Sort the possibilities before sorting your closets

WASHINGTON — When you're Googling for tips on closet organization, the first thing you learn is there's no single best method.

Some professionals recommend storing items in drawers; others say to keep everything visible. What guidance to follow and what to ignore depend on your lifestyle: How much time and energy are you willing to invest to organize your mess? It helps to keep an open mind, because organization principles you disregard for one closet may work for another.

Twelve professional organizers offer tips on tackling messy closets at ReadersDigest.com. Among the advice: Hold a clothing swap instead of tossing clothes you don't want anymore. Belt racks can be used for handbags if hung vertically. Storing offseason items in luggage can save space.

HowToCleanStuff.net has a guide on organizing clothing, linen and utility closets. In all cases, it's about visibility and keeping similar things together. For example, trousers should be lined up by color.

As an alternative, Organizedhome.com recommends creating multiple outfits out of five to eight pieces and hanging those coordinating clothes together.

Purging is essential to getting organized. LifeOrganizers.com recommends dividing clothing into piles: outdated, ripped, stained or doesn't fit; needs minor repairs; worn often; and anything that doesn't fit into the other categories. Then take action. For example, items needing repair should be fixed within two weeks or tossed because they're not important enough for you to mend.

Organizing items might not help if the source of the problem is the closet itself. DoItYourself.com has a handy guide for building your dream closet, including sketching plans, figuring out the necessary tools and knowing what materials are most appropriate.


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