15 Things You’re Doing to Your Closet That Professional Organizers Wouldn’t
If you’re making any of the following mistakes, your closets are a whole lot messier than they need to be. Here’s how to get organized—and stay that way.
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The secrets to staying organized
Have you ever wondered how professional organizers manage to keep their closets quite so tidy? It may seem like an impossible dream for the average person, but it isn’t. (We swear!) The issue is that you’re making a few critical mistakes that torpedo your ability to get organized and stay that way. But we’ve got some good news for you: They’re all easy to fix. We asked the experts what you’re doing that they never would and how you can give your closet a simple but much-needed makeover. And once you overhaul your closets, check out these 50 organizing tips for the rest of your home that you’ll wish you knew all along.
Feeling guilty about tossing things
The first rule of organizing a closet: Be merciless. If you don’t use it, toss it. “A professional organizer would never keep something in their closet if they don’t wear it. Yes, even if it still has tags on it,” says Birdie Brennan of Birdie Brennan Custom Closets & Organizing. “Everybody makes a bad purchase once in a while. Let go of the item—and let go of the guilt.” If this is a tough one for you, check out these 9 ways to get rid of junk (without guilt).
Hanging longer items over shorter ones makes it impossible to see everything in your closet—and what you can’t see, you won’t wear. Bringer of order and owner of Room to Breathe Jessica Dolan says that long items have a section of their own in her closet. This ensures that nothing gets accidentally lost and forgotten about. One good option: the Rubbermaid Configurations Custom Closet Starter Kit, which provides space for tops, pants, and longer pieces. And speaking of shorter pieces, have you ever wondered why shorts don’t cost less than pants?
Waiting to purge
Andrew Mellen, author of Unstuff Your Life!, cautions against yearly purges. Instead, he suggests, culling your closet a lot more frequently. “The next time you pull out a garment and determine that you don’t like the way it looks on you—regardless of whether it’s about size, color, shape, [or] condition—when you make the decision not to wear it, the next action should be to put it in a pile of things to give away,” he says. Here are another 26 secrets from personal organizers.
Letting donations linger
We’ve all been there: We wait until we’ve gathered a few bags’ worth of unwanted items to take to our charity of choice. (And then we usually drive around with all of those bags in our trunk for a while, but that’s a topic for another story.) The key to keeping your closet organized? Donate more regularly, says Tamah Vega of Tamah Vega Design. Here’s how to ensure this actually happens: Place a bag on the neck of a hanger, and when it’s full, drive it over to the donation site, then replace it with another empty bag. With a bag conveniently located inside the closet, there is no excuse for donations to pile up. Check out these 10 bizarre things you didn‘t know you could donate.
Leaving clothes in plastic wrap
If you don’t remove that ubiquitous plastic wrap from the dry cleaner, you’re going to have a few problems. First, the wrapping makes it difficult to see what’s inside. And second, it can actually damage your clothes over time. If clothing needs to be kept covered, put it in breathable garment-storage solutions, says productivity specialist Laura Leist, author of Eliminate Chaos: The 10-Step Process to Organize Your Home & Life. These lightweight and dust-proof Zilink Hanging Garment Bags should do the trick. Aside from the fact that you need to unwrap your clothes promptly, these are 17 things your dry cleaner won’t tell you.
Mixing in memorabilia
Organizing Goddess Sharon Lowenheim, a certified professional organizer, shares her tip for keeping sentimental items. “If an item of clothing is no longer worn but you are keeping it for nostalgia purposes, then get it out of the closet and into a memorabilia box,” she advises. Nesting treasure boxes can be the perfect place to store those items you just can’t part with. By the way, you might be sitting on a goldmine if you have these 10 hidden treasures in your garage (or closet or attic or wherever else).
Leaving shoes on the closet floor
Stop wasting time looking for the mate to your favorite sneakers or dress shoes in a pile at the bottom of your closet Mellen recommends keeping shoes “up on a rack where it’s easier to find them and keep them clean and dust-free.” He prefers a modular and flexible shoe rack that can accommodate even the tallest of boots. Keep the rack by the front door to collect shoes on the way in. You’ll know why once you read up on the 5 reasons you should ban shoes in the house.
Keeping uncomfortable shoes
Colleen Ashe, a certified professional organizer and the chief expert organizer at Ashe Organizing Solutions, recommends letting go of shoes that were “worn once, never to be worn again.” This includes shoes purchased for a special occasion, high heels that hurt your feet, and any others that have been in your closet for months (or perhaps years) but are never worn. Keep your shoes looking great by learning how to clean every type of shoe.
Leaving extra hangers on the rod
Dolan always uses a set number of hangers so that she doesn’t get carried away stuffing her closet. “I know that when I don’t have an empty hanger and I bring something new in, something old has got to go,” she explains. Dolan prefers narrow velvet hangers because, she says, they take up less space and things don’t slide off them. Here are some genius uses for those extra coat hangers.