Off In A Different Direction
Spring Cleaning in the Garden

Taking Care of Closet Business

Welcome to Day 4 of . . . 

Spring Cleaning Week

“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”
   --- Marie Kondo

Let’s spend some time today talking about . . . our clothes closets, shall we?

By now, I’m sure that most of you - like me - have climbed aboard the KonMari train and gone through your closets, carefully checking out the clothes in your wardrobe to see if they “spark joy.” And maybe a few of you have even followed Courtney Carver down the Project 333 path (that Courtney Carver is surely not a knitter, is she?) (“33” is such an arbitrary, gimmicky number) (oh don’t get me started). Or some other multi-step, closet re-org project that begins with the words, “First, empty everything out of your closet . . ."

Been there, done that.

In fact, I’m going to say when it comes to “seasonal household chores,” one of the things I do best is Manage My Closet. A major motivator for me is . . . my climate. I live in a place that has seasonal extremes. I need clothes to keep me super warm in the winter, and clothes to keep me super cool in the summer. And since my closet isn’t big enough to hold them all at one time, I need to do a seasonal “closet switch-over” twice a year.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I did a very thorough “KonMari” of everything in my closet. I got rid of an embarrassingly large number of bags filled with clothes, jewelry, and accessories that didn’t “spark joy.” It was hard and humbling and I felt kind of terrible about the waste. Until . . . I didn’t . My pared down closet made me feel great! 

I’m no minimalist, though. I still like playing around with my clothes. (Besides, I knit. And sew. And I love fun earrings. And I actually need coats that cover a broad spectrum of weather and outdoor activities. I’m never going to limit myself to 33 items. . . ) But I am more thoughtful about what I ADD to my closet. And each season, I do a mini-version of KonMari . . . just to keep everything in balance.

So . . . here we are. It’s spring. And my closet could use a good going-over.

I think I’m struggling a bit more with my closet re-org than usual this spring. Because of the pandemic, of course. Usually. . . usually . . . when it’s time for my “seasonal closet switch” . . . I automatically discard anything I haven’t worn in the last year. I always know that if I didn’t wear it this year, I surely won’t wear it next year. But . . . in this pandemic year, I didn’t wear so many of the items in my closet. Because I didn’t go anywhere. And Tom - almost the only person who even sees me anymore - doesn’t care at all if I wear the exact same thing every single day. I think I’m going to have to give everything an automatic PASS this year . . . a pandemic skip-year for everything in my closet.

Anyway. Because I’m sure that most of us are in the very same boat (or at least similar boats) when it comes to our closets, I thought it might be helpful to just pass along a few of the more helpful tips I’ve come across in my closet cleaning quest over the years.

  • Each time you try something on from your closet, ask yourself these questions:
    • Do I love it? (As in . . . would I buy this today if I were in a store and trying it on?)
    • Do I wear it? (I think it’s just fine to substitute “would I wear this if not for the pandemic” instead this year.)
    • Does it project the image I want? (I know this seems trite, but it’s a serious question you ought consider.)
    • Does it itch or scratch? Does it pinch my toes? Feel too tight in the shoulders? Do I hate to sit down in it? (Really. Your clothes should feel good.)
    • Is it stained? Is it missing a button? Does it need mending? (And am I willing to fix it?)
    • Does it fit? (Right now. Today. Not after I lose 20 pounds.)

And if the answer to ANY of those questions is NO . . . well . . . it’s time to bid adieu to that particular item and move on.

  • Have a plan for what you want to DO with the items you decide to discard:
    • Try not to toss anything into the trash . . . unless it’s old, worn out underwear, moldy shoes, or something you wouldn’t even use for a cleaning rag.
    • You can ask friends or relatives if they’re interested in any of your cast-offs, although I find that as I get older, more of my friends are doing the same thing with their unwanted clothes and I have very few takers anymore. But your mileage may vary.
    • Know where your nearest Goodwill or other thrift stores are located, as well as their drop-off hours and any special donation requirements. Also pay attention to other organizations in your community that may be accepting donations. (Our local senior center, for example, runs a Used Handbag Sale every year. I’m always sure to donate my used bags to the cause.) (I'm also careful not to GO to the Used Handbag Sale. . . )
    • If you have particularly nice or higher-end stuff to donate, check out your local consignment shops, or send a box to ThredUp (they’ll send you a shipping label so you can ship your items to them for free -- and will send you your share of proceeds if the items sell online).
  • Donate unwanted items all year long. Don’t just clear out your pinch-y, itch-y, confining clothes once a year, when you’re flipping your closet for the season. Identify a spot in your closet for “stuff-to-donate” and add to it whenever you try something on  . . . and say, “Nope! Not sparking joy!” You can donate your unworn clothes all year long.
  • Cut the emotional ties. If you are holding onto “sentimental clothing” (outfits that were special at one time, but that you are unlikely to wear again) or “bad purchasing decisions” (that fill you with guilt), just . . . go ahead and let them go. It feels hard at first, but it’s so freeing when they’re gone. (And the money you spent on that “bad purchasing decision?” You won’t get it back just because the item is still hanging in your closet. The money is gone. You’re still not going to wear it.)
  • Prepare for next season. Before you pack your out-of-season clothes away, be sure to wash them, inspect them for any required mending,  and then carefully store them so they’ll be all ready for you when it’s time for the “seasonal switch” again.
  • Don’t forget your accessories. Be sure to go through your handbags, shoes, scarves, jewelry, and the back of your underwear drawer, too!

How about you? What are your closet organizing strategies?


Spring Cleaning Tip of the Day

In Your Makeup Cabinet Getting rid of expired makeup, skincare, and hair products is a quick way to declutter. Not all products note an expiration date, but many say how many months the product will last after opening. "To stay on top of their expiration date, use a thin-tipped permanent marker to write on the date you opened it."  (Today’s tip is from Good Housekeeping.)

My note regarding this tip: You have to really look for the expiry information on skin care products and makeup, but it's there! Here's what to look for (and the number indicates the number of months the product "lasts" once it's opened) . . .


Have a good spring cleaning - or closet organizing - tip of your own, or some spring cleaning advice you'd like to share? Please pass it along in the comments -- and I'll share in my post on Friday!


Links to other posts in my Spring Cleaning series:

An Introduction and Some History of Spring Cleaning

Rolling Up Your Sleeves and Coming Up With Your Strategy

Finding Your Organizational Style



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I don't even have a closet in NJ (John got the tiny corner closet and I have a small armoire) so I had to pare my clothing down long ago. I do have a closet in the back bedroom for my off-season clothes, but it's also stuffed with yarn! As I get older, I'm also learning that I have to truthfully answer some of those questions you posed (like does it fit right now?). I guess my biggest closet organizing strategy is to not have too many clothes and do laundry often!


I'm "lucky" in that my closet is very small, and Rusty uses an armoire, so we're both pretty limited space-wise. I know that it's time for a clean-out when it becomes difficult to put things away!

(It's time.) (Also, seasons.)


Yup - it all makes sense. A number of years ago when my office went more and more casual, I ended up donating a lot of "work" clothes - suits, dresses, heels, etc. I have pared down a huge amount. My closet is small, but just about everything fits in it. I could do some more paring down, but I think your advice about giving a pandemic pass for this year makes sense. I've been living in PJ pants, leggings, tee shirts, sweat shirts and flannel shirts. I do have capri pants and summer tops in a trunk (in my closet) and I will switch those out soon and put my winter sweaters in the trunk. I also got rid of a TON of handbags. The older I get the less I want and the less I need.


I have pared down my closet so many times--and I actually did the 333 thing a few years back. (Somewhat loosely, I'll admit. Like I have 4 of the same white sport tee from Costco, so I counted that as 1 item. Didn't include outerwear. Etcetera.) Anyway, while I don't continue to count pieces--what it DID do was give me that deep satisfaction of LESS...of SPACE...and it served as an honest way to consider myself. The way I put myself out in the world. I felt so much lighter--and best of all, more confident--after the process.

Now I have one and only one 'rule' about what I add/keep in my clothes closet: "Do I feel awesome in this?" It makes for an easy decision!


I've regularly done a clear-out of my wardrobe when I switch over, but I've had to do a bigger once-over in the past year because much of what I had didn't fit me anymore (I kept a lot of the bigger stuff "just in case," but after keeping the weight off for several years, I think it's time to let it go). I've always donated rather than thrown things away, unless they're truly unusable, and I think that with people becoming more aware of their consumerism, there are more options. I didn't know about ThredUp, though, so thanks for that link!


I definitely struggle with the emotional ties . . . I have dresses that I will probably never wear again but I feel bad getting rid of them. Otherwise I'm pretty good about purging my closet regularly. I have to be since it's very small and space is really limited.


I am with you on the closet. I did a partial switch over at the beginning of the month and will finish that process in April when I know for sure we won't have anymore frigid days. Yes on the makeup! (also, if you don't regularly clean your makeup brushes this is the perfect time to do that!)


I am just loving seeing all the spring cleaning in my feed this week - thanks to you!

I was actually surprised when I thought about "swapping out" my clothes for the new season that there were two sweaters I didn't want to keep ... they made my cut last year, but I didn't love wearing them this year. One's the wrong color, one is a little too big. I will likely knit the wrong-color one again ... and I'm just going to let go the whole idea of the other one.

I write a reminder on my phone when I start a new mascara to remind me when it will need to be replaced.

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