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How to actually enjoy an Autumn closet turnover

Category: Cleaning Tips

Have you ever decided – on a momentary whim – to rip apart, reorganize, and turnover a closet; then, just when you have everything strewn around the room, you start feeling tired, overwhelmed, or emotional because things just don’t fit the way they used to? Or, even worse, you have to leave the job unfinished because you have some other errand to run or obligation to fulfill?

Yeah, that’s not happening this year. Planning and preparation are the secrets for an efficient – dare we say enjoyable? – autumn closet turnover. Here’s an easy step-by-step plan:


Step 1: Block off a healthy chunk of time in your schedule – a half day at least – so you can relax, take your time, and make thoughtful decisions about what to keep and what to discard.

Step 2: At least 1-2 full days before you intend to address the closet, take fall and winter clothing out of storage to give it a proper airing out (if possible, outside in the sun).

Step 3: Shop for any supplies you might need to freshen up the closet itself and to store and discard clothing. This might include nice wood, velvet-covered, and/or space-saving hangers, clear plastic boxes and bins for storing shoes and clothes, hooks for hanging accessories, contact paper for covering shelves, and even paint to freshen up or add a bright pop of color to the closet’s interior walls.


Step 4: Clean and tidy up the room in which you will be working, leaving maximum clear space for sorting and organizing closet contents.


Step 5: Wear something comfortable that is easy to change in and out of so you can try things on as needed. Pour a tall glass of water for hydration, then get to work emptying the closet completely.

Step 6: Thoroughly vacuum and dust the closet interior. Cover/re-cover shelves and, if wanted or needed, paint interior walls (if painting, of course budget extra time to allow for thorough drying).

Step 7: Sort summer clothing and other items into six piles: keep, maybe keep, discard, donate, give to a friend or relative, and re-sell (via consignment, eBay, etc). Be sure to discard (versus donating) anything stained, torn, smelly, or otherwise ratty. Unwanted swimsuits, undergarments, and socks should go right into the discard pile. Consider, though, if anything in your discard pile might be recycled into cleaning rags, workout clothes, drop cloths; or upcycled for art, hobbies, and so forth before going into a landfill. Note also that, ever since Marie Kondo’s show hit Netflix, many clothing donation centers have been inundated with unwanted garments, so consider donating only high-quality, gently worn items.

Step 8: Try on and make thoughtful decisions about everything in your maybe-keep pile and redistribute every item to one of the other piles.

Step 9: Once your keep pile is final, sort it into three piles: already clean, to launder, and to dry clean. After laundering and dry-cleaning summer items, check out some KonMari clothes folding videos for ideas on how to pack the items neatly – using the least possible amount of space – for winter. If you are storing clothes, pack into plastic versus paper-based containers as the latter may allow moisture to enter and attract bugs.

Step 10: Bring fall/winter items into the room from wherever they have been airing out. Hang some type of distinctive marker – an odd hanger, piece string, or scarf – to serve as a dividing line between things you have worn and things you have not. Start by hanging everything to one side of the marker, then, after wearing, replace the garment on the other side. By the time your spring closet turnover rolls around, you will have real data for informing your next round of keep-discard-donate decisions.

Step 11: Finally, when placing fall and winter clothes into your spruced up closet, give careful thought to the what grouping strategy might work best for you – by color, garment type, work vs. casual, or even by entire ensemble, especially if you are always running late in the morning or have trouble choosing your look for the day.

That’s it! Now, go enjoy these last precious weeks of summer, knowing you have a set plan already in place for easing the chore of autumn closet turnover.