How to Streamline Your Closet and Help Someone in Need in the Process

With the transition to fall comes the inevitable closet reorganization. If you’re the fortunate owner of a walk-in, said reorganization could just be a matter of shuffling the shorts, tees, and sandals to lower-priority positions. For the rest, it likely entails lugging large Tupperware containers to awkward corners of the home.

Either way, some kind of evaluation should take place in the process to determine what’s worth storing through the winter and what should be donated. If not now, when, right?

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You’re bound to look at those shorts you haven’t worn since 2016 through a more objective eye when you see them occupying some of your precious storage space—or imagine yourself unpacking them in April. Likewise, that chunky sweater that seemed so vital when you packed it away in the spring can feel much less so when it finally meets the light again.

In these moments you’re to be commended for thinking that your clothes could still be useful to someone. But there’s a little more to donating clothing, linens, and accessories than simply bundling it all up and dropping it on your charity-of-choice’s doorstep.

Here are a few tips to help you determine what to donate and how to go about it.

Making a tough call easier
There are a couple of popular approaches to thinning out a closet. The first is the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately method. Maybe there’s a pair of jeans you look at longingly each time you step into your closet, but for one reason or another, you haven’t actually worn them within the last year. It’s time, then, that you accept that you’re never going to wear them again. Same goes for anything else that’s sat (or hung) dormant for a year.

The other is more of a streamlining-in-real-time approach. For each new article you add to your closet, think of it as a replacement for something else of the same ilk and donate the older item. In other words, if you just bought a pair of boots, donate another pair to make room in your closet.

Considering the time and place
When it comes to clothing, it’s easy to think there’s always a need. And while that is true, it’s important to consider the timing and destination of your donation. For every article that’s donated, someone will evaluate its condition, cleanliness, and seasonal appropriateness. If the item’s not in season, precious space needs to be found to store it.

Most charities do not have large storage areas. So do your own filtering, and hold on to your spring and summer stuff until next spring. It’s also a good idea to call or visit the charity you’re intending to donate to and ask what their needs are at the moment. If they’re well-stocked in winter coats, consider making your donation elsewhere so that it fills a need.

Some filtering is required
Dry clean or wash all clothing, bedding, and towels and treat any stains before donating them. (Bonus points if you use a fragrance-free laundry detergent and fabric softener.) Before you go through the trouble, inspect everything for rips or tears, missing buttons, broken zippers, or stains. Charities generally don’t have seamstresses to do repairs, and those in need may not have the resources to do them.

For sheets or towels that are permanently stained or very worn, give them to an animal shelter—after you’ve washed them.