How to organize shoes in a small closet – 5 expert methods

Experts share their best methods to organize your closet so you don’t need to choose between your favorite shoes

bedroom with white closet
(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

Our shoes reveal a lot about who we are, and there are many situations in which we need a wide selection of different shoe styles and colors; for work, for socializing, or just a casual pair to feel comfortable in.

If you have a small closet and a growing footwear collection, fear not. It's totally possible to organize shoes in small spaces, you just need some space-saving shoe organizing methods and a few products to help.

We asked experts for their pro tips, and they revealed some easy wins for you to incorporate allowing you to keep all the shoes you want and maximize space in your small closet to allow for further purchases. 

Try these organization methods at home to free up shoe space in your closet

After organizing your clothes in a small closet, the next task is always your shoes. The last thing you want to do is to dirty, damage, or even lose your most-loved shoes.

These tips will save you space and time searching for your favorite pair.

wardobe with drawers and hanging space

(Image credit: Go Modern Furniture)

1. Declutter and prioritize

The first step is to start decluttering your shoe collection, you need to know exactly where all of your shoes are, their condition, and how many you have and need.

Take out all your shoes and assess which ones you truly need and wear regularly. If you notice that there are some damaged shoes or pairs that no longer serve you, put them in separate piles for donating or discarding.

Once you have been through all of your footwear, you will have freed up space in your closet which will make organizing the space easier.

2. Utilize vertical space

Often because we have a small closet we automatically assume that there is no room in it, but that is not always the case. Vertical potential is often overlooked and instead, it should be used to our advantage.

Vertical space is especially useful when it comes to organizing shoes, not only does it allow us to see our shoe collection easily, but it also helps us take up space that would otherwise be unused. 

A shoe riser is an effective and simple way to use up your vertical space in the closet and essentially increases the amount of shoe storage space you have on your shelves.

Professional organizer Caroline Guntur says that she relies on shoe risers, available at Amazon, and uses them in all small closets for her clients: ‘It allows both pumps and flats to be stacked instead of just side by side, this automatically increases the amount of shelf space available for your shoe collection.’

Caroline Guntur
Caroline Guntur

Caroline is a professional organizer based in the Chicago area, helping clients to reclaim their time, prioritize their passions by decluttering and streamlining their belongings.

3. Over-the-door organizers

According to professional organizer Camilla Frederico, one space that is often overlooked is the closet door itself.

‘If the back of your closet door is bare, an over-the-door shoe organizer can make the most of this space,’ she says. ‘They also happen to store several pairs of shoes at once. Additionally, they can also double as storage for accessories!'

Over-the-door organizers, at Wayfair, will help take the clutter away from inside the closet, conjuring up space from nowhere and making it much easier to see everything.

Camilla Federico
Camilla Frederico

The Personal Helpers is a proud member of NAPO — The National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals, based in New York City.

4. Use clear shoe boxes

When tackling a small closet, it is often a struggle to organize your shoes and see them clearly. Even though new shoes and trainers come in shoe boxes, they are often opaque and come in different sizes.

Having a more uniform and transparent box to store your footwear allows consistency in the space and allows the shoes to be visible while remaining in a box.

‘I always recommend storing your shoes in clear boxes,’ says Aleesha Dane, founder of Relaxing Space. ‘It will maximize your storage and you can easily see which shoes you have.’

Stackable clear shoe boxes, at Amazon, not only save space but also protect your shoes from dust. Furthermore, the clear view allows you to simply locate the shoes you want at any time.

Aleesha Dane
Aleesha Dane

Aleesha is the founder of Relaxing Space, an online platform sharing best practices for organization, home decor and help people destress and create a relaxing environment.

5. Rotate your shoes seasonally

Underbed shoe storage box

(Image credit: The Container Store)

‘If you have limited space, consider rotating your shoes seasonally,’ says Nathaly Viera.

Founder of Inspire Clean. ‘Store out-of-season shoes in a separate location, such as under-bed storage or a different closet, and swap them out as the seasons change.’

Rotating your shoes seasonally allows you to align your footwear to the clothes in your closet. For example, you are more likely to wear your summer sandals versus winter boots during the warmer months. 

Consider how often you are going to be wearing each type of shoe and create space by removing the pairs not needed for now.

Nathaly Viera
Nathaly Viera

Nathaly started Inspire Clean soon after completing her MA in International Business from D'Youville College. Inspire Clean is one of the top-rated house cleaning services in Southern Ontario


Can I put my shoes in the washing machine?

Yes, you can, but it depends on the material. Generally speaking, shoes made of canvas, nylon, cotton, and polyester can safely be washed in a washing machine; however, those made with leather, suede, rubber, or vinyl should not be placed in the washer.

When you organize a closet that has limited space, you have to keep in mind that each closet is different, it is best to choose the storage and organizational solution that works for you and your space. These organization ideas will set you up for having a manageable and functional closet in no time.

Seraphina Di Mizzurati
Contributing Editor

Seraphina is a contributing editor at Homes & Gardens, writing Solved features on organizing and storage. She loves to decorate and also grow her own produce from her home in London. Her previous experience includes working at Women's Health and Fabulous Magazine.