An organized closet will save you time and keep you relaxed. Making your closet work for you is easy using the following guidelines.

Take a Good Look at Your Space

Examine how much usable space is actually in your closet by removing everything. Suck up the dust bunnies, pull out the hangers, and take out clothing, jewelry, shoes, and anything else you’ve stored in there. Look closely at your clean, empty closet, and you might see that you have more room than you think.

Sort Your Stuff

The next step is to thoroughly sort everything to determine exactly what deserves a place in your closet. Some things will clearly go in the trash–clothing with holes, broken hangers, socks without mates, etc. Items you love and wear often, you’ll obviously keep. To figure out what to do with those tricky in-between items, think about the last time you wore them. If it was more than a year ago, think about donating them. If clothes are too big or too small, you won’t wear them, so they could go. Give usable items to a friend or a thrift shop, or sell them on consignment. There’s no need to store things you don’t use.

Find a Place for Everything

Now you can prepare to store the items you’ve decided to keep. If you have some extra money, now is the time to invest in clear plastic boxes, interesting baskets, and stackable bins. If funds are tight, you might want to scope out the nearest dollar store, yard sale, or clearance rack. Otherwise, look around your home for containers that you might be able to use in your closet. Maybe there’s a piece of furniture that you could move there such as a modest-sized dresser for clothes not kept on hangers or a small bookshelf to hold boots. As you think about what goes where, consider using stackable bins with pullout drawers for small items such as socks, underwear, or scarves. These can be placed on the floor or on shelves. Stacking boxes or bins take advantage of vertical space. If possible, use clear containers so that you can see exactly what’s inside, or you can label them instead. Either way, it’s handy to know what’s in each container without having to open it. Install hooks on doors for hanging shoes, belts, jewelry, or a mirror. Hang rarely-used items such as duffel bags above closet doors. Consider installing another rod above or below the existing one to double your hanging space. The way you use your space can make all the difference in being organized.

Put Everything In Its Place

Since you now have a clean closet with well-thought-out spaces for the items you’re keeping, it’s time to put everything inside. Place similar items together–your tops all hanging in one spot, bottoms hanging in another. Also, consider organizing your clothes by color to simplify planning outfits. Clothes that won’t stretch need hangers. Sweaters and other stretchy items need drawers so that they won’t lose their shape. Bags can go on hangers or hooks, or they can sit on shelves if you have room.

Maintain Your Space

You’ll want to keep your closet organized. Store only a couple of extra hangers inside instead of a whole bundle. The rule of “if you bring something in, you must take something out” is helpful so that your space doesn’t get out of control. You’ll be encouraged to keep it in order by how easy it is to find everything in your new perfectly organized closet.

Jessica Kane is a professional writer who has an interest in keeping things organized and in order. She currently writes for FlexCon, a leading vendor of plastic corrugated boxes and bins.