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How to Clean and Organize Everything in Your Closet

Explore our expert advice on washing and storing the most important items in our closet.

Everyone has favorite items of clothing. With so many types to choose from—t-shirts, dresses, pants, suits, and shoes—keeping track of them and ensuring everything stays in mint condition can feel like quite the undertaking. But learning how to clean your wares and organize your closet can not only shave off valuable time from your morning routine but it can help prolong the life of your favorite items. Cleaned and stored correctly, clothes can last longer. Ahead, experts reveal the best methods for washing and storing the items in your closet.

How to Clean Everything in Your Closet

No more shrinking, fading or crazy dry cleaning bills. There's so much conflicting advice when it comes to fabric care: Does "dry clean only" mean dry-clean only? Are jeans really not supposed to go in the dryer? How do you spot treat the toothpaste splatter on your new suede dress? One thing there's no confusion about is that taking care of your clothes will make them last longer. We picked the key wardrobe pieces, from those $200 designer jeans to your trusty white T-shirt, and interviewed the experts to find out the best ways to wash, dry, and store your clothes. Spoiler alert: It's not that hard.

Where to Start Organizing

Once you know how to clean every item of clothing in your closet, learning how to organize it all is key. But figuring out where to begin can feel overwhelming. "Start by slimming down before you attempt a full organization," says Melissa Maker, host of the CleanMySpace YouTube channel and founder of Clean My Space. "It's always easier to reorganize when you have less stuff going back into the closet, and doing this also gives you the opportunity to remind yourself about what you do have that might have been tucked away."

Consider Fabric Types

When it comes to actually organize your garments, Maker says to consider the types of fabrics you're dealing with. "In my closet, all of my garment types are separate," she says. "Dresses/jumpsuits are in one section, shirts/sweaters/blouses are in another, blazers/vests, jeans, dress pants, and skirts. Accessories also have their own spots. I find that keeping those items spaced out makes putting an outfit together easier, and it's also easier for me when I'm doing laundry and putting things away, I know exactly where they belong—there are no guessing games!"

Hang Clothes

"I recommend hanging as much as the space and the nature of the item will allow," says Jen Rowe, owner of NEAT Method Toronto. "For example, if you have space to hang your t-shirts, they can be hung but if not, file folding them into a drawer or a bin will work; and delicate and heavier knits just by the nature of their weave and material would do better folded." Items like pants, including denim, can be hung but if space doesn't permit, prioritize hanging bottoms that are prone to wrinkling or are made of a slippery fabric and fold the rest either in short stacks on a shelf or file folded into a drawer, she says. If you run out of pants hangers, or simply prefer to hang your trousers, "hang pants with the inseam to the back so that you see a clean edge facing forward," recommends Rowe.

Organize According to Use

This tip is all about your everyday items and ensuring that they're the most accessible to you, says Rowe. "Whether it's a drawer, a shelf, or hanging space, you want to dedicate the spaces that are the easiest for you to reach with the items that you use the most frequently. This will make getting ready the most efficient for you."

Have a System in Place

The easiest way to keep your closet organized is by ensuring you have a system that can be maintained and adjusted as needed, like the Martha Stewart Everyday Organizing System by California Closets. Once you've determined what your needs are—say, shelves for sweaters, high rods for dresses, and drawers for accessories—you can create and customize your ideal setup. The best part is that a system like this can move with you, meaning any home you live in will have neat, streamlined closets.

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