THE BLOG

Closet Organization: How Many Bags Of Clothes Can You Get Rid Of?

04/06/2012 01:40 pm ET | Updated Oct 11, 2012


For me, cleaning and organization is a spectator sport. Meaning, I've written countless articles about the topic, but my home life is one filled with mild clutter. After a long day, I simply have no interest in, say, rearranging my books by color. The minor stacks, small piles and displaced ephemera didn't particularly bother me. So why fight entropy?

Can you do my closet next? Flickr photo by George Eastman House.

But when I had 10 days to move apartments (the new place had a great deal I couldn't pass up), I realized that my "artful" existence was nothing but glamorized hoarding. And no place in my home better proved this point than my closet. It's a standard-sized closet that, I thought, was somewhat organized in that there were things on hangers and stuff in boxes. But once I started folding and packing, I realized that I didn't have so much a closet but a portal to another dimension filled with infinite junk. A "Narnia" populated by at least 5 years' worth of bad judgment.

I quickly grabbed the trash bags.

A move brings out weird things in people. My boyfriend, for instance, became oddly protective of the 30-cent drinking glasses that were not worth the bother of moving across the room let alone 50 miles. And then he started placing things willy-nilly in boxes, sealing them up before I could realize that he packed away half of my shoe collection. And by "half," I mean: The left or right shoe of nearly every pair. From someone who alphabetizes his action figure collection, this was truly odd behavior.

In my case, it was a newfound disregard for sentimentality. Where before, I never met a vintage knick-knack I didn't like, I now got a thrill out of putting them in the ever-growing "FREE" box. Four sets of sixties china? What am I, preparing for a state dinner? BYE! (Confession: I kept 2 sets.) If I didn't notice my cat, Roscoe, sitting amongst an ironic souvenir spoon collection, he would have new owners by now.

So once I got to the closet, I was primed for ruthlessness. I didn't so much give things a second glance as I put every single ill-fitting, old, slightly shabby or just outdated garment in a donation bag.

Two hours later...

Photo by Brie Dyas

...I had SEVEN bags. That's at least 50 pounds of bad clothing that I didn't know I had, let alone enjoy wearing. There really is no excuse for that. So, I'm challenging you to do the same: go into a closet and start purging.

And if you need a few pointers from a newly-convinced organizer, here you go:

- Don't let your significant other know. They can end up having surprising attachments to things in your wardrobe that you didn't think twice about. ("Oh you can't throw that away, you wore that on the second anniversary of the third time we said 'I love you' at the same time!") If necessary, give them three vetos that give them the power to override your decision.

- Set a timer for an hour. Facing a packed closet is intimidating, which is why most of us put off the process until outside forces intervene. But look at it as "just an hour." When the hour's over, you are allowed to sit back down and resume life as we know it. Chances are, though, you'll want to keep on throwing things out.

- Do it for the greater good. Old blankets can go to animal shelters (like the North Shore Animal League America), a bag of old workwear can go to an organization like Dress For Success and the rest go directly to the thrift organization of your choice. One note: It may seem convenient to toss your bags into the nearest donation bin, but often the contents of said bins are shipped off to be made into rags. My personal belief is that we should make a decision that does the most help. So I always go directly to a reputable donation/charity in person.

So, how many bags can you fill? Share in the comments!