14 Tips to Stop Closet Clutter

Is clutter taking over your closets? These simple steps will help you create instant space.

Plan first. Weed out a closet before reorganizing it. Measure everything that needs to fit back in, then translate these measurements into a design on graph paper. Then, and only then, go out and purchase a closet organizing system.

Don’t make the cut. Many wire shelving systems are based on a 12-foot shelf module. Don’t try to cut down shelves that are too long for your closet with a hacksaw; you’ll wind up with sharp, jagged ends. Ask your supplier to cut the units to the right length.

What’s included? Not all closet organizing systems include the mounting hardware in the price. When comparing prices, find out exactly what you will get for your money.

Fold what you can. Folding clothing, in most cases, will save space. Fold all the clothing you can, stack it in piles, then measure the piles to determine the amount of shelving needed to accommodate them.

Smart hang-ups. Attach a piece of Velcro to the end of a hanger to keep thin straps from sliding off it. Sew a big loop at the neck of kids’ jackets to increase the odds that they will be hung up rather than finding a home on the floor or a newel post.

The eyes have it. Save time by placing the most frequently used items in a closet at eye level.

A favorable reflection. Glue a square mirror tile on a closet’s ceiling to inspect the top shelf without climbing a stepladder.

Relieving the load. When the clothes rod in a closet sags under too much weight, replace it with a length of galvanized pipe placed inside PVC piping. Remove the manufacturer’s name from the PVC pipe with lacquer thinner.

Color-coded linens. Select a different color or pattern of bed linen for each family member. Whenever a fresh set of linens is needed, it will be easy to pick out the pieces for a particular bed from the linen closet.

Weatherproof closets. Cope with wet stuff in an entry closet by installing a boot tray over a plastic pan. Hang wicker or wire containers on the closet door; they allow ventilation for faster drying of damp gloves and hats. (Some baskets can be folded up when they’re not in use.) Install a grille in the closet door to increase ventilation, or replace it with a louvered door.

Neat clothes. If you want to keep clothes uncluttered, file tiny notches about 1 inch apart in a wooden clothing rod; the hangers won’t slide together.

Increase storage space by decreasing the number of things you have to store. Use the 2-year rule to help: If you haven’t worn or used it in 2 years, out it goes.

Less luggage. Save space when storing luggage by placing smaller pieces inside larger ones.

Loaded luggage. Pack away off-season clothing in pieces of luggage and slide them under the bed. If you take a trip, temporarily unpack the clothing and stack it in laundry baskets.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest