the point here is that you’re not frantically digging through your wardrobe when you need to get dressed.  


Determining what pieces to hang up and which ones to fold

Different fabrics require different storage solutions. Folding a silk blouse could impact the item’s integrity over time. On the other hand, hanging a heavy sweater is likely to stretch it out and lose shape. Overall, folding can save room depending on your space. Knowing how to store your clothes properly is crucial to helping them last longer. 


Extra Tip: Closet maintenance 

Once you’ve invested the time into finding a home for all of your belongings, maintaining your closet becomes a lot simpler. Maintenance also helps keep chaos at bay.

  • Labeling containers can support closet maintenance inviting you to put things back where they go since it holds you accountable. If you have well-drawn categories, you’re more likely to keep up your
  • Seasonal maintenance, done about every three to six months depending on your local climate, can help you to take stock of what you’ll need as the temperature changes. For instance, if you live in a colder climate, swapping out clothes from storage on a seasonal basis can help bring out the items you need. You can then change out clothes– like bulky sweaters, jackets, beanies, and mittens – rather than having to dig through several layers of summer-spring clothes. 
  • Periodic inventory taking also helps peel back the curtain on what you’ve accumulated. This can be done however often suits your lifestyle. One way to support inventory is a new in/old out method, which ensures you free up space for new things rather than accumulating.

No matter how you choose to detox your wardrobe, consider these five tips on how to detox your wardrobe from Clothing Shop Online!

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