Want to get rid of extra clothes you’re holding on to? Don’t do laundry for a few weeks

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I recently found myself feeling bogged down by all the clothing I owned, so I decided to perform an experiment. I didn’t do laundry for 2-3 weeks, and then donated everything that was still hanging up on laundry day. Since it’s still winter I kept a few summer items so I can perform the same experiment later in the year, but other than that all the extra stuff I had is gone. The best part is that I didn’t have to deal with any of the emotional stuff that comes with trying to ditch stuff in one go — I was able to just look at my closet and realize how much I was holding onto for no reason.

How do you keep the amount of clothing you own in check?

Comments on Want to get rid of extra clothes you’re holding on to? Don’t do laundry for a few weeks

  1. This is a cool idea, but I wonder how to implement it for things like dressier clothes? One might not wear those regularly, but still need them for the occasional fancy occasion.

    Looking at what’s left in my drawer at the end of the week is how I figure out what I’m not wearing =P Some of it is off-season, but the rest usually doesn’t fit so I put it aside for the summer when I’m a bit trimmer.

    • You could use the same system over a longer time-frame. Over 6 months or a year or so (depending on how often you need dressy clothes) put everything you’ve worn into a different location or turn the hangers around or whatever (I personally don’t fancy the idea of not washing it for a year), then get rid of everything still untouched.

      • I’m in the process of doing this right now. I figured I would give myself a year (I moved into a new place last May) and when I moved in, I turned all of my hangers one way. Once I wore something, I would turn the hanger the way I normally keep it. Now, I’m just trying to come to terms with getting rid of stuff that have sentimental attachment.

        Does anyone have tricks or tips on deciding how to get rid of stuff you keep in drawers or a dresser? That’s one of my challenges.

        • Drawers – if you’ve got the space, you could empty out a drawer into piles (maybe on the guest bed?). As you wear and then wash things,put them back in the dresser when clean. After a while, there’ll be a pile of things you haven’t worn yet sat on the bed – perfect for sorting through. Only really works for a couple of drawers at a time though…

        • I have several t-shirts that are past the point of wearing because of holes, etc, so I’m going to try and make some of them into throw pillows. Perhaps, you could quilt a bit of each piece or find another way to repurpose?

          • I’ve been making quilts with old and thrifted tee shirts for a couple of years! I cut them into triangles, which helps me eliminate any pieces with holes or stains, then quilt them together! Makes for a wonderfully cozy, hoodie-soft quilt! πŸ™‚

          • There are definitely some t-shirts and things in my drawers that I have been intending to make into a quilt or blanket. For other things in drawers (sweatpants, yoga pants, non-t-shirt shirts) I like the take them out and wear them suggestion a lot. This will also force me to wear more clothes in my drawers because I hate having too much clutter or stuff on the floor.

            Thanks everyone!

        • This might be really unpopular opinion but watch hoarders (the A&E one that looks at true hoarding as a mental illness and not the TLC or other ones that are typically horrible shaming exercises.) You are not going to forget those memories because you don’t have the thing, the thing is not necessary for you to feel those same emotions. Do you have a dress that belonged to your late mother? Then keep it, do you have a pair of jeans that you were wearing when you were proposed to? Ditch ’em, your not going to forget that.

          Back when I had to do the obligatory actor training (before I got to do ALL production training) we learned about and then actually did the exercises of sense memory. You can do things to lock in your complete knowledge of that texture, the weight, the smell, the EVERYTHING so that when you are grieving how you’ve changed since your twenties or something and want to just have that feeling you close your eyes and have it fully and completely there. Check out this exercise http://neilb.articlealley.com/method-acting-and-the-first-sense-memory-exercise-785285.html.

          Because if you don’t clear out physical and emotional space you have no room for new emotions to move in.

        • Yeah, I read the turning hangers around trick somewhere too. I heard of even taking it a step further: when you wear an item, place either a red, yellow, or green ribbon around the hanger depending on how you felt wearing the clothing item. If it made you feel cute, green ribbon. If you felt ok, but it wasn’t fantastic, yellow. If you didn’t feel great wearing the item, the fit didn’t work, you kept having to adjust it all day, or you just felt it wasn’t really your style anymore, red. Then you donate everything with a red ribbon too, even if you wore it.

          I thought that was helpful because there were some clothing items that would make rounds in my wardrobe, but I never felt very good in them. You deserve to feel great in everything you own! πŸ˜€

        • I have a basket in my closet. Whenever I see something in a drawer I haven’t worn in a while, I try it on, if I don’t want to wear it/it doesn’t fit I throw it in the basket. When the basket is full I sort through it and either give things away or store them for when my diet finally works!

    • I did keep nicer stuff that I wear when I shoot weddings, but I’ve always kept it in a separate area in my closet.

  2. Ugh, I unfortunately just did the emotional bits where I got rid of all my old clothes that I still love but stopped fitting awhile ago. And by “got rid of” I mean “bagged up with the intention to donate”. I realized, though, that I now have a perfectly lovely stash of fabric for flowers for my wedding, so I’m kind of excited that I don’t *actually* have to get rid of anything.

    That said, I think I’m going to implement this in the summer. I usually use this tactic to just get myself to wear the things I don’t typically bring out, but this seems like the more logical solution.

  3. A good idea if all the clothing you are holding on to is one size that fits you. If you’re not a consistent size though it is really difficult to get rid of excess clothing because of the feeling that you don’t want to buy it new if you change size again. I’ve never understood the advice many organizing folks give to get rid of all clothing that does not fit you now. Not practical unless you rarely change sizes or can afford to buy all new clothing regularly.

    • So, so true. This time last year, I had lost a lot of weight after dealing with a divorce. I was depressed and didn’t eat. My friends told me I looked great, which was strange because I was losing weight the worst way possible, but anyway… Yes, I had to buy a few new pair of jeans, but I’m so glad I didn’t get rid of my old jeans because now I’m back in them after living healthier/eating more.

      • Yes! I fluctuate by 10-20 pounds, it seems, every couple of years, so getting rid of clothing that’s “too big” or “too small” seems pretty crazy for me, as it means sooner or later, I’ll probably need those things again. Add in my current pregnancy (and the mystery of how much I will truly gain and then lose/keep off afterward), and there’s a whole new level of “what will fit in a few months???”

        I tend to keep those plastic zip-up bags from buying things like sheets and blankets, so I use those to store lesser-used soft items, like rarely-used sheets, blankets, and out of season/out of fitting range clothes. I actually have a good-sized one right now that I’m gradually filling with clothes from my dresser that currently don’t fit my growing belly. As for things hanging in the closet, I just keep shifting them toward the back (well, farther from the doors) so the things that fit are closer at hand. I store the zip-up bags in the closet, too, in case you were wondering.

    • Excellent point! I’ve been a consistent size for over a decade, so that definitely helps. I also do a LOT of thrifting — whenever I get rid of stuff that’s still in good shape I donate it, and generally bring in new thrifted things. I do usually buy stuff I wear to weddings new, but not that frequently.

    • I second the idea of only getting rid of clothing that doesn’t fit you now if you consistently stay at the same weight. I gained weight about three years ago, moving from one size to another. After about two years of keeping the smaller clothes around “just in case” I decided to embrace my new body, pack up the old clothes and stop tormenting myself with the idea that some day I would fit in them again. You see where this is going, don’t you? I lost 15 lbs this fall with a healthier diet and am right around my old weight. Instead of purging all the smaller clothes, I wish I had kept a few favorites.

    • I purged my closet after losing a bunch of weight. I was trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant and thought I needed a new start. three months later I finally got pregnant (with twins), and after the babies were born I got down to the size I originally was (but not the size after losing almost 20lb). Now I have to buy all new clothes. I kind of wish I had stored everything instead!

    • I so so much agree with you. This is very true when you get pregnant and then you have a baby and then in the process of losing weight. So hard to decide on which one to loose and how soon. Also often, this tug of war of losing maternity clothes increases when you think of a second baby in near future. That is why, being a mother of one-year old, I have packed all my pre-pregnancy clothes and kept in the store room and currently juggling with my maternity and present clothing. Once I am back to my old size (hoping!), I may use them.

  4. A similar idea is putting clothes into storage. I couldn’t bring my whole wardrobe with me when I moved overseas for 6 months. When I came back and opened up my clothing storage, I realized I didn’t care that much about some of the stuff left over. I kept any fancy dresses or office clothes/suits. Anything else that I didn’t miss wearing either got pitched or donated.

    • This is what happened to me – I moved in with my boyfriend with a couple of drawers full of clothes and left the rest of my wardrobe in storage for the best part of the year. When we moved house again and I reclaimed all my belongings, it was amazing to open up the boxes again. Such a funny mixture of sentimental things I was incredibly glad to have back and things I would never wear nowadays that got instantly thrown. (Of course, you then think “why did I store this all year?”)

      The other big advantage of moving with only a couple of drawers-worth of stuff was that I *had* to have that shopping trip for new stuff that I’d been promising myself for a very long time. πŸ™‚

      • Yes, that odd mix of guilt and embarrassment about over-sentimentality and storing things for a loooong time that you then realize you don’t really want or need.
        I get over it quickly once that item has found a new home.

    • I refer to this as the “two suitcase test.” I’ve moved internationally a couple of times, limited by baggage limits, and it helped me realize just how little stuff I actually need to be okay. I’ve been in one place for a bit now, but still use the suitcase test to cut down when I feel my life getting cluttered.

    • We keep ALL of our laundry in the same basket, so between 3 people it piles up. Not washing for 3 weeks = gigantic amount of clothing. That was also part of the motivation to ditch stuff.

      • that is the majority of my motivation to ditch clothing. i’m pretty stringent that the kids and i don’t have more than a week’s worth of clothes, because that is all the laundry i am willing to do! (the spouse, not so much…but i have better fights to fight πŸ˜‰

        • ugh, totally this. I made the rule that none of us needs more than 2 weeks worth of clothing. I’d love to make it one, but feel like I’d have a harder time getting rid of my son’s stuff (some of it is so cute/it’s not always easy to find brightly colored boys clothing once they start to get older) than mine!

      • Just to clarify, I was poking fun at myself for my slovenly laundry habits. I should definitely do laundry more often but I just… Don’t. The room pretty much has to look like my closet threw up all over it before laundry occurs. Maybe if I got rid of some of my clothes I’d do laundry more often… But I doubt I could convince my fiancΓ© to part with his beloved tshirt collection.

    • 2-3 weeks is my standard laundry time; that’s one hamper full. Of course, I have a lot of office clothes that don’t need washing — those get aired out, spot-cleaned, & *maybe* dry-cleaned occasionally (or more realistically, I use those dryer dry-cleaning things). And a lot of sweaters don’t go in the wash or they’ll get damaged. So really, I’m washing undies, socks/tights, PJs, shirts, workout (& by that, I mean lounging) gear, jeans, & misc. bits.

      Wasn’t there an OHL post about doing less laundry or am I imagining things? Ah, not quite, but this http://offbeathome.com/2012/09/not-quite-dirty-clothes

    • I try to do laundry weekly right now β€” but we bicycle commute right through the winter, and I have three pairs of wool long underwear, and my husband has two pairs, and we need to wear those every.single.freaking.day (I’m wearing two pairs at the moment), so going more than a week without washing them seems pretty gross. I’d love to only do laundry every two or three weeks, I just don’t have enough good warm stuff for that…

      • If they’re merino, you can totally wear them for a few days without washing, otherwise, a quick rinse does it. See Ariel’s recent post about the awesomeness that is Icebreaker : http://offbeathome.com/2013/11/merino-wool-underwear

        After that post, I was inspired. I bought two pairs of merino underwear and then went on a two week long honeymoon (you know, the kind of holiday you want to be clean and fresh… down there…). I would wear them once, rinse them with a bit of natural soap when I had a shower in the morning, and hung them up to dry while I wore the other. It.. was… lifechanging. I also have several merino singlets, that I can wear for several days (even going for long walks in) and they just don’t smell.

        Merino man. It’s a gamechanger.

    • It’s funny, but this is kind of the reason I have SO MANY clothes. When I was in college we didn’t have laundry machines on site and my partner and I were only willing to lug our stuff to the laundromat every three or four weeks. Therefore, I always needed enough clothing to get me through that period of time between washes. For the last four years or so, however, I’ve had laundry machines where I live and been able to do laundry once a week, but I still have a hard time getting rid of things because in the back of my mind I think, “what if I move somewhere without on-site laundry!?” It’s silly, and I have a lot of things I don’t particularly like, I just hold onto. Oh, well. My cross-country move this spring is going to necessitate purging of belongings!

  5. I wouldn’t call this a system really, but anytime I buy new clothes, when I go to hang them up, I kinda do a sweep of my closet and get rid of the things I haven’t worn. Sometimes it takes a few “sweeps” for me to actually get around to getting rid of something. OR–I’ll try changing/altering the clothes first. I’m not a sewing maven at all, but jean jacket that doesn’t quite fit anymore–now it’s a denim vest to wear to concerts! I don’t buy news clothes very often, though, because I have a hard time spending $$ on myself. It makes me feel better about it if I know I am going to donate some things when I get home.

    I think the “have I worn it in a year?” rule is good. In the span of a year, you’ve probably had any occasion for wearing dressier stuff and maybe had the winter weight gain/summer slim down and you know what works for all seasons.

    For dressers/drawers–I’d like to know a system for that too! Mine are cluttered with free T-shirts from bike rides and underwear that either doesn’t fit or is uncomfortable….but it’s either sentimental or I think I’ll need those pink leopard print boy shorts someday.

    • Yes, I have a bunch of sentimental T-shirts that are filling drawers, though for me, I usually wear them to sleep (because I’m not likely to go out in a big baggy shirt on a normal day). The result is that I basically have two pajama drawers (not proud of this fact): one with pj pants/sweatpants and nighties (and other such items) and one that’s pretty much shirts I sleep in–yes, I have a problem, and yes, I need to go through this drawer and pare the collection down a bit!

      Anyone have a recommendation for how to appropriately store things like hosiery? I have a number of pairs of black pantyhose and it seems like they just make a confusing mess when they’re stored in a drawer. Of course, I never fully mastered the art of folding, so I don’t put a lot of effort into folding things like underwear and hosiery, so this could just be my own problem.

        • I totally forgot about this post! Thanks for reminding me! Now I must add “buy more hangers” to my to-d0 list. It seems no matter how many hangers I get, they vanish as my husband hangs more and more of his not-necessary-to-hang-up-but-he-feels-like-hanging-them shirts…

        • Yeah, I’ve thought about this, but unfortunately, our house is already overrun by handmade blankets and quilts! (My husband and I both come from generations of crafty people, plus well-meaning gift givers.) Still, I might eventually make a t-shirt quilt to cut the number of accumulated shirts.

    • Yeah, I’m an underwear “I might wear this some day” storer. Around the time I got married, I got two identical very pretty white lacey panties that say “BRIDE” in rhinestones on the hip. I didn’t wear a pair on my wedding day in favor of Spanx. So what do I do with fancy panties?

      • I wear all my bride themed stuff (novelty t-shirt, underwear, lingerie, etc) on our anniversary, because that’s the time when I was a bride.

  6. I have many tricks to get myself to throw out some stuff (or donate it, if still good).

    Unfortunately, I STILL have way to many clothes, and I know why. As a plus-size person I tend to buy things in the “well, something like this might not come back around for a couple of seasons, so I might need it later” What’s that? Well, the selection in store is so limited for me (and I hardly ever buy online for many reasons [but that’s for another post]) that I will sometimes buy stuff I don’t need immediatly in case I can’t find it in store later when I do need it. Like black dress pants. You might need it for a volunteering stint at a fancy event, but it might also not be in store 6 months or more out of the year. Result : I have a lot of clothing I just feel I have to hold onto “in case”.

    Tricks to get myself to give the clothes up:
    1) Is it stained? Have I tried to get the stain out? Did it work? If still stained, it’s becoming rags or going in the trash (no cloth recycling around here, sad!) I spill a lot , so that one comes up often.
    2) Does it need repairs? Will I make the repairs now? If not, then I might as well get rid of it, because I’ve had a pair of pants that have been waiting a year to get a little stitch repaired…and they are still there. Well actually, no. I got rid of them 2 months ago with this new rule.
    3) All my summer clothes and some fancy items are stored under our bed. When I make the switch between winter/summer clothes, I look at what I haven’t worn in the season just past. Was there a specific reason or did I just not feel like wearing it? And with the new clothes, I put in the donation pile whatever I know I won’t feel like wearing for that season.
    4) Anything that is two sizes too small is out. I can yoyo 1 size up or down, but I’m not wearing something 2 sizes too small any time soon.
    5) When I buy new clothes, I get rid of redundant clothing, things that would serve a similar purpose. I also scan to see if I could get rid of stuff. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth the extra 20 seconds when putting clothes away.

    Some things I keep for emotional reasons, and that is ok as long as there aren’t too many of those. For example, that university hoody I bought when I got my acceptance letter in my program? Yeah, that one is staying even though I haven’t worn it in the last year or so.

    One of the areas I still need to address is the “inside clothing”/sleepwear problem. Sometimes, when a shirt is stained or black jeans are just too gray, I keep them to wear in the house while cleaning or doing some messy stuff. I also keep comfy camis as sleepwear, but I have way too many of those. I have to start getting rid of t-shirts and stuff, even though I got them at a special event or they are souvenirs. I’m still perfecting my system.

    • The jammies! That’s my biggest issue. I like to do a donation sweep every time my husband and I move (since we’re still moving once a year right now) and I have an ungodly amount of big, cozy jammy shirts that I can’t bear to give away. They usually have sentimental value too which makes it harder. That Mountain Dew sleepy shirt? I stole that from a high school friend in his freshman year of college. The lifeguarding shirts? Those are left over from my lifeguarding summers. I love to retire old clothing in to sleeping clothing. I guess it’s okay since I haven’t paid for jammies in a while and I guess it’s saving us money. But at the same time, where do all these sleeping shirts keep coming from?!

      • Rationally, I know I should just get rid of all the jammies, because after I met husband, I wound up taking on his habit of sleeping naked and now I never wear jammies. But some of the pants and tops have sentimental value. And then every once in a while, we go somewhere like a camping trip or crashing at the in-laws where sleeping naked is not desirable and I know I’ll be in trouble if I get rid of all the jammies…

    • This, this, a thousand times this! I really need to implement your rules.

      I hang on to a lot of stuff when it’s barely too small, but then only realize years later – crap, there’s no way I’m going to make it back into this thing that’s 3 sizes too small anytime soon. And it’s also freeing not to have it staring at you guiltily every time you’re looking for that xyz you don’t wear very often.

      And the problem with the “play clothes” as I call them… My husband refuses to get rid of old t-shirts because they would be good for woodworking in the basement. This is valid, but only within reason! Sometimes when everything is clean, I gather up all the “play” t-shirts so we can really asses and then I toss the worst ones and my husband can see, there are still 15 others (or whatever – still a work in process).

      • Before we moved in together, I had my husband chuck a BUNCH of clothes I hade never seen him wear since we were together. I mean like half of the clothes he owned!

        Then a year later, we went through his stuff again, and we still had two garbage bags full of stuff to donate! A lot of it was things he had kept the last time around that didn’t even fit then. So this time, I had him try ALL the stuff on (which I do recommend as part of the seasonal filtering process! We sometimes keep stuff that really doesn’t fit well anymore, or not like we remembered it). I’m still working on getting him to adopt “the rules” πŸ˜‰ But really, I can’t complain since he doesn’t say a peep about the fact that I take up 2/3 of our common closet…

        • My husband and I got married after eight years of dating. When I helped him pack up before we moved into together I discovered TONS of clothes that I had never even seen before. It was eye opening!

    • I went through my pajama drawer the other day and started throwing out anything I deemed excessive. I had a ton of t shirts that I never even sleep or clean in — they were just there. So they went out, along with a few long sleeved t shirts. I feel weird donating stuff like this because it’s usually so old it’s not really wearable, so we usually tear that kind of stuff into smaller pieces and use them as rags to clean with. They’re washable/reusable, which is a huge plus!

    • The hard to find size issue is my problem. I have a 40″ inseam and wear size 15 shoes. If I get rid of pants or shoes that fit, I’ll most likely never be able to find a replacement ever again.

    • I definitely have problems with the “inside clothing”/sleepwear/workout clothes also. It’s hard because those things tend to be attached to pretty specific events or groups, like college clubs or races I’ve run. I’m still working on it, but the most useful thing I’ve done so far is to just count everything. Now that I can see how many of those t-shirts I’m hanging on to (and it’s far more than I’ll wear in a laundry cycle or two), maybe I can actually get rid of them? Maybe I’ll take pictures first…or pay someone to make a quilt for me…

      • Yes it is hard. Something like 10 of those t-shirts are actually from events I won, organized (with lots of sweat and tears!) or helped organized in the subsequent years. They make me part of a pretty exclusive club since I’m one of only 3 people having all the shirts for that particular event over the first 7 years. I just can’t get rid of them, but I don’t know what to do with all of them either.

        • You should definitely take pictures of them, whether you keep the actual shirts or not. My husband has some highschool track shirts he won. He is so not sentimental with clothing, so it confused me at first until he explained why they were special.

  7. Very elegant solution! Although some clothes are pretty hard to get rid of for whatever reason, even if I’ve never worn them (or haven’t in years) because I never found an occasion, or it doesn’t fit well, or match anything, or the color doesn’t suit me at all. Every so often I pull all those clothes out of the closet and put them in a paper bag for a while, which I will eventually take to Goodwill. There’s no set time frame other than when I get tired of the bag sitting in my room. It lets me feel like I’m not getting rid of everything yet, since I could always fish it back out. Funny enough, I never do!

  8. This is a good idea. I usually go through my drawers whenever I’m in a really bad mood, and that helps me to be like “fuck this, throw it out”.

  9. This used to work great for me, but then pregnancy/breastfeeding happened. No one told me how much women’s bodies change! WTF, this was not in the user manual. In the past two years I’ve gained and lost about 60lbs with my pregnancy, breastfed for 15 months, and gained three cup sizes (putting me at a 34G). I also dyed my hair pink, and we moved twice.

    I have clothes I can’t wear in bins in our attic storage labelled by why I can’t wear them: “Maternity”, “WTF boobs”, “I can’t breastfeed in this”, “clashes with hair”, “it doesn’t get cold in California” etc. I try to be clear about reasons for holding onto stuff, and whether those reasons are likely to change anytime soon. I do get rid of stuff with some regularity. But really it’s kind of gone to hell. There is too much clothing and surprisingly little I can actually wear at any given moment.

    Since we’re hoping to have more kids, I’m sort of resigned to this state of chaos continuing for the next couple of years (basically until I’m totally done with babies and breastfeeding). Anyone have any ideas for making it more bearable?

    • I can commiserate. My little one is almost 2, but we’re not done with munchkins yet, so I’ve got stuff I’m hanging onto as well. Plus the stuff that I *know* will never fit right ever, but I can’t bear to let go!
      Do you have friends who are about the same size as you, who are also in the having kids process? I passed on most of my maternity stuff to two of my friends (knowing that I will get it – and likely more! – passed back if/when we have another munchkin), which freed up a lot of space.
      As for the other stuff, I have not yet found an answer :S

      • I haven’t had much luck with the loaning maternity stuff out, though that is what we did with a lot of the infant gear. We’re kind of on the leading edge of the kid wave, and when you factor in relative size and differences in fashion preferences, there hasn’t get been anyone to lend my clothes to. But perhaps in the future!

    • I’m quite familiar with the “it doesn’t get cold in California” box of clothing. I had several of those until I moved from Irvine, CA to Seattle recently. I still have some “these clothes are too warm except for a couple of weeks in winter” clothes, since it doesn’t generally get that cold here in Seattle. Except those couple of weeks when it did and I was one of the only people walking around with a warm enough coat.

  10. I don’t have this problem with my day-to-day clothes (mainly because I just live in jeans and cheap t-shirts. I wear them until they have irreparable holes/stains and then recycle them into rags or craft projects). But I do have over half a dozen formal dresses in my closet that I haven’t worn more than once, yet can’t seem to get rid of. The issue here is that I’ve been in several friends weddings, and my friends have had universally AMAZING taste in bridesmaid’s dresses. They all still fit me, i spent a lot of money on them, and they’re gorgeous dresses – but really, how much formal wear does one person need?

    • Throw yourself and your friends-with-fabulous-taste and fancy get-up dinner party.
      Then you can ALL dress up and marvel at how great you look in your fancy dresses, and then like… eat nachos and watch Sixteen Candles.
      Or maybe that’s just my ideal dinner party.

  11. LOL this doesn’t work for me because I’m the kind of person who will dring out of measuring cups if all the glasses are dirty or use a soup ladle for my cereal, lol. So when I get to the end of my closet (those plaid pants and rayon top I never wear) I just wear it. It’s acutally helped me to reintroduce some older less worn items into my everyday wear though

  12. Please correct me if I missed a comment somewhere as I was scrolling down, but I think it’s odd that more people aren’t mentioning donating old clothes, which is what I nearly always do! I would never have the time, desire, or energy to “re-purpose” old clothing for myself, nor would I ever be so wasteful as to just throw it away in the garbage, so I always donate it somewhere. If it’s random obscure stuff, I give it to goodwill. If it’s nicer professional type stuff that I’ve replaced with newer items and just don’t need anymore, I try to find women’s shelters to donate them to, because women’s shelters really need nice, professional clothes! I know there are lots of organizations that also seek out formal dress donations. Another option is consignment, especially if you have nicer/newish stuff that you’re just not wearing for whatever reason. I find that these methods help me want to get rid of clothes, because I feel like I’m doing something good by cleaning my stuff out!

    In terms of a closet cleaning strategy, I think someone already mentioned it, but I definitely try to follow the “replacement” rule when I go shopping for new stuff. If I buy three new tops, I cycle out at least two for donation.

    • I think when most people are talking about “getting rid of” clothing, they mean donating it, for the most part. But a lot of the clothes I get rid of are things that are stained, torn, or otherwise falling apart. Those things should get recycled (if that happens in your town), turned into rags, or as a last resort, thrown away. I try to cull the clothing I donate and make sure I’m not donating things that are too damaged… I feel like if I just bundle everything I want to get rid of into a big bag and toss it all at the thrift store, I’m actually being less helpful, because I’m taking up the time of the store’s sorters who have to get rid of the damaged stuff instead of just doing it myself.

    • I assumed everyone meant donating when they said “get rid of” or “toss” etc. I can’t imagine anyone throwing clothes in the actual garbage.

      Actually, I often find myself with spare fabric from altering something (turning too short pants into shorts etc), and I don’t even throw that away. I’m hoping I can someday find a fabric donation thing, because it’s perfectly good for scraps.

  13. I have recently been trying to switch my wardrobe over from “clothes that worked for my life six years ago” to “clothes that work for my life now”, so I’ve been buying more than I’ve bought in, well, about six years, and trying to get rid of some of the rest. What I do with clothes (and other things β€” gifts, thrift store purchases we’re not using much, etc) is box it up, label it with the date, and donate it after six months if it hasn’t come out of the box. Of course, I don’t box up seasonal stuff in its off-season (so I just boxed up long-sleeved shirts and sweaters that I didn’t really like or wear that much, and sometime this summer I need to purge the t-shirts and tank tops), but I find it strikes a good balance between making sure I’m really ready to let things go (and really don’t need them) and yet not holding on to things for too long. Anything that has stains I can’t get out, though, or is too worn out to mend, I make into rags.

  14. Getting rid of my work wardrobe on ebay…retirement is next year. Great, happy reason to get rid of clothing. If it doesn’t sell it goes to Goodwill!

  15. I keep my closet small by limiting the amount of hangers I have. If I buy a new shirt, I have to get rid of something else in the closet to free up a hanger for it.

    • I do the same thing but with hanger trees. I have “permission” to own 10 shirts, 5 hoodies, 5 zip ups, 8 pairs of pants, etc… and it makes my closet hang vertically instead of horizontally so all my clothes take up about 1/4 of my closet, leaving the rest of the space for my guitar and cello. We might be moving soon, but with that tactic I want to create a built in “she space” for makeup and getting ready within my closet knowing that I don’t need too much room.

  16. A few years ago I made a commitment to reduce my wardrobe by 1/3 over the course of a year. It was so satisfying I’ve done it again and again until I only have two feet of hanging space and a shelf of shirts and pants (plus pajamas, workout clothes). I do wear the same things all the time but they are comfortable and look good, and I realized most things in my closet didn’t fit BOTH criteria.
    The hard-and easy- part is that I’ve been pregnant and/or nursing for the past four years so I’m very limited in what I can wear. I do have lots of favorites packed away for when I don’t have to accommodate my babies all the time!
    As for husbands old gross shirts, we made a deal: for every three he gets rid of, he can buy a new one. It helps if I buy one I know he’ll love, then he lets me pick the three to trash. Good bye sweat-stained, holey college shirts!

  17. My favorite closet-purge system is to shuffle everything that’s hanging up, then every morning i have to wear whatever’s on the left (you hang clean clothes back on the right side). It has helped me rediscover clothes that i like but don’t wear often; also, it’s much easier to get rid of something if you “have” to wear it but you really don’t want to. You won’t want to keep that stained/too tight/frumpy/whatever shirt after wearing it around all day and hating it, lol

  18. My mom taught me the trick to look at your clothes like you’re going through a thrift store rack. Really look at your clothes as they are now, not as you imagine them to be. Sometimes I’ll look at a shirt I loved and be surprised that it’s faded, full of holes, too small, or stained. In my mind I still imagine my clothes to look how they did when they were new. If you really look critically at your clothes as if you’re seeing them for the first time at a thrift store and you wouldn’t buy them again, it’s time to donate them. I actually did have this weird experience where I donated some clothes to Goodwill but I guess they were bought up by a high-end trendy thrift store I like to shop at. I was browsing through a rack and came across my old shirts. I instantly knew they were mine, but it was strange to see how faded and out of fashion they actually were. They were totally something that I would have (and almost did) skip right over.

    • Oh, that’s super smart! That would also work for those things I actually never wore, but hold on to because I wish they did work or I don’t want to admit that the money spent on them was a waste. If I wouldn’t buy it again, knowing that it didn’t work out the way I thought it would, then I’d probably rather have the space back. Or so I will tell myself during my next closet purge! πŸ™‚

  19. …. baskets!!

    My own version of this is that I empty my entire wardrobe onto the spare bed. As I wear things, I wash/dry/put them AWAY, and when it’s been say a month, the pile on the bed gets stuck into a trash bag and donated.

  20. I do the replacement thing where for each one new thing I buy I try and take out one thing. Then every six months I empty everything on my bed and then put away each item individually. Being forced to pick up an item and look at it helps with decisions about things to keep/alter/donate/bin.

  21. Three tips:
    -some consignment stores give back unsold clothes. I bring in stuff, and two months later I get money or clarity on whether to keep something. If I missed it, mine! If not, donate.
    -I turn sentimental tee shirts into wall art, and/or cut them into strips and crochet into floor mats. Stained stuff can be garment dyed for even prettier rugs!
    -take a photo of yourself wearing the sentimental clothing, or give it to a friend! Basically, I’m suggesting re-put posing instead of ditching. Makes the purge easier on the old feelings.

  22. I try to go through once a year and donate all the clothes and t-shirts I didn’t really wear that year. I usually do this around Christmas when everyone is being reminded to give back to the community. πŸ˜›

  23. What helps me to make decisions about parting with possessions of any kind is to imagine the people that don’t have them. How much happiness, or even utilization, would someone else get out of this item? Now, compare to how much happiness/utilization you get out of this item. That pair of jeans that you wear once a year? Someone in need might wear them every single day.

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