November, 2004 Contest: How often do you clean out your closets and what do you do with the things you remove?

Congratulations to our contest winner!
Julie Back of Hampton, VA

I made a commitment to my closets last year. They would no longer be dark caverns of forgotten things I “might use someday.” I’m a clutter queen and hate to “waste” anything, but the change for me came when I realized owning something you don’t use is still wasting it! Keeping that phrase in mind makes it simple for me to evaluate what to do with “stuff.”

We have small closets and rotate clothing seasonally, so I now clean closets each time I rotate the clothing stash. Everyday clothing that was not worn while it was in the “current season” closet is NOT moved to the storage closet just to be reconsidered at this same time next year. I donate it to charity. The exception is clothing that I would absolutely wear if I had the occasion or am reasonably close to fitting into again. As I come across other items stored in the closet I take a few seconds to consider when was the last time I used that item, and when I expect to use it again. If I can’t come up with a clear and specific opportunity to use it, I put it in a bag and at the end of my closet cleaning, the bag of items is taken to a charitable organization. The rule is that I put it in the trunk of my car immediately and to the drop off point as soon as possible. Keeping the bag in the house tempts me to go through it again.

I used to save things for a yard sale but do you know what ended up happening? That’s right, there was always a yard-sale closet in my house! So now I simply keep a list of the items I donated and file it so I have it handy at tax time. I then put the current season’s clothing in the closet and call it a day. By facing my closets this often I find it takes almost no time to handle it anymore, and since I know I’ll be facing stored items again in just three s, I actually find myself thinking twice about tossing miscellaneous things in there in the first place. And a bonus I didn’t plan for is the relief I feel when something does come up that needs temporary storage…I always have a spot for it. Now if I could just get the rest of my house so organized!