How to Organize Your Closet in 6 Steps

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an organized closet with baskets and shelves

When you’re in the middle of a home organizing or decluttering spree, it’s easy to stuff things in your closets and hope for the best. Eventually, however, there will come a time when your closet organization needs special attention to clean out the items you no longer need and get the possessions left in that closet in order.

This guide will walk you through a quick and painless process for organizing your closet storage to help you maximize space and reduce the amount of unnecessary items you may be keeping.

Steps to organize your closet

If you’re wondering how to organize your closet, follow these key steps:

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Step 1: Determine the desired purpose of your closet space

Depending on the layout and structure of your home, you may have closets that have a specific purpose and closets that hold a more general collection of items. For example, the closet in your bedroom probably holds primarily clothes, and we have some specific tips about the best way to organize a closet. Your coat closet in the entryway may hold outerwear. A linen closet, on the other hand, might be a treasure trove of bedding, cleaning supplies, bathroom supplies, and more.

Before you start planning how to organize your closet, determine the specific purpose of this closet. Decide what really needs to be in it and what items need to find another home. You may be surprised by how many items contained in your closet don’t really need to be there!

PRO TIP: Organizing a closet in your bedroom, home office, or hallway? Decluttering your closet at a room-level may help you better prepare. Use our Ultimate Home Organization Guide as a checklist for everything involved in organizing every room of the home.


Step 2: Get rid of items you no longer want or need

Now that you have a plan for how to organize your closet, it’s time to get a blank slate. Start by emptying the closet completely and getting rid of items you don’t really want or need. Set out two boxes as you clean out your closet: a box of things to donate or sell, and a box of things to throw away.

Many of the items in the closet may have been back there for years. There may be many items that you don’t actually wear or use, but that you’ve never gotten rid of, either. Your linen closet organization project is the perfect opportunity to get rid of those items and decrease the clutter in your home.

When sorting through your items and figuring out what to keep, store, donate, or get rid of, consider the following questions:

  • When was the last time I used this item?
  • Do I have duplicates of this item — or more than I actually need?
  • Do I want this item for sentimental reasons?
  • If it’s a clothing item, can I still wear this clothing? Did I wear it during the last season it would have been appropriate? (Do not keep clothing items that you simply “hope” you will fit into again unless you have adequate room for storage.)


If you neither need nor want an item, there’s no reason for it to continue taking up space in your closet. If you want to keep an item but it just needs cleaning, take time to remove stains like ink. As you consider how to organize your closet, go ahead and throw it away or donate it. Not only will you not miss it, but you’ll also make room for other items that have more significance and use. This will also make it easier to find the things that you do want to keep.

PRO TIP: Clean as you go! Check out these 15 cleaning tips for decluttering that will help you reduce clutter in every room of the home and while leaving it cleaner than before.


One of the easiest methods to declutter your closet is to remove everything you don’t often use. That means tossing out that shampoo that you never really liked to begin with, throwing away that cleaning spray that gives you a headache or the so-called “natural” cleaning product that never really worked, and getting rid of beauty items that you considered trying but never actually got around to. The exception is seasonal items, but even those might belong in the attic or in the basement.

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Step 3: Customize your shelving

When you plan how to organize your closet, remember that your shelving needs will vary based on the purpose of your closet. In a clothing closet, you may need two rows of shelves to allow you to hang all of your clothing neatly without crumpling anything in the closet. The section of the closet reserved for dresses may have only a single shelf so that your dresses can hang freely.

In a storage closet, on the other hand, you may need shelves at specific heights to accommodate the items stored in the closet. Depending on the items you’re storing, shelves approximately twelve inches apart may make it easier to organize the items in your closet. This will make you less likely to pile items on top of one another across those shelves.

If you’re storing larger items, position your shelves accordingly.

In order to customize your shelving, consider the options you have available. You may want to:

  • Add shelves to your closet.
  • Use temporary shelving options.
  • Try out organizers to make it easier to keep the entire closet more organized.


Step 4: Choose containers that fit your closet organization needs

Closet organization using baskets and containers

As you plan out how to organize your closet, choose containers carefully. In some closets, placing items on a shelf and on top of one another may be enough to organize your items neatly. Blankets and towels, for example, usually go directly on the shelf.

Other items, on the other hand, may prove much easier to organize if you choose containers. Baskets and boxes will allow you to separate similar objects and more easily locate the items you’re looking for.

When planning how to organize your clothing closet, for example, you may need boxes or baskets for scarves, hats, belts, gloves, and other accessories. If your linen closet also holds cleaning supplies, you may want baskets to hold your rags or your bottles of cleaning supplies. You may also want to add boxes for items like craft supplies or personal mementos. This might include photos and photo albums that typically stay in the closet.

Select containers that are durable and functional. “Pretty” is certainly a bonus, especially if you have an open closet setup. However, you will want to test the strength of the containers before deciding on the one you want for your closet. A highly functional, durable container will be more likely to stand the test of time in an organized closet.

Step 5: Group and sort through your “keep” pile in your closet

Once you’ve cleaned out the items you don’t want anymore and selected baskets and boxes for the items that you know you want to keep, sort through what remains in the closet. Neatly organize each item according to type.

When organizing your closet items you want to “keep,” make sure to do the following:

  • Move any items that really go in another location: This is the time to take items out of the closet that don’t really belong there. Move them to where they should be so that you can find them when you’re looking for them.
  • Pay attention to any duplicate items: This is particularly important when it comes to cleaning supplies and toiletries. It applies, however, to any item that you have more duplicates of than you really need. Add excessive duplicates to your donate or toss boxes and take note of supplies that you have overstocked on due to a poorly organized closet. Alternatively, use the bottom shelves of your closet for bulk buys so you can replenish countertop items over time.
  • Organize items according to how you use them: You may want to group all of your cleaning supplies into one basket, for example. To organize your linen closet, you might put all of your warm winter blankets in one location while you place lighter spring and summer blankets in another. In your bedroom closet, sort clothing according to season.


Step 6: Replace items in the closet according to their frequency of use

Put items back in the closet carefully. This is one of the most critical parts of how to organize your closet. Now that you have cleaned the closet out and established which items in it you no longer want, you can put items back in a way that allows you to clearly see what’s in the closet.

Put the items you use most frequently at eye level, near the front of the closet. This will allow you to reach in and find them easily. It may also prevent you from accidentally destroying all of your organizing efforts the next time you need those items!

Deciding how to organize a linen closet, a clothes closet, or even a miscellaneous hall closet doesn’t have to be a headache. With these steps, you can put together a neat, organized closet that will allow you to locate everything inside quickly. This strategy will also help you get rid of things that you no longer need or want.

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Your closet is the bedroom's main storage space. Whether it is filled with organized clothes or sloppily arranged boxes can make a big difference in terms of your room's appearance. And a clean room is about more than just aesthetics; a clean room is actually good for you. A well-organized closet can help you keep your room clean, and a clean room can help you reduce stress, and less stress can improve your life.
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