How to Organize and Keep Your Clothes Closet from Becoming the Bermuda Triangle

The bedroom closet can be one of the scariest places in the home. It seems that every time I rearrange, organize, clean-out and redo my closet, I promise myself I will keep things in their designated places. I will keep my closet neat. The truth is it doesn’t stay that way for long. I am a very neat and tidy person in all other areas–just my closet gives me trouble.

I love to watch programs on organizing and cleaning out spaces on HGTV. I try their suggestions and things are great–for awhile. You may be wondering why I (the person who has a messy closet) am writing a ‘how to’ article on closet organization. It’s because I know HOW to organize. I just don’t practice what I preach! Now, its up to you to do as I say, not as I do. Are you up to the challenge?


Give yourself a whole day (two if you need to do some carpentry work) for your closet project. Work leisurely and thoroughly and don’t rush. It would be best to place the items you remove from the closet on a chair, table or the floor. If you use the bed to pile your things on and you don’t finish in a day, you will have to move everything off the bed anyway to get to it to sleep!

1. Take EVERYTHING out of the closet. Vacuum, dust the rods and shelves and clean the closet well.

2. Survey the space. Is there room for another rod? It’s the best way to maximize hanging space. Hang one rod above the other. Typically, the upper rod should be 82″ from the floor. The lower rod should be about 42″ above the floor.

***The number one, best idea I’ve seen in a very long time is this: If you have a closet with a VERY high ceiling or a ceiling that has a slope to it, with one side high, hang a clothes rod way up, just 2″ or 3″ inches from the ceiling. (This can be a third rod.) Hang items in plastic garment bags that you don’t get into very often. Perhaps things you are saving or things that are worn only once or twice a season, during holidays etc. They are up out of the way but are still handy.

3. Check to see if there is room for any additional shelving in the closet. You can buy wire organizing components and design your own configuration, or use scrap wood to build extra shelves. Melamine can also be used for the shelving.

4. Look at the door or opening of the closet. If there is only a single door, or the configuration of the doors don’t allow you ample room to get to and see your clothes, consider either enlarging the opening or using something else like a curtain or bi-fold or sliding doors to make access easier. (If you decide that some carpentry needs to be done to make the opening larger, then go to the next step (4) and sort the clothing. Also, add light to your closet, either by ‘stick up’ lighting or electrical, if you prefer. You really need to be able to see your clothing clearly and in good lighting. Sometimes, a good floor lamp placed near the closet is ample.

4. Look carefully at ALL your clothing and shoes, purses and other accessories that just came out of your closet. This is now the time for sorting and throwing out or giving away. Be honest with this step. If you don’t use it often, get rid of it. You can store things away in plastic bins (in the basement, garage or other storage area, just NOT in the closet) if you absolutely can’t part with them. Also, check to see if any items need to be sent to the cleaners or to the laundry room, or need repairing, hemming etc. Get this done BEFORE the item is replaced in the closet. Also, DO NOT keep clothing that is too small or too large, thinking you MAY need it again some time. Just keep what you need and wear NOW.

If you have a small closet, you can place the opposite season’s (to the one you are in) clothing in plastic storage bins, storing them elsewhere until time to reverse the procedure.

Things that you wear now, but just occasionally, can be stored under the bed in plastic storage boxes or plastic garment bags. There are specially-made garment storage containers for under bed use.

5. Do you have room for hanging shoe storage, or perhaps floor units or shelving units? Put seldom used shoes in clear plastic shoe boxes or take a picture of the shoe and tape the picture to regular shoe boxes. If you have hanging room, hanging shoe storage can hold other things like purses, scarves, belts and other accessories. If you have more closet space than drawer space in your room, underwear and socks and other small clothing items can also be kept in the individual compartments.

6. Before clothing is replaced in the closet, do some organizational planning. Try to put the summer and winter clothing in different sections of the closet. Also, within these areas, place similar colors together. This will greatly help in wardrobe planning and shopping. (this is one thing I have been fairly consistent in maintaining, and it is surprising how much color coordinating helps with planning.)

7. Now it is time to replace ONLY the items you currently wear and use.. To maximize the space, hang clothing by length so that space underneath the shorter items can be used to hang other items.

*** I read a helpful hint once that can help you decided which clothes really need to be in your closet. When you replace the clothing back into the closet now, hang everything up with the hanger backwards so the hook of the hanger is facing you. When you wear the garment, return it to the closet hanging it back correctly with the hook facing away from you. If after a season, you haven’t turned the hanger around, discard the garment.

Now, this is as far as I go. It is up to you to keep the closet neat and organized. Good Luck!

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