How to Organize a Closet in 5 Easy Steps

By: Debra K. Melchior & Austin Henderson  | 
Doors open on a messy closet
Look a little too familiar? Having a clean storage space doesn't have to be a complicated process. Learn more about organizing your closets in an orderly manner. Dana Neely / Getty Images

­Once you decide­ to get organized, the hardest step to take is committing yourself to the first organizing project. After that, the rest is easy!

It's simply a matter of learning the principles of organizing, following a sensible sequence in organizing, and visualizing and defining a precise objective. In this article we will reveal some valuable tips for how to organize a closet.


DIY vs. Professional Help

You have two options for organizing: You can either do it yourself or call in a professional organizer. Most professional organizing companies are limited to dealing w­ith closets or garages, leaving the rest of the house up to you.

Some companies may help with custom cabinetry for dens, kitchens, or bathrooms, and their professional designers can help with pricing and selection of materials. But this type of help has little or nothing to do with the principles of organizing.


Evaluate each of the areas you plan to organize and determine which one causes the most distress; start by organizing that. If you are using outside help, formulate a list of specific requirements you consider vital, such as:

  • good use of the space
  • protection of your possessions
  • your own peace of mind

It's a good idea to consult with two or three different organizing firms before choosing one. And do some research on your own to gain as much knowledge on the subject as possible. The more information and strategies you digest, the better the outcome will be.

Remember, you have the final word on every decision. Don't automatically give in to every recommendation the representative makes unless you understand and agree with the reasoning.

You will regret it later if you simply turn the matter over to a consultant. You must be involved, since only you know your needs and preferences.


The Importance of Planning

The underlying key to success is having a clear, well-conceived plan, whether the plan is your own or a scheme designed by you and the organizer/designer.

In your haste to sink your teeth into the task at hand, you may have a tendency to disregard the planning stage. If you don't have a plan, you'll probably end up with a mound of stuff piled on the floor with absolutely no idea how to organize it in any better manner than the way it was.


With a carefully crafted plan, ­you can look forward to a smooth and swift process. The finished project will be comfortable to live with, and you won't encounter any difficulties or unpleasant surprises during or after the project's completion.

Remember, the more time spent planning, the less time or money spent later in physical labor or correcting mistakes.


Elements of Organizing

­ After deciding whether to do the organizing yourself or with the help of a consultant, investigate the impact of the following elements of organizing. These elements bring sparkle, refinement, practicality and common sense to the area to be organized.

  • Simplicity: Conserving space is important, but not if it makes the system harder to operate than a system using a little more space. Keep it simple; a system that isn't being used isn't a system at all, no matter how much space is conserved.
  • Consistency: The ultimate goal is to use methods that can be maintained without any extra effort on your part. The system should be designed in such a way that your daily, routine use of the system keeps it in order.
  • Compromise: Few things in life, including organizing a closet, can be attained without some amount of compromise. You may have to forfeit advantages in one area to achieve advantages in another. Many parts are contingent on other parts, just like the pieces of a puzzle.
  • Propaganda: Manufacturers display a constant stream of new products and gadgets for "organizing." Don't be swayed or confused by the myriad products on the market. Decide what you need and then search the marketplace for the product or materials that will do the job.
  • Uniformity: The finished project will look more attractive if the products, hardware, materials, and appointments go together well. Personal preference influences whether the look will be utilitarian or decorative, but standardization and unity are impressive ingredients.

In general, the budget is one of those elements in a project that requires compromise. If you received an estimate from a professional organizing company that stopped your heart, compare it with the cost of doing it yourself. Often, the tradeoff is paying for someone else's time versus spending your own.


Should you decide to do a project on your own, you'll also need to ask yourself if you need any tools or special equipment. Most household tool boxes will supply the essentials, but systems may require an extra tool.


Closet Organization Ideas

Organizing a closet efficiently can transform a cluttered space into a functional and aesthetically pleasing area. Whether you're working with a small closet or a spacious walk in closet, the goal is to maximize and optimize every square inch. Here's how to do it.

1. Assess Your Needs and Space

  • Evaluate your storage needs: Identify what you're storing — clothes, shoes, accessories or a combination. This assessment will influence the type of storage solutions you'll need.
  • Measure your closet: Note the dimensions of your closet space, including the height, width and depth. Don't forget to consider door opening space.

2. Plan Your Layout

  • Maximize vertical space: Utilize the full height of your closet. Install high shelves for seldom-used items like seasonal clothing or bulky sweaters.
  • Optimize hanging space: Allocate areas for long items like dresses and coats and shorter spaces for shirts and pants. Use double hanging rods to increase capacity.
  • Incorporate shelves and drawer space: Drawers are great for smaller items and undergarments, while shelves can house folded clothes, storage boxes or bins.
  • Consider wall and door space: Install hooks or over-the-door organizers for items like belts, scarves or jewelry.

3. Choose the Right Organizers

  • Select matching hangers: Uniform hangers not only look neat but also save space. Slim, nonslip hangers are ideal.
  • Use shelf dividers and closet dividers: These help maintain neat stacks of clothes and categorize different items.
  • Opt for adjustable closet systems: They allow customization according to your changing needs.
  • Invest in storage solutions: Fabric bins, storage boxes and shoe shelves can keep items organized and easily accessible.

4. Organize Efficiently

  • Group items by category: Arrange clothes by type (e.g., shirts, pants) and then by color or season. This method simplifies finding what you need.
  • Utilize space wisely: Store frequently used items at eye level, less-used items below, and least-used items up high.
  • Make use of extra storage options: Floating shelves or hanging organizers can add extra space. Under-shelf baskets are a great way to save drawer space.

5. Maintain Your Newly Organized Closet

  • Regularly declutter: Periodically go through your closet to remove items that you no longer wear or need.
  • Label everything: If you use boxes or bins, label them clearly for easy identification.
  • Follow a system: Once you've organized your closet, stick to the system. Put things back in their designated place after use.

Special Considerations

  • For small closets: Focus on maximizing space. Use multitiered hanging rods to hang clothes, add hooks to the inside of the door and consider a hanging shoe organizer.
  • For walk-in closets: Create zones for different types of clothing and accessories. Consider adding a dressing area with a mirror.

A well-organized closet not only saves time and reduces stress but also helps in maintaining the condition of your clothes and accessories. With the right planning and organization tools, any closet can be transformed into a functional and visually pleasing space.


This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.