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Clean Up and Unclutter Your Closets

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Tired of that chaotic mess you call your closet? With a few easy, low-cost fixes and tips, you can make your closets functional, organized spaces - and find what you need, when you need it. Getting your closets in order will give you back valuable time and provide you with some peace of mind. Not to mention make the closet space look larger and cleaner for potential buyers.

Here are some organization ideas from Rubbermaid, which sells closet organization systems and accessories through Lowe's and other retailers:

  • Declutter - Roll up your sleeves and empty everything out of your closets. The rule of thumb is to keep items you've worn or used in the past year; toss or donate everything else. You'll have several piles: seasonal, keep, repair, donate and toss. Purging your closets will make extra room for the items you wear often, and create storage space you didn't know you had.

  • Plan Your Layout - Use every square inch of space in your closets. Consider installing a closet organizing system. Some kits have telescoping rods and expandable shelves to accommodate large and small closets.

  • Organize Accessories - Canvas or clear bins, shoe boxes and hanging canvas organizers provide simple, functional storage options for accessories, shoes and seasonal items. Plus, you'll avoid having an avalanche of items fall from higher shelves. Don't forget to use the back of your closet door; an over-the-door organizer can neatly hold shoes, purses and other items while making the most of your space.

  • Put it All Together - Once you're ready to restock your closets, put the least-used items on the higher shelves; clothes and items that you use frequently at eye level; and shoes toward the bottom. Hang all your clothing with the hangers facing toward you (more on that later). Save yourself time and anxiety by sorting your wardrobe by season, clothing type and/or color so you can find what you need quickly.

  • Hangers Matter - Use padded hangers for delicate fabrics, plastic hangers for shirts and pants and wood hangers for suits. Get rid of wire hangers and remove clothes from dry-cleaning bags (they restrict air flow to your clothes and retain dry-cleaning chemicals in the fabric).

  • Maintain the Calm - Don't let your closets revert to their old ways. As you wear and launder clothes, hang them back up with the hooks facing into the closet. After a few months, you'll be able to see what you haven't worn, making it easy to find the clothes, then donate or toss them. Pull together outfits the night before to save time in the morning.

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