How to Organize a Closet

By Laura Parker
April 23, 2021

Modern wooden wardrobe with clothes hanging on rail in walk in closet picture id1049306164

We’ve all been there. Sometimes it’s easier to just throw your shirts and other items into the closet without storing them properly. Over time, closets get cluttered, until one day you look inside and wonder how you ever got to be so messy. If you’re having these thoughts, it might be time for a closet reorganization.

A Five-Step Plan to Reorganize Your Closet

When organizing your closet, it’s not enough to just shift a few things around. If you don’t have a strategy in mind, your closet will get messy again in no time. Start with this plan, combined with some of our organizing tips, and see what works best for you. 

Step 1: 

Take everything out of your closet — clothes, hangers, shoes, blankets, and other smaller items all need to come out.

Step 2:

Take inventory, and start organizing things into specific categories. These can be as broad as “keep,” “donate,” and “toss,” or you can use more tailored categories like “shoes,” “clothes,” “blankets,” and “miscellaneous items.” Now’s also a good time to figure out what really belongs in your closet. Only your clothes, shoes, and maybe even your linens need to be there. That’s okay if it leaves you with extra space! 

Step 4:

Get rid of stuff! Chances are if you haven’t worn an item in over a year, you probably aren’t going to wear it again. Likewise, if you find yourself with lots of similar items, some of them can go.

Step 5:

Separate your clothes into the categories you’re going to use to organize them, like which clothes you plan to hang and which you plan to fold. It might also include a more complex system, like color-coding (more on that later). 

Step 6:

Return the items to your closet in an orderly way. Make sure you give your most-worn items, like your favorite shirt and most comfortable shoes, the prime real estate in your closet.

Closet Organizing Tips

Insert Clothing Dividers

You can easily print dividers on cardstock that will help you sort different sizes and types of clothing, so finding what you’re looking for will be quick and easy. 

Keep Your Shoes Off the Floor

Keeping your footwear in cubbies, or investing in a shoe rack or a hanging shoe organizer that fits on the back of your closet door, is an easy clutter fix. 

Hang Accessories 

When it comes to hats, bags, and necklaces, don’t be afraid to throw some hooks up to group items together in neat rows. 

Double Hang Clothes

A double hang is one of the best ways to maximize closet space. To install one, bump your current curtain rod up. Measure the clothes you plan to store on your second rod, and install it at that height. If you do it right, you can easily double the amount of storage space in your closet. 

Use Shelf Dividers

Shelf dividers can help organize your limited shelf space, and make folding and stacking shirts, sweaters, and jeans quick and painless. Plus, they just look neat. 

Add Baskets and Bins

If you’ve got plenty of closet space, try adding baskets and bins. Mesh baskets will make it easy to see what you’re storing inside, and they’ll help make sure you keep everything in its right place. 

What Order Do You Hang Clothes in a Closet?

There’s no one straight answer, but generally you’ll want to center the types of clothes that you wear more often, like t-shirts and jeans, while fancier dresses and other less used items can be placed off to the side. You can also introduce a color coding system to provide even more order within these categories. 

What is the Best Way to Organize a Small Closet?

Making the most of a tiny closet can be tricky. Consider implementing whichever organizing tips (see above) work for you — extra hooks can be an easy fix, and a hanging shoe organizer should fit almost anywhere. Baskets and bins are a great next step to maximize your organizing space. Clothes you wear frequently should be prioritized for hanging space — even though it’s best to hang a fancy dress, if you’re only wearing it once a year it might be smart to fold it and take the extra time to steam it later on. 

How do you color code a closet?

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose your color coding method, whether that’s Light to Dark, or ROYGBIV (the rainbow). The rainbow method is easy to remember and offers up a greater contrast between groups. If you’re going with Light to Dark, start with white and make your way down the scale by sight. If colors become too close, you can throw in a dividing color to make things easier. 


Organizing a Closet FAQs

Is it better to fold or hang t-shirts?

It depends on the thickness of the material. For denser fabrics and stretchy materials like jersey, it’s okay to fold, while delicate materials that tend to wrinkle should be hung. 

Should you hang jeans or fold them? 

This is tricky, but basically it comes down to space. Dressier pants like slacks and khakis should definitely be hung, and ideally you’ll be able to hang your jeans too. But if you’re running out of hanger space, don’t be afraid to fold them either — the thick material means you won’t have to worry too much about wrinkling. 

Should you hang or fold skirts?

Thick-knit skirts and denim skirts can be folded, but for skirts made out of finer materials you’ll usually want to hang them to avoid excessive wrinkling. 

What clothes should go in drawers? 

In general, your drawers should be reserved for smaller, thinner items, like t-shirts, underwear, and socks. Bulkier items like sweaters, jeans, and sweatpants are better organized on shelves. 

Final Thoughts on Organizing Your Closet


Your closet is a big part of your life. If you’re like most people, you use your closet almost every morning, so you want to start your day off with a clean and organized space. Have fun cleaning and enjoying your more streamlined closet design.

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