Top Organizing Tips for Closets

Get your closets in order using our favorite closet organization ideas. Learn how to adapt strategies and plans to work for your home's closets and see what savvy tricks can help keep closets clutter-free.

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    Planning: Clean Up and Clear Out

    Plan a closet makeover by measuring your current closet to determine hanging requirements and storage needs. Next, you'll need to clear everything out of the closet so the new system can be installed. This is a good time to go through items you can no longer use and donate them to charity.

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    Planning: Closet Systems

    Closet systems can help you make the most of the space you have. Here, the hanging bars, cubby storage, and drawers help organize clothing and ensure that everything has a place. A curved dressing bench takes up less space than a rectangular one.

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    Planning: Shelf It

    You might think the more shelves, the better -- but this is not always true. The shelves themselves take up inches of precious storage space, and too many of them can make it difficult to stack or remove items. It's best to design shelves that will fit the various items you have to store.


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    Planning: Closet Armoire

    Don't have a lot of closet space? Freestanding armoires are perfect for customizable storage space to take the place of a closet. Wire shelving in ready-to-assemble cabinets maximizes storage and allows for easy organization of foldable garments. A tiered shelf stores shoes at the bottom of the cabinet, while sweaters and seasonal accessories are placed in baskets on the top shelf.

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    Easy Ways to Organize Your Closet

    Restore order in your closet with these must-know storage and organization secrets.

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    Planning: Space Management

    If your bedroom is small, consider placing your dresser inside the closet. You can install shelving above it and still maximize the vertical space a closet has to offer.

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    Planning: Kid's Closet Tips

    Fabric storage bins help keep an open closet neat, organized, and presentable. Double rods on both sides of the storage tower provide extra space for shirt and pants storage. Apply adhesive picture labels to the outside of the fabric bins to make it easier for kids to stick with your organization system.

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    Planning: Maximize Small Space

    Evaluate every inch of a small closet to maximize limited space. Over-the-door storage is great for shoes and belts -- items that take up unnecessary space in the closet. Bins and baskets allow quick, out-of-the-way storage for grab-and-go items like socks and underclothes. Uniform hangers, though a simple detail, help keep your closet neat and tidy.

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    Strategy: Folding Clothes

    If you prefer to fold your clothes or have a lot of clothing that is best stored folded, Meryl Starr, a professional organizer in New York and author of The Organizing Workbook, recommends these tips for folding clothes within your closet.

    -- Shelves should be about 12 inches deep, roughly the depth of a stack of clothes. You don't want a lot of wasted space in front or behind.

    -- Ventilated shelves promote airflow around folded clothes, which cuts down on the possibility of mold, mildew, and pests.

    -- Group like with like (jeans with jeans, etc.). Same-size items stack more neatly. Put clothes you use most in the center at eye level.

    -- Don't stack higher than about a foot, and leave at least 6 inches between the top of the stack and the next shelf for easy reaching in.

    -- Add drawers to collect smaller items. If you don't have drawers, use a basket or two. Position drawers below eye level so it's easy to peer in.

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    Strategy: Hanging Clothes

    Hanging up clothing inside a closet is an easy way to keep clothing organized, especially if you have a lot of dress clothes, suits, or dresses. Lorie Marrero, creator of The Clutter Diet online program, recommends these tips:

    -- For the double-hang area, put the shortest clothes on the top rod and hang the bottom one as high as possible under them. Use space freed up near the floor for a shoe rack or storage bins.

    -- Organize garments by category and separate with hanging labels; the more specific the categories the better. For example, subdivide your shirts into short- and long-sleeve, or casual and dressy. Bonus points: Organize by color within a category.

    -- Keep shoes, purses, and jewelry in hanging organizers -- there are dozens on the market -- so you can see them alongside your clothes.

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    Strategy: Storage for Shoes

    If you love shoes and deciding how to store them is your main closet woe, try these tips from John Trosko, a professional organizer and co-author of The Experts’ Guide to Doing Things Faster.

    -- Slim shoes, such as flats and flip-flops, can be stored two to a cubby. Use spare slots for belts, scarves, and clutches.

    -- Drawers give the closet a polished, built-in look, plus handy closet door storage for folded clothes. Bulky items like sweaters and purses can go on the open shelves.

    -- Eke out another sliver of storage by putting a shallow basket on the shelf below the top row of hanging clothes. Use it for things that fold up small, such as tights, T’s, or socks.

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    Features: Pull Down Bar

    Movable clothing rods inside your wardrobe unit provide easy access to clothes while choosing outfits. The metal rod can be pushed up to keep clothes out of the way, or pulled down to shoulder height for more convenience. Built-in drawers hidden behind wardrobe doors also help with closet organization.

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    Features: Accessory Storage

    Use hat boxes or high-quality gift boxes for a quick, top-shelf storage option. Whether you need a place for belts, scarves, hats, or other smaller items, stylish boxes provide the perfect sized space and help keep little accessories in their place and out of the way. Small hooks on the door are also a quick, easy option for hanging handbags, scarves, jackets, or other stylish accessories.

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    Features: Slanted Shoe Rack

    Storing shoes on slanted shelves makes it easier to see the shelf contents. Before installing slanted shelves, consider how many pairs of shoes you need to store and about what size they are. Ankle boots will need more height than flats. You might want to space the shelves differently, or decide on a set spacing based on the height of your tallest shoes. If you have a lot of tall boots, consider storing them elsewhere, such as beneath a hanging rod. Look for inserts that will help boot shafts stay upright at organizational stores.

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    Features: Built-In Drawers

    Consider built-in drawers for storing sweaters, undergarments, and accessories. Shorter drawers might only store a stack of four T-shirts or two sweaters, which is beneficial because you don’t have to dig through a large stack to find what you’re looking for, but a series of shorter drawers might not offer the same amount of storage space as larger, taller drawers. When you have more drawers, it means you need to have more space for the tracks and other drawer hardware.

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    Features: Lighting

    Whether your closet is big or small, good lighting will make it even more functional. Look for ceiling-mount lighting that doesn’t need to be hardwired as a quick update for a reach-in closet. Lamps can be used in a walk-in closet for extra illumination, which is beneficial for dressing areas. If your walk-in closet has a window, install a light-blocking window covering. That way, you can keep out the natural light when you’re not using the closet. Constant sunlight might cause some clothing to fade.

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    Features: Double Bars for Kids

    For a narrow and short space, stair-step rods for kids’ clothing storage. Since their clothing is short and slender, you can hang one rod higher and further back in the closet and another bar lower and more toward the front to get a double layer of storage. Consider tension shower rods, which can be installed without making holes in the wall and are easier to change as the child gets older.

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    Features: Double Bars for Adults

    Using double closet rods -- one over the other -- is the best way to squeeze more storage space out of a closet. Be sure to measure the length of each item you'll be hanging there and allow another 6 inches of clearance above and below each rod. Blouses, shirts, skirts, jackets, and kids' clothes will all fit on double rods.

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    Features: Closet Mirror

    If your closet is also your dressing area, make it more functional by hanging a large mirror on the wall behind a dresser. Or consider hanging a floor-length mirror on a door.

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    Features: Built-In Ironing Board

    Cut down on your ironing time with an ironing board that’s always ready to go. Hang a wall-mount ironing board near an outlet and store the iron nearby. Simply fold down the board when you’re ready to iron. There are also ironing board cabinets that can be recessed into a wall. Learn how to install one with the video below.

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    Features: Wire Drawers

    See-through wire drawers make finding clothes or other items in your closet quick and easy. This metal pull-out storage system has drawers with various depths to fit into different sized spaces, and provides a more organized form of storage than simple cubbies would provide.

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    Features: Laundry Sorter

    Place hooks on the back wall of your closets, above your laundry basket, for hanging bags to create an instant sorting center. Rather than tossing everything into the basket, use the bags for sorting delicates or undergarments, so on laundry day, you're ready to wash.

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    Closet Helper: Shoe Solution

    If shoes flood your closet floor, develop a smart strategy for storing them. Keep the shoes you wear all the time accessible on shelves if you have room. Store seasonal and special-occasion shoes in easy-to-see clear plastic boxes on the top shelf of your closet. Or simply reuse the original box and attach a picture of the shoes to the front of the box.

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    Closet Helper: Multipurpose Shoe Holder

    Clever pocket-filled shoe holders can be used for more than just footwear. Use the pockets to store lingerie, leggings, and other small, foldable extras.

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    Closet Helper: Piping

    Use PVC pipe to organize scarves and ties. Measure the height of your drawer and cut pieces of pipe to size. Arrange pipe pieces in the drawer. Roll up your scarves and ties and place them inside the pipe.

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    Closet Helper: Luggage Tags

    Label bins and boxes with luggage tags. Loop the tag around handles and insert a label into the tag’s pocket. Putting labels on boxes and bins that are stored up high is especially helpful. That way, you won’t have to guess what’s in the box, and you can pull down the right one on your first try.

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    Closet Helper: Garment Organizers

    Sort clothes by category or color to make it easy to find what you need. Insert garment organizers (available at organization stores) or use multicolor hangers to label your groupings. Also, professional organizers suggest turning all of the hangers in your closet the opposite way. Every time you wear an item, turn the hanger around. After a few months, you can clearly see what clothing items you could live without.

  • Next Slideshow Our Favorite Walk-In Closet Designs

    Our Favorite Walk-In Closet Designs

    Make the most of your walk-in closet with these ideas and designs that streamline storage and cut closet clutter.
    Begin Slideshow »

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