Woman cleaning out her closet, looking at clothing

When I was a little girl, I liked to spend the night with my grandmother. Her apartment, like ours, was railroad style, consisting of five rooms lined up with one leading into the next. In the middle was the little room where I slept. The only thing I didn’t like about that room: it smelled of the mothballs my grandmother kept in the closet. Ugh!

To this day, I don’t use insect repellent in my closet. If I did, I would use a natural moth repellent like lavender sachets or cedar blocks. But before I think about what to add (or not to add) to my closets, I need to clean them out! And with the cold and rainy weather, this weekend was the perfect time to start.

My first order of business is to empty the closet. Then I wipe down the walls and shelf with a damp towel, sweep the floor, and damp mop to get rid of dust. I like to air it out for a day with the doors wide open while I sort my clothes and other items.

I look at each item to see if I want to keep it. And I try on clothes that I haven’t worn in years and move around in them. If it’s the wrong size or uncomfortable, it goes right into the donation bag so someone else can use it. Same with clothing that I won’t repair immediately. I’ve realized that without Mom here to repair them for me, I’ll just forget those items after I put them back in the closet. This is also a good time to inventory my clothing to see if I need anything new.

Finally, I put the items I’m keeping back into the closet, donate a large bag of clothing, and enjoy the sense of accomplishment from seeing my closet neat and clean. I find that by just working on one closet at a time over the course of a few cold or rainy weekend days, I can make a lot of progress in decluttering and organizing my space. And my clean closets smell fresh — not like mothballs!

By Joanna Lacey

Joanna Lacey lives in New York and has collected thousands of ideas from the frugal habits of her mother and grandmother. You can find her on Facebook at Joanna the Green Maven.