Keeping clothing organized can be a monumental task. Any one closet often contains multiple sizes as well as garments for different seasons. Add children’s clothing and hand-me-downs into the mix and you quickly have a recipe for disorganization. The good news is your closets don’t have to stay cluttered. These helpful tips from professional organizers will show you just how simple it can be to sort and organize your family’s hand-me-downs and other clothing.
Identify What Can Stay and What Should Go
When tackling a closet in your home, begin by taking all of the clothing out and separating it into piles. SCJohnson.com organizing experts recommend “sort[ing] the clothing by category, such as size, gender or season.” Then, separate out any worn-out or stained clothing that can be thrown away. If you find items you don’t particularly love or that you or your children won’t be able to use in the future, consider donating them to a charity, friend or relative.
For any children who might be resistant to parting with their older clothing, clinical and educational psychologist Michele Felker recommends explaining how giving those items away can be an important thing to do. “You can do that by telling her that she could be helping another family with little children who aren’t as lucky as she is,” Felker says. However, if the child is still hesitant, Felker suggests placing those items in a bin and revisiting the idea of donating them in a few months.
Once you have made piles for clothes to be tossed or donated, it’s time to organize the clothing you hope to keep. If you are sorting children’s clothing, set aside too-small pieces for younger siblings. The organizing experts at HGTV.com recommend storing these clothes “in labeled containers by season (fall/winter/spring/summer) or by size (3T, for example).” When you’re looking for 2T fall boy clothes when your child’s younger sibling is ready for that size and season, you’ll have no problem locating them in your neatly labeled container.
If you don’t have room to store hand-me-downs in any of your home’s closets, looking to nontraditional storage options can provide valuable space. Professional organizer Ann Bingley Gallops offers this advice: “Look around your home for things that are going unused, that might be empty—like file drawers—and store things away in there. I have had a lot of clients that collect old suitcases and use them for storage—those don’t take up much room.”
For the clothing that will stay in use, consider organizing them by type in your closet. Separate out pants, short-sleeved shirts, long-sleeved tops, skirts, dresses, sweaters, etc. For babies and small children who tend to move through sizes quickly, plan to keep some clothes in the next size or two ready and organized in their closet. The professional organizers at MarthaStewart.com recommend using hanging dividers to show where one size stops and another begins.
As you organize and give away clothing, keep in mind that you should deal with any hand-me-downs you received from friends or family members as soon as possible. Aby Garvey, co-founder of Simplify 101, suggests you, “sort and purge right away. Keep only those items your child will use or wear.” Subject any hand-me-downs you are offered to the same organizing system you used to sort through your closets. Is it worn or stained? Toss it. Is it something you don’t think you or your child will wear? Consider donating it. Otherwise, add it to your freshly organized closet or store it away in a labeled bin for future use.
Having a plan in place for dealing with hand-me-downs can make wrangling those endless piles of clothing far more manageable. You’ll not only be able to enjoy the savings of having hand-me-downs ready for your younger children, but you’ll also have the peace of mind that comes with a clutter-free home.