Spring Cleaning Your Closet

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I always tell Paul I have a minimalist brain with a maximalist heart. In theory, I love to be surrounded by things that make me happy but I also need organization and clear space to think. Maybe this is why I’m always decluttering and yet write a personal style blog?! One part shopper. One part clothing donator.

Regardless of what personal style category you fall into, the beginning of the year is always marked by renewing rituals and your home. In January, people run to the gym. In February, people reflect on relationships. And at the beginning of March people start to spring clean.

I typically declutter specific spaces in our home numerous times throughout the year. However, for a deep spring cleaning I have to make a plan for it. If I don’t map out my goals and schedule, I end up in over my head at midnight on a Friday night and begging my husband to wake up and help pick up all the items off of me. It’s a mess and by Saturday morning I have given up.

However, if working out of our older home has taught me anything, it’s how to plan to organize and compile all the things I need to get rid of. Here are a few tips I have for spring cleaning to help you as you complete yours! I did a huge deep clean right before I gave birth and this is the plan I followed.

1. Set Aside a Few Days

Different organization methods will tell you different timelines. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up suggests 6 months. This article shares how to do it over the weekend. Realistically, this all just depends on your size of home and how many people live in it. I like to give myself 3 days to deep clean and I map it out by room and order or importance. For example, Friday I may purge, Saturday I may donate and organize and Sunday I will deep clean. Clear your schedule of distractions and plans so you aren’t constantly running in and out of your home. You don’t want anything exhausting or distracting you which will take away from how productive this process can be.

2. Don’t Start Your Cleaning with a Trip to The Container Store

Organized clutter is still clutter. It’s very easy to make the mistake of getting overzealous, running to The Container Store and buying every cute box and acrylic organizer you set your pretty eyes on. When you get home you realize you didn’t need 14 boxes or 3 different file folders. That’s another errand on your list to return or another spot you’ve got to find in your home. I always end my spring cleaning by a trip to the store. Once I purge, organize, donate and clean I can make a list of what I need to sufficiently organize and I finalize the process with that.

3. Pull Everything Out

I hate to make a mess, but in order to really deep clean you’ve got to start from the bottom. Pull everything out by category. For example, I’ll pull all my shoes out and place them on the floor. I’ll go through and see what is damaged, what doesn’t fit and what is too worn. Then I’ll pull out all my sweaters. Sometimes things have holes or stains and need to be fixed. If I just skim the hangers in my closet or the shelves my shoes are on, I can’t easily see what needs to go vs. what can stay. I also put my wardrobe staples on my clothing rack so that I’m not tempted to go overboard and toss what is relevant to my everyday items. I shared in this post what those staples are!

4. It Must Fit, Be Styled 3 Ways or Be Sentimental

It’s easy to toss items that are damaged or don’t fit. Three sweaters in, and I’ll be torn on if I need to keep something because I simply just don’t remember the last time I wore it. A lot of people follow the 6-month rule. If you haven’t worn something in 6 months, toss it. There is a lot of validity to that statement, however, that rule would then qualify sentimental items to be tossed or even pieces for a special occasion. If I’m torn on an item that seems to be in good condition I tell myself 3 things: it must fit, it must be styled 3 ways or it must be sentimental. I try the item on and make sure that it fits perfectly [because hey, I’m a girl and my body is always changing!] then I think of how to style it 3 ways. If it doesn’t pass that test, it must fall into the category of sentimental. For example, I keep this Donna Karan silky tank that I wore on my first date with Paul. I haven’t worn it since because it’s a bit difficult to style as it doesn’t go with a ton of items in my closet. However, I’ll never toss it because that’s so special to me. But make sure your sentimental has a purpose! For me, just because I remember the day I bought something doesn’t make it sentimental. I always remind myself that clothing can be donated to a women’s shelter and make much more of an impact to someone than it ever could just sitting in my closet. That’s a healthy reminder of when I should donate an item!

5. Organize By Season

Sometimes I can purge a bit too much because I can’t fathom wearing something. One way to help counteract this is to store away items that you aren’t currently using once you go through that section. I’ll keep my winter boots in another closet and my summer sandals out on my shoe shelves. Sweaters can go in a vaccum-sealed bag under the bed and the same goes for summer shorts! This also allows your clothing to have more room so you see what you have and wear it. Essentially, go through your seasonal items and then store them away. Don’t look back because you might toss rain boots you actually need!

6. Donate

Once I’m finished sorting what I no longer need I make a pile of what to donate. There is a place right by our home that serves a women’s shelter and provides women and children with clothing, so I typically donate my items there. We all have different places to donate based on where we live and causes we feel called to help. Once I focus on where I am donating, the process is always so much more enjoyable. I read an article a few years ago that made a case for why we shouldn’t just “donate crap.” Excuse my tact, but it was such an amazing article. Why do we just toss things with holes, stains and not even bother to neatly fold them before making a donation run? I try to really make a conscientious effort to donate all my clothing in a neat way. If possible, I’ll wash or dry clean the items and I always like to throw in a few special pieces. For example, I always like to throw in a blazer or two because I know this could be used for a job interview for someone. I am going to try to hunt down this article because it completely changed my perspective.

7. Sell

After you make your donate pile, you may find some designer handbags, shoes or jeans that you could easily sell. This also helps for budgeting  a new season of clothing! Poshmark is a great option for selling these items and so many of my friends have accounts. Fashionphile will buy designer handbags and accessories from you and thredUP will purchase your clothing and accessories.

8. Gift

This is the last process I go through when it comes to cleaning out the clutter! I look through and make sure a friend hasn’t asked about any of these items. If a girlfriend has commented on my shoes before and we are the same size, I’ll always ask her if she would like them. My girlfriends and I all do this with one another and it’s a great way to refresh your spring wardrobe for free! I’ll swap out a pair of sandals I never wore for her pink dress that was too loud for her. Some girlfriends even make little wine nights with each other where everyone brings 10 items of clothing to swap!

9. Clean

Now that I’ve gone through what I need and don’t need, I hang up everything and re-fold it neatly. I’ll also stuff each drawer with a fresh bar of soap as that keeps clothing smelling amazing. Go to town cleaning your closet and organizing it as much as your heart desires, you already got the hard part out-of-the-way! Color coordinate, switch to all uniform hangers and refresh a few items with the quick use of your steamer. You’ll be glad you took a little extra time on mornings that you’re rushing out the door! I also make a pile of items that need to go to the dry cleaner for deep stains and the tailor for fitting.

10. Add in Organization Pieces

Once everything has been purged, donated, sorted and cleaned I can think clearly! I’m able to see if I need a box from the store for my flip-flops or if I need extra hangers. This helps me save so much money by not mindlessly spending at The Container Store. It’s also nice to treat myself after a long weekend of cleaning by running out, grabbing a coffee and perusing through one of my favorite stores!

Do you have any tricks or rituals you do during spring cleaning?!

P.S. I get asked a lot about my closet system and it was all designed at The Container Store! See more of my closet and item sources here.


Photography by: Madison Katlin

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  1. Great tips! Decluttering my closet is something I really struggle with. I love how you said that you have a minimalist brain with a maximalist heart. That certainly applies to me too!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  2. Yolanda wrote:

    I noticed that you have some sweaters, or cardigans hanging in your closet. Do they get stretched out or shoulder bumps? I have a lot of cardigans that I keep in drawers, but I would prefer to hang them. Your closet looks so nice it makes me feel like I never want to go in mine. I have the closet of shame.☺

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Yolanda!

      I fold up my heavy sweaters and thicker knits, and then for anything light I hang them! I find they haven’t lost their shape, thankfully! haha. But I mostly do this because I don’t have a lot of room to fold, I wish I did! 🙁

      Thank you so much for reading!



      Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  3. Alyssa wrote:

    I did a huge cleanout this weekend and it felt so good! Now it’s just handling actually bringing my 7 (!) bags of donations to the location!

    Alyssa | feathers and stripes

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  4. Great tips, Katey! I just did this with my closet and I feel so refreshed!
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  5. Madison wrote:

    I had never thought of putting a bar of soap into drawers to keep clothes smelling fresh, that is SUCH a good idea!! I hate the musty smell that usually comes out of storing clothes in a drawer for too long. What kind of soap do you use? Are there particular brands/scents that work better than others?

    XO, Madison

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Madison! It’s seriously my favorite trick to do! 🙂 I love to get the soaps from Anthropologie because they smell SO good! But Dove bar soap works just as well! 🙂 xo

      Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  6. Bridget wrote:

    I absolutely love your cleaning and organization posts. They really inspire me to keep my home more clutter-free and give me something to strive toward. Great tips!

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  7. Meaghan wrote:

    This is totally unrelated to this post, but I was just wondering if you washed your baby bling bows before using them? My daughter is due in two weeks and I’m wondering if it’s necessary and if they hold up afterwards if you did wash them. Thanks in advance!! P.s. Your daughter is so precious and tiny and it looks like you are loving motherhood. So happy for your little family.

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Meaghan!

      Aw thank you so so much!! I didn’t wash her bows! And thankfully she has done fine with it! 🙂 I will say, my husband has a lot of olive in his skin and so she does, too. And the nurses in the hospital told me the more olive in their skin the less sensitive it normally is! So I’m not sure if you have any olive in your skin, but that was a little tip I didn’t know! Congratulations on your daughter!! xoxo

      Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  8. Such a great post with lots of excellent tips! I’m moving to a new place so it’s the perfect time to do some Spring cleaning while pack/unpack!

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  9. Irina wrote:

    Whenever I see your closet it makes me want a bookshelf for my bags and shoes 🙁 but then I’m trying to keep my bedroom clutter free and as open as possible. My shopper heart is torn.

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  10. Alma wrote:

    This is totally off topic but I was wondering if you can do a tote comparison between your neverfull and your black Tory Burch tote. I’ve been saving for a neverfull and have all the money aside but now I have buyers guilt. I’ve never spent this much money on a handbag and quite frankly it scares me a little.

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  11. Chelsey wrote:

    Love the post!! Do you use wood hangers? Or velvet? I cant really tell in the pictures what material that is. I heard wood is best for retaining the shape of the garment but wasn’t sure if that’s true!

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Chelsey!

      I use velvet, they are linked so you can see a close up on the site! 🙂 I used to use wood and I think they do a good job of retaining the shape, but unfortunately they took up way too much space and blouses would always slide off the hangers! 🙁 However, I haven’t noticed the velvet hangers affecting the shape of my clothing. I hope this helps!



      Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  12. Mary wrote:

    What a fabulous idea about the bar of soap! I have never heard of that before. Your closet is dreamy!! 🙂

    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  13. Brooke Culbertson wrote:

    Great tips! I would love to get to read that article you mentioned if you can find it!

    Congratulations on your beautiful family!


    Published 28 Feb 17Reply
  14. Caroline wrote:

    Great post, Katey! Where on earth did you get that Hellman beach hat? Is it an Etsy find? I need to pin it to my Honeymoon board on Pinterest!

    Published 01 Mar 17Reply
  15. Kathryn wrote:

    I love this breakdown! I need to apply this to my little apartment and get to work. Thank you for sharing!

    xx Kathryn

    Published 01 Mar 17Reply
  16. Jennifer wrote:

    I need some spring cleaning in my life!


    Published 01 Mar 17Reply
  17. Becky wrote:

    Well I know what I’m doing this weekend ! 🙂

    Published 01 Mar 17Reply
  18. Ivana wrote:

    I love your blog! Do you have any suggestions about organizing or displaying jewelry?

    Published 01 Mar 17Reply
  19. Molly wrote:

    Hi Katey! Love the idea of keeping soap in your drawers. May be a silly question but do you leave it wrapped? I figured unwrapped could get messy but wasn’t sure if I would be able to smell it wrapped!


    Published 02 Mar 17Reply
    • Katey wrote:

      Hi Molly! No that’s a great question! I leave them unwrapped!

      I hope that helps!



      Published 02 Mar 17Reply
      • Elizabeth wrote:

        I was wondering the same!! Glad you asked

        Published 02 Mar 17Reply
  20. Elizabeth Jenkins wrote:

    Where did you get your rug from?! It’s amazing.

    Published 02 Mar 17Reply