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A closet can be like a best friend. We often dump our clutter there to keep the rest of the house uncluttered (especially clutter you don’t want everyone to see). Think of that old suit you’ve saved in the back of your closet that’s now two sizes too small like a secret you’ve told a best friend two years ago. Eventually, things beget more things until we have no way of knowing what we’ve stored inside our closets — or how to get them back. That’s why it’s good to organize your closets once in a while, or otherwise turn to close organizers that might help keep things in check.
Everyone has a system of organizing, whether they recognize it or not, says Nancy Meck, who 15 years ago founded Meck Organizing, an organizational consultancy for homeowners. Meck encouraged us to buy only what we need — otherwise, the urge to shop eventually leads to the urge to purge. More specifically, you should aim to create systems around the things you have to avoid wastefulness, advises Gilat Tunit, who started Project Neat in 2018 to help clients clean, sort and purge belongings. We talked to Meck and Tunit about useful items to organize a messy space, as well as questions to ask yourself as you go about reorganizing.
The best closet organizing tools in 2022
If you’re ready to overhaul your closet’s organization, we talked to experts about which categories they recommend for cleaning it up and then we referred to Amazon’s bestsellers for specific product recommendations, which sorted by their ratings.
Meck doesn’t love the idea of shoe boxes because they often take up valuable space in a closet and because they’re opaque, it’s easy to forget what’s inside them. Prioritize clear shoe boxes or shoe boxes that come with a label, which make it easier to find what you’re looking for. These Pinkpum shoe storage boxes are made from clear plastic, so you can easily see which shoes are inside them.
The Pinkpum Shoe Storage Boxes are 13.1 inches long by 9 inches wide by 5.5 inches high each — and they sell a bigger version that’s 13.2 inches long by 10.2 inches wide by 6.2 inches high, for high heels or sneakers with a chunky sole. They’re also easily stackable and come with a 4.3-star average rating from more than 2,400 Amazon reviews.
Though a storage box may be good for shoes you aren’t wearing regularly, shoe cubbies (or cubbyholes) are great when you need quick and easy access to your shoes on any given day. Meck has historically recommended using normal shelves for shoe organizers, but she likes cubbies, too, and this 25-Shoe Cube Organizer from ClosetMaid is a good option.
It has 25 cubes for 25 different pairs of shoes, measuring 11 inches long by 4.5 inches wide by 5.75 inches high. Unlike the Pinkpum storage boxes, you should only put one shoe in each of ClosetMaid’s 25 cubes. The ClosetMaid has a 4.5-star average rating from more than 4,700 reviews on Wayfair.
Meck recommended the slimline style to save space, and said that regardless of the style you go with, make sure you use hangers of the same color. Doing so provides a “calm, cohesive look” to the closet and “helps the clothes hang well next to one another.” These clothes hangers from AmazonBasics fit the bill perfectly: they’re slim, lined with velvet and additionally, they’re non-slip, so your clothes won’t slip off of them.
Each hanger is 17.4 inches wide by 9.2 inches high and Amazon says each hanger can hold up to 10 pounds. The AmazonBasics Slim Velvet Non-Slip Clothes Hangers come with a 4.8-star average rating from more than 147,000 customer reviews on Amazon. While these are technically for suits, AmazonBasics also sells clothes hangers for shirts and skirts (though you can use all of these hangers with your clothes interchangeably).
Instead of individual hanging hooks (which I personally use for my belts), Meck recommended buying something more akin to a coat rack. She told me, “multi-hook types are nice to avoid the efforts of trying to get individual, multiple hooks level and putting a bunch of holes in the wall the individual hooks would make.” A coat rack, though named for coats, is also great for hanging hats, necklaces, handbags with handles, and keys.
The stainless steel Webi Coat Rack can be mounted to the wall with pre-included mounting hardware and has five tri-hooks, or 15 hooks total. It’s about 16 inches wide. It has a 4.6-star average rating from more than 2,000 Amazon reviews.
When shopping for shelf dividers — which Meck recommends for books, sweaters and clutches — make sure you’re mindful of “the width, depth and heights of the shelf and what you want divided by the product.” These Evelots Closet Wire Shelf Dividers are made from premium-grade iron that are plastic-coated, rust-free and durable, according to the brand, and they’re simple to install by clicking in your existing shelving.
They’re 12.25 inches wide by 10.75 inches high with 1.25 wide prongs. You can choose between a set of eight shelves or a set of four, if you have less room or less need for shelf dividers. The Evelots Closet Wire Shelf Dividers have a 4.7-star average rating from more than 3,700 Amazon reviews.
There are tons of different styles of storage bins to choose from. Meck acknowledges that clear is good to know how much is inside one, but opaque looks better (if you go with opaque, though, you should use labels to know what’s inside each bin). These Kuggis storage boxes from Ikea are simple, they come in three colors — black, turquoise and white — a variety of sizes to fit your closet — 10.25 inches long by 13.75 inches wide by 6 inches high or 14.5 inches long by 21.25 inches wide by 8.25 high, among three other variations — and they have a 4.7-star average rating from more than 3,600 reviews on Google Shopping.
Regardless of what you buy, Meck wanted to be clear that the people she sees who are happiest with their organizational habits are the ones who “maximize use of the containers they have or go buy containers with a specific purpose in mind,” instead of spending money spontaneously.
Adjust your environment, not your organizing habits
Design theorist Leonard Koren once told The New York Times, “If we are compassionate and respectful to everything that exists, then we would have to be compassionate about the socks in the drawer that aren’t folded properly.” This thought experiment — extending care towards even the inanimate objects in our lives — is one reason Select exists: with the hope that all of your products genuinely help improve your life. Sometimes that ambition takes us to maintaining the inside of a closet.
When organizing the home, Meck said it’s always going to be easier to change your environment than your habits, à la buying a new hamper to keep your dirty clothes or downloading a scanning app to store electronic copies and reduce paper. In terms of dirty closets, buying one of these recommended closet organizing tools is actually a healthy, important shortcut towards being more organized at home overall. Meck challenges us with the end goal upfront — the destination instead of the journey.
Avoid buying too much
When it comes to space and stuff, Tunit said, most of the time people just have way too much stuff. It’s about creating systems, she said, regardless of how much room you have.
But don’t overdo it, which can often lead to a toxic back-and-forth of wastefulness. “We see people buy too many containers, clothes, office supplies, toys, gadgets,” Meck told me. “The urge to buy is often followed by the urge to purge, which can often be followed by the urge to buy,” she said.
Questions for thoughtful buying
Meck talked to me about ways to combat the urge to buy. When you want to buy something, ask yourself these questions:
- What problem is it solving?
- Is what you have enough?
- What if it weren’t beautifully presented?
- Would the money spent on it be better used serving a future purpose?
- How about we sleep on it first?