My guide on how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes will take you through how we accumulate an abundance of clothing in the first place and how you can be more ruthless when it comes to decluttering them, in order to make your home and living space clutter free and calmer.
Decluttering clothes can be a difficult task. It is important to be ruthless so that you don’t keep piling clothes into your closet and end up being overwhelmed with so much you don’t even know how to start decluttering.
We all have some element of emotional baggage when it comes to decluttering our clothes; whether it be that you’re waiting until you lose weight before you can fit into something again, or you’re hopeful to have a certain event where you can wear that special dress to.
As you may know, I used to be a clothes hoarder. Not so much that the producers of Hoarders were going to come knocking on my door, but I definitely had way to much clothes for one human being and way too much that I never wore.
In fact, I used to have over 100 pairs of shoes but was able to minimize down to just 15, along with over 70% of my clothes.
How did I manage to do this? I had to be ruthless. And now I’m going to show you how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes.
There are many reasons we tend to hold onto clothes that we never wear:
- I've already spent too much money on these clothes
- I've not been able to sell them
- But Aunt Mary gave me this
- I'm waiting for them to fit again
- What if I need it in the future
- Step 1: Put all clothes out in a pile on the bed
- Step 2: Pull out the definite donates (the 'no clothes')
- Step 3: Pull out the definite keeps (the 'yes clothes')
- Step 4: Pull out the seasonal wear (the 'sometimes clothes')
- Step 5: Go through the remainder and be ruthless (the 'maybe clothes')
- Step 6: Storing
- Step 7: The final declutter
- How can we stop our closet from getting cluttered again
I’ve already spent too much money on these clothes
Of course, we’ve all made bad decisions and have regrets about spending too much on clothes that we never ended up wearing.
I bet there are even some clothes in your closet right now that still have the tags on them from years ago. Am I right?!
I’ve bought clothes that I didn’t try on in the store and then found that they didn’t fit, only to put it at the back of my closet for another day.
But what you must remember when decluttering your clothes is that the money you spent is gone. Whether you keep these clothes in the back of your wardrobe or donate them, you’ve lost that money long ago.
I’ve not been able to sell them
Maybe you’ve tried to declutter your closet before and decided to sell everything to make your money back. But it was too hard to sell so the clothes just made their way back into your closet.
Selling clothes can be really difficult. Especially if they’re not designer clothes that people are searching for at a bargain.
You must remember that your time is precious and worth more than you might ever get for these clothes. In order to sell, you would need to take pictures of each item, price them, post them on social media or take them to a car boot sale and wait for people to buy. Then there’s dealing with haggling, going back and forth. It is really worth the hassle?
As we mentioned in the previous point, the money you spent on these clothes is long gone. Whether you keep them or donate them. Donating clothes is a great way to give back to your community and enable someone who might not otherwise be able to afford new clothes to benefit from yours.
But Aunt Mary gave me this
It’s easy to hold onto clothes that we don’t like because they were given to us as a gift. But do you really think the old aunt who gave you that ugly sweater will be upset if she doesn’t see you wearing it? Of course not! Can you honestly say she even remembers giving it to you in the first place?
I’m waiting for them to fit again
That pair of jeans that you wore on your 21st birthday, ah yes. How long have you had them now – 10? 15 years?
Maybe you’re still holding on to the hope that you will lose weight and get back into these jeans again.
Personally for me, I’ve let go of all clothes that don’t fit me anymore. And not just because I wanted to declutter my closet. But having those jeans in there made me feel bad! They made me feel that I wasn’t good enough the size I am today, thinking that I had to get back to that size in order to be happy. And that’s not true.
If you want to lose weight in the future or you’ve already started but you’re not sure when or if you’ll be able to get into these jeans, let them go. If it comes to the day when you’ve lost that weight and need some smaller clothes, treat yourself!
Chances are, this old pair of jeans aren’t in fashion anymore (my flared ripped jeans weren’t, that’s for sure)!
What if I need it in the future
We can’t live our lives with a ‘what if’ mentality. Otherwise we’ll never live in the present!
If you have a lovely dress you’ve been holding onto for ‘that perfect event’, it’s time to let it go to someone who needs it now. I know this can be scary because we never know what the future holds, but here’s what you can do if you find you do need something in the future…
Borrow it! In our circle of friends, there are bound to be a few we can ask to borrow a dress from. I love doing this and then sharing mine with my friends! It saves money, you get to have the feeling of wearing something ‘new’ without having to part with your well earned cash, and nothing goes to waste.
If borrowing isn’t an option for you, then hold onto one item that’s versatile and can do you for a number of different outings. You can accessorize it up to change the look each time!
Read also: 9 Ways to Find The Motivation to Declutter
So now it’s time for some decluttering. And I know it’s going to be difficult but if you follow these steps on how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes, I promise you it will make more sense and become easier with time.
Step 1: Put all clothes out in a pile on the bed
I know this sounds incredibly overwhelming, making a mess in order to clear up! This is Marie Kondo’s method to decluttering clothes and I have adopted this very way when decluttering my own clothes.
Why on earth would you pile absolutely every item of clothing you own onto the bed? Because it is guaranteed to shock you. Just as it shocked me. I never imagined I owned that many clothes. Who has 20 pairs of jeans?! But that’s what I found when I dumped every item of clothing out of my bed.
If you don’t think you’ll get through this task in time for bed, make a pile in the corner of your room instead. BUT you must come back to it the next day.
Step 2: Pull out the definite donates (the ‘no clothes’)
Straight away, you should be able to see items that are ready for the donation box. These are things that you just know you either don’t like or you’ve gotten your wear out of them and won’t wear again.
You might also find duplicate items here that can be donated.
Step 3: Pull out the definite keeps (the ‘yes clothes’)
These are the things that you already wear all the time and love wearing.
If you have 20 pairs of jeans and you wear all of them an equal amount and you want to keep them all, well who am I say to say you get to need rid of them! But the chances of that is slim…
Remember, only the items you love and continuously wear are to be put in the ‘yes clothes’ pile.
Step 4: Pull out the seasonal wear (the ‘sometimes clothes’)
Ok so there are definitely clothes that you don’t wear everyday but still need, and these are seasonal wear.
For example, you may only wear a bikini on your annual trip. So you should keep this! And yes only one or two bikinis is enough to keep if you only wear once a year!
Your Christmas sweater will also be included in this section. And again, because the season is so short, there’s no need to keep 10 Christmas sweaters. Pick out your favourite one or two and move on.
The same can be said for maternity clothing. If you plan to have another child in the near future, hold onto your maternity wear. As soon as you’ve decided you’re done with having kids, now is the time to donate to some other new mummy.
Step 5: Go through the remainder and be ruthless (the ‘maybe clothes’)
This will most likely be the hardest part for you. There’s obviously a reason you haven’t decided to donate these right off the bat. Possibly because you have guilt or certain items have sentimental meanings.
As you go through each and every one of these items, ask yourself the following questions:
- Why am I holding onto it? If there’s no reason, donate.
- Is there a specific event I am thinking of wearing it to? If not, donate.
- Does it fit me now? No? Then it’s time to donate.
- Have I worn it in the past 6 months? If the answer is no, then you probably won’t wear it in the next 6 months, so donate.
- Is it damaged, ripped? If so, you’re not likely to wear it.
If a shirt looks like it has faded over time, or if jeans can no longer fit around your waistline, then these are good indicators that they should be donated.
Some items may still be in great condition but just not useful at this point in time for you any more. If you are ever unsure about an article of clothing, then you should always err on the side of caution and donate it. Remember, we’re not living by ‘what if’, we’re living in the present. Even if it is still useful, albeit not to you, other people will be grateful to have something that is used rather than having nothing at all.
Don’t be too scared to let things go that you’re unsure of. If you’re unsure, there’s a good reason for it. I can honestly say that I can only count on one hand the number of times I’ve given something away and then wondered where that item was. And each time I would think ‘oh, I donated it, let’s find something else to wear’.
At this stage, you should now be left with a pile of your ‘yes clothes’ and some of your ‘maybe clothes’. You’re doing great!
Step 6: Storing
Now comes for the fun part! Putting everything you’re keeping back into your closet and drawers.
First, put all of your ‘yes clothes’ back in the closet. I like to organise mine by colour, others like to organise by outfit or by type. But there should definitely be some organisation method to your closet to ensure nothing gets lost and not used.
Next is your ‘maybe clothes’. We’re going to change this up now. For your ‘maybe clothes’ I want you to put them in your closet with the hanger facing the other way. We’re going to monitor how often in the next 6 months you actually wear these!
For items that are folded, make sure they’re not stacked on top of each other. If they are, you’re likely to only wear the ones on top and forget about those towards the bottom. Fold them in a way that they stand up by themselves and you can see each item when you open the drawer. Again, I follow Marie Kondo’s method for folding my clothes – check out this video for her folding basics.
The seasonal items we spoke about? These don’t have to be stored in your closet or drawers as you’re not wearing them every day. Get some storage bags (like these ones) and put them out of the way until needed.
Step 7: The final declutter
This step actually comes 6 months after your initial decluttering. Remember I said that your ‘maybe clothes’ needed to go in your closet backwards?
All the hangers that haven’t been turned around are clothes that haven’t been used in the past 6 months. They’re ready to be donated!
That little black dress you said you were keeping for that special event but you ended up not wearing it, is there a reason you didn’t? Did you find something nicer to wear in your closet? If this is the case, then it’s likely to happen every time you have an event, that dress will come second to another. So….you know it. It’s time to donate.
Same with your drawers of clothes, go through and pick out anything you haven’t worn in the past 6 months. These are things that have been looked over every time you’ve opened the drawer and not chosen. Something else has always been chosen over them. It’s time for these clothes to be chosen! So donate them to someone else!
How can we stop our closet from getting cluttered again
How many times have you done a clear-out, only to find your closet ends up the same way the following year? Here are some simple ways you can prevent this from happening again:
- When you buy something new, make sure it’s something you really love. Try it on in the store before buying it so you know it fits and you know it suits your body type. It might look amazing on the model but that doesn’t mean it was made for you.
- Adopt the ‘one in, one out’ rule. When you do buy something new, donate something from your closet when you get home from shopping.
- If you change size and it hasn’t changed back in one year, get rid of the clothes that don’t fit you anymore. Of course we all go through weight changes, up and down a little here and there, but anything significant that hasn’t changed in over a year will need new clothing, so out with the old!
- Be ruthless!! Stick to being ruthless when it comes to your closet and you’ll never see a cluttered one again!
By learning how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes, we can find a way to ensure our closets never become so untidy and cluttered again. We’ll also make better use of the clothes we do have, rather than having some hiding in the back never being worn.
Once you begin decluttering clothes, there’s no turning back! Don’t let things pile up in your closet or dresser drawers once you start this process. Otherwise these pesky decluttered clothes may find their way back into your wardrobe as well!
Remember that decluttering your clothes does not have to be as difficult as you think. The key is in understanding your own clothes and understanding what goes into the process of decluttering.
If you have any questions or thoughts, please leave them in the comment section below!
You might also like:
- How to get motivated to clean when overwhelmed by mess
- Things I stopped buying to embrace minimalism
- What minimalism means to me (and what it really doesn’t mean)
- What to do when you feel like you have too many clothes
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