How to Organize Your Closet in 30 Minutes Flat

Use this step-by-step guide, and you'll be the fastest closet organizer out there.

Project Overview
  • Total Time: 30 minutes

It doesn't matter how many color-coordinated hangers or scarf organizers you buy: There will come a day when you look at your closet and wonder, How the heck did it get so messy?!

The daily barrage of clothing you pull out and put back in (and maybe, sometimes, only hang halfway onto that non-slip hanger) can turn this functional space into a hassle. Raise your hand if you ever buy new stuff without taking out the old or if you ever stash non-clothing items in your closet. (No judgment!) We called in a closet organizing pro to help break these habits and learn how to organize your closet with a system that works.

So if your closet needs a reset, set the timer and get going: You've got 30 minutes to get it working for you again.

How Often to Organize Your Closet

"I recommend organizing your closet on a seasonal basis," says Cary Prince, a certified professional organizer in Los Angeles. Doing it this way allows you to think about what you've worn and liked that season (or what you've ignored completely) and do some editing before the next season starts.

Considerations Before You Get Started

You may be tempted to buy more hangers, hanger add-ons, bins, or hanging organizers to streamline your closet. "But don't buy anything!" Prince instructs. Instead, save those purchases for later in the organization process once you know exactly what you need. This way you'll only be buying the best hangers to suit your specific needs.

If you think you'll need help making decisions, enlist a friend. An objective bystander can make it easier to decide what to keep and what to toss.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Broom and dustpan
  • Vacuum cleaner (optional)


  • A few trash bags or bins
  • A damp rag
  • Multipurpose cleaner


How to Organize Your Closet Step-by-Step

  1. Pull Everything Out

    Pull all of your clothes out of the closet and dump everything on the bed. Sort them into piles on the bed by type (shirts here, dresses there, etc.). Pull out any organizers and bins to give yourself a totally empty closet.

  2. Clean Your Closet With a Rag and Cleaner

    Now that your closet is empty, wipe down the shelves, closet rods, walls, and baseboards with your rag and cleaner, then clear the floor of debris with a vacuum or broom. The space shouldn't be too dirty, so it won't take a lot of effort to get yourself a fresh slate here.

  3. Look at Your Closet

    Consider how your closet has and hasn't been working for you. "The prime real estate is right in front, so think about your most-used items, what you're always struggling to reach, or which things would be better folded than hung," says Prince. If your current closet system is in good order but has just gotten out of whack, that's great—otherwise, tweak it!

  4. Ask Four Questions

    Take every garment out of the pile and decide if it goes back into the closet. "You don't have to go full Marie Kondo, but as you decide, ask yourself four questions to figure out if you should keep something." Her questions are:

    • Does it fit?
    • Have I worn it in the last 12 months?
    • Will I repair it (for items that are damaged or need alteration)?
    • Do I feel confident in it?

    As you answer the questions, make piles for clothes to keep, clothes to throw out, and clothes to donate. Prince also suggests two more categories: clothes to give away (like maternity clothes to a pregnant friend) and clothes to sell (a pristine bridesmaid dress you'll never wear again).

    Prince says if you answer "no" to any of the questions, put it into one of your piles instead of back into the closet. "I always say that if you use the word 'should' to justify keeping it, that's the first step towards knowing you should let it go," says Prince.

  5. Fight the Urge to Overthink

    If you've seen any episode of "Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo," you'll recognize this stage of the process for what it is—a closet organization danger zone. This is when your resolve may falter, and the task could slow to a halt. Does parting with your size 4 dress mean you're giving up on your old, thin self? Does donating your decade-old thigh-highs suggest your wild-partying youth is behind you? All this overthinking can turn a 30-minute task into a three-hour one—or make you abandon the project altogether.

    "I find it's helpful to focus on what you're keeping instead of what you're getting rid of," says Prince. "Look at all these awesome clothes left in your closet that make you feel fabulous!"

  6. Place the "Keep" Items Back in the Closet

    Put each "keep" garment back in the closet in roughly the right spot and move on to the next item. Work by type (pants, skirts, blouses, jackets) and try to move quickly rather than getting caught up thinking about the clothes you used to fit into or wear for an old job or lifestyle. The goal is to make your closet work for who you are today.

  7. Make It Nice

    Once your closet is filled back up with only the keepers, take a few minutes to straighten everything out and make sure it's all organized by garment type and by color (even if you've been sort of doing it as you put it away). "I love a ROYGBV!" Prince says. One of the best tips for organizing small closets is to add clothing categorizers.

  8. Remove the "Toss" Items

    Take your bags out and get them on their way. Put your donation clothes right into the car, so you don't just leave them sitting around and get any other items (like the give or sell piles) ready for the next step. Here's a sampling of donation centers that might take your items:

Related Articles