Backward Decluttering Is The Easiest Way To Keep Your Closet Organized

There's a monster that lurks in our closets and secretly eats away at our sanity — clutter. Every time we organize and clean, she comes back up again until there's not enough space to move the hangers, folded garments fall over, and the closet door can barely close. The backward decluttering method is the easiest way to get rid of this monster once and for all. Instead of sorting the items into piles to donate or toss, you're going to start with the items you want to hold on to.

With this method, the idea is to essentially create a capsule wardrobe where you love and wear every item in your closet and have all the pieces you need for any given occasion. It can eliminate some of the hesitation that comes with throwing away garments because you're not focused on what doesn't make the cut, but instead, what gets to stay. Further, you can also use this same backward strategy for decluttering your entire home.

Start by keeping the items you love

First, remove everything from your closet. You're starting from zero and building your way up. Then, from all your items, pick out all the pieces you love, wear the most, and can't live without. If you can't remember the last time you wore an item, it's not one of your most used pieces. Grab a hanger for your favorite dress, fold your go-to jeans, and place all your most used clothing back to organize your closet.

Now, you want to shop the leftover pile for any wardrobe essentials. You might not love your white T-shirt, but it's sure to come in handy. From the remaining clothes, gather any versatile or practical items like a jean jacket, neutral-colored belts, or undergarments. However, don't put anything back in the closet you don't love or know you won't wear.

Next, sort through the clothes you put in the closet and see if you have too much of one item. You may not need five black button-up shirts or three baseball caps, all from the same team. Once you remove the repeat items, you're left with a clutter-free minimalist closet. If your wardrobe seems too sparse, that's okay. Make a note of any missing items, like a pair of jeans or a blazer, and grab these items next time you're shopping instead of impulse buying, which can lead to clutter. Now, it's time to take care of the items that didn't survive these two rounds of sorting.

What do with the leftover clothing

Even though your closet is decluttered, you still have a pile of all the items you don't wear often, don't love, and aren't essential or versatile pieces. The first thing is to go through this stack for anything that doesn't fit, has damage, or you can't stand even to picture yourself wearing. The salvageable garments can go in a box to donate, damaged items can go to a textile recycling center, or you can repurpose your old t-shirts around your home and garden.

Unless you decide to give away or recycle the entire pile, there are probably still a few items left. These would often be the pieces that you still want to hold on to but never actually get a lot of usage from; think formal dresses, costumes, and extra-thick winter coats. In other words, these garments are why decluttering your closet can seem time-consuming and mentally taxing. But with the backward decluttering method, you can pack all these pieces in a box or bin and store it away from your closet. This way, only the everyday essentials and pieces you love are actually in your closet, and you don't have to make any permanent decisions on clothes you're unsure about. After six months to a year, revisit the bin. Anything left in there, you may have a newfound love for — or you can clearly live without it, and hopefully, it will be easier to let it go.