6 New Year’s closet decluttering rules you need for a new you – according to professional organizers

New year, new closet – these 6 decluttering rules are essential for a fresh wardrobe

A large open closet built in, spanning one wall. White shelving with shoes and hanging clothes
(Image credit: Sharps)

Sorting out closets and redefining personal style are some of the most common New Year’s resolutions made each January, but without some good rules, we often give up.

When decluttering a closet in January, there are several things you need to consider outside of ordinary clear-out, from your new resolutions, to how much time you want to spend sorting it out.

These are the decluttering pro’s six New Year’s closet decluttering rules you need for a new you.

New Year’s closet decluttering rules

While this approach may not be the best way to declutter clothes fast, it is worth taking your time in the New Year to truly reset your home for the new year and set yourself up for success. 


(Image credit: Ted Todd)

1. Identify your goals

As with any decluttering plan, it is vital to set your goals and write out a plan before you start. This is particularly important when it comes to January decluttering, says Shannon Krause, professional home organizer and founder of Tidy Nest.

‘Decluttering is about making mindful choices that enhance your lifestyle and environment so before you start this process, take a minute and identify your goals. Do you need to pair down your inventory to make room for new items? Do you need to remove items that no longer fit or in style? Are you changing your style?’ 

Setting goals and intentions will make letting go of stuff easier, while also helping you to stay on track.  

All-in-One Declutter Planner | $3.92 at Etsy

All-in-One Declutter Planner | $3.92 at Etsy
This printable decluttering planner is all you need to help tackle your home's mess without missing a step. It is perfect for both keeping on top of your belongings and starting off on your first big clearout.

Shannon Krause
Shannon Krause

Shannon Krause is a professional organizer who holds a specialist certificate in Brain-Based Conditions from the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO), and is a Certified Reiki Master which she incorporates into her work with clients. Tidy Nest has helped dozens of clients bring order into their lives and has won local awards recognizing their work. 

2. Start with the items that don’t make you happy

When decluttering clothes, the obvious starting point is to get rid of items that no longer make you happy – this means clothes that no longer fit you and make you feel guilty, clothes that no longer suit your style, or clothes that are attached to bad memories, suggests Laura Price, professional organizer and founder of The Home Organisation.

‘There are often new clothes from Christmas to be added to your wardrobe, so don’t hold back on donating a few older items to keep it feeling spacious and user-friendly,’ she urges.

‘I don’t recommend holding onto clothes that no longer fit you, even if you think they’re motivating you for a New Year's health kick. Storing clothes you can’t wear isn’t useful, they take up valuable space and it’s not always guaranteed you will wear them again.’

Laura Price
Laura Price

Laura Price is the owner of The Home Organisation. Laura Price's goal is to help others experience the benefits of living an organized life after discovering that organized homes brought her peace when raising three children in a hectic home. Hence the birth of The Home Organization, a dedicated team of professional organizers.

3. Work on it steadily

If you are looking to declutter without making a mess, or declutter without getting overwhelmed, then working on your closet steadily and over the period of a few weeks to a month can help you reach your goals more easily, says Shannon Krause, professional home organizer.

‘If tackling your entire wardrobe in one shot sounds daunting, consider incorporating exercises like the one-in, one-out method throughout the year or having a donation box by the front door (not the closet),' Shannon recommends. 'If you’ve deemed an item “donate”, it should leave your eyesight immediately; ideally, it would leave your home just as fast. You'll feel good about supporting those in need, and you'll continue to be engaged in the process of editing year-round,’ she suggests.

‘If you’re not feeling confident with your decision-making while decluttering, try placing all your “donate” items in a box(es) in an area of your home for a set period – add a calendar reminder so you don’t forget. If you haven’t thought about the items during that set time frame, you should feel confident about letting them go.’

4. Organize your closet for inspiration

More often than not, when we ‘have nothing to wear’ it is because we are struck by decision fatigue. The best remedy? Taking everything out and reorganizing your closet to give yourself a good idea of everything you own, recommends Elizabeth Lulu Miranda, professional organizer and founder of Mercury Organizing.

‘Organizing your closet can inspire you to create new outfit combinations and experiment with different styles,’ she explains. ‘By giving your clothes a new life, you can avoid the need to constantly purchase new items and contribute to a more sustainable approach to fashion. 

‘You will find satisfaction when you breathe new life into your wardrobe; you’ll even be surprised by what you can create with what you already have.’

Elizabeth LuLu Miranda
Elizabeth Lulu Miranda

Elizabeth Lulu Miranda is the heart of Mercury Organizing. She is an innovative and resourceful organizer who loves to help people create a better way for themselves. Elizabeth’s passion for organization and efficiency started as a child. Her mother would find her in the kitchen, rearranging the silverware and utensil drawers.

5. Don’t keep broken garments

Stained, torn, or shrunken clothing has no place in your closet, reminds Laura Price, professional organizer. ‘A new year means it’s time to actually do something about the unwearable clothes you have stashed away in your to-do pile. Recycle any pieces you know you won’t get around to fixing and set yourself a time frame for the rest,’ she suggests.

6. Replace old hangers for neat organization

Once you have decluttered, it is essential to organize a closet so that it is easy to use – this can help prevent you from forgetting garments, or struggling with finding something to wear, says professional organizer, Elizabeth Lulu Miranda:

‘Once you have the clothes you want to keep selected, remove those plastic or wire hangers and place them on heavy-duty hangers or wooden hangers instead to make it even easier for yourself to see what you own and choose what you want to wear.

‘I personally like using velvet hangers, such as these from Amazon, to prevent items falling off when sorting through rails.’  

Velvet Slimline hangers | View at Amazon

Velvet Slimline hangers | View at Amazon
Velvet slimline hangers are an expert-approved favorite and are perfect for both keeping clothes in place and making space in your closet.


Should I get rid of clothes I haven’t worn in a year?

It is a good idea to get rid of clothes you haven’t worn in a year. Not only are they not likely to fit or to make you happy anymore (or else you would have reached for them sooner), but they are also taking up valuable space in your closet that could be used for better things.

How do I know what clothes to get rid of?

When decluttering clothes, the general rule of thumb is to get rid of anything that no longer fits, is not comfortable, is damaged or stained, or you simply no longer like. Getting rid of these pieces and living with less may seem like it would give you less choice, but it instead allows you to see your remaining garments more easily, allowing you to make better decisions each morning.

Just because it is your personal goal to re-evaluate your style in the new year, doesn't mean you have to work on your closet alone, reminds Shannon Krause, professional home organizer. ‘It’s always best to do this task with a friend or a professional organizer to keep you accountable, honest, and on track,’ she says. ‘Plus, it’s more fun!’ 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.