14 Ways to Organize a Messy Closet


Tired of walking into a closet that looks like a bomb just went off? Whip that storage space into shape with these closet-organizing tips, tricks, and ideas designed to make getting dressed a little more enjoyable. (See also: 15 Awesome Storage Solutions for Under $10)

1. Add Another Clothes Bar

My husband and I have a fairly large walk-in closet, which is hard to find in New York City. It's tall and wide, and it can comfortably keep all of our stuff organized and within reach. When we first moved in, however, there was only one bar below a spacious shelf, with about five feet of unused space above it. To capitalize on that open area, I installed another bar near the ceiling that effectively doubled the amount of hanging area we had. Unfortunately for my husband, he only gets a fraction of the combined area because I'm a clotheshorse. Win some, lose some, as they say. I don't feel too bad about it though, since I'm the one who has to take out the ladder to reach my clothing. Adequate compromise, I think.

2. Hang Shoes on the Back of the Door

When thinking of ways to organize your closet, take a look at all the space that's not being used and think of ways to use it. The back of the door is perfect for hanging a canvas shoe storage apparatus that will hang from the top of the store and allow you to stow at least a dozen pairs of shoes.

3. Put Cubby Cubes on the Floor

While we have a large closet in our bedroom, there's not much room for a dresser in the room, which forced us to think of ways to store our socks, undies, and tees in an organized manner. The solution we decided on was a few six-cube cubbies in which we put inexpensive bins to keep all our undergarments. Two of the cubbies are stacked vertically so the top areas can be used as shelf space for watches and sunglasses, and one is laid horizontally against a wall so the side area can be used as a shelf for additional shoe storage.

4. Install Hooks for Scarves, Hats, and Accessories

Unless you have a closet with 360 degrees of clothing racks, there's probably a lot of unused wall space that you can turn into storage. To keep scarves, bags, and other accessories off the floor and from cluttering up drawers, install a few hooks on the walls so you can hang these items in a way that's aesthetically pleasing and easy to grab. (See also: 25 Organizing Changes You Can Make Today)

5. Swap Out Clothes Seasonally

Every spring I pack up my fall/winter clothes and put them in storage. In the fall and winter, I do the same with my spring/summer clothes. Swapping these seasonal items out keeps my closet from overflowing with an abundance of garments, and it gives me an opportunity to sort through the pieces to decide what to keep and what to donate.

6. Fold Tees and Sweaters

Not every item that goes on your back needs to be hung. You'll save a lot of precious rack real estate by folding tees and sweaters and storing them on shelves and in cubbies. My T-shirts are rolled up in my cubbies and my sweaters are folded and stacked neatly on a shelf. The latter method helps me choose what I want to wear on a cold day quickly, while the former frees up hangers that I can use for button-downs and polos. (See also: How to Fold Your Shirt in 2 Seconds)

7. Store Watches in a Compact Case

Instead of throwing a hodgepodge of watches in a box or tossing them on your nightstand, look into an inexpensive watch storage case. I have one that I found on Amazon that holds 10 watches comfortably. The case latches easily, and there's a handle that makes it easy to carry. When I want to pair a watch with a particular outfit, I just open up the case and pick my preference. Until then, it stores perfectly on top of my clothes cubby without taking up too much space.

8. Stack Sunglasses Vertically

Another one of my amazing storage finds was a vertical sunglass rack that I purchased on eBay. It's just like the ones that retail stores have to display glasses, and mine holds about 20 pairs. Before investing in this piece of equipment, I stored my glasses in their respective cases. This kept them from getting damaged, but when I wanted to wear a pair, I had to open up multiple cases until I got to the pair I wanted. Now all I have to do is spin the display and choose my style. And instead of taking up three feet of horizontal space on a shelf, the display consumes vertical space, of which there's plenty.

9. Label Your Drawers

Because my husband and I have so many cubbies, it was necessary to label them so we could go into the closet and grab what we wanted quickly. After a while the labels aren't necessary because we memorize the sequence, but labels are quite helpful the first weeks after organizing if you want to save some time.

10. Eliminate Excess

I touched upon this a few tips earlier and I can't stress how important it is to go through your garments periodically and get rid of what you're not wearing. My basic rule is that if I haven't worn something in a year or more, it has to go. How you choose to get rid of it is up to you. Donating to a local charity seems to be the preferred method, but don't discount yard sales (I had one recently, and I made about $25 on clothing and accessories alone) and planning a clothing swap with your friends wherein you can unload some of your old items and take home a few new(ish) ones through trading. (See also: 8 Ways to Update a Wardrobe You Hate)

11. Stuff Bags With Bags

For reasons that I can't comprehend, my husband has several duffel bags that he never uses but with which he's not ready to part. To keep them neatly together, I stuffed the bulk of them into the largest bag and stuffed that bag inside a suitcase. The suitcase can't be flattened, so it made sense to utilize the space inside the suitcase by filling it with items that would otherwise take up a lot of space that they didn't necessarily have to. Ladies, you can employ the same savvy storage technique by placing smaller handbags inside larger ones and hanging those on the wall.

12. Categorize Your Clothing

To make it easier to put together a complete outfit, especially when you're layering, consider categorizing your clothing. For instance, on the hanger bar organize shirts into categories like button-downs and polos, and where you keep your pants, separate them into categories like jeans, khakis, and cords. By having certain types of clothing in specific places, you'll be able to dress more efficiently since you'll save time on a daily basis when choosing what you want to wear.

13. Color Code Your Garments

My closet has been color coded for years, and it's one of the best organizational systems I can recommend — especially for tops. If I feel like wearing a certain color on a particular day, I know exactly where to look. Plus the closet looks fresh, fun, and happy when you walk into it when it's color-coded. Another added bonus is that your mom will be duly impressed if she ever happens to wander into it. Trust me, the time investment and upkeep is worth that tiny bit of praise alone.

14. Keep a Small Ladder Within Reach

I use my small ladder on a daily basis. It's cumbersome at first, but eventually it becomes part of the routine. The ladder is necessary if you plan to maximize your space and use an increased amount of the unused area of your closet. With the ladder in the closet, you can build higher, placing shelves above shelves, installing more hooks for accessories, or even adding another clothes bar to reduce some of the overcrowding on existing bars.

Do you have even more ideas on how to organize a closet? Let me know in the comments below.

Like this article? Pin it!

Disclaimer: The links and mentions on this site may be affiliate links. But they do not affect the actual opinions and recommendations of the authors.

Wise Bread is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

Guest's picture

Add another shelf in the closet. A lot of closets come with a shelf but there is room above it for another shelf. A goldmine of wasted space. It makes it easier to place items on a second shelf than stack items on an existing shelf.

Guest's picture

Missing the obvious - pare down your wardrobe! Seriously, how many watches and pairs of sunglasses do you really need?