Clutter makes me crazy. I can’t stand when things are out of order, and yet, I surprisingly find myself battling it pretty much all the dang time. I’ve noticed that when my closet is chaotic, other areas of my life are, too. So much of how we care for our things ties into how we live, which is why these surprising benefits of cleaning out your closet should serve as inspiration to get it done.
Whether you decide to spark joy and Marie Kondo your closet or implement Peter Walsh’s can-do organizational techniques doesn’t really matter. You’ll need to decide what system works for you, but you’ll also need to know your why. After all, clutter is never really about the items themselves, but our relationship to them. (If you’ve ever watched an episode of Hoarders, you know what I mean.) "While cleaning can be traumatic, it can also be freeing and inspiring," Elisa Robyn, Ph.D., a psychologist, tells Romper. "It is a wonderful way to transition from one stage of life to another." And once you discover the joy of a neat closet, you may never want to go back to cramped clothing and a tangle of hangers ever again.
So if you need some mental motivation, these reasons why cleaning out your closet will not just allow you to be better organized, but lead a better quality of life, too.
1. You’ll Save Money
How many times have you purchased a pair of black pants because you knew you had one but couldn’t quite locate it? So. Many. Times. A Motley Fool study found that people waste, on average, about $139 monthly. Of course, that can’t all be attributed to spending money on repeat items, but it probably does factor in there. So count how many times you’ve bought something just because you didn’t know where the original item was. Seeing all that extra cash in your account just might make you keep your closet a little neater.
2. You’ll Feel Less Stressed
Do you feel anxious when you can only find one of your kid’s shoes? I know I do. As it turns out, clutter increases cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in your body. A Cornell study found that clutter not only amps up the stress, but it also can contribute to overeating and unhealthy food choices. Clearing away all the unnecessary pieces of clothing in your closet won’t get rid of your stress entirely, but it will definitely help.
3. You’ll Make Room For What Matters
Your closet shouldn’t be a catch-all for everything that is homeless in your house. It should only hold what you need for that particular room — and more importantly, at that particular time in your life. So heavy winter jackets need to get the heave-ho during the summer, and Easter decorations have to find shelter elsewhere if it’s Thanksgiving. "When we create space we are ready to build something new," says Robyn. By clearing the space, you’ll allow the space to not just breathe, but hold what is truly essential for that season.
4. It’ll Improve Your Relationship
Clutter can cramp your closet — and your relationship. A study published in the National Institutes of Health found that when people were in a cluttered environment, they had a harder time reading people’s facial expressions. Although your fights with your cutie might not happen in the closet, they could be a source of stress. Plus, having a cluttered environment means that you could have a harder time connecting to your partner. And that’s definitely not good, for your clothes or your partnership.
5. You’ll Realize You’re In A Rut
My older daughter said to me the other day, “Mom, you always wear black!” (With an exasperated expression, to boot.) But it wasn’t until I cleared out my closet that I realized, yup, she’s right. I have an inordinately large amount of black clothing (many of which were duplicates) hanging in my closet. And it made me rethink my color clothing palette — or lack thereof. While I’ll probably never give up my love for darker clothing, I am more aware when I go shopping to look for pops of color to complement my attire.
6. You’ll Clear The Clutter In Other Parts Of Your Home
Clutter is contagious, but organization can be, too. And if your closet is clean, it might motivate you to look to other areas of your home that could use a little clutter-busting. "One of the best ways to destress and feel less burdened in our lives is to create space, which can be emotional or physical," Dr. Heidi Cox, a clinical psychologist, tells Romper. "By physically clearing out old items which no longer serve us, we lessen our emotional load." Soon you might find that your entire space (not just your closet) is neat and tidy.
7. You’ll Inspire Your Family
Let’s suppose, just for a moment, that the culprit in all the clutter in your home isn’t you, but your partner or kids. When you take a stand and clean out your closet, you’ll (hopefully) start a trickle effect that will work its way through your entire house. Maybe, maybe not. But it’s good to have a dream.
The great thing about clearing out a closet is that it’s empowering and motivating. Since it’s not an entire room, you’ll have an easier time accomplishing it. So don't wait until spring to start clearing out the clutter; do it now and you'll reclaim your closet... and your life.
Elisa Robyn, PhD, a psychologist
Dr. Heidi Cox, a clinical psychologist
Vartanian, L., Kernan, K., Wansink, B., Cornell University (2016). Clutter, Chaos, and Overconsmption: The Role of Mind-Set in Stressful and Chaotic Food Environments
Cutting, J., Armstrong, K. (2016) Facial expression, size, and clutter: Inferences from movie structure to emotion judgments and back. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4819543/