When the enthusiasm to clean strikes, start from the outside in. Take care of the clutter scattered around the room before digging into the closet. Starting with the closet first makes a double mess.

If you’re faced with an overcrowded closet, schedule an hour to work on it. Write it on you’re weekly list as a project. But don’t try to finish the closet in one session. When the hour is up, quit. Schedule another hour and then another until the closet is done.

To keep mess to a minimum, before you begin cleaning a closet, arrange four boxes nearby to categorize those things that shouldn’t go back in. Label them for “charity,” “trash,” “belongs elsewhere,” and “decision pending.”

Work on one small section of a closet at a time. Do not empty an entire cluttered closet at once. The resulting chaos is sure to set you back or put you off entirely.

If you absolutely can’t bear the thought of throwing something away, take it to a local church or charity, the Salvation Army, a thrift shop, or a rummage sale.


As you weed out a closet, consider each item individually and ask yourself:

1. Have I used this item in the past year? If the answer is yes, it’s worth keeping another year. If no, discard it.

2. Does t have either sentimental or monetary value to me? Yes? Then keep it,

3. Might it come in handy someday? If you answer yes but have nothing specific in mind, better put the article into a “throwaway” or “giveaway” box unless you have ample attic or basement storage space. A yes answer usually means that you’re hanging onto clutter.

Have a garage sale—it’s a terrific way to dispose of a lot of discard able items. If you’ve never had a garage sale before, ask someone who has held one to help you.


1. Check with your municipality to see whether you need a permit.

2. Assemble items to be sold. If you don’t have enough, ask friends and neighbors to participate in the sale.

3. Run an ad in your local newspaper, giving the location date rain date and time. Post notices at supermarkets and, if local regulations permit, at street corners.

4. Price goods with tags or tape (use different colors for different owners). Keep prices low.

5. Group similar items together: put clothes on racks, books in boxes, miscellaneous items on card tables.

6. Be prepared to bargain; after all, you’re trying to get rid of everything. Reduce prices during the last 2 hours of the sale.

7. Give any leftovers from the sale to your favorite charity. Take down all posters.

A move to a new home is an ideal time to sort and throw out. As you do so, organize the possessions you’re taking with you in cartons according to their new storage locations—attic, garage, coat closet, and so on. Using a large marker, write where they are to go on the outside of the box.