clothes

If you’re anything like me, over the months, the years and the decades, clothes have piled up and piled in. Regardless of my best efforts to condense. This year, closet spring cleaning is getting serious… well, not really. But, here are the tried-and-true steps to ensure that what needs to go, goes. Follow this process, which makes getting rid of clothes an easy and even fun activity, without letting anything hit the trash can.

1. Clean Out Your Closet

If you haven’t worn it in a year, you probably won’t wear it again. It’s a hard thing to remember when you’re looking at a shirt that used to be a favorite or a pair of pants you wore almost every day for three months in college, but our personal styles change, and things that you used to love might no longer be the things you first reach for. If there’s really something you can’t bear to part with, hang it back up in your closet and give yourself six months to wear it. If you still don’t want to put it on, get rid of it.

This also stands for clothes that no longer fit. You’re the best judge of whether you’re actually going to fit into your jeans from junior year again, but if you’re not actively trying to lose weight and are just waiting for the moment when you finally lose another five pounds, it’s time to think about whether keeping old clothes around is really helping.

2. Invite Your Friends Over

Have your friends clear out their closets as well, and invite them over for a clothing swap. Turn it into a party, by providing snacks, music and maybe some cocktails. Pile everything in the middle of a big room, and let everyone take home what they like. But don’t go overboard! Just because it’s free doesn’t mean you should take things you’ll never wear. Keep in mind the point here. 

3. Donate

Of what’s left, go through it together and decide what is worthy of being donated. If things are very obviously stained, extremely worn or otherwise damaged, don’t donate. Everything else can be bagged up and dropped off at your local church, Salvation Army or Goodwill.

And while you’re cleaning out your closet and adding new pieces, why not reorganize your drawers and closet a bit? Pick a system that works for you: by color, length or season, for example, and then pledge to stick with it.

4. Reuse

What’s left is usually made up of stretched out t-shirts, worn flannel pajama pants and socks. These things are perfect for reusing.

For things near and dear to your heart — your old cheerleading uniform, your band t-shirt or a skirt you wore on a date with your first boyfriend — cut squares and learn to quilt. It might take you awhile to come up with enough squares, but once you do, you’ll have a completely personalized quilt to keep your memories safe at home.

For things that have no real sentimental value, make cleaning rags: cut t-shirts along the seams, removing the seam itself, as well as the sleeves and the neck. For pajama pants, do the same, cutting manageable squares out of each leg. Use cleaning rags like these to clean windows, dry dishes or dust around your apartment. I have tons of repurposed rags which have made paper towel obsolete.

image: Darwin Bell