Closet Cleaning for Hoarders –
This is not your ordinary closet cleaning tutorial! Join me as I bravely enter the Closet of Doom. Will I escape in one piece? Will I survive the unknown? Will I ever emerge again? Only time will tell.
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Perhaps I’ll find Narnia instead of the back wall. Perhaps I’ll fall through a trapdoor and land in a dusty cellar. Maybe I’ll tumble down a rabbit hole. Just kidding. Unfortunately, this is only a normal closet – structurally speaking anyway. It’s way more messy than a normal closet. It’s a disaster area that has been building for years, and my husband has most recently started calling it “Jumanji-land.” If he sees me walk into my closet, he will grab my arm and beg me not to go in there because I “might get sucked into the jungle.”
Some of you will remember that the trailer at the end of The Taming of the Socks video promised its harrowing sequel Conquering the Closet of Doom, so here we go.
My husband and I have matching His and Her closets, one on either side of the hallway. Well, I guess they were matching for one entire day while they were still empty. These His and Her closets were one of the Top Five selling points of the house for me. Mine has way more stuff in it than his, but his has only his own stuff. Mine has every random item from one of the kids that I find lying around and have no idea where else to put, so I just throw it in my closet. It also has all of my own stuff. So hubby’s closet = stuff from one person. My closet = stuff from many people. If our closets were dangling on separate sides of one of those balance scales they have in physics labs, mine would go crashing to the basement.
See his almost empty closet. There’s practically NOTHING in it. I promise our closets are the same size, but his looks way bigger.
Forget All the Usual Closet Cleaning Rules
Practically every Organize your Closet post I find online gives the same advice, and none of that advice is anything I can actually follow. All decluttering wisdom I find on the internet is written for people who don’t need to keep any of their possessions. All the “easy guides” are directed at people who apparently have no problem tossing everything they own. They all say get rid of this, and get rid of that. If I could just get rid of all this stuff in our house, I wouldn’t need someone to tell me how to clean and organize anything because there would be nothing left to clean and organize!
I can’t just get rid of everything we own because PEOPLE ACTUALLY LIVE HERE. And there’s not just one person living here. There are seven people living here. We need clothes for all those people. We need shoes for all those people. Not just one pair of shoes – we need basketball shoes, and track shoes, and cross country shoes, and softball shoes, and hunting boots, and cowboy boots, and flip-flops, and dress shoes all multiplied by several people. We need athletic equipment for every season. We don’t live in a climate where the weather is the same all year. We live in the Midwest where we can experience all four seasons in one day, so we must have shoes, clothing, and gear for all temperature scenarios.
I am not going to show you how I got rid of everything we own and then post a picture of my perfectly organized closet with only six hangers left because I don’t believe that’s even real. Where are these mythical creatures who only need enough clothes to fill six hangers? Umm . . . six-hanger closets only exist on the covers of magazines. I should just shove everything into the His closet for a minute and take a picture of six hangers in mine, just for fun. Ha! Not going to happen! Because I’m not going to remove everything.
Sorry, There Are No Easy Steps in This Guide!
The first step in every other closet organizing guide I’ve ever read says to remove every single item from the closet to begin with an empty slate. Right! Do you know what would happen if I removed every single item from my closet at one time? I would have to put it all on my bed. Since it will take me weeks, maybe even months, to complete this project, that is not going to work for us. I can’t have the contents of my closet on my bed for months.
Putting stuff on my bed does not result in it being put where it belongs. Putting stuff on my bed is a good way for it to all end up on the floor or elsewhere. I used to have this brilliant laundry strategy where I would take RiflemanDad’s laundry pile to the bedroom and put it right by his pillow. In my mind, this was going to help him remember to put it away before going to bed. Seven times out of ten, he would move the stack of laundry to my side of the bed. Two times out of ten, he would move the laundry pile to the dresser. One time out of ten, he would put it in the drawers. It wasn’t an effective strategy. He apparently was not falling for my diabolical laundry plan. Now I just put the stacks of clean laundry on the dresser, and he puts his away. Don’t ask me why this works. He doesn’t like it sitting on the dresser, I guess. Unfortunately, I often leave my stack on the dresser now because there isn’t room in my closet because it’s too full of other people’s stuff.
Since there would be nowhere to put the entire contents of the closet for the weeks or months it’s going to take me to finish this project, that plan is not an option. For the first stage, I decided to just remove everything that was easy to eliminate. These are the items I can’t even pretend we still need or items that the kids need to take to their own rooms now that the younger two don’t share a room with one extremely overcrowded closet.
What Can Actually Be Removed?
When the kids were little, I kept all of their pajamas and underwear in plastic drawers in my closet because they all showered in my bathroom then. They have long since started showering in their own bathrooms, but for some reason, I had never bothered to clear all those toddler pajamas out of my space. I actually use this type of plastic drawers a lot inside of closets and cabinets to add vertical storage space. They usually don’t cost much more than building additional shelves or drawers would, and they aren’t permanent. If our needs change, and we need that space for something else of a different size or shape, I can just move the plastic unit to someplace else. I don’t have to make any holes in the walls. The plastic also cleans easily with just a washcloth and dish soap.
I found several interesting items along the way!
Why did I still have this huge stash of pull-ups buried behind the pajamas? I should have tossed those years ago. It’s been a really long time since anyone here was in pull-ups. I’m a big kid now! I finally ditched those pull-ups.
Does anybody need a free Wendy’s Frosty? You can use it if you hop in your time machine and travel back to before it expired in 2015. Sadly, there’s probably some food in my pantry that expired even before this coupon.
Then I came across this gem of a t-shirt that Mrs. Merica made for Mr. Merica’s basketball game. It was rather bold!
If your daughter ever makes a shirt like this for a young man, you should probably just assume she’ll be married to him within a year. (You can go back and read the Married in High School story if you somehow missed it.)
Finally a Place for My Stuff
Once I managed to free the three plastic drawers that used to hold the kids’ pajamas, I was able to move my own stuff into them. I put bathing suits in one, underwear in one, and travel stuff (small detergents, mini-toiletries, zipper pouches, etc.) in the bottom one. These had previously all been in the smaller plastic drawers on the side that were overflowing and spilling onto the floor.
After that, I started purging some of my clothes. I have trouble with holding on to anything I think I might need at a later time. I still didn’t get rid of everything I probably should have, but I did remove any hanging item that had visible dust on the shoulders. I figured that meant it’s been there long enough that I’m probably never going to wear it.
Purging the toddler pajamas and my dusty-shouldered clothes was about all I could take for one night. This left me with one trash bag of actual trash (pull-ups, empty boxes, and any clothes with stains or tears), a brown grocery sack of pajamas for the neighbor girl, and a large pile of clothes to donate to a class at the school for the indoor rummage sale they are having to raise money for a trip. That pile ended up being two full trash bags.
I realize the after picture doesn’t look a huge amount better, but that is partly because once I freed up some of the hangers, I started putting away clothes that had been sitting on the dresser because they wouldn’t fit in my closet. Remember, I promised we weren’t going to get my closet down to six hangers. Maybe I should work on getting it down to just sixty. The closet doesn’t look greatly improved, but the hallway is now clean, and the top of my dresser looks tremendously better.
See. You don’t even have to follow all the closet cleaning rules. I make my own rules around here. We’re taking baby steps.
That concludes Part 1, and don’t expect a Part 2 anytime soon because while I was cleaning this closet, the rest of the house turned to complete chaos. I’m going to have to deal with that first. I’m sure you’ll be waiting on the edge of your seat for the next installment, so I know you’ll want to subscribe to get the updates.