7 Steps to Control Clothes Clutter in a Small Space

Messy Closet

When you live in a small home and have small closets it’s very important to control clothes clutter. Typically, clutter (any type of clutter) is the result of delayed decision making. There are many reasons clothes accumulate and cause clutter no matter the size of the space.

Clothes clutter happens when you forget to switch out clothes at the end of a season.

It can also happen when you change your clothing size. You either become bigger or smaller and think to yourself that you might be that size someday. So, you hang on to those clothes in addition to the ones that fit.

The other scenario that happens is when we buy something expensive thinking that it is fabulous and then it sits in our closet because it isn’t actually fabulous on us but we spent lots of money on it so we keep it to rationalize the expense.

You can hide clothes clutter if you live in a large home with multiple large walk-in closets. When you live in a small space, your closet is probably also small. It’s necessary to make the best possible use of the space available. Even more importantly, you want to have terrific solutions and strategies for controlling your clothes clutter.

Ok friends. Let’s tackle these situations one at a time. I’ll give you realistic steps to control clothes clutter so that you don’t find yourself buried by clothes.

Honesty is the best policy

Be ruthlessly honest with yourself. When you get dressed and look at yourself in the mirror you want to receive affirmation that the clothes you put on make you feel great! Even if you are putting on a t-shirt and sweats or yoga pants you want to look fine.

If you don’t like the way you look, or if you don’t like the way something feels on your body resist the urge to put it back in your closet. Answer these questions: Is it too big, too small, or too baggy? Is it itchy or uncomfortable? Do you not like the color? Answering these questions will help you decide what to do with the garment. Chances are that you will remember how that article of clothing made you feel, and you probably won’t want to put it on again.

Keep a Donation Bag Handy

Control clothes clutter and get rid of it. You don’t want to keep clothes around that you don’t want to wear. My recommendation is to put clothes that fall into that category in a donate bag.

Keep a donate bag nearby. Have it either in your closet (if there is room) or in a corner of your bedroom. It needs to be somewhere accessible so that you can easily put clothes you don’t want anymore in the bag. When the bag is full, take it to your favorite donation place or consignment store.

Under Bed Storage

Use the space under your bed to store out of season clothing. The Container Store has a wide variety of storage containers that will probably fir under your bed. As the seasons change, schedule time with yourself to go through the recent season’s clothes.

Remove anything that you don’t want any more. This may be garments that you have grown tired of, that you didn’t wear at all during that season, or that need repair. Sorting through your out of season clothes this way helps to control clothes clutter.

Donate or sell the things that you don’t want.

Use underbed storage containers to hold the rest. Take the time to make sure the clothes are clean and folded nicely so that when the seasons change back you aren’t pulling out wrinkled clothes or clothes that need to be washed.

Check Your Hangers

Sometimes small closet spaces appear to be overstuffed because they are full of thick wooden hangers or empty wire hangers from the cleaners.

When you go to wear clothing that was hanging on a wire hanger take the hanger out of your closet. Have a shopping bag dedicated to wire hangers. When you take something to the cleaners, take the bag of wire hangers also.

This helps to keep clutter from accumulating in your closet.

If you can afford to replace your hangers, consider buying slim hangers. There are lots of different slim hangers. These slim hangers help you make the most of the space you have available.

Door Organizer

Use your closet door as extra storage space. You can put hooks on the door and hang your comfy pajamas or robe there. You can also hang clear plastic shoe holder on the inside of the door. Control clothes clutter and use the clear plastic spaces to hold scarves, gloves, and wooly hats in the winter or bathing suits, tank tops, and gym shorts in the summer.

You can use these pockets to hold things in addition to shoes to save space in your closet

Use Vertical Space

Take advantage of the shelf above the clothing rod and use it to corral bulky items. Keep the garments tidy by using a shelf divider, baskets or bins. This will keep the piles contained and easier to access.

If you have lots of shoes, consider storing them in clear plastic shoe boxes. Make good use of the vertical space by stacking the boxes one on top of the other. Because the boxes are clear, you’ll be able to see the shoes you want to wear.

Keep the shoes you wear most often on the floor of the closet on a shoe rack.

Space Saver Bags

If you change sizes often and you want to keep the next size or two up or down, consider investing in space saver bags.

To save space in your closet, control clothes clutter and remove the clothes that are too big or too small. Make sure they are clean, then fold them nicely, and put them in a space saver bag. You can keep these bags under your bed or at the top of a closet.

Guilt over Expensive Clothes

Are you keeping some clothes because they were super expensive? If you don’t like them, sell them. Sometimes we say to ourselves “I spent so much money on this, I should wear it and get my money’s worth”. If you don’t like it and don’t feel wonderful wearing it just sell it. Wearing clothes that don’t make you feel good are not worth it, no matter how much they cost.

According to the Pareto Principle we probably wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. This is a fact. Control clothes clutter by evaluating what you wear. Keep some dressy garments for those times you get dressed up. Most of us, are wearing much more casual clothes on a regular basis. Take the 7 steps I outlined for you, apply them to your closet, and see if that helps you to control the clothes clutter in your closet. If not, contact me to schedule a complimentary 30-minute phone conversation.

Diane N. Quintana is a Certified Professional Organizer®, Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®, Master Trainer and owner of DNQ Solutions, LLC based in Atlanta, Georgia. Diane teaches busy people how to become organized and provides them with strategies and solutions for maintaining order in their lives. She specializes in residential and home-office organizing and in working with people affected by ADD, Hoarding, and chronic disorganization.

9 Comments

  • It’s just hard to have a small closet, isn’t it? All of your tips are right on target! I’m always amazed when I think about what a sharp dresser my grandmother was, and she SHARED a tiny closet with her husband. Not sure how she did it, but she pulled it off. It isn’t about quantity, that’s for sure!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      All closets used to be so small. You’re absolutely correct, Seana. It’s not about the quantity, it’s about how you use what you have.

  • Closets, especially small ones, can quickly get overrun by clothes. And without systems in place for a change of season, donations, or storing in underutilized space, things can quickly become overwhelming. I love all of the tips and decision-making ideas you shared. For me, if I try something on and it’s itchy or uncomfortable, out it goes immediately. One of the other letting go factors I use is this- If I put on a clothing item, yet always opt for a different choice, it’s an indicator. So I let it go. Most often, I donate clothes. I have a bag of clothing and linens ready to go out this week. It always feels good to let go of things that I’m no longer using.

    • Diane Quintana says:

      I love your system for letting go of things that aren’t working. I know if I put something on and opt for something else i will most certainly not go for that article of clothing again because I remember how it made me feel. For me, it’s all about how I feel in my clothes.

  • I love the idea of keeping a donation bag handy in the closet. I have one in my garage but it’s so much easier for me to get rid of stuff more regularly if it was in the closet. =)

  • When I started off in business, everyone needed help with their closets. It was New York City and closet space was at a minimum.
    Organizing closets is still a huge business.
    I keep a donation bag ready. If I’ve tried something on several times and I just don’t like it, regardless with what I paired it with, out it goes! I’d rather someone enjoy the item and use it.
    I love that 80/20 rule. It’s so true! I think over the last six months, my life has been the 90/10 rule. especially with what I wear!

    • Diane Quintana says:

      That’s so funny, Ronni! I feel the same way. Recently, I’ve been living in t-shirts and yoga pants. I also agree that I’d rather someone else get good use out of clothes that just take up valuable real estate in my closet!

  • Melanie says:

    Keeping a donation bag ready! SUCH A GREAT IDEA! Something so simple used regularly can make a huge difference. Love this ❤️ thank you.