By Jane Burdon
Updated August 17, 2004
First and foremost: If you want an organized space, you have to eliminate clutter. Pull out everything in your closet and separate into three piles: keep, donate, and ditch. If you’re short on space, think compact when it comes to necessary belongings. For instance, downgrade a sizable stepladder to a low-profile wall-mounted version, or swap dirty mops and dusty brooms for one tool with three removable heads (mop, broom, duster).
| Credit: Tara Striano

Clothes need air and space to keep them smelling fresh and looking their best, so don't try to cram everything you own into your closet if space is tight. Instead, store off-season garments under the bed in boxes.

A Clean-Sweep Checklist

  • Empty your closet of the past season's clothes, stashing rarely worn pieces in a box for charity.
  • Wipe down the closet with a mild, fresh-smelling soap.
  • Wash or dry-clean your clothes (insects and moths are attracted to dirt, not the clothing).
  • Repair any tears, and replace buttons.
  • Fill the closet with the new season's clothing (which will be ready to wear if you followed these guidelines the last time you did the switch).

Storing Off-Season Clothing

  • Seal clothing in clean, airtight containers―such as large plastic zipper bags, storage chests, or garment bags―along with a cedar product, to deter moths. Two good ones: Cedar Hanger Rings ($8 for 24, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Cedar Shavings Bags ($13 for three bags, Woodlore,, 800-288-0200).
  • Don't store dry-cleaned clothes in the plastic bags they came in―they hold in moisture that may cause mildew.