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Closet Hacks: How to Know When It's Time to Donate Your Clothes

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If you're like most apartment dwellers, which have minimal storage space, summer means it's time to switch out winter clothes for summer clothes in your closet and dresser. This also means discovering all the poor decisions you once made shopping for clothes or that some of them no longer fit due to the laziness and food delivery that ensued throughout the Polar Vortex. Since deciding what stays and what goes can be a tumultuous experience, here are a few tips and tricks to hack the closet game and properly dispose of what you longer need:

  • Multi Rack Method -- This is a really great way to not only create the illusion of more space, but also help you figure out what you wear and what you don't. Instead of having one big rack on which to hang all your clothes, change it up by having smaller racks at different heights. Make one rack have the clothes you wear frequently and the other rack less frequently. This will help you visualize what you wear and what you could get rid of.
  • Hanger Technique -- Take all your clothes on hangers and have them face the wrong way (the opening facing you). After you've worn an item, put it back in the closet the way you normally would. At the end of the season, you'll see what you've worn and what you haven't.
  • Stack Approach -- When reorganizing your shelves or drawers create an arrangement so that your favorite clothes are on the upper levels and less worn items are lower down. Whenever you wear something put it on top of the pile. This requires you to move clothes around fairly frequently, but the clothes you don't wear will eventually end up on the bottom of the stack and will help inform your decisions when figuring out what could be tossed.
  • Digitize Your Wardrobe - There are apps that can bring your closet into the 21st century. By digitizing your wardrobe, you can track what you wear each day and get a list of your "25 Least Worn Items" so you know what you can remove when slimming down your closet. You can also create outfits and shop for new clothes all on your device, which is an obvious plus.

In addition to these tips, those cleaning out closets should also keep these guidelines in mind:

  • Does It Fit? -- This doesn't mean just size-wise. Your clothes should fit your style and lifestyle as much as they fit your size.
  • Is It Damaged Beyond Repair? -- Is there a stain or rip that you are not able to remedy? Is it too faded?
  • Would You Buy It Again -- Ultimately it comes down to this, if you were out shopping right now would you purchase this item again?
  • Buy 1 lose 1 -- When you get back from shopping try to match every new purchase by getting rid of at least one item in the same category. This will keep your closet from getting overgrown.

What is perhaps most important about cleaning out your closet is properly disposing of the clothes you no longer need. Likely the result of not knowing about textile recycling programs, many people still throw out clothes -- 11.1 million tons of it last year, the equivalent of over 70 billion t-shirts. What they may not know is that clothes should be donated or recycled - even if it is stained or torn - and that there are textile recycling programs that do that at apartment buildings, local businesses and even schools.

So while it's easy to fall victim to an unruly closet, hopefully you will find it more manageable by following these tips. And, when tossing the clothes you no longer need, remember to check to see where the closest textile recycling bin is located. The needy and Mother Nature will be thankful you did.

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