When Your Spring Cleaning Goes Awry 5 Steps to get back on track graphic

Spring cleaning your closet is a fantastic refresh. But it also has the potential to go awry. 

So if you’re in the middle of (or procrastinating on) giving your wardrobe a good airing out, keep these steps in mind to get yourself back on track after a hiccup.

Step 1: Name where you are in the process of leveling up your style. 

Leveling up your style is a process with multiple parts, of which cleaning out your closet is one. The steps are: deciding to level up, cleaning out your closet, assessing where you are now, filling in the gaps, living your style, and then diving deeper. 

If you’re in the middle of filling in the gaps currently missing in your wardrobe and you do a deep closet clean out, you’re going to run into a number of situations where you say to yourself “I would wear this skirt with X, but I don’t have X, should I keep the skirt?” Until you have X the skirt is just sitting in limbo. 

Or if you’re in the middle of deciding whether or not to level up your style (maybe you’ve sort of decided but haven’t committed), you’re going to run into clothes that were your style, but might not be your next style. But when you haven’t yet committed to the transformation, you’re still in limbo, so do you keep that old-style piece of clothing or not? 

Where are you in the process of leveling up your style? (If you’re unsure, find more about each step here.

If you’re at the cleaning step, awesome! Keep going! 

If you’re not yet at the clean out step, put your clothes away and go do something else. Finish your current transformation step before you clean out your closet.

Step 2: Name what type of spring cleaning you’re actively engaging in. 

Surprise, surprise, there’s more than one type of cleaning out your closet. I break 5 types of closet clean outs down in more detail here, but briefly they are: 

  • Organizing but not cleaning
  • Cleaning out the first layer of your closet
  • Seasonal clear out and/or seasonal rotating 
  • False start deep cleans
  • For real deep cleans

If you’re deep cleaning, save the organizing for another day. If you’re rotating your seasonal wardrobe into Spring/Summer, stop making decisions about your Fall clothes. 

None of these types of clean out are better or worse than any other. But doing one while telling yourself you’re doing another, will just get confusing.

Step 3: Name what criteria you’re using to keep or remove items of clothing from your life. 

Some spring cleaning criteria you can use are: 

  • Keep only what sparks joy.
  • Get rid of everything you haven’t worn in a year. 
  • Go by your instinct/gut reaction – keep what your gut says keep, get rid of what it says to get rid of. 
  • Stick to predetermined style or capsule guidelines.

Those are just some of the criteria you can use. 

But if you’re stuck in your spring cleaning, name out loud what criteria you’re using. When you aren’t clear about your decluttering criteria, it becomes vastly easier to go around in circles.  

Step 4: Take physical stock. 

Take a minute, pause and take stock of how your body is feeling. How long have you been spring cleaning? Have you been staying hydrated? Might it be time for a snack? 

Cleaning out your closet is surprisingly physical – lots of standing, lifting and moving of things. 

It is also mentally taxing. You are making a TON of decisions in a condensed amount of time. Every item in your closet requires at least one decision (keep or let go?) But those decisions can multiply (when will I wear this? What will I wear it with? Should I replace it? etc.) 

Decision fatigue is a consistent decluttering companion. If you’re fading, go get yourself a snack. That might just give you the pep you need to make it to the end. 

Step 5: Do you need spring cleaning help? 

Spring cleaning help can come in many forms. This could look like asking your partner to help you move the donation pile to the door. Help could look like asking a friend to help you photograph and list items for resale. It could look like phoning that non-judgemental friend to help you work through some emotional gunk related to a particular piece. 

Or help could look like bringing in outside help – does the donation center do pickups? Is consignment easier than listing and selling everything yourself? Do you need help organizing? Or is style coaching the missing piece? 

Just because it’s your closet, doesn’t mean you need to go it alone. 

Ask for the help that you need. 

Getting stuck doesn’t mean you’re doing spring cleaning wrong, or that you’re better off not spring cleaning. Getting stuck decluttering usually just means there’s a little uncertainty in the air. 

Bring in some clarity about where you are, what you’re doing, and what your criteria are, then getting a snack and some help usually solves the stuck.