What’s scarier than a closet bogeyman? A closet clutterbug, of course! If your bedroom wardrobe is feeling extra spooky these days, look to these foolproof closet organization ideas and tips to create a clean, stylish, and functional haven for your clothes and accessories. Everything you need to know about how to organize a closet and get started on your own is below.
Did you know? Decluttering is step one when organizing any part of your home. You can use a PODS portable storage container as a dedicated sorting space while you decide what stays and what goes!
But first, we know what you’re wondering: What is the best way to organize my closet? The answer is whatever works best for you.
Successful closet organization typically goes like this: Get rid of clutter, build or install your chosen compartments or shelving, and create a specific space for each type of clothing and accessory. Like any organization project, the goal is to create a personalized but repeatable system that you can maintain over time.
Here are 10 clever closet organization tips from vlogger Shea Whitney to inspire you:
Closet Organization Ideas — FAQ
Q: How can I organize my small closet?
A: A tiny closet only needs a few upgrades to feel a thousand times more functional. For best results, focus on three main organization tips for small spaces: efficient folding methods, utilization of previously unused space, and dedicated sections for certain items. (And hey, a biannual purge doesn’t hurt, either.) Additional small closet organization ideas are covered below.
Q: How do I organize my closet on a low budget?
A: You really don’t need to spend big bucks to make a functional closet. In fact, for a zero-cost closet upgrade, start by only revamping your organizing methods. This means downsizing your wardrobe, rotating seasonal clothing, and using specialized folding and stacking methods — all tasks you can easily turn into long-term habits at no charge to you.
If you’re okay spending a little cash on closet organization, start by shopping for affordable bins or baskets and easy-to-assemble closet systems with simple designs. A few soft boxes, rack dividers, and damage-free hooks won’t run you more than $100, for example. From there, you can DIY all kinds of closet organizers just by repurposing common household items outlined below.
Q: How can I organize my closet without shelving?
A: A great way to organize a closet that doesn’t have built-in shelving (and without having to build new shelving) is to invest in hanging shelf organizers. These vertical canvas “shelves” simply hook onto the closet rod, providing instant cubby-like storage that’s perfect for anything from shoes and purses to sweaters and t-shirts. Some even come with cute canvas drawers.
Q: What is the most efficient way to organize a closet?
A: The most efficient way to organize a closet is to pull everything out; sort items into specific categories; declutter what you don’t use, need, or want; and then put everything back in a way that allows you to find what you’re looking for quickly and easily. Adding canvas storage boxes, hanging shelves, and even low-lying shoe racks can be helpful, depending on what you have in your closet. When it comes to organizing the items themselves, there are several ways to go about it. You could hang articles of clothing up based on length (shortest to longest), arrange items with other like items and color-coordinate within each section, or you could even hang entire outfits up together (blouse, slacks, and matching necklace) for a quick morning routine. Play around with it and find what works best for you.
Q: What order do you hang clothes in a closet?
A: There’s no one right way to hang your clothes in a closet, but there should be some logic to how you hang them. Grouping them in a way that makes sense to you is the best way to maintain your organization. It can look like hanging all of your short-sleeve tops, long-sleeve blouses, dresses, and pants in their own section; putting your most-worn items at the left (or most accessible) side of your closet; or hanging items by color, with each color grouped together (you can even color code within a subsection of shirts or pants).
Q: What clothes should go on shelves?
A: Any clothing can go on a shelf, but not all pieces are best suited for folding. Pants are easy to fold and place on a shelf — especially denim jeans and spandex leggings — while your linen dresses and wrinkle-prone work shirts are best hung up instead. It may not matter much if your cotton gym T-shirts get some wrinkles, so you can fold those into a neat stack over allowing them to take up precious hanger real estate. Besides that, your best bet is to fold wrinkle-free fabrics, like polyester, wool, spandex, denim, rayon, and cashmere, to name a few.
Our Top 21 Closet Organization Ideas
Now that we’ve answered a few frequently asked questions, let’s dive into our 21 Closet Organization Ideas.
1. Start With a Good Purge
The key to any home organization project is to downsize and declutter first. Think of it like pre-organizing for your organizing. A good decluttering cuts down on the number of items you have to find spots for, frees up new space for more important items, and helps you to put yourself in a new Zen-like state of mind for moving forward.
Here are a few ways to gain closet space and reduce clutter:
- Tackle big real-estate items first. If you have better space elsewhere, move things like vacuums, camping gear, and large suitcases to a guest bedroom, basement, hallway closet, or garage.
- Make three piles labeled “Keep,” “Donate,” and “Toss” to sort your existing closet items.
- Donate clothes, jewelry, and other accessories you haven’t worn in the last six months, and toss damaged or unusable items.
- For “Keep” items, divide further by seasonality. Unless you’re in the thick of fall festivities, Halloween costumes and winter gear will go elsewhere, for example.
Pro Tip: There’s one more category to keep in mind while you’re decluttering, and that’s sell. Websites like Poshmark and eBay make it easy to “trade in” gently-used clothing and accessories for cold, hard cash — which can make parting with those old bridesmaid dresses and costume jewelry that much easier.
2. Utilize Other Spaces in Your Home
It’s easy to assume a bedroom closet is your only option for storing clothes and shoes — and to forget how convenient it might be to utilize an office or guest room as a walk-in closet. Take a look at all available space and shelving in your home to assess your closet potential. Are you actually using your whole office for work, or could one of its corners be repurposed as a wardrobe? Would your bedroom feel more clean and relaxing if you took out your dresser and clothes rack? Something as simple as switching from a low bed frame to one 14 inches off the ground can create an additional 30+ square feet of underbed storage.
3. Use On-Site Storage to Declutter or Move Items Out of the House
Tackling a big declutter or organization project? You might need to upgrade your storage arsenal. Treat yourself to a portable storage container to help sort items without cluttering the rest of your house. It’s like having a magic closet catch-all right in your driveway! Storage containers can be delivered and picked up on your schedule, so you don’t have to be in any rush to make decisions. And the best part? Once you’ve figured out what stays and what goes, simply leave the things you want to store in your container, and PODS will pick it up and keep it at a local Storage Center for as long as you want.
4. Put a Dresser Below Your Hanging Items
When considering how to organize a closet, a simple yet effective upgrade to any closet (especially a small one) is to place a dresser under your hanging items. This frees up space in your bedroom and amplifies your storage options. It also doesn’t require installation like other closet systems; just place it where you want it and add your stuff!
Pro Tip: Dressers can be heavy — especially the solid wood kind. Remember to remove all the drawers before moving it into your closet, and get some help if you need it.
5. Get an Additional Clothes Rack
If you’re working with a super small space or no closet at all, consider investing in a freestanding clothes rack. A tall closet system can be placed neatly in the corner of your bedroom or studio, while a shorter design can be placed under your closet rod to double up your existing closet space. If having a clothing rack in your bedroom makes the space feel too cluttered, consider getting a stylish folding room divider to block it from view.
6. Use Dividers to Create Zones
Whether yours is an itty-bitty bedroom closet or a Mariah Carey-style walk-in, look to closet dividers as a cheap and versatile way to organize your clothes and accessories. As you purchase or collect these containers, rack tags, and shelf dividers, consider methods for choosing what to place in each closet zone:
- Divide items by type: Jeans, sweaters, dresses, etc.
- Arrange items based on length and bulkiness: Tops go on lower racks or shorter shelves, pants go on a hook rack or mid-level shelf, and long dresses and bulky coats go on higher racks and spacious shelves.
- If you’re a visual organizer, subdivide items by color (in rainbow order, of course, if you’re anything like The Home Edit ladies): Remember ROY G. BIV — red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet.
- Keep high-use items easy to access: Favorite shoes and sneakers to the front, please.
- Tuck low-use items out of the way: Raincoats in the back (unless you live in Seattle).
- Hang accessories on walls and hangers, or place them on their own shelves: You can dedicate a single hanger to a dozen scarves, stack hats to save space, and roll belts up on a shelf to make them easy to find. Be wary of too many accessories, though. If you find you rarely use something, chuck it.
7. Install Drawers and Shelving
One key for how to organize a closet is creating a system of hanging items, drawers, and shelves. New drawers and closet shelving are a fab upgrade to your closet space — and may be easier to install than you think. Visit your hardware store to shop lumber, pegboards, slide-out bins, and hardware for DIY projects, or purchase a prefab shelving system for all-in-one installation.
Looking for a simpler way to get shelves in your closet? Ikea has shelving units in multiple sizes that you can mix and match to create your perfect closet. Assembly is required, but it’s easy-peasy.
Having trouble deciding what to keep, toss, or store? Take this Closet Decluttering Quiz to help you decide.
8. Expand Your Closet With a Classy Wardrobe
If you just don’t have enough space for all of your outfits and accessories, that’s fine. It’s not you, it’s your closet. Still, you can expand your closet space with a freestanding (and classic) wardrobe. Place it beside your existing closet or elsewhere in your room to add an additional 50% or more hanging space. Just try not to break up clothing categories between the wardrobe and your closet — you don't want to have to walk back and forth trying to find something to wear, after all. Instead, consider putting all of your jackets or all of your evening dresses in the wardrobe, and keeping the “everyday” items in your closet.
9. Use Wall Space to Hold Smaller Items
Once you’ve maximized all your dividers, shelves, racks, and drawers, look to your walls to store jewelry and accessories. Here’s how to make this space more functional:
10. Tackle Your Shoe Situation
Footwear takes up a lot of closet space, but there are plenty of ways to reconfigure things so you have more space. Here are just a few of our favorite ideas for organizing your shoes:
- Raise them off the ground with a rack or shelf for a tidier look.
- Display on pre-built shelves by color, type, or size.
- Use shoe stacking bins as an easy DIY purchase that doesn’t involve construction and fits nicely below your hanging items.
- Use over-the-door shoe racks. (You can also place these on the back of your bedroom door to save even more closet space.)
- Fill boots with socks to help them keep their shape.
11. Embrace Better Folding and Hanging Methods (One of Our Favorite Closet Organization Ideas)Once you’ve sectioned off different areas of your closet, it’s time to try all your new hanging and folding techniques. You have valuable space in all those drawers, shelves, and boxes; now it’s time to make it shine!
Here are some tips to make the contents of your closet feel elegant and functional:
- Use stacking methods for clothes on dividers and shelves, but not in drawers.
- For drawers, use the vertical or file folding method. (Thanks Marie Kondo!)
- Use special hangers to consolidate scarves, ties, and belts.
- Nest bras inside of each other to save drawer space.
- Store smaller bags inside bigger bags.
- Hang pants on a hook organizer, keeping them wrinkle-free and out of your rack and shelf real estate.
Dive into this super satisfying video featuring tons of folding and hanging hacks below:
12. Give DIY Vacuum Sealing a Try
When it’s time to store bulky items like winter clothes and bedding, look to the space-saving powers of a vacuum seal. You don’t need to buy special tools or containers for this trick; some drawstring trash bags and a home vacuum work just fine.
Store your packed vacuum-sealed items on the top shelf or back of your closet, or under your bed. If you’d rather keep those spaces free for more frequently used items, place your vacuum-sealed sweaters and comforters in storage until you’re ready to rotate them back into use.
13. Organize With Reusable Labels
One way to make your sorting efforts stick (get it?) is to label everything! DIY tags make it so much easier to see what goes where and keep your closet organized — and at virtually no cost to your organizing budget. The best part? You can make the labels say whatever you want them to say. Want to keep your concert T-shirts together? Have a box of socks without mates? A collection of love notes from your boyfriend in first grade? Put a label on them! No judgment here!
14. Make Future Decluttering Efforts a Breeze
Place a distinct (i.e. brightly-colored) hanger at the front of each section of your closet. Every time you wear something and wash it, hang it up in front of that hanger. After a few months, it’ll be pretty easy to see what got worn and what didn’t. For a quick and simple purge, take everything behind the brightly-colored hangers and sell or donate it. Not only will this help to free up space, it’ll make finding your daily fit a breeze since your closet will only house things you actually wear.
15. Add a Trash Can and Donation Bin to The Space
Once everything is placed in your newly organized closet, put a small trash can and bin labeled “Donate” in the space. If you have the room, these will help remind you to stay organized and keep things tidy for months to come!
16. In With the New (and Out With the Old)
Once you’ve gone to the trouble of getting your closet fully organized, you’ll want to keep it that way, right? A clever trick is to get rid of something old anytime you bring something new into your closet. New sweater? Great! Now, let’s find something old that you haven’t worn in a while and donate it to Goodwill.
17. Invest in Matching Hangers
I, for one, have been known to keep the plastic hanger that clothes are sold on from my local Target or T.J. Maxx. The result is a diverse mix of flimsy plastic, sturdy plastic, and wooden hangers of all different colors hanging in my closet. While reusing those hangers might feel economical, it’s best to leave them at the store. Invest in uniform hangers to help your closet not only look organized, but to ensure everything hangs neatly and nothing gets lost in the fray on a thin plastic hanger.
18. Use the Space Above Your Closet Rod
What your closet may lack in horizontal space, it just might make up for in vertical space. If you have a high-up shelf above the rod where your clothes hang, make use of it by placing boxes of vacuum-sealed clothing, out-of-season shoes, or carefully stacked baseball hats in plastic bins or cloth storage cubes.
19. Don’t Forget About S Hooks
This small, curvy, metal tool is tried-and-true. Using S hooks in your closet is a simple way to create new hangers in seconds. Use them for purses, string them through the belt loops of your pants, tote bags, or whatever else in your closet needs a little hook to stay off the floor!
20. Make Use of Your Off-Duty Suitcase
I always have a big suitcase stashed away somewhere in my apartment, which serves no purpose when I’m not taking a big trip. Use your bulky suitcase to store clothing you don’t wear or need to access very often, like bulky winter sweaters during the summer or that outfit you only wear for interviews.
21. Don’t Sleep on Underbed Storage
We touched on using other places in your home to store clothing, but it must be emphasized: The square footage under your bed is your best friend. Get some low, long plastic bins with wheels attached to the bottom and fill it with shoes, rolled-up pants, bulky sweaters, or whatever else is taking up too much space in your closet. When you need something, just roll it out and voila!
Take these closet organization ideas and make them your own!
Ready to tackle your closet clutter? Whether you’re redesigning on a budget or building a new walk-in wardrobe, let these closet organization ideas help optimize every square inch you have available. Who knows? You may end up wanting to tackle the rest of your house. And lucky for you, from organizing the garage to decluttering the kitchen, the PODS Blog has all kinds of tips and tricks to help. Happy stacking!
Sofia Rivera is a Boston-based lifestyle editor and frequent contributor to the PODS Blog. Her work has appeared in Boston magazine, Apartment Therapy, and more. You can most often find her redecorating her apartment, trying out a new recipe, or trekking all over the city.
Choose the service you need