11 Rules for a Successful Clothes Purge + free printable!

Hey there, I haven’t shared my clothes purge wisdom with you in 5 years and as I was staring at my own closet and clothes I realized I needed to take my own advice. So I dug this post up for myself and then thought maybe you might need the reminder again as well. And if you’re reading this for the first time, I hope you will appreciate my straight forward tell it like it is approach. Sometimes we all need a little big kick in the pants, myself included, to motivate us to tackle an undesirable task. Yep I would definitely count going through my clothes and having to make tough decisions an undesirable task. How about you? Thankfully these 11 tough love points below make for a very successful clothes purge if you follow them.

11 Rules for a Successful Clothes Purge at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Now don’t be disappointed that this isn’t a post on how to organize all your clothes just so you can avoid making any of those hard decisions. Nope we’ll get to that in a different post, but for today we need to PURGE! You can’t put it off any longer. I can guarantee every single person reading this post has at least three things in their closet right now that they don’t wear or love. How many times do you hear yourself say “I don’t have anything to wear” when you have a closet full of clothes? What you really mean to say is that you don’t have any clothes that can be made into “outfits”. This is definitely a problem for me. I often buy tops and bottoms at different times and then get confused when I can’t make any of them work together.

So here’s what I suggest to help combat that, especially if you aren’t a fashionista. I am definitely not. Once you’ve done a clothes purge using the rules outlined below, then take some time to put together at least five outfits (including accessories) that give you a strut in your step. You know the one, the one that makes you feel like oh ya baby I’ve still got it going on 🙂 Then make a list of detailed items that you might still need to complete the looks. Take pictures to color match if you need to. Then when you are out shopping you can easily reference your list and make an intentional purchase. Or always try to buy “outfits” when you shop. This is what I try to do more often now and it takes the pressure off knowing I always have something to wear in my closet that works.

Okay, let’s jump in!

11 Rules for a Successful Clothes Purge:

1.  If you haven’t worn something in a year then out it goes regardless of condition, price or size.  Why a year?  Because you cover every season in that period of time.  If you haven’t worn it during the year, you probably never will.

2.  If you have a piece of clothing that you wear but are annoyed with it every time you do, seriously stop it.

3.  If it’s waiting to be mended and it’s been waiting for a long time then enough is enough already.

4.  If you hate to iron and your ironing pile sits there totally neglected while you wear all your favorite clothing over and over again, why do you still have an ironing pile?

5.  I’m not opposed to keeping “skinny” clothes (we all do it) but for goodness sakes you don’t need to keep all of it. Styles change, your tastes change, your body shape changes so chances are good that when you get back to that size you’re going to want new stuff anyway.

6.  If you absolutely love a shirt but never wear it because you have nothing to wear it with, well guess what, a mate isn’t going to magically appear in the night. Follow the one year rule.

7.  Sentimental clothes that you aren’t wearing shouldn’t reside in your closet.   Either take a picture of it and preserve the memory or limit yourself to one tote of “clothes to show my kids so they can laugh their heads off at me someday”.

8.  Don’t hang onto something that is “just alright” for “just in case” because you don’t have something better yet to replace it. If you don’t love it, you’ll only feel awkward and uncomfortable wearing it. Let it go now unless of course it means you go naked, that wouldn’t be right.

9.  You don’t have to do it all at once. Try organizing in stages and be motivated by your success. One day you could do shirts, the next day shorts, etc..

10.  Try everything on. This one I can’t stress enough.  Do not hold something up and say oh this is so beautiful I’m going to keep it. That’s too easy and what you might not remember is that, although it’s beautiful, the buttons gape at the front showing off your woman parts.  Nope we don’t want that now do we? Get rid of it.

11.  You only have the space that you do. Jamming your clothes into the closet and fighting with them every single day to find what you need won’t make your closet grow in the night.  It will only make you grumpy…every single day. It’s not worth it. Purge until it fits!


And just in case you want to frame these rules as a constant reminder, here is a copy for you to print out and stash away in your closet if you need to 🙂  Click on the link below for the PDF file.

11 Rules for a Successful Clothes Purge

Hope that helps you achieve a successful clothes purge soon!!! Share your purge pile with me on Instagram, I’ve love to see it and hoot and holler along with you 🙂 Something like that is worth celebrating for sure!

11 Rules for a Successful Clothes Purge at I'm an Organizing Junkie blog

Related post:

How to Organize Your T-Shirt Drawer

Filed under: Closets, Purging


11 Responses to 11 Rules for a Successful Clothes Purge + free printable!

  1. 1
    Marcia (OrganisingQueen) says

    I love the idea about making some WOW outfits to have ready.

    I’ve started keeping a page every couple of weeks (as it gets colder and colder here) in my bullet journal of things I wore to work, and then if they’re a keeper, I just put a check mark in the margin. This is so I can see what i like wearing and what still (despite you telling me on IG how few clothes i have) needs to go.

    E.g. I noticed a few weeks back that I was so aware of my clothes because I wore a too short top (I prefer them to hit mid-butt :)) so out it went.

    • 1.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      I LOVE the bullet journal idea clothes list, brilliant!!!! I’m always impressed at how good you are at limiting your clothes, I’m still working on it 🙂

  2. 2
    Lynn says

    Thank you for the post!

    I go through my closet periodically and start wearing those clothes that I cannot seem to get rid of. One day of tugging or fidgeting with something and out it goes! This has really helped me over the past few months to get rid of cute clothes that just do not work for me.

    • 2.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Oh it’s so hard to get rid of cute clothes, I hear ya! But yes no matter how cute, if it annoys us, why do that to ourselves right?

  3. 3
    Linda says

    In January I turn all my hangers backwards, by the next January, I know exactly what I have worn and what I should get rid of. Of course, this won’t work on clothes in drawers but every little bit helps. And there are the special occasion things that can be handled by your rules instead of the hanger turning trick.

  4. 4
    Melanie says

    I take everything out of my closet, and starting with my favorite clothes first, I iron every piece of clothing before I put it back in the closet. If it isn’t worth ironing, it gets put in the donation bag, which immediately gets donated.

  5. 5
    Leta says

    Hi Laura, that’s a superb list of suggestions. I’m surely gonna apply these to get rid of all unwanted clothing. But I’ll still have to find a way to get rid of sentimental clothing.
    My husband is very emotional, he never gets rids of these gifts he’s received from close friends & relatives, we have half his closet full of those clothes & gifts, lol, he hasn’t touched them in a while but is hesitant to get rid of them..I’ll have to find a way to make him convince, any suggestions? 🙂

  6. 6
    Kate says

    When I clean out my closet, have a use it or lose it pile. I make myself pick one thing everyday…put it on, pair it up with what makes me like to wear it. If I can’t pull it together before I need to leave…out it goes.

    • 6.1
      Laura Wittmann says

      Love that Kate! There’s usually a reason we don’t wear certain clothing but often we can’t remember why until we put it on.

  7. 7
    Carly says

    I love this list I’m linking to it in a post I’m doing because I think it would be super helpful to my readers!!

  8. 8
    Janet Barclay says

    I’m really struggling with #6. I have a pair of brown jeans I seldom wear; I don’t have tops to go with brown because I usually wear black, blue or grey. But I can’t bring myself to part with them because they fit me perfectly and are super cute!


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