Imagine: You open up your closet and everything looks neat and tidy. It’s filled with pieces you love, and you can see all of your options for today’s outfits. This isn’t just a scene from “Clueless.” It can be your reality if you’re ready to employ a few closet cleaning tips.

We know that cleaning your closet is a major undertaking. It can even be unexpectedly emotional; you might have items you know you don’t need or want but feel you should keep because of their history. We’re here to help you tackle this major chore with confidence. We’ve rounded up six tried-and-true (yes – we’ve tested these ourselves!) closet cleaning tips.

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closet cleaning tips

Of these six closet cleaning tips, flipping hangers is perhaps the most classic example. Image: VSP Interiors

1. Flip your hangers

Do you know which items you wear and which are just taking up space in your closet? You probably answered yes, but as you flip through your hangers you might find yourself realizing you’re not quite sure when you last pulled out that sweater. If you want to get clarity on what you actually wear, flip all of your hangers so the hooks are facing the back of your closet. As you wear each item, flip the hanger back to its normal position.

Wait three months, six months, or a year, depending on how seasonally you use the whole of your closet. At the end of your predetermined time, ditch everything that still has a backward hanger. Yes, it’s a slow burn, but this hack is a surefire way to figure out which pieces are just taking up space in your closet.

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closet cleaning tips - konmari

Fill your closet with items that bring you joy. Image: California Closets

2. Ask yourself: “Does this bring me joy?”

Have you heard about “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”? The author, Marie Kondo, has built an organization empire on the thesis that we shouldn’t keep anything that doesn’t bring us joy. It might sound hokey – but try it. Pick up that shirt you’ve been keeping because you wore it to your first day of college. Hold it in your hands. Does it spark joy? If not, you can give it away. Kondo explains that we can be grateful to items for the meaning they brought into our lives without feeling guilty for parting with them when they no longer serve us. It’s time to clean out that trunk of relics from your past!

Her book lays out the KonMari method – your ultimate guide to finally getting your stuff in order – and gives you real-life tools to keep it that way. Check out this folding guide Goop developed from her book. We’ve been using this method in our own closets and we can attest to the system of keeping everything neatly stacked.

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open space closet

Creating “to sell” piles is a great litmus test for what you actually think you’ll wear. Image: Arciform

3. Try selling your clothes

There are about a hundred ways to sell your used clothes, from consignment stores to online shops. Find the method that works for you and build a bag of clothes you want to try to sell. Now here’s the sneaky part. You may never actually create that Poshmark account or make the trip to Buffalo Exchange. But it’s illuminating to see what you’re willing to part with when you think you might be able to make a little money off of it. And – as an added bonus – if you do end up selling your clothes, you’ll get a little extra cash to pad your pockets!

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closet cleaning tips - color coded

Color-code your closet to eliminate duplicates and motivate yourself to keep it looking nice. Image: Neat Method

4. Organize by color

This is one of the best-loved closet cleaning tips, and for good reason. There are a number of benefits to organizing your closet by color. First, it helps you see where you have duplicates. You might not realize you have six black shirts until they’re all hanging next to each other. Once the similarities become clear, you can make more educated decisions about what to keep. Sure, one black shirt is a tee, one is a pullover, and one is an athletic shirt. It makes sense to keep all of those. Those three black blouses, however, may not all be necessary.

Organizing by color has an ongoing benefit, too. When you open up your closet and it looks nice, you’re more motivated to keep it that way. (We think that’s why the KonMari folding method is so effective.) The inviting rainbow of a color-coded closet might just be the motivation you need to keep things in order.

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One of the most thorough ways to clean out your closet is to first completely empty it. Image: Axiom

5. Take everything out

Don’t hate us. But if you’re really serious about cleaning out your closet, it’s worth investing the energy to take everything out and remove any hanging pieces from their hangers. This might initially seem like a waste of time, but it ultimately saves you – for the very reason you don’t want to do it in the first place. As you put things back in your closet, start with your favorite pieces. By the end, you’ll be pretty sick of putting everything back in place. If you’re not willing to do the work to put that shirt back on the hanger or fold up those pants, it’s a clear sign you don’t really care about that item of clothing. Into the giveaway pile it goes!

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closet cleaning tips - box

Box things up and put them in storage for a trial run in an open, organized closet. Image: California Closets

6. Box it up

We know it isn’t easy to let go of clothing. So why not take baby steps? Do a major clean-out, putting any “maybes” in your giveaway box. Then tape up the box and put it in storage. If you find yourself regretting pulling a certain item from your closet, you’ll be able to retrieve it. Odds are, though, you’ll like the feel of an organized closet filled only with clothes you love and you’ll want to keep it cleared out.

More closet cleaning tips

Feeling inspired? Keep that train rolling with even more closet organization ideas and inspiration for your dream walk-in closet. With these closet cleaning tips and ideas handy, you’ll – finally! – get your wardrobe organized in no time.