How To: Clean Out Your Closet

How To: Clean Out Your Closet

you don't know what you've got til it's all on your bed
cleaning out your closet, how to clean your closet, spring cleaning, style girlfriend, megan collins

By Megan Collins | Last Updated: Jun 23 2022 | 5 min read

cleaning out your closet, clean your closet, spring cleaning, style girlfriend, megan collins

It’s been said that an organized space is the outward expression of an organized mind. I agree, and believe that standard extends to our closets. That’s why today, I’m discussing the importance of a good old-fashioned wardrobe purge.

As we close out No Jeans January, this is also the perfect time to reevaluate all those “standby” clothes that you may now realize you’ve been falling back on, but are ultimately holding you back from your peak personal style in 2018. And of course, once you’ve made some room in your wardrobe, you make room for (a few) new pieces that’ll make you look and feel like a million bucks.

Below, how to clean out your closet really, truly for 2018

When to do it

It’s best to clean your closet twice a year. For those of us living in locales with actual seasons, that’s easy – just do it every time it gets warm, and every time it gets cold. As we plod towards spring, set a weekend when you’ll feel ready for a little purging.

How to do it

I’m a big believer in the idea that you’ve gotta see what you’re working with when it comes to cleaning out your wardrobe. That means, pulling everything out, from the closet and from your drawers. On your bed, make four piles – “Tailor,” “Give Away,” “You Can’t Make Me” and “Keep.” Below, the break down on each pile:


Your closet is most likely plagued by at least one ill-fitting item. Probably more. That’s why, like a favorite pizza place or car mechanic, every guy should have a local tailor on speed dial.

Have you ever purchased clothing off the clearance rack, thinking, ‘So what if it doesn’t fit perfectly – at this price, it’s a steal!’ Well, it’s not such a great deal if it’s never made it out of your closet. From an off-the-rack suit that’s just a little wide in the shoulders to a “slightly imperfect” sweater with a tear in the elbow, we all own clothes we told ourselves we’d wear, but never do.

You can’t bring yourself to get rid of the offending items, but now they sit, ignored, in the back of your closet. Toss those clothes in the “Tailor” pile. When you finally pull the trigger and pay for those pieces to go from ill-fitting to fantastic, you’ll see your wear increase ten fold.


You may need some help on this one. The “Give Away” pile is the toughest, but stay strong. Do it for me. Or even better, do it for all the new clothes out there in need of a home.

My rule of thumb with the “Give Away” pile is simple – if you haven’t worn the item in a year, it’s time to say goodbye. And I’m not talking about the last time you thought about wearing it, or the last time you remembered you owned it – the last time you actually (a) put it on, and (b) left the house.

Not sure what you’ve worn recently? Try this helpful tip. Hang all the clothes in your closet backwards (hanger hook facing awkwardly open-mouthed towards you). Every time you wear an item, turn the hanger inwards. You’ll quickly notice what you wear regularly, and which clothes only keep your closet company.


This pile’s all about the items of sentimental value that you can’t bring yourself to get rid of, even though you don’t actually wear them anymore. As in, “No, you can’t make me give away this Superman cape I’ve had since I was six years old.” From the DMB t-shirt you sported all through high school to the epic Super Mario costume you wore for Halloween three years ago, I know there are clothes you just can’t bring yourself to get rid of.

Now, I’m not totally heartless. I have plenty of clothes that I keep purely for sentimental reasons. You can save these items (a reasonable number of them at least), just get them out of your closet and put them in a rarely-used cstorage area. The basement works. The garage, too.

That way, they’re still around, and your already over-stuffed closet gets some breathing room. Who knows? You may find you don’t miss them so much at your next purge.


You may ask, Do I really have to pull the clothes out that I already know I’m keeping?


You’ll be more discerning about what goes back into your newly-pristine closet when everything comes out. Also, you may notice that an item needs to be dry cleaned before it re-enters your wardrobe.

Of course, in the hierarchy of “areas of your home the ladies want you to keep clean,” your closet is pretty far down the list. Bathroom? Yes. Kitchen? Please. But just like a fridge free of three-week-old Chinese food helps us breathe easier, a clean closet will do the same for you. Keep a few of those old t-shirts, though. Us ladies need something for pajamas, after all.

I started Style Girlfriend to help guys look, feel, and act their best.