Real Simple readers share their best tips for eliminating clutter. 

By Real Simple
Updated May 19, 2016
Illustration: woman taming her messy closet
Credit: Dan Page

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Illustration: woman taming her messy closet
Credit: Dan Page

1 Illustration: woman taming her messy closet

We put a bookcase in our walk-in closet. The tall, wide kind that has square cubbies. That’s where our shirts and jeans go, and my husband uses one of the eye-level cubbies to store his phone, wallet, keys, and pocket change. I use a laundry basket for my casual shoes because I don’t take the time to place them nicely on a shelf. I kick ’em into the basket at the end of the day!
—Christy Rose White, King George, Virginia


I ripped off the annoying folding closet doors when we moved in and never replaced them.It is much more motivating to keep the space in order when you see everything exposed.
—Mercedes Downie, Denver, Colorado


With a time-saving trick. I have one spot on my clothing rack where I put empty hangers. It cuts down on overall clutter and makes hanging up clean laundry a cinch.
—Heather Phipps, Houston, Texas


Assigned space for in-between items. I have a designated drawer for clothing that has been worn but doesn’t yet need to be washed. This keeps it from piling up on the chair in our bedroom or in the corner of the closet.
—Mary Smith, Pontotoc, Mississippi


I used to work in retail management, where new clothing collections came in every few weeks. We constantly had to tweak the racks to keep them looking neat. Now, every week, I take a few minutes and go through my own closet (and my family members’) to do the same. I weed out things that are out of season, check for stains, and organize garments. Then I see what might be needed for upcoming events and make note of how much wear something gets. I am ruthless—if it doesn’t fit or it’s out of style, it gets donated.
—Susan Schonauer, Cincinnati


I have a set number of hangers. If I’m going to put a new item in the closet, an old item comes out to consign or donate. I also organize my clothes in a way that makes putting outfits together a breeze.
—Kerrin Brinkman, Salt Lake City, Utah


Keep it seasonal. We live in a small house, so the closet needs to be efficient year-round. We pack clothing away at the end of each season in a rollaway under the bed, or sometimes in the attic. After all, there’s no use in having shorts in the closet when the snow is falling!
—Lauren Brigham, Merrimack, New Hampshire


I hung a wreath hook on the outside of my closet door to display the next day’s outfit.
—Jerri Gomez, Los Fresnos, Texas


The “touch it once” rule. Hang clothes properly so that they’re ready to be worn and you aren’t spending more time on them later. This means blouses should be buttoned and pants folded with the seams matching up. Hang the garments so that they’re arranged by type and facing the same way.
—Gerrie Bunker, Ipswich, Massachusetts


Separate closets. It keeps the peace—and if I don’t want to look at my husband’s, I just shut the door! It’s been working for 35 years.
—Nancy Garvey, Weymouth, Massachusetts


Stackable hangers. I was a yacht stewardess and learned how to live with a very small closet. When I found these, my problem was solved simply and neatly.
—Jean Benacchio, Delray Beach, Florida


Mindful organization. I sort clothing by type and color. The top hangers are for blouses/tops and the bottom hangers are for pants/skirts.
—Toni Pollitz, Ormond Beach, Florida


A mesh bag. I keep one near the laundry basket, and at the end of the day, I put dirty socks and underwear into it. This has helped me not lose a sock in over five years!
—Anna S. Hamrick, Shelby, North Carolina