clean out walk-in closet with with the IKEA Pax System

When was the last time you took a hard look inside your closet and thoroughly sorted its contents? For most people, closets become dumping grounds for unnecessary items that serve little purpose other than contributing to clutter. Over time, disorderly closets lead to frustration and stress as the space fills beyond capacity and it becomes impossible to find what you need.

However, returning order to your closet provides an accessible way to dramatically improve mental clarity and instill a sense of calm and control in your life. Read on to understand why we accumulate closet clutter, how decluttering improves mental health, essential reasons to clean it out, hidden health benefits, and the fastest methods to overhaul your space.

Image: ByMeghanG

If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet.  Often what we hold onto holds us back.

–  Cheryl Richardson

Why Do We Hold On to Things We Don’t Need?


We tend to accumulate an excess of unnecessary items over time without even realizing it. Our closets become graveyards filled with clothing and other items that serve little purpose in our lives today. Reasons why we cling onto things unnecessarily include:

  • Sentimentality – Certain clothes remind us of beloved memories like family vacations, graduations, or special dates. The emotional attachment makes it difficult to detach from these nostalgic pieces even when they no longer fit or align with current needs. The fear of losing warm feelings associated with cherished seasons of life keeps these items housed in closets.
  • “Just in case” thinking – With hopes of getting back into shape someday or needing formalwear for future events, it’s tempting to stash away pieces for “someday” even when that day never materializes. Yet holding onto too many aspirational items makes closets feel defeating rather than inspirational.
  • Fear of loss-After investing hard-earned money in quality wardrobes, it feels counterproductive to donate items still in good condition. We fear wasting our shopping dollars by prematurely parting with goods that seem able to be worn again. However, cluttered closets make it impossible to find and utilize things we actually wear.
  • Fear of failure – Facing overflowing closets feels emotionally exhausting, causing analysis paralysis about tackling the mountain of excess. In the moment, it seems easier to just re-hang items or stack them rather than make hundreds of difficult decisions about each piece after already having worn ourselves out from daily life. Confronting failure induces shame and self-criticism many would rather avoid.
  • Busyness – Time starved by the pace of life, sorting through every closet item calls for dedicating house to an overwhelming project. With overflowing calendars, finding a few free hours to devote towards overhauling closets stands as a luxury most cannot justify compared to spending time with loved ones or recharging. Easier to quickly stash things away rather than thoughtfully organize.

As you can see, while stuffed closets undermine daily happiness and self-confidence in sneaky ways, multiple complex emotional factors cause this vicious cycle of accumulation despite best intentions.

Some of the things that we hold onto the most, are the things that we need to let go of.

How Mental Health and Cleaning Are Connected


The state of your living environment directly correlates to mental health and wellbeing. Disorganized closets littered with seldom-worn pieces falling off the rails every time you open the door actively fuel feelings of chaos and anxiety in your life.

Stress – When simple tasks like selecting an outfit turn frustrating due to disorder, stress hormones remain elevated.

Decision fatigue – Visible clutter overwhelms our brains by constantly forcing us to make decisions about what to do with unneeded items. This mental taxation leads to poor decision making in other areas of life.

Negative self-image – Surrounding ourselves with excess clutter contradicts intentions we have about living simply, intentionally and curating joy from less. These misalignments lower self-confidence.

Conversely, a clean and organized closet offers several mental health benefits:

  • Reduced stress – With dedicated homes for every belonging, getting ready routines feel calming and controlled.
  • Increased productivity – No more wasting precious morning minutes searching for missing pieces of an outfit.
  • Improved self-esteem – You’ll feel pride in your organizational skills and for honoring personal style intentions.
  • Sense of accomplishment – Tangibly confronting closet clutter gives confidence for addressing other areas causing mental overload.

Nobody ever said “I regret organizing my house.


Why Is It Important to Clean Out Your Closet?


Image: Mash Elle

Beyond the mental boost, clearing closet chaos also improves daily life through:

  • Saves time – Retrieving garments easily without rifling through piles means faster dressing for work, play, events and travel.
  • Saves money – Taking inventory of everything already owned makes obvious where gaps exist versus overspending on duplicates.
  • Encourages sustainable fashion – Donating or consigning quality used pieces reduces landfill waste and extends the lifecycle of beloved items.
  • Makes room for new things – Once cleared of excess, there’s finally space to properly store new purchases.

If you want to improve your life immediately, clean out a closet. Often what we hold onto holds us back.

Cheryl Richardson

The Surprising Health Benefits of a Clean Closet


An orderly closet also uniquely impacts physical and holistic health:

  • Improved sleep – With closet chaos no longer stirring stress and anxiety, quality sleep comes easier each night.
  • Reduced allergies – Regular laundering and removal of dust-collecting clutter minimizes allergen exposure from clothing and fabrics.
  • Increased motivation – Demonstrating self-care by creating peaceful spaces translates into motivation activating other self-improvement goals.
  • Elevated confidence – Boldly confronting disorder head-on strengthens courage and determination muscles to speak up or tackle intimidating projects.

Keeping baggage from the past will leave no room for happiness in the future.

Wayne L Misner

The Fastest Way to Clean Out Your Closet


With the incentives for a refresh plainly beneficial, here is an easy step-by-step process:

  • Gather Supplies – Arm yourself with trash bags for discarding items, storage bins for categorization, hangers, and cleaning tools for dusting shelves.
  • Take Everything Out – Empty the closet completely to accurately assess contents and wipe interior surfaces clean.
  • Sort by Category – Group garments by type as you assess each piece – workwear, formalwear, activewear, seasonal wear, etc.
  • Ask Key Questions – Regarding each garment, ask whether it fits, flatters, and serves current lifestyle needs. If answers come up short, consider discarding.
  • Be Ruthless – Indecision often leads to keeping unnecessary things. Mentally commit to releasing outdated styles or poorly fitted pieces dragging you down.
  • Clean and Organize – Wipe shelves, install storage tools like additional rods or shelves, then neatly return only pieces sparking joy back to their newly organized home!

We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of

Marie Kondo 



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