How to declutter your closet fast and easily Blog graphic

Learn how to declutter your closet fast and easily by using a closet clean out filter. (Seems as though I’m on a bit of a filters kick at the moment.) In this installment of Options Please! We’re covering just that! 

Options Please!

Options Please! is a series to help give you the tools you need to implement your seamless signature personal style. It’s for everyone who has ever asked: is a capsule wardrobe my only option? Is there any way to make shopping easier? What do I do if “does this spark joy?” isn’t working for me? 

That is what this series is here to answer! This series is to help show you some of the options that are out there. Use what works leave what doesn’t, but my hope is that it will help you see the possibilities.

We’ll cover what your options are for closet clean out filters, building your personalized closet system, care and maintenance of your favorite pieces of clothing, shopping systems, where you send clothes you’ve cleaned out, and so much more. 

Today we’re starting with closet clean out filters! 

What is a closet clean out filter?

First of all, what is a closet clean out filter? It’s pretty straightforward. A closet clean out filter is a filter you use to determine what stays and what goes when you’re cleaning out your closet (or anything really). 

For example: when you’re cleaning out your fridge or your pantry you probably use some combination of the following filters: 

  • Is it moldy? 
  • Is it slimy? 
  • Is it past its expiration date?
  • Do you like it?
  • Will you ever eat it?
  • Do you have more than you could ever possibly consume?

Maybe you: Ditch the slimy lettuce and the moldy cream cheese. Pass along all of the anchovies, because you will never eat them. Pass along 90% of the seemingly endless tomato sauces, because how did you end up with that much tomato sauce in the first place?

The same can be true for cleaning out your closet and letting go of clothing. You can use a closet filter or a combination of filters to help you make decisions about what stays and what goes.

How to use a filter to declutter your closet fast and easily

Part of the struggle of cleaning out your closet is making hundreds or thousands of decisions in rapid succession. This is why closet clean outs often stall or have a messy middle, and why it can be helpful to have a second eye and plenty of moral support. 

Closet clean out filters can be another form of useful support. It is one of my favorite ways to speed up the process and declutter your closet fast. A filter gives you a home base of sorts – a criteria to come back to when decision making gets overwhelming.

Some of your closet clean out filter options:

Know that these are not all your options. But they are a good selection for getting started and to display the plethora of opportunities you have.

“Does it spark joy?”

“Does this spark joy?” is Marie Kondo’s infamous closet clean out filter. You could also consider delight or love or happiness, or any other quality, if joy doesn’t resonate with you. 

Yes, No, Maybe

I often use Yes, No, Maybe with clients. Especially when they don’t resonate with other closet clean out filters, or who haven’t gotten them to work well in the past. It’s an iterative process that is a lovely way to hone in on decisions without pressure. 

“Get rid of everything that…”

“Get rid of everything you’d be embarrassed to be wearing during a car accident.” –Rory Gilmore 

With this filter you decide on a criteria for removing items and run every item of clothing though that. This could be like Rory Gilmore’s “Get rid of everything you’d be embarrassed to be wearing during a car accident.” Or “Get rid of everything that doesn’t fit.” Or “Get rid of everything that I haven’t worn in X months.” 

“Only keep things that…”

This is the inverse of the previous filter – you decide on a criteria for keeping items. This can sometimes be the exact inverse (such as the fit filter). This could be “Only keep things that make me feel amazing.” Or “Only keep things that fit.” Or “Only keep things in X, Y, or Z color palette.”

Marie Kondo’s “does this spark joy?” Is another version of this filter, just worded differently, you could also think of “does this spark joy?” As “Only keep things that spark joy.”

If you’ve gone through the process of determining your style qualities, a great filter is “Only keep things that fulfill your personal style qualities.” 

Hanger Turnaround

This takes a little more prep work but it’s a beautifully visceral way of seeing and getting rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a specific period of time – especially if you keep most of your clothes in your hanging in your closet.

For this filter, you take all of the hangers and hang the hangers up the opposite way you normally do. So with the open part of the hanger hook facing you. Then as you wear and wash clothes you hang them back up as you normally would. By the end of your chosen time period, all of the clothes you haven’t worn will still have their hangers facing backwards, and you can lean heavily towards clearing out those clothes. 

X in, X out, and Y out, Y in

This filter is for maintaining once you’ve gotten your wardrobe into a state that you want to continue. It basically means when you bring in a new item of clothing you clean out a different item of clothing. When you clean out an item of clothing you bring a new item in. While you don’t have to be exactly one to one, it’s a really good rule of thumb to keep a good wardrobe good. 

A couple last notes:

Just a couple last notes to help you successfully implement these filters and declutter your closet fast. 

  • If you’re using a time based filter “haven’t worn in X months” or the hanger flip, etc, keep in mind any extreme weather patterns and the time of year. If this winter was abnormally warm you might not want to get rid of your super heavy jacket right away. Or if you’re doing your clean out in the middle of summer, don’t apply it to your winter clothes.
  • Consider using one primary filter for the majority of your decisions and a secondary filter for tie breakers or close calls. 
  • Consider if you’ve tended to skew towards getting rid of too many clothes or keeping too many clothes in the past. Has that worked for you? If so great, keep going. If not, try the opposite. 
  • Make a game plan for items you kind of have to keep (for work or other logistical reasons) but don’t really like. Is there a way you could fill the same spot in your closet and function in your life in a way that works better for your personal style? 

And that is how you declutter your closet fast and easily

There we have it! Next time you’re cleaning out your closet or deciding what clothes to let go of, give a closet clean out filter a shot – they’re a great way to simplify your decision making.