How to clean your closet without wanting to die

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Getty Images/iStockphoto

If you’ve made a resolution to have less stuff, or to get rid of the clutter in your home, then a good place to start is in your closet. I can help you make it suck less. Call me Martha.

Make a plan. Don't clean your dresser and closet during a stressful week, unless you like to unwind by doing a task. Pick a lazy Saturday afternoon when it’s -15, or choose a night after work when you’re feeling the urge to clean. If that urge hits, then go with it.

Baby steps. Don’t go crazy trying to get it all done at once, especially if you have multiple closets. (The coat closet/hall closet can be the worst place in the house. It always becomes a disaster zone.) Do one thing at a time and concentrate your efforts. Pick a room and attack it, then take a break and move on to the next if you feel like it. If you don’t, that’s fine.

Grab a friend. Remember in the Sex and the City movie when Carrie makes her friends help her decide what to keep and what to toss? Do that. A trusted friend can help you make those tough decisions and will be honest with you when you need a kick in the ass. Invite a friend over and let them take their pick of your castoffs, then return the favor for them when they want to clean. Fun, right?

Drink wine. Make it fun! Listen to Spotify and sip your favorite alcoholic beverage of choice while you clean. It makes everything feel a little less OMG THE WORLD IS ENDING.

Be honest with yourself. I struggle with this a little bit, but you know what? Things that don’t fit me now probably aren’t going to fit me again. It sucks to grow out of my favorite vintage dresses, but unfortunately, my hips are expanding in want of a baby and I can’t do much about that. Don’t hold on to a ton of things because you want to lose weight, or because you think they’ll come back in fashion some day. Be honest about what you actually wear, what you’ve outgrown aesthetically, or what you aren’t totally obsessed with, and let it go. Someone you know might give it a brand new life.

Make a little cash. Motivate yourself to clean and organize by taking your gently used castoffs to a resale store like Buffalo Exchange or posting things on Poshmark. Or save things and have a garage sale in the spring with a few friends. Then donate what you can to thrift stores, and check with local animal shelters to see if they’re in need of old towels or bedding you’re not using. You’ll feel so much lighter post-drop off.

Save the things you really love. You'll regret letting it go someday, so if you're feeling very attached to an item you know you won't wear in the next year, box it up and put it away. Some pieces have memories or strong feelings attached to them, and it's not worth losing those just because you're cleaning. I try to limit myself to one large box per 10 years of "saved" pieces. If you have doubts about something, let it go, but if it makes your heart sing, then save it. Space Bags exist for this purpose.