Getting Organized: Purging 101

Written by: Lianne Castelino

Published: Aug 25, 2010

Organization in the kitchen, closet, office, garage wherever is fundamental to staying sane as a parent! This is a guest article by Christa Harbridge, organization expert and founder of My Living Organized (

Depending on the age of your child, you may or may not want to involve them in the purging process.  I recommend you don’t attempt to purge a high school kid’s closet by yourself as you would be taking your life into your own hands!

Step 1 – Immediately purge items that are short, tight, damaged, ratty-looking and out-of-style.  Your child will be able to tell you what’s “not cool”, even if they’re in kindergarten.  Clothing that they will grow into, but will still be too large for them next season gets put into a box / bin labeled with the size of the contents.

Step 2-  If you don’t have the time to finish the purge all in one day, break the project down into smaller mini-projects.  Sort the clothes into sections, and tackle each section when you have a window of opportunity.  First of all, sort the clothing by season if you have more than one season’s worth of clothing in the closet.

Step 3 – Further sort each season either by:    Type of clothing:  pants, shirts, dresses etc.  OR  Purpose:  school clothes, dress-up clothes, play in the mud clothes, and uniforms for clubs or teams.  Or sort by  The ABC’s:   A – always wear it and love it,   B – better keep it because it’s worn on occasion  C – chances are slim to none that it will get worn again.

Once these sorted piles are created, the task will not seem as daunting as each grouping will be sorted into smaller more manageable sizes.

Step 4 – Decision time.  If your child is old enough to be involved, make it a fun 1-2 hour game!  Let them try on outfits to see if they still fit, or match or look good. Play clothing basketball and let your child throw the purged items into a basket across the room.  If you make it a fun dress-up play time with mommy or daddy with lot of hugs and heaps of laughter, your child will not dread this process as much as you secretly do. Plus, your child will see that organizing and cleaning can be fun!

Step 5 –  Put all off-season clothing into a labeled bin/bag/box for storage.   If you can, save yourself some time and opt for a 2 seasonal rotation: Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Don’t forget to purge shoes, underwear and socks!

Step 6 – Evaluate the clothing hangers.  Non-slip hangers help smaller and more delicate items stay on the hanger, rather than slipping off onto the floor.  Skirts and pants can be hung on a multiple item non-slip hanger to save closet space.  I’m a huge fan of non-slip hangers – I refuse to use anything else.  It’s more aesthetically pleasing to use the same type of hanger throughout the closet.  It’s a bit of an investment, but worth it. 

Step 7 –  Re-stock the closet and dressers.   Once you have taken a mental inventory of your available storage space, as well as the articles of clothing that need to find a home, you will know what you should hang and what you should fold.
Place the most frequently worn items in the most accessible space in the closet.  Hang casual pants all together (or fold them on a shelf together), hang dress pants together, school uniforms together, t-shirts together and so on.

If you have a multiple hang space, put the narrowest items on the top (like hung pants, sleeveless shirts), and the widest items on the bottom hang.  This way you won’t need to duck under wide clothing on the top hang in order to reach the lower hang section.  You can also opt to arrange each grouping (pants, shirts, skirts etc) by color; it makes finding things a lot easier.  You can also ensure that the clothing and hangers both face the same direction.  It just looks better.

Step 8 – Allow yourself to sit back and admire the new beautifully organized space.  Enjoy!

How to get your child to help with purging their closet

Play the “Shopping Mall Game”

Teaching children that they don’t need an overabundance of clothes is a valuable life skill.  If they learn the value of purging and organization at a young age, they have a better chance at being a more organized adult.  Editing the wardrobe to a reasonable number of pieces is a great way to start.

Turn your living or dining room into a “boutique.”  Closet rods can be balanced between chairs for hanging space.  Tables provide flat display surfaces.  Arrange all clothing as attractively as possible, emulating a clothing store.   Give your child a “budget” of 3 shopping bags (or however many bags their closet will accommodate) and let your child browse through the clothes, try things on, model different outfits and ultimately select the clothes that “fit” into their budget.  Dress-up is fun!  Sanity-check the selections to ensure your child has enough clothing for activities, sports, events etc. and donate the rest to charity or sell to consignment.  This is a great way to make purging fun for both you and your child.  Plus, you’ll end up with a wardrobe your child likes!

Play the “Fill the Bucket Game”

Get 2-3 baskets or boxes and ask your child to fill them full of their clothing, toys, books and stuff that they no longer play with or wear.   Pay them for each box they fill (the amount is up to you).  For clothing, ask them to put the clothes in the box that they don’t wear or avoid wearing.  Even if it fits them, but they never wear it, it goes in the box!  This makes your job much easier to finish the purging process, and it’s a great way for them to earn some pocket change while de-cluttering their rooms!

Video Clip:  More purging tips with organization expert, Christa Harbridge


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