Decluttering your closet: simple ways to organize your space

Photo Credit: Katey Psencik

With midterms looming, keeping your apartment tidy seems like an impossible feat. You’re staying up late studying, then waking up early to head to class. When you do have time to do laundry, you just toss your clothes in your closet  — who actually has time to sort them? In the morning, you drag yourself out of bed and realize you don’t know where your favorite pair of jeans is and your huge comfy sweater is nowhere to be found. You spend an extra 20 minutes just sifting through clothing, trying to find what you’re looking for. You get frustrated and settle for the first outfit you lay your hands on. 

Organizing your closet can take just a few minutes. With these tips, both your closet and your mind will be clutter-free.

First off, realize that even the smallest closet has a great deal of organizing potential if you use every inch of space wisely. Use bins, drawers and hanging shelves to sort your belongings. Buy small plastic drawers to store your undergarments and accessories, and large bins to tuck away seasonal clothing or other items you don’t wear often.

A good way to save space when you’re hanging clothes is to use slim hangers — metal or plastic. While wooden or silk hangers may look prettier, they just aren’t practical. Another excellent way to save space is to hang skirts, shorts, pants or jeans on a layered hanger.

First, get your hanging clothes in order. Sort them by type of garment first — put all shirts in one area, dresses in another and pants in a third. Then further sort them by sleeve length, from tank tops and T-shirts to long-sleeve shirts and sweaters. If you want, break this down further by color-coding — sort from light to dark in each section. 

Once you finish hanging clothes, place any stackable items on either the top shelf of your closet or on hanging shelves. T-shirts are easy to stack, and you can organize them by color, sleeve length and size, since the free shirts you grab on campus range anywhere from small to XXL). You can also sort T-shirts by how you wear them — workout shirts, shirts you sleep in, or t-shirts you wear to class on a casual day.

Shelves also provide good jean storage. If you have trouble seeing which jeans are which after stacking them, solve any visibility problems by sorting them by type, and becoming best friends with a label-maker: “skinny jeans,” “wide-leg,” “straight leg” and so on. You can also buy shelf dividers at any home goods store to keep your towers of stacked clothing from tipping over into one big mess.

Now that your clothes are perfectly sorted and tucked away, use letter organizers to store flip-flops and flats on the top shelf of your closet. These are cheap and can be found at any office supply store. Put a few on your shelf and toss in any shoes that are flat enough to fit. Organize them by type — sandals, flip-flops, and flats — then by function — dressy and casual. Pull out your trusty label-maker to remind you where everything is located.

 The rest of your shoes can be stored in a shoe cubby at the bottom of your closet or in slim plastic shoeboxes along the top shelf. If you don’t have space, organize them as neatly as possible, paired up in rows on your closet floor or on the top shelves, if you have more room. Sort them by type.

Apartments don’t provide much storage space. Chances are, your luggage takes up quite a bit of room in your closet. Utilize this space by storing out-of-season clothes and smaller bags you don’t use often inside larger suitcases.

If you use a handful of bags frequently and don’t want to shove them away into other bags, buy hooks to hang them on the closet rod next to your clothes. This way, you can see them all at one time, and they’re not in a messy pile on the floor or on a shelf.

Use an old shower curtain rod stretched between closet shelves for extra belt and scarf storage. This is much easier than looping your belt buckles around the neck of a clothes hanger and having to remove every belt whenever you want to wear one. It also keeps scarves from getting wrinkled. Gentlemen can drape ties over this rod as well.

From the smallest dorm closets to the largest walk-ins, utilizing every inch of useful space and getting creative with storage containers can neatly organize any closet. A clean closet is a clear mind — follow these tips and you’ll have more time to study for midterms, and you’ll be looking sharper, too!