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How to Organize Your Closet to Maximize Space

Is your closet so cluttered you can barely find clothes? Or so small that it feels like there’s nowhere to put them. Learn how to organize a closet in just a few steps, and it will make your life so much easier.

Organized closet with clothes and shoes

A cluttered closet can cause unnecessary stress, which is the last thing you need when you’re getting ready in the morning. With some upfront effort and ongoing maintenance, you can transform your chaotic closet into an organized space.

Purge and Declutter

The first step is to get rid of things you don’t want, or that don’t belong in the closet. This is especially important when you have a small closet, and closet space is as a premium.

Start by pulling everything out of your closet and creating piles:

  • Keepers: clothes you wear regularly. These will go back into the closet once it’s organized.
  • Donate/sell: clothes that are in good shape but that no longer fit or you no longer wear for whatever reason can be donated to charity or thrift shops, or sold through consignment shops or a garage sale.
  • Recycle: clothes you don’t wear and aren’t fit to donate. Take them to a drop off center for recycling textiles.
  • Misplaced Items: things that don’t belong in your closet, such as seasonal decorations or household items that got stuffed into the closet for lack of a better place to put them

Take Stock of Your Shelves and Drawers

Your closet may have nothing but a clothes rack under a single shelf. Or it may have a number of wire racks, not necessarily arranged in the best spots or at the best height for your wardrobe.

And you may have one of those beautiful closet organization systems with shelves and drawers, but you’re just not using it to its best potential.

Before diving headfirst into organizing your closet, it’s important to take a step back and assess the current situation. Whatever you’ve got to work with is going to have to work.

As you start planning your new closet organization, keep in mind what your closet can realistically hold.

Categorize and Sort Clothing

The next step is to categorize and sort. Go through everything in your closet and separate it into categories like shirts, pants, dresses, etc.

Once you have everything sorted by category, then start sorting within each category by color or style. Think about categories that would help you when you’re getting ready.

For example:

  • Keeping work clothes separate from casual clothes and formal clothes
  • Organizing clothes by color to make it easier to mix and match outfits
  • Combination of both of the above.

This will help you see what you have and make it easier to find what you’re looking for. It will also give you a better idea of what items may be missing from your wardrobe.

Think about Shoe Storage with Closet Organization

Shoes can be one of the hardest items to organize in a closet because we take them off every day, often when we’re tired and only feel like tossing them into the closet.

This is how you find yourself with a pile of shoes collecting dust on the closet floor. And you can’t even see what shoes you have.

Put some thought into how to organize shoes in your closet. You can use the floor, as long as you always put them back the same way. Racks and over the door holders are other options. Also, shoe holders that hang from a hanger.

Affordable Closet Systems for Small Closets

One of the most challenging parts of organizing a closet is figuring out how to store all of your items in the limited space available. But, with a little creativity, you can make the most of every inch. Start by thinking outside the box and utilizing unconventional storage solutions.

Over-the-Door Organizers

Use over-the-door organizers to store shoes or small accessories like scarves and hats.


Install hooks on the back of your closet door for hanging bags or belts.

Bins on Shelves

You can use stackable storage containers to put items you don’t use often on high shelves. Label them so you can easily see what’s in them.

Tension Rods

Just as you can https://snappyliving.com/my-double-shower-curtain-and-towel-rod/ in small bathrooms, you can use them to create additional hanging space under existing shelves or in awkward corners in closets. 

Shelf Dividers

Shelf dividers and shelf dividers separate clothing without putting much space between them. You can use them to separate clothes by category or by person if you’re sharing a closet.

Hanging Cubbies for Sweaters and Shoes

You can find organizers that hang from a rack, but have spaces like shelves or pockets to hold items like sweaters or shoes. These can maximize your storage space for a small amount of money.

Shoe Racks

A shoe rack can be a great way to organize shoes when floor space isn’t enough. This is a way of making use of the vertical space in your closet to store more shoes than would fit on the floor. 

Utilize Vertical Space and Wall Space

If you have limited floor space in your closet, it’s time to start looking up! Utilizing vertical space can help maximize storage without taking up any additional space.

One way to do this is by installing hanging organizers such as shoe racks or sweater shelves that can be hung from the closet rod. These organizers allow you to store items off the ground while keeping them easily accessible.

Use Quality Hangers

If you’ve ever walked into a closet and saw clothes hanging on wire hangers, you know how it looks. The hangers are twisted and the clothes aren’t sitting properly, which can make it hard to see what you have and find what you’re looking for.

Better quality hangers will not only make your closet look neater but will also make clothes last longer. And you don’t need to spend a fortune on them.

  • Wooden hangers are sturdy and provide good support for jackets and heavier items.
  • Velvet or felt-covered hangers keep clothes from slipping off or getting stretched out.
  • Slimline hangers you to maximize closet space while keeping clothes wrinkle-free. 
  • Plastic hangers are almost as affordable as wire hangers. They’ll last for years and they are much better than wire for general use.

Keep Things Accessible

As with all home organization, you want to store items that you use most often at eye level or within arm’s reach. This can include your favorite jeans, go-to work blouses, and frequently worn jackets. 

Less frequently used items are what you can store on higher shelves or in corners that are harder to get to.

How to Use the Top Shelf for Closet Storage

The top shelf of a closet is unlikely to be within easy reach of most people. What can you put there?

Out of Season Clothes

Put summer or winter clothes on the top shelf whenever they’re out of season. You can fold and stack a lot of clothes up there. Again, shelf dividers are a good tool for keeping this area organized.

Folded Clothes

If you have some folded clothes you don’t wear often, they can go on a top shelf. 


Accessories like bags, shoes, gloves and hats can also go on the top shelf. Putting shoes up there may sound odd, but they’re an item that’s easier to get on and off a high shelf than a floppy shirt, since you only need to be able to reach the heel.

Create a System and Stick to It

Once you have purged, sorted, and organized everything in your closet, the next crucial step is to come up with a system that works for you and your lifestyle. Think about how you use your clothing and accessories on a daily basis.

Do you need certain items within easy reach? Or are there pieces that you only wear for special occasions? By creating categories and sections within your closet, it will be easier to quickly find what you need.

For example, if you only have a rod and shelf, you’ll need to put any long dresses and coats on the rod. If the shelf isn’t too high, you could put folded sweaters and T-shirts there.

Add Furniture or Shelving

One of the best closet organization ideas it to add a dresser or free-standing shelving system. If your closet has the room, this can give you the function of built in shelves and drawers without the cost.

The dresser need not be expensive or amazing looking, as long as it works. A shelving system can make a tremendous difference, and you won’t have to do any installation.

Once you Organize Your Closet, Stick to it

Once you have put in all the hard work to organize your closet, the last thing you want is to let it get cluttered and messy again. Maintenance is key to keeping your closet organized and functional.

Make it a habit to put things back where they belong after using them. Don’t let clothes pile up on chairs or the floor. Doing a quick 5 minute tidy up of your closet every day or even every week can prevent clutter from accumulating.

Get in the habit of regularly reassessing your closet and making changes as needed. As you buy new clothes or shoes, they have to fit into the system.

You may find something isn’t working quite as well as you thought it would. Don’t be afraid to make adjustments as needed. And don’t forget to purge at least once a year.

Enjoy Your Organized Closet

Organizing your closet may seem overwhelming, but it’s well worth the effort. You can transform your closet into a functional and beautiful space, and you don’t need to spend big money or hire someone to build an organizer in the space.