7 Steps To Clean Your Wardrobe If You're A Hoarder

It's officially Spring! With the weather warming up, it couldn't be a better time to go out with the old and in with the new — in terms of cleaning out your wardrobe, that is. After a year of buying endless amounts of clothing from Forever 21, accruing new items thanks to the gift cards your friends and family gave you for your birthday and Christmas, and all of those pesky impulse buys, you probably have some things that you could do without. In fact, Americans love to shop, as we collectively purchase over 20 billion garments per year (yes, billion with a "b"). If you divide that number by the amount of people in the country, that means the average person purchases 68 pieces of clothing per year, more than one new piece per week. If you're buying that much clothing in a year (which statistics suggest that you are), there is simply no way that you don't have any pieces to part with.

I understand how painful it can be to get rid of clothing — most items will be connected to a memory or some sort of nostalgic experience you've had. (They're like your children!) But, the more that you hold onto clothing that you aren't getting any use out of, the more overcrowded your closet will become, making it harder to appreciate what you already own. It's a lot easier to have hoards of items pile up and declare that you have nothing to wear, because you can't even find anything in the mess, than it is to keep your wardrobe down to a reasonable size. Once you part with your unused pieces, though, you'll be shocked by how much you don't miss them.

Here's your guide to doing a spring wardrobe cleanse, but simplified for those of us who air on the side of pack-rat.

1. Throw Out Anything You Haven't Worn In A Year

This is an old rule that you've probably seen before in advice columns or magazines, but I can tell you that this is really something to live by. If you haven't had the desire to wear something in 365 days, do you really think you're going to wear it anytime soon?

I would say the exception to this rule is formal or special occasion wear — if you have formal dresses that you haven't touched in a while but have an upcoming event, definitely save them! Formal outfits are often expensive and keeping a timeless dress for years, even if you don't wear it much, can save you a lot of time and money. I would advise you to go through them, though, and get rid of any pieces that no longer fit or that are no longer reflective of your personal style.

2. Make Three Piles: Keep, Donate, And Throwaway

When you're doing your cleaning process, it can be hard to keep track of everything, but you can write these three words on paper and make piles so you know what's what. You should never throw out pieces that are in good shape that someone else can use — there are so many great charities and causes you can donate your gently used clothes to!

Also, you can make an optional fourth pile of things to sell, especially if you're short on cash or need to save. There are lots of shops that you can sell your gently used items to and either exchange for other clothes in the store or sell for cash. One of these is Plato's Closet, which accepts gently used or new clothing from stores like H&M, Forever 21, and Target.

3. Incentivise!

There's nothing better to motivate you than a good, old-fashioned incentive. I try to get rid of clothing after I go on a major shopping spree, which is a good way to keep my wardrobe in check while also being honest about what I'm wearing. Tell yourself that you can only buy as many pieces as you donate and throw away, meaning that if you don't get rid of much, you're not going to be able to buy much. Cleaning out your closet doesn't have to be sad or a guilt trip — think of it as making room for new things!

4. You Don't Have To Be Decisive

When trying to decide if you want to throw something out that meets the worn-within-a-year rule, but you're on the fence about, let yourself sleep on it. It can be easy to feel the pressure of making the decision and decide you don't want to part with the item and leave it in your closet for another year. Instead, set it out and give yourself time to say goodbye. You'll probably find that after seeing it everyday for a week, you're sick of it and don't want to keep it. Or on the flip side, you might decide you really do like it and want to hang on to it. Either way, you don't have to make an immediate decision!

5. Let Go Of Sentimentality

I think we can all agree that a reason we hang onto clothing we hardly wear anymore is for the sentimentality an item can hold — we might have worn a specific top when we got engaged, went to a great concert, or got offered a promotion at work, and it can feel like you're giving away the memory along with the garment!

If you haven't worn the piece and know you won't, though, don't keep it sitting in the back of your dresser. Your house isn't a museum and while having things that remind us of certain important events in our lives can be nice, finding a place to store them or a way to part with them is vital nonetheless. Actually wearing the item again may take the sentiment out of it and allow you to part with it or not associate it with a particular memory as well. Sure, this can be painful, but if you're the type of person who has an emotion tied to everything, do this so that you're closet is full of clothing you love and not just memories of the past.

6. Host A Clothing Swap

I am a huge fan of clothing swaps — if you've never been to one, it's basically an event (it can be formal or informal) where people gather with their old clothing and, well, swap. Think of it as a garage sale, but using trading instead of buying from one another.

This can be a fun way to motivate yourself to get rid of things you're no longer wearing, with the promise of finding some new swag along the way! Usually clothing swaps only let you take as many pieces as you bring, so if you only arrive with two garments, that's all you're going to get! I can't think of a better motivator than that to clean out my closet. You can either search for a swap in your area or plan your own soiree with friends!

7. Store Your Off-Season Clothing

Get those winter coats, boots, and scarves out of your closet! They'll just take up unnecessary space during the spring and summer months when you won't want to be thinking about winter anyway. If you have a storage closet, unit, or spare place you use for storage, you can put things in boxes or tubs, and if you need to squeeze things underneath your bed or on the top shelf of your closet, get vacuum bags to seal your clothing in so it takes up as little space as possible.

I find it so much easier to not have all of the clothes I own for all seasons in one spot and the best part is when it does get cold again, you'll be so excited to see all of the old pieces you haven't looked at for six months!

Spring cleaning is never really fun, but at least when it comes to your wardrobe you can turn it into a time of revitalization and rejuvenation!

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