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Putting Clutter Chaos in Check


Published: 06/19/2012


 Look at your closet as valuable real estate and make the most of this space. It all starts with tossing items that are not earning their keep. Here's how you can let go of clutter and maximize your space.

1. Label four boxes: Designate, Distribute, Donate, Dump.

2. Pull out everything that's currently in your closet (yes, everything).

3. Hold up each item and decide if it's worth keeping. If it no longer serves you, decide which of the four boxes it goes into:

* Designate -- items that are seasonal. These will be placed in an out-of-the-way closet or airtight container in another location.

* Distribute -- items that are fairly current and in good condition. These can be passed along to others (friends and family) or sold at garage sales or consignment stores.

Donate -- items that you no longer have use for but could benefit those in need.

Dump -- items that are outdated, permanently stained or damaged (If you haven't repaired it yet, you probably never will).

4. Reassess what's left. If it doesn't fit, let it go. If you don't love it, leave it. If you haven't worn it in the last year or two, you probably never will.

5. Replace wire hangers with sturdy wooden or plastic ones in one colour. Wire hangers get tangled, are weak and can damage your clothes. Start with about 30 hangers (60 if you share a closet with another person).

6. To make the most of your space, think vertical rather than horizontal. Use vertical skirt hangers with clips that hold five or six skirts on a single hanger unit and tiered vertical shirt hangers that hold several shirts in less space than that needed for individual hangers. Also, consider hanging a second bar below the first to create two hanging levels.

7. Hang items in the closet one by one, with all hangers facing in the same direction. Place like with like: group professional clothes in one area, casual in another. Within these categories, divide by type, then style.

8. Keep the clothes you wear frequently in an easily accessible place to save time; for example, a businessperson would put professional clothes in front and casual clothes further back.

9. Hang pants upside down from the cuffs, bulky waist near the floor, using hangers with metal clips. This will save space.

10. Avoid keeping clothes stored in dry-cleaning bags. They trap moisture and can stain fabrics over time.

11. Place sweaters folded neatly in clear, airtight containers on closet shelves to keep them easily accessible and in good condition.

12. Keep shoes organized neatly on sturdy, stackable floor shelves. If you want to keep special-occasion shoes in boxes, take a photo of the shoes and mount it on the front of the box. Don't use hanging shoe bags for shoes. Not only are they usually too small for the average shoe, they're also ugly and hard to keep clean.

13. Use a clear, over the door shoe bag for small accessories (scarves, hosiery, and jewelry).

15. Place hooks or an expandable rack on an empty part of the wall to hang belts, umbrellas, handbags and baseball caps. If no wall space is available, categorize items into containers and place them on a shelf above the rod in the closet.

15. Protect your clothing investment -- don't overstuff your closet. Clothes need breathing space (about 5 cm or 2 in. between items) to prevent mustiness and wrinkling. Use the one in/one out method: discard one item every time you bring a new one into the closet.

Now that your closet is clutter-free, reward yourself. Notice the enormous sense of relief you feel. You've made space for new and better things to come into your life.

Hellen Buttigieg is a Professional Organizer, owner of Oakville-based We Organize U and a member of Professional Organizers in Canada. The website address is


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