If you are shopping around for a closet system for you home, one of the first things you should do is purge your old closet of unnecessary items. By getting rid of things you wear rarely (or never), you gain space and reduce clutter, which makes you feel less stressed. Getting a new closet is the perfect impetus for making a clean break from that old stuff you’ve been clinging to.

Sounds easy, right? Wrong. Some things hold such sentimental value that parting with them can be  extremely difficult. I have an old concert t-shirt from Creed that is faded, discolored and full of holes. Most people would probably have thrown it away by now, but that t-shirt was from my first concert, and my Dad bought it for me. I could never part with it.

So we sympathize with you when you hear you will need to purge. But it can be done, and the benefits of doing so will make you feel fabulous. Here are some clever ideas you can use to get started:

Turn your hangers around

Turn all clothes hangers the opposite way from how they’re currently oriented (assuming your habit is to keep them all hooked in the same direction). Then, when you wear something, return that hanger to normal orientation when you put it back. After a year, look at all the items that still have the hangers backwards. If you haven’t worn something in a year, get rid of it.

clothes hangers with some forward and backward

Use boxes with dates

For other items that are not clothes or do not get hung, place them in a box. Write the date on the box, and if you haven’t opened that box after a year, then it’s time to get rid of them. Don’t be tempted to keep them. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll probably realize that you didn’t give them a thought all year.

mystery box

Store away sentimental items for safekeeping

My Creed shirt is currently in a box with other keepsakes that I have from my childhood. It’s safe there and it’s also not taking up space in my closet. Make sure that what you stow away as a keepsake is near and dear to your heart. Maybe it’s something a loved one got you, or something your kids wore. Just be careful not to put a sentimental value on everything or you’ll never get rid of anything.

pink baby shoes in a box

Say goodbye to clothes that don’t fit

Have you ever kept clothing that’s too small or too large just in case your size changes? This is pretty common, but it’s likely that the ill-fitting threads will (a) not be worn while (b) cluttering up your closet. Instead, I recommend setting aside a little bit of money for a shopping spree. If your goal is to lose weight, then you will have a nice reward and some new clothes. If you eat enough during the holidays to change your size, then that’s okay too because you will have the money set aside to buy the items that you need. Meanwhile, you’ll have a clutter-free closet and be confident that if you lose or gain weight, you’ll be able to purchase the sizes you need.

crying toddler in green shirt that's too big

Keep what’s fashionable

Some people care about keeping up with fashion trends, while others don’t. If you are one of the former, look through your closet for outdated clothes. A few such items may have sentimental value, but most should just be retired. Getting rid of some of them will help you keep your closet organized and help you stay in fashion.

man with a large jacket walking on a fashion runway

DONATE

When you set aside clothes to get rid of, don’t just throw them away— think about donating them. When you donate to an organization, ask for a receipt, and you may be able to write them off on your taxes (see your tax advisor). Personally, my favorite thing to do is take used clothing to a local homeless shelter, or give it directly to a family in need. Purging is easier to do when what you’re getting rid of is going to help someone else.

man giving new blue shoes to another man

We hope these tips will help you get moving. A good purge is the best thing for your new closet— and for you!

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