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How to Be Ruthless When Decluttering Clothes

Decluttering over 80% of my wardrobe has made the biggest difference in my life as a mom. I get ready faster leaving me more time to get my kids ready. My closet isn’t overwhelming anymore and laundry doesn’t pile up nearly as high. Let’s talk about how to be ruthless when decluttering clothes – everything I’ve learned on my minimalism journey!

Related: 7 Lazy Mom Hacks to Declutter Kids Toys Painlessly

Related: My House is a Disgusting Mess and I Don’t Know Where to Start

Motivation to Declutter Clothes

The benefits of simplifying my wardrobe extend far beyond just making laundry day easier.

I’ve found that decluttering my wardrobe has actually somehow made me feel better about myself.

When I still had a closet packed full of clothes, I can promise you that only about 25% of them actually fit me.

Maybe 5% of them made me feel good about myself when I wore them.

What was actually happening was a whole lot of guilt and negative self talk every time I’d open my closet.

“Our youngest is two, why haven’t I lost all of the baby weight yet?”

“I’m lazy.”

“I have nothing to wear.”

how to declutter too many clothesAs the Minimal Mom on Youtube pointed out, our possessions actually speak to us.

Your jam packed closet is no different.

What you think it says to you is that you have security.

You always have something to wear.

You earned this outfit, you spent a lot of money on it, it’s a good quality so you own nice things…

Instead, your wardrobe is actually telling you the opposite.

It’s constantly reminding you how much money you’ve spent on clothes that you rarely have an excuse to wear.

It’s reminding you that you don’t have the body you want yet.

Let’s kick out the negativity and make room (literally) for a more positive wardrobe that fits and makes you actually feel good!

How to Declutter Your Wardrobe

There are a few tricks that have worked well for me, but the first one I tried takes some time.

Years ago, I turned all of my hangers around on New Years Eve and made a promise to myself that the following year, I’d get rid of any shirt I hadn’t worn yet.

I ended up parting with most of my clothes before then because I’m not a wait and see kind of person.

I like to see instant results.

Plus, unless you’re hanging your pants, this only works for tops and blouses.

Instead, I gave myself a number of clothes I wanted, plus a “just in case” budget.

My “just in case” clothing budget included one outfit to wear to a wedding, another to wear to a funeral, and one to wear to a nicer occasion – like my husband’s company Christmas party.

Next, I decided how many shirts I thought I really needed.

We lived in a state with actual seasons at the time (now we live in Florida) so I wanted to keep 14 short sleeved shirts, 14 long sleeved shirts, 7 shorts and 7 pants.

This was a minimalist wardrobe to me at the time.

To get down to that number, I just shopped my closet.

It’s just way too hard for me to go through my things and decide what to get rid of.

Somehow, wardrobe decluttering is much easier for me when I go through and decide what to keep instead.

I picked out my favorite 14 short sleeved shirts, and so on.

I’ll admit, there were a few extras that I just couldn’t part with, so I let myself keep an extra item in each category if I really couldn’t part with it.

Everything else though, got yanked off of the hanger and stuffed into a black garbage bag.

If I can see things, I want to keep them, so I only use black lawn and garden bags for decluttering.

Once it’s full, I shove it in my trunk and it rides around with me for a few months before I remember to drop it off.

In my area, it’s ridiculously easy to donate things.

There are bins in grocery store parking lots, our Goodwill’s have donation “dumpsters”, and our thrift stores will meet you outside to empty your trunk.

The trick is to get it out of your house immediately.

The longer it stays there, the higher the likelihood that you’ll give up and just hang the items back in your closet.

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How to Decide What Clothes to Keep

When you shop your closet, you’re going to naturally grab the clothes that you wear most often.

Hopefully this means you’re keeping the clothes that you feel best in.

If not, stop now and reassess.

Our goal here is to benefit our stress level AND our confidence.

Keep the things that fit correctly, that make you feel confident, and that are an easy yes.

We wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time.

Try to reverse this statistic and only rent your closet out to the clothes that truly deserve to be there.

Declutter Your Closet Checklist

Here’s a quick checklist of everything you SHOULD be getting rid of:

  • Anything with holes or stains
  • Anything that doesn’t fit the body we have today
  • Anything we’re keeping out of guilt, i.e. spent too much money on, was gifted from someone, etc.
  • Clothes we’re keeping for an occasion not likely to occur. Are you keeping clothes for a fancy night out but you’re in the stage of life where you’re always covered in spit up and other bodily fluids?
  • Maternity clothes for a “maybe baby.” They’ll still sell maternity clothes at the store. Let the STORE store them so you don’t have to.

Questions to Ask When Decluttering Clothes

  1. Does this fit me right now?
  2. Do I wear this on a regular basis?
  3. Am I likely to need to wear this in the next year?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, LET IT GO!

Bad Decluttering Tips You Should NEVER Follow

I can’t begin to tell you how often I hear on blogs and vlogs on Youtube that you should have a “quarantine bin” when decluttering.

Maybe those people are more disciplined than me or just have a different personality.

I can’t keep the things I’m decluttering in my house anywhere or they’ll never ever leave.

I can’t recommend enough that you get your clutter out of your house as quickly as possible.

Yes, it’s final.

No, there’s no turning back if you change your mind.


I promise you that after we purged over 80% of our things 6 years ago, I regret getting rid of almost nothing.

We decluttered our canning supplies and also got rid of a really good tiller I wish we had kept.

That’s it.

Honestly, I don’t have any other decluttering regrets or even remember most of what we parted with.

The benefits to decluttering your life – whether it’s your wardrobe, your kids toys, or even just negative people – the benefits outweigh the downsides tenfold. 

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Some Final Motivation to Declutter Clothes

Listen, I know it’s incredibly difficult to part ways with clothes. Why?

Because we spend literally years accumulating our wardrobes.

We remember wearing these things to cherished memories in the past.

It feels like by keeping this outfit, we’re somehow keeping the memories more alive.

That’s not how it works and you know it. I know it. But our brains won’t make it easy for us to accept this.

Believe me when I tell you that decluttering your wardrobe is so worth it.

It’s easier to find something to wear when you love every single article of clothing that you own.

You’ll never again open your closet full of clothes and feel like you have nothing to wear.

The best part, is your clothes won’t die a slow death in your closet.

They’ll go to a new home where someone else can hopefully use them up.

Just do it, declutter the clothes, it’s worth it.