How to organize a bedroom closet in 4 easy steps – and the tools you need to do it

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How to organize a closet

It’s the stuff of sitcoms, but not so funny in real life: a closet so overstuffed with accessories, clothes, shoes, and miscellaneous couldn’t-think-of-anywhere-better-to-keep-them items that just opening the closet door releases an avalanche of belongings.

Or more commonly, your closet isn’t yet at risk of injuring you when you go to fetch that cute new sweater, but actually finding that sweater is a chore, as it’s now buried among the other sweaters teetering on the narrow closet shelf.

Although it’s a problem often ignored, a bedroom closet that’s a disorganized mess definitely can slow down your mornings, cause you to waste money on clothing or shoes, and perhaps worst of all, creates a low-simmering anxiety whenever you contemplate the contents. You tell yourself, “I definitely need to deal with this,” start to feel overwhelmed at the seemingly insurmountable task, and then close the door, promising yourself that you’ll deal with it “later.”

That’s why we’re here to tell you that later has arrived, it’s actually not nearly as tough to tackle a disorganized closet as you fear – the worst part by far is the anticipation – and the satisfaction you’ll feel when you open those closet doors to reveal a neatly organized wardrobe is priceless.

Keep reading to learn how to organize your bedroom closet in four easy steps:

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Step 1: Get rid of things you don’t need

Step 1: Get rid of things you don't need

You can’t tame the clutter monster if you’re unwilling to get rid of the clutter. That’s why every organizing project has to start with a purge.

Start by blocking off a free afternoon and queue up your favorite upbeat playlist. Get yourself something to sip on as you work, and pull every single item out of your closet. Yes, all of it: shoes, clothing, accessories, and whatever else has multiplied inside the tight confines of your bedroom closet.

Now comes the hard part: One by one, you need to make a decision and relegate every single item to one of these four categories:

  1. Trash: These are the things that are beyond hope or repair. Those worn-out sneakers or broken heels. The permanently stained shirt. The cracked belt and the old, frayed baskets shoved to the back of the closet. If it belongs in the dumpster, that’s where you put it.
  2. Misplaced: Many bedroom closets harbor a wide range of belongings that really belong elsewhere in the home. Now’s your chance to return those things to their rightful spots, whether that’s the garage, the kitchen, the living room, the library, or even your car.
  3. Donations: Yes, you could hang onto those pants in the hopes that eventually you’ll fit into them once again, but why? The sight of them is a painful reminder every time you fall off the diet wagon, and you deserve new pants once you hit that goal, anyway. Now’s the time to be realistic; if the item is in good condition, but no longer fits you, was never flattering to begin with, is out of style, doesn’t suit your lifestyle any longer, isn’t a color that looks good on you, itches, is too short, or in any other way doesn’t make you feel good when you wear it, into the donation box it goes.
  4. Keepers: Once you’ve weeded out the trash, the misplaced, and the donations, what’s left are your keepers. Now you’ve whittled your wardrobe down to only those garments, shoes, and accessories that feel good, fit right, and most importantly, give you a smile when you wear them. These are the items that are going back into your closet once your organizing system is finalized.

Step 2: Clean your closet

Step 2: Clean your closet

Once your closet is empty, it’s easy to vacuum those back corners and wipe down the walls that otherwise rarely get attention. Take this opportunity to clean the space from top to bottom, including floors, shelves, and walls. If you really want to give your closet a makeover, consider giving the interior a fresh coat of paint. A pastel or bright hue is a great way to add some cheer to the utilitarian space.

To get cleaning and give your closet a fresh look, check out our buying guides:

  • Best cleaning cloths
  • Best cordless vacuum cleaner
  • Best interior paint
  • Best paint roller
  • Best paint brush

Step 3: Choose an organization system

Step 3: Choose an organization system

Now that you only have clothing and shoes you love and wear regularly, it’s time to decide how you want to organize them. There are a few ways to go about it:

  • Separate clothing by type, such as pants, skirts, shirts
  • Separate clothing by season, which generally means summer and winter wear
  • Organize by outfit, which makes rushed morning dressing a snap
  • Divvy up your wardrobe by color

While most people prefer to separate their wardrobe by type, feel free to use whichever system works best for you, and most importantly, is easiest for you to stick with.

Step 4: Choose organizers that make the best use of the space

Step 4: Choose organizers that make the best use of the space

The typical bedroom closet has a hanging rod and one shelf. While that’s a good start, it’s not nearly enough to fully organize any but the tiniest wardrobe.

There are hundreds of closet organizing tools available, but the following are some of our favorites. Choose those that best suit your closet, your clothing, and your needs.

Get matching hangers

Get matching hangers

Buy a 50-pack of Zober Non-Slip Velvet Hangers on Amazon for $22.99One of the easiest ways to give your closet a polished appearance is with a set of matching hangers. Forget about those wire cheapies from the drycleaner. Instead, hang your garments on thin, nonslip “velvet” hangers like those made by Zober. No more camisoles sliding to the floor, and far less chance of creases across the knees of your pants.

Check out more clothes hangers from our guide:

  • Best hangers overall: AmazonBasics Wood Suit Hangers
  • Best hangers for pants: Natural Wooden Trouser Clamp & Skirt Hanger
  • Best hangers for coats: Superior Natural Wooden Hangers
  • Best hangers for kids: Honey-Can-Do Kids Wood Shirt Hangers With Metal Clips
  • Best hanger for ties: Woodlore Cedar 42-Peg Tie Hanger
  • Best velvet hangers: Joy Mangano Huggable Hangers

Get a built-in closet organizer

Get a built-in closet organizer

Buy the Rubbermaid Configurations Deluxe Closet Organizer on Amazon for $114.99If you really want to whip your closet into shape, a full-closet organizer is your best bet. And while there are super-expensive and complicated closet organizing systems available, there’s no need to break your budget when it’s so easy to install the Rubbermaid Custom Closet Organizer, which transforms most typical bedroom closets into a well-organized, workhorse of a space.

Check out more closet and drawer organizers in our guide:

  • Best closet organizer overall: John Louis Home Deep Simplicity Closet Organizer
  • Best drawer organizer overall: Sodynee Foldable Cloth Drawer Bins
  • Best basic closet organizer: Simple Houseware Freestanding Garment Organizer
  • Best drawer organizer for underwear: Simple Housewares Underwear Organizer
  • Best modular closet organizer: Rubbermaid Configurations Custom Closet Deluxe Kit
  • Best drawer organizer for accessories: Seville Classics 5-Piece Bamboo Drawer Organizer

Get a shelf

Get a shelf

Buy the AmazonBasics 4-Shelf Shelving Unit on Amazon for $42.77If your closet has an open wall area, make use of it with a wire shelving unit, such as the 4-shelf unit from AmazonBasics. Now you have a place to stack folded sweaters, hats, shoes, purses, and a basket or two for holding scarves and other small accessories.

Check out the best storage containers in our guide:

  • Best storage container overall: Sterilite 30 Quart Ultra Latching Storage Box
  • Best under-the-bed storage: Iris USA Store and Slide Storage Box
  • Best small storage container: Sterilite 6 Quart Storage Box
  • Best fabric storage container: Room Essentials Fabric Cube Storage Bin
  • Best outdoor storage container: Rubbermaid ActionPacker Lockable Storage Box

Get a shoe rack

Get a shoe rack

Buy the Seville Classics 3-Tier Shoe Rack on Amazon for $29.99No more jumbled heap of shoes across the closet floor when you have a shoe rack like the excellent 3-tier unit from Seville Classics keeping your favorite kicks neatly organized in pairs. Just imagine being able to immediately spot those cute sandals, instead of wasting time digging through your footwear to find them.

Check out more great shoe storage options in our guide:

  • Best shoe rack: Seville Classics 3-Tier Resin Shoe Rack
  • Best shoe shelves: Whitmor Hanging Shoe Shelves
  • Best shoe bag: Whitmor Over-the-Door Shoe Bag
  • Best portable shoe storage: SONGMICS Portable Shoe Rack Closet
  • Best shoe bench with storage: Prepac Shoe Cubbie Bench

Get a hanging shelf

Get a hanging shelf

Buy the Simple Houseware 5-Shelves Hanging Organizer on Amazon for $13.87If wall space isn’t available, you can still add extra shelf storage with a hanging closet organizer, like the 5-cubby one from Simple Houseware. These types of organizers are especially good for kid’s closets, as you can tuck a full outfit into each cubby, making it easy for your kindergartener or early-elementary aged child to get dressed on their own, but go ahead and get one for your own closet, as well, then use it to hold folded sweaters, purses, and hats.

Get shelf dividers

Get shelf dividers

Buy a 4-pack of Evelots Closet Shelf Dividers on Amazon for $19.99

You probably know that heavy knits, such as sweaters, should always be stored folded on a shelf, rather than on a hanger. The problem is that a tower of sweaters tends to tip over, dropping clothing onto the floor. To the rescue: Evelots closet shelf dividers. These handy wire dividers slip right onto your wooden closet shelf, and keep sweaters, purses, or other large items neatly stacked.

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