How to Clean Out Your Closet When You're Home for the Holidays

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Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

There are few tasks as daunting, though necessary and rewarding, as cleaning out a closet. Of course, consistently organizing it and getting rid of pieces you don't wear (or don't feel good in anymore) every few months or so is one of the easiest ways to avoid getting seriously overwhelmed when sifting through your clothes. But, if you're not able to dedicate a set amount of time aside every couple of months, your holiday break serves as another great alternative during which to tackle the task; it's the perfect occasion in which to dive head-first into a full-fledged wardrobe cleanse because, well, you're officially out of office for a week or so.

Now, regardless of how often you purge your closet, it can still be hard to figure out exactly where to start (and the steps to take to make it less stressful and more fun). That's why we decided to enlist organizational expert Melissa Maker of Clean My Space for her best advice on how to clean out your closet (and actually make it fun!) when you're home for the holiday season this year. Ahead, learn her seven simple closet cleanout tips, which are certain to make the task much less daunting. Then, shop some essentials for maintaining an organized wardrobe year-round. Consider this your need-to-know guide on how to ace the chore.

1. Start with an empty closet…

The first (and most important) step in cleaning out your closet when you're home for the holidays is to start with a clean slate—i.e., take out all of your clothes, leaving you with an empty closet (and a big pile next to you). This will make the weeding-out process much easier and more streamlined.

2. Set aside a few hours to complete the cleanout…

Though it may be tempting to take breaks during your closet cleanout, Maker advises getting it done all in one shot. "Once you commit to doing it, you will feel much better and know you don't have a half-done task hanging over your head," she notes.

3. Give yourself a reward for cleaning out your closet…

As is the case with any daunting task, it's made much easier when you give yourself something to look forward to—i.e., a reward. "Choose something that will make you feel good, whether it's a glass of wine or a trip to the movies," Maker notes. "Do something to reward yourself for a job well done."

4. Then take three bins and mark them…

One bin should read "keep," another "donate," and the final one "store." Then, Maker says, "Go through each item and decide if it should be donated, kept in your closet for the season, or put away for next season. You can also take out the bin that you stored last winter and go through it the same way."

Now, if you're unsure about what to keep and what to donate, Maker notes, "If there are items in there that you haven't missed and you know you won't wear, put [them] to be donated."

5. Always keep…

Things to definitely keep in your closet? Per Maker, a few of your "favorite pairs of jeans, favorite loungewear, and a good blazer/jacket." These are staples that you can wear season after season, so throw the aforementioned items in your "keep" bin.

6. And toss if…

"If it's ripped, pilled beyond repair, or stained, it's time to part ways," says Maker. "If an item has been sitting in your closet for a year or more and you haven't thought about it or gone for it, then it's probably time to give it a new home."

As for Maker's personal rule when cleaning out her closet? "If I don't love it, it's time to donate it. I want to feel good when I put on my clothes, and if I know an item just isn't doing it for me, I will pass it on to someone who I think will love it."

7. Donate your clothing (or give it to family or friends)…

Once you've sifted through your pile of clothes and finalized the things to donate, keep, and store, the final step is to, well, actually donate (or give away) your items.

"I like to offer family members and friends first dibs on clothes that I may no longer love but think that they will," says Maker. "After that, I either take it to a consignment store if it's an item that still has a lot of value or find a charity that I like to donate them." She adds, "If you have suits or businesswear, there are lots of great organizations that help to give unemployed people a fresh start, so check if there is such a charity in your city."

Shop closet organization essentials:

The side mesh pockets on this organizer are perfect for shoes and socks.

Keep pants and other essentials wrinkle-free with these hangers.

Keep moths away with these lavender-scented sachets.

Next up, check out how to keep your shoes organized the right way.