Taming the Closet Clutter

If you want an organized closet, you have to tame the clutter that seems to accumulate over the year.

First decide how you plan to use your closet. Is it only for your clothing or do you also use it as storage? Do you store all of your clothes in this closet or do some of your clothes (like off season or special use) go into another closet? Do you store some of your clothes in dressers?

Now, pull out everything and separate into four piles: keep, toss, donate, and goes somewhere else.

Next, sort the clothing that is to go back into the closet. How you make your sort is up to you but some options are: long sleeve tops, short sleeve tops, pants, jeans, jackets, skirts, dresses. You might prefer to sort your clothes by outfits or usage (work, work out, casual, dressy). This same sort goes for shoes and accessories that are stored in the closet. The sort is helpful for a couple of reasons. First, it shows you how much you have of each category (and maybe helps you add some of those 15 pair of jeans to the donate pile). It also makes it easier to retrieve your clothes and put together outfits.

Hang up what goes on hangers. It is a good plan to hang up all of your hangers backwards at this point and then the first time you wear the item, hang it correctly. This way, at the end of the season, you can see what has been worn.

If you have shelves in your closet, use boxes that fill up the shelves. Designate each box for the type of clothing: workout clothes, short sleeve T-shirts, long sleeve T-shirts, etc. Label the boxes. Use open boxes for items that you use frequently. The boxes keep like items corralled and leave no space on the shelves for clutter to accumulate.

Keep loose items off the closet floor. Use that space for your laundry basket or shoe corral.

If shoes are stored on shelves, use plastic, clear shoe boxes. They are smaller than the cardboard boxes that shoes come in and the plastic boxes will stack neatly.

The top shelf of your closet can be used to store suitcases or large, light items that you don’t often use. It might be helpful to store a small, folding step stool in your closet.

Once everything is in order, label the shelves to help you keep your closet in order.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing and Decluttering Your Bathrooms

If you are following my zone plan, this month is a good month to work on organizing your bathrooms. If you have a linen closet, you may wish to include it in this zone.

Your bathroom is one of the smaller rooms in your home but it is also one that holds many items. A bathroom can get disorganized and cluttered quickly, so it is important to have a vision and a plan for how you want to use this space.  Keep clutter to a minimum.

Look at the storage space you have available. Do you have room  to store your medicines and first aid material here? Do you have room to house cleaning materials? Some of what you store in this bathroom now may go somewhere else.

Use the medicine cabinet, drawers, or space under your sink the place you store items that you need and use regularly. Store your daily grooming supplies here. I have a small basket for the makeup I use almost daily. I have room in my medicine cabinet for toothpaste, dental needs, deodorant, q tips, and cotton balls. Hair dryers, curling irons, gels, sprays and all items for your hair may be stored in a container under your sink. If your space is limited, you might also have a hanging bag on the back of your bathroom door for storage. An extra roll of toilet paper and personal hygiene items could also fit under the sink area.

If you have drawers, designate each drawer as a container for like items. One drawer may be everyday makeup, one may be for eye products, one may hold hair products, etc.

As you are sorting your like items together, consolidate partial bottles and get rid of any items you no longer are using or items past their expiration date.

Shampoo, body wash, soap, and a wash cloth may be stored inside your shower or tub. There are shower caddies that fit over the door of your shower or over the shower head. Another option is to use a shower dispenser to hold shampoo or body wash.

Medicines can go in bins on a shelf in the linen closet or in the kitchen. Both spaces are better than the actual bathroom as moisture and heat can ruin some meds. Consider sorting your medicines by type and placing them in separate bins. One bin might hold outdoor items like sunscreen, bug spray, or Benadryl. Another might hold Tylenol, aspirin, and cold/allergy medicines. Still another might hold larger items like hydrogen peroxide, rubbing alcohol, and mouthwash. Get rid of expired items while sorting. Not only do some medicines lose their effectiveness over time but they can actually become harmful. Dispose of these items safely. Do not toss medicines in the trash and never flush them into our water system. The DEA offers a Prescriptions Drug Take Back Day which occurs in September this year.  Check http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html for more information.

If you have a linen closet, keep extra towels, cosmetics, and cleaning supplies there. The linen closet is also a good place to store duplicate items. But as you organize, be ruthless about throwing out items. You don’t need 5 partial bottles of shampoo, 6 sample soaps, or that free sample in foil of a shampoo/conditioner that came in the mail.

If you don’t have a linen closet you may use towel hooks, over the toilet shelving, or baskets to store your extra bath towels, wash cloths, and extra toilet paper.

When you have your bathroom organized, then work on a maintenance schedule to keep it under control. Next year, when you revisit this zone, it will be an easier process.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Taking Back Your Laundry Zone


The month of August is a good time to organize the laundry area. You may have some laundry stacked up from vacation. There are new school clothes and sport clothing that need washing. You really want this zone under control before the fall season really hits.

Keeping up with laundry is less of a hassle if you have your space well organized.

  1. Decide what the purposes are for this zone. Besides the washer and dryer, do you also have your iron and ironing board stored here? Besides your laundry products, do you also store other cleaning products here? Do you store your pet food? Do you keep your recycling bins here? Be very clear on what you expect this area to house. Then zone it out so that everything has its own home. If you have stuck something in this area “just for now”, now move it out.
  2. Think about how you want this zone to look and feel. You will spend a bit of time here so make it work for you. I like a fun calendar that makes me smile. I also have a stain chart, and since my recycling shares this zone, I also have a list of what is accepted in each bin. I also like to have as many things containerized as possible.
  3. Sort all of your cleaning products. Did you buy a product that you really did not like, but that is still hanging around? Toss it now. Do you have spray starch that is 10 years old and you barely have a nodding acquaintance with you iron? Toss it now. Do you have 2 half bottles of Woolite? Consolidate them. If you buy large containers of soap powder, transfer some into a smaller container to cut down on spills.
  4. Schedule your laundry times. Don’t wait until you need something to do laundry (Mom, where are my gym shorts?). The goal is to keep laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone what you intend to laundry that day. Leave the rest in the dirty clothes hampers. Only cats love mounds of dirty laundry. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their home. If you have some clothes that need ironing, designate a container to hold them until you schedule your ironing time.
  5. Having a different colored basket for each member of the family is helpful. As you pull clothes out of the dryer, put them into the correct basket and then carry them to the appropriate room.
  6. Have a small container nearby to toss any items you find in pockets, the dryer, or for loose buttons.

Having this zone organized may not make you love to do laundry, but it should make the chore an easier one.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Organizing the Laundry Zone


If you are following my zone plan, August is a good month to organize your laundry area. School has already begun in my region and that means that new clothes are washed to wear, summer clothes are washed and some seasonal items stored. School team sports have begun and this brings on more laundry. There may even be back up laundry from vacation.

Laundry zones are located in many places. Some older homes have them in the basement. Some are located off the kitchen or even in a hall way. I have seen them at the top of the stairs and right off the master bedrooms. In many newer homes they are very centrally located which is a great if you keep up with the laundry and not so good if you let laundry stack up on the floor.

Keeping up with the laundry becomes less of a chore with a well organized space and a plan for keeping on top of the mountain of laundry. It helps to have designated times scheduled to do the laundry instead of waiting until an item is needed. (Mom, where are my soccer shorts?)

The goal is to keep the laundry moving. Only bring to the laundry zone what you intend to laundry that day. Leave the rest in the dirty clothes hampers. As soon as clothes are dry, get them back to their “home.” Having a different colored basket for each member of the family is helpful. As you pull clothes out of the dryer, put them into the correct basket and then have them go to the proper room.

Have a small container nearby to toss in any items you find in pockets, the dryer, or loose buttons. Have stain remover, sponges, scrubbing brushes on a shelf near the washer. This zone is also a good place to store the iron and ironing board. If you buy your detergents in large containers, transfer some into smaller containers that are easier to handle and less likely to cause spills.

This is the time to declutter any cleaning items stored in this zone. Now is the time to discard a product you have bought and not liked. If you have ended up with 2 half bottles of Woolite, consolidate them. Just toss that spray starch that is 10 years old and you never use any more. Just keep on hand the products that you are actually using.

Now I won’t go so far as to say keeping this zone organized will make you love to do laundry but it should make the chore less of a hassle.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer