This super-simple decluttering hack is the easiest way to organize a closet without spending a dime

Bid farewell to the hoards of clothes you don't wear with this simple decluttering trick that experts swear by

The inside of a closet with different compartments for hanging and folded clothes
(Image credit: Alamy)

When was the last time you decluttered your closet? I'm not talking about throwing away a single ripped T-shirt or a pair of jeans that no longer fit, I mean a proper clear-out, trash bags full to the brim. If the thought alone fills you with horror, chances are you have an overstuffed closet filled with clothes you can't bear to part with. In such a case, a trusty decluttering hack might be exactly what you need.  

If you're anything like me, the clothes rail in your closet is probably so rammed that you can't distinguish one item from the next. Sleeves, belts, and pant legs become caught up in a tangled mess, and that's ignoring the mass of clothes at the very back that you've probably forgotten you even own. When it comes to how to declutter clothes, the clothes hanger hack is the simplest way to bid farewell to the clothes you don't need once and for all. 

To learn more about this nifty little trick and understand which situations it's best reserved for, we spoke with some professional declutters to set you on your way to a clutter-free closet.

Lilith headshot for bio
Lilith Hudson

Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. A firm believer that a tidy home is a happy one, she's committed to helping readers organize and declutter their spaces by sharing practical tips and guides. For this piece, she spoke with professional declutterers to learn more about the clothes hanger hack for clearing out your closet

What is the clothes hanger decluttering hack? 

The insight of a closet that's neatly organized

(Image credit: Alamy)

If you're the type of person who struggles letting things go then the clothes hanger hack is for you. We've all been there, sorting through our wardrobe only to stumble across a dress or shirt that you forgot you owned it's been that long since you wore it. The crippling indecisiveness sets in, only for you to fall back on those all too familiar words: 'I'll wear it more from now on'. 

Let's be realistic, the chances are you won't. But don't just trust your judgement - the clothes hanger trick is a visual way of seeing exactly what you wear and how often you wear it. 'Start by putting all your hanger hooks facing in the wrong direction,' explains professional declutterer Laura Mountford. 'Only when you wear the item can you put it back with the hook the correct way. You can then quickly see exactly what clothes haven’t been worn.'

You decide to clear out the stuff that hasn't been worn after a time that suits you. It could be one month or even six depending on how ruthless you want to be or whether or not you have a small closet. After the designated amount of time, you can step back, assess the items you haven't worn, and commit to donating them or throwing them out. 

'For the things that haven't worn, ask yourself, why, adds professional organizer and declutterer Melissa Gugni. 'Perhaps it is as simple as a dress that needs cleaning or a shirt with a missing button. Use this information to get things repaired.' If the clothes no longer fit or aren't something you'd choose to wear anymore, then you can wave goodbye with no regrets.

Which clothes are an exception to the rule?

A clothes rail with clothes and bags hanging up

(Image credit: Alamy)

Now one tiny thing to bear in mind when it comes to using this decluttering hack is you'll have to account for the changing seasons. Understandably, you won't be wearing big fluffy jumpers through the heat of summer, and neither will you be wearing strappy summer dresses through December. Use your common sense, and consider using the trick every six months to ensure you maximize its benefit. 

'Seasonal items generally get a pass, but for a closet that is packed tight, that might be a good indication that those heavy woolens or thick coats might be better stored in a coat closet or garage,' says Melissa. 'Outside of seasonal items, formal wear might be an exception to the rule, and I would give them a year of hanger hack observations, but I recommend treading lightly.'

When it comes to formal attire, it's a good idea to just keep the best pick of the bunch if you're not likely to be attending many official gatherings. 'It can be a bitter pill to swallow, thinking about donating things we spend good money on, but those pieces are taking up valuable real estate in your closet,' notes Melissa. Chances are, if you organize your closet and give those premium pieces of clothing pride of place in your wardrobe, you might even find yourself wearing them more.

The inside of an organized wardrobe with clothes hanging up and baskets on shelves

(Image credit: Alamy)

Melissa suggests using what you've thrown away to influence your future shopping habits, too. 'Are there clothes there that are clear favorites? If so, ask yourself why,' she says. 'The 80/20 decluttering tip states that we wear 20 percent of our wardrobes 80 percent of the time, so what are you wearing regularly? These might be the types of pieces (or colors, patterns, and styles) that make you feel the best, and might make shopping for more clothes easier.' Just one word of advice: it's best that you don't reward yourself with a shopping spree straight away! 

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Color & Trends Editor

Lilith Hudson is the Color & Trends Editor at Livingetc. Writing news, features, and explainers for our digital platform, she's the go-to person for all the latest micro-trends, interior hacks, and color inspiration you need in your home. Lilith discovered a love for lifestyle journalism during her BA in English and Philosophy at the University of Nottingham where she spent more time writing for her student magazine than she did studying. After graduating, she decided to take things a step further and now holds an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London, with previous experience at the Saturday Times Magazine, Evening Standard, DJ Mag, and The Simple Things Magazine. At weekends you'll find her renovating a tiny one-up, one-down annex next to her Dad's holiday cottage in the Derbyshire dales where she applies all the latest design ideas she's picked up through the week.