Expert Closet-Cleaning Tricks

Could your closet use a cleansing? It may seem like a chore, but a well-edited closet will save you time and money. We asked organizing expert Julie Morgenstern how to clear the clothing clutter in just a few easy steps.

1. Write Everything Down on Paper: When cleaning out your closet, begin by writing everything down on paper. This will help speed up and simplify the process. Ask yourself, "What are my favorite clothes?" When tossing items, refer to your list.

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2. Consider a Charity: Before you start cleaning your closet, decide who will get the castoffs. Knowing that your clothes are going to a favorite charity or homeless shelter is a goal that you can feel good about.

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3. Decide if It's a Keeper: Ask yourself these questions: Do I love it? Is it flattering? Is it the image I want to project? If it's a "yes" to all three, then it's a keeper.

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4. Set Up Zones: For example, when you are getting dressed, do you think first in terms of occasion (work clothes, weekend clothes, evening clothes) or first by garment type (i.e. dress, suit, skirt, blouse), or first by season? Arrange your clothes accordingly - creating a section for each category, based on the way you think. Within each section, arrange the clothes by color. This creates a pleasing aesthetic, and makes it much easier to assemble outfits.

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5. Splurge on Matching Hangers: Invest in matching wooden or padded hangers and quality containers.

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6. Keep Calm and Carry On: When you're 3/4 of the way through clearing your closet, you may begin to get overwhelmed by the space (What am I going to do without my stuff?). Remind yourself that you are who you are, not what you own. Get through the panic and you'll experience calm and relief.

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7. Stagger Shoes: You'll fit more shoes on your shelves if you store pairs with the right and left shoe facing opposite facing toe front and the other facing heel front.

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8. Knowing When to Toss It: When debating about an item, ask yourself: Which is more valuable? The item or the cleared space? To determine if something is a personal treasure, ask yourself: Is this the best reminder of that particular time in my life or person I knew? If not, then toss it.

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9. Small-Space Solutions: If you have an older home with narrow closets that are not deep enough for hangers, you actually have three creative options. First is that you can hang hooks along the back, and hang clothes (or handbags) on the hooks. Second is to install shelves from top to bottom, and use the closet for folded clothing, bags, or shoes. Finally, if the closet extends behind the door frame, on either or both sides of the doorjamb, install short poles on the inside right and left of the closet (from front to back, rather than the long way from side to side). This creates hanging space you access by almost "walking in" to the closet and turning to the side.

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10. Don't Forget to Decorate! Adding a mirror, or a piece of framed art on the walls is a wonderful way to add panache, elegance, and delight to your closet. If you have the extra room, try adding a piece of antique furniture, like the chair shown here. The heart-shaped wooden doorknob on this closet is another idea. Stay away from dried flowers, books, and stuffed animals, which all collect dust that will make your clothes feel less fresh.

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Do you have any closet-organizing tips of your own?

Images: 1. Jamie Grill/Getty Images, 2. Getty Images, 3. Getty Images, 4. Andersen Ross/Getty Images, 5. iStock, 6. iStock, 7. masterfile, 8. Jamie Grill/Getty, 9. iStock, 10. Getty Images

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