Decluttering expert Dana K. White shares her best tips for cleaning out your clothing.
- Posted on Apr 26, 2019
Once a self-described slob, author Dana K. White’s life transformed when she committed to decluttering her own home.
One of the keys to her own decluttering success was when White identified the difference between getting rid of things and organizing her possessions. In her book Decluttering at the Speed of Life, she guides readers through decluttering each area of their home.
“I gave up on trying to get organized,” White told Guideposts.org. “When I gave myself permission to declutter, I started making so much more progress.”
One of the most difficult areas in the home to tackle is the closet and dresser. Here are White’s best tips for cleaning out your clothes:
Many people struggle to get rid of clothes because they feel guilty for not wearing them or are worried it’s bad to donate damaged items.
White encourages people to let go of their shame over “wasting” clothes. Most donation places sell damaged clothing to rag makers and welcome all donations.
“It’s freeing to realize [your clothes] don’t have to be perfect,” White said.
One problem many people face when clearing out their clothes is filling trash bags with items to get rid of and then letting those bags sit in their house for months.
To avoid donation bags piling up, White suggests making a drop-off plan before starting to declutter. Call local nonprofits or ask friends how they clear out their clothes. Then schedule a time to drop yours off so they won’t clutter up your house once you’ve finished cleaning out your space.
Once you’ve made peace with letting go of your clothes, White says the next step is to identify “trash” clothes. Get honest about clothes with stains or rips that you can’t realistically wear.
“Go ahead and get rid of those things,” White said. “Every time you start to chip away the amount of stuff, you’ll feel less overwhelmed.”
White experienced a breakthrough in decluttering her clothes by doing all of her household’s laundry on one day each week. This method allowed her to see which clothes her family wore when they had a choice.
“You'll start to see which clothes are left in the bottom of the drawer again and again, and that makes it super easy to purge those,” White said. “Getting laundry under control really is key to decluttering clothing.”
Next, White recommends grouping your clothing by type or color so you can see how many like items you own.
“It's very eye opening to put those like things together,” White said.
You might notice you have 10 black dresses and only need five. This can also be a helpful way to shape future shopping—when you know how many types of an item you own, you’re less likely to buy them in the future.
“Purge down to the limits of your closet,” White said.
White calls this the container concept. It’s the idea that the size of your storage spaces determines how many items you can keep.
“You can have as many socks as will fit in your sock drawer,” White said. “Let that be the deciding factor.”
To maintain your newly clean closet, White advises people only bring a new item into the closet if they get rid of one item.
“If anything comes into your house, it has to have a space, which means something else is going to have to leave,” White said.
Using this rule can help prevent excess shopping.
“I look at something and I think, ‘I like it, but I don't actually like it enough to get rid of something,’” White said. “So then I don't bring it home.”