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The Simple Rule for Cleaning Out Your Closet When You Have Too Many Clothes and Not Enough Space

Plus, two other decluttering solutions that will help make your closet feel like new


It can be so difficult to part with the things in your closet. You always think you’ll wear that dress one more time, so you hold on to it just in case. However, those items often sit untouched and unworn, and ultimately take up space. “I often see clients overwhelmed by the amount of clothes they own, many of which haven’t seen the light of day in months, if not years,” says Shantae Duckworth, professional organizer and founder of Shantaeize Your Space. That’s why she’s a big fan of the the 90/90 method, a simple rule to help you clean out your closet. Below, Duckworth explains how it works and spills more her solutions to making the most of your space.

What is the 90/90 rule for cleaning out your closet?

Incorporating this rule into your decluttering process simplifies it immensely. “If you haven’t worn an item in the past 90 days and can’t see yourself wearing it in the next 90 days, it’s time to let it go,” explains Duckworth. This helps get your wardrobe down to the essentials, and it’ll be a lot easier to find space for everything in your closet.

A word of advice: Before even trying out the 90/90 rule, Duckworth encourages those who are decluttering to remove everything from their closet. “Gather up clothing from all over the house, wash the laundry and gather those clothes then put all of the clothing you own in one space.” While this seems overwhelming, it will help give you a clear idea of what you have and what you haven’t worn.

Related: 10 Small Closet Organizing Hacks From Pro Organizers That Will Change Your Life

Why the 90/90 rule is beneficial to clean out your closet

Duckworth shares that this rule allows for a more “mindful approach” to cleaning and getting rid of your stuff. If you take a regular look at your closet, you’ll start to become more aware of the things you’re wearing and the clothing that’s sitting collecting dust.

“This rule encourages you to focus on pieces that fit your current lifestyle and personal style, rather than holding on to items out of a sense of obligation or nostalgia,” says Duckworth. The main goal is to create a wardrobe that works for you in the present. Don’t rely on what you wore in the past and hopefully it will be easier to clean out your closet.

You can be flexible with the 90/90 rule

Of course, there are exceptions to any rule and you don’t have to stick hard and fast to it. Seasonal items or special occasion outfits might not fit into the 90/90 box.

Duckworth suggests being flexible with the rule. “For instance, you might extend the timeframe for winter coats or swimsuits,” she says. Use this method as a starting point to help you become more intentional about what you’ll keep and what you’ll discard.

Don’t like the 90/90 rule? Try one of these simple methods to clean out your closet

While the 90/90 rule helps you declutter, it’s not the only solution when it comes to cleaning out your closet. We know it can be difficult to part with your clothes, but these tricks can make the process a little easier.

Related: Organizing Pro’s Genius Shower Caddy Hack Frees Up Closet Space + More Storage Tips

Try the keep, donate, toss to clean out your closet

Woman donating things from closet

This method also involves taking everything out of your closet. From there, you’ll sort it into three piles: keep, donate or toss. And as hard as it is, it’s best to be honest with yourself when looking at your wardrobe.

“If something doesn’t fit, is out of style, or you haven’t worn it in over a year, it’s probably time to let it go,” says Duckworth. You can donate items that are in good condition, but get rid of anything that’s overly worn or used. This way you’ll keep clothes that you really love and enjoy wearing.

The one-in, one-out rule can help declutter to clean out your closet

“The idea is simple: for every new item you bring into your closet, you remove one,” explains Duckworth. This method works best when you’ve already done a big closet purge because it maintains the organization.

This rule also keeps your wardrobe manageable and your spending down. “You avoid the common pitfall of buying on impulse, as you’ll need to consider whether a new piece is worth sacrificing an existing one,” adds Duckworth.

For more home organizing tips:

3 Ways to Declutter Your Home for Summer! Plus the Importance of Having a Clean Space

Got a Stash Closet? Use These 5 Beautiful Organization Tricks To Make It Functional

Organizing Pro’s Genius Shower Caddy Hack Frees Up Closet Space + More Storage Tips

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