Dear Goodwill: Can You Bring a Truck?

I actually didn’t plan to join the February Declutter Challenge hosted by My Half Dozen Daily, but ever since I saw how great Carla’s closet looks, I’ve been giving my own closet the side eye. I have one of those unfortunate wardrobes with tons of items, yet only a few that I actually wear. Most are clothes I wore in college (and even some things from high school!), and I have to face reality - that stuff is NEVER going to fit again.

Forget Mount Cardboard - this weekend’s battle was climbing Mount Clothing! And it was definitely a worthy opponent.

Overall, I got rid of 27 pairs of pants and 79 shirts. That’s 106 empty hangers. And it’s also ridiculous - that’s more clothing than most people probably own in a lifetime. I filled a storage tub with the items I want to keep in case I lose weight (the ones that are just barely too tight), but the vast majority got bagged up to donate.

The (Embarrassing) Photographic Evidence

Believe it or not, there’s a dresser under this mountain of clothing:

See the after picture:

These are the left and right sides of my closet before:

And here they are after the purge (yes, I DO hang my clothes according to the rainbow. Don’t judge me):

Here’s all the stuff I got rid of, bagged up and ready to donate. That’s FIVE lawn & leaf bags full of clothes:

Post-Declutter Thoughts

I can’t tell you what an immense relief it is to get rid of all those clothes. Sure, I have a mild anxiety attack when I see my empty closet now, but I also realize how little of my wardrobe I was actually using. Why have all that stuff if it’s just going to take up space? (There was actually a huge mountain of clothes on my bedroom floor, too, but I opted not to take a picture of it. It’s gone now, I promise.)

I do have to confess that there’s still even more clothing to go through. I have two overflowing hampers of clothes to be washed, much of which I hope are my son’s. There are also four baskets of clean clothes in the laundry room. In my defense, though, I’ve been avoiding bringing that stuff upstairs because I didn’t know where I’d put it. Now there’s no excuse.

Way back last spring, I swore I was going to get rid of some of my junk. I think I updated on that project once, but I basically failed at most of the goals I set. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone because you know how much I hate cleaning.

But I have to admit, cleaning out my closet gave me a sense of accomplishment that can only come with getting rid of unneeded crap. I feel pretty good about crossing it off my to-do list, and I’m hoping it inspires even more decluttering.

How’s your closet looking these days? Have you ever done a massive clothing purge like this before? Any advice for resisting the urge to refill it with more clothes?

  • Rafiki

    I’m amazed at the amount of hangers you own. That’s…….. a lot of clothes.

    I didn’t even pick up that your clothes are arranged in the colours of the rainbow, all I was telling my is that the colours look nice and stangely uniformed somehow.

    It feels nice after a good cleaning doesn’t it?

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Oh, it’s awesome! I’m a little embarrassed by how much stuff I had. The really sad part is, I just did this a little over 2 years ago when I got divorced. And multiple times when I was still married. It’s a disease!

  • Shovellicious

    I do the same thing with hanging clothes according to the rainbow so I’m so happy to see I’m not alone with my obsession (actually, I have two rainbows: one for winter season and another one for summer). You did a great job!

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Hooray! We should make a button to put on our sites - “Rainbow Closet Owners” or something. Though that definitely sounds like a different type of group on more than one level…

  • Shovellicious

    I do the same thing with hanging clothes according to the rainbow so I’m so happy to see I’m not alone with my obsession (actually, I have two rainbows: one for winter season and another one for summer). You did a great job!

  • lora kathleen

    Congrats on making some space! I’ve been working on the same thing… but much slower, haha.

    I also categorize by color, so you’re definitely not alone.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I’m really surprised to see how many people do that. Makes me feel a lot more normal!

  • Thriftyandfit

    I really need to purge my closets too. I may tackle it this month too.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Do it!!!! I’m trying to keep the trend going.

  • Denise @ The Single Saver

    I also sort by color, so I won’t judge you if you won’t judge me! When I started my own Declutter Challenge back in January, the first thing I tackled was my closet and my dressers. In total, I got rid of roughly a 3rd of the clothing items I owned and it felt great. I have to say, I think your “before” pictures looked better than even my “after” pictures. LOL!

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Well, like I said, I still have a LOT of stuff left to go through. The closet won’t be nearly as empty when I get all the laundry done and put away. But it looks good for right now!

  • Daisy

    Did I read that right? 79 shirts? Girl, you’re intense! I don’t think I’ve ever owned that many shirts! (Lies. I definitely have. I’m in denial). That must feel like such a relief!

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      The really interesting part will be seeing how many shirts I have left (when I finally fold all my laundry and wash the rest). I’m big on having tons of shirts and just a few pairs of pants, but I didn’t realize it had grown so out of control.

  • Melissa

    I need to organize my closet in proper rainbow colour order!! That is amazing!! (Not even joking a little bit. This is happening.)

    But seriously, awesome job on the purging. I have the exact same problem as you. Tons of clothes, most of which I never really wear. Or like, one red shirt that only looks good with that ONE skirt, so I hang on to it, even though I hardly ever wear it. I need to do this. I actually recently was kind of de facto forced to minimize my wardrobe (probably about 90% of my clothes are currently stored at my parents’ house — long story) and it’s actually been pretty great just rotating through about a week and a half’s worth of things.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      That’s what I’m finding - I thought having more clothes would make me feel better because I’d always have something to wear, but in reality, I think it caused anxiety. Now that I can clearly see what fits instead of stressing over the stuff that doesn’t, I’m a much happier camper.

  • PK

    Solid purge! That’s 4 times larger than anything we’ve done as a team, haha.

    How much did it appraise for? That’s got to be a nice write off.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I don’t know yet - the closest Goodwill is 30 minutes away, so I won’t take them until the next time I’m headed in that direction.

  • American Debt Project

    Your dresser is quite pretty without the mountain of clothes! I need to create my before and after post, I got rid of 5 bags of clothes too!!

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Congratulations!!!! I can’t wait to see your post - I feel like we’re in a cool club of people who are getting rid of their crap.

  • Anonymous

    Great job! That is way more clothes than I have.
    I got rid of a lot of stuffs last year, but like many guys I still have ratty clothes in the closet. It’s hard to throw them out! They are too ratty to give to Good Will.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      If they’re that bad, you could cut them up and use them as random shop rags or drop cloths. I have a bag under my kitchen sink full of the remains of t-shirts that finally bit the dust.

  • Shannyn

    DAMN girl- kudos to you, it looks great and rainbowy!

  • MLISunderstanding

    WOO-HOO! Seeing posts like this gives me such a rush. (I know it’s weird.) The best incentives for me to minimize and declutter are a)there’s less STUFF to clean! and b) I can find things more easily! (Also, I can live in a smaller, less-expensive space, and not pay for storage.)

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I’m the same way - I always feel better when I get rid of stuff. It’s just a matter of convincing myself to get started.

  • Bridget

    omggg BEST.

    I know it’s a little sad how excited I get about this, but decluttering makes me so happy, I can just get happiness from other people’s decluttering projects.

    This was amazing! I can’t believe you got rid of over 100 items — I don’t even own a 100 items!

    I’m excited to do a closet cull this week too… it’s on my goal list. I just need time for it lol

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I pushed aside everything I wanted to do on Saturday night to get mine cleaned out. Kind of felt like a waste of a weekend, but it’s a huge relief!

  • See Debt Run

    It feels so good to get rid of things.. Just like a burden off of my shoulders..

    … And it looks like your closet really is ROYGBIV?.. That is outstanding.
    What do you do about striped/patterned prints?

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      If they’re patterned, it depends on the dominant color. After the purple stuff, I also have black, gray, brown, and white in case none of the colors really apply. Wow, I’ve never really realized how many rules I have for hanging up clothes - no wonder I procrastinate!

  • Bogofdebt

    i just got rid of a bunch of things to the Salvation Army. I too had items from high school that I never wore but couldn’t get rid off. And alot of my things were in great shape. I made a deal with myslef-for the stuff I had to keep, I have a year to wear it or it has to go. If I want to buy new clothes, I have to get rid of something that I’m “replacing” and not keep both items. I have tiny closets so that helps keep the clutter down.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      That’s one of the bad things about my house - every bedroom has 8-foot closets, plus closets in the living room, bathroom, and hallway. With all that space, it’s easy to justify having way too much stuff.

      When I was going through my stuff, if I couldn’t remember the last time I wore it or even tried, it went in the donate pile. If I remembered but it just didn’t fit right, it went into the store pile. I was worried about having an empty closet, but it’s actually easier now that I don’t have to sort through all the stuff I know I won’t work.

  • UltimateSmartMoney

    We cleaned out our house in December. It really helps and I recommend doing this for anyone. Donating is great too and get tax benefit.

  • Jennifer Grisham

    I arrange my closet in rainbow order, too. Within each color, I also arrange by type of sleeve (spaghetti/tank, sleeveless, short, 3/4 & long). My pants are grouped by color and then pant length within the color group. I’ve tried to organize my husband’s closet using this same method, but he messes it up and hangs everything facing the wrong way! My name is Jen and I have OCD…

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Whoa… I am in awe of your advanced system. Beyond everything facing the same way and the rainbow order, I’m definitely not that OCD. You should attach a picture!

  • Mikhaila

    I love that you organize your closet according to the rainbow! It makes it look so happy

    I need to do a closet purge, but I find whenever I do them the bags just end up sitting there for months (I don’t have a car). I normally end up doing them when I move so I have a rental car to drop off the bags! Good for you for getting rid of so much stuff, it’s crazy how much you can do without.

  • Krantcents

    We routinely declutter and give away clothes and other things. I only needed a truck once when we downsized from a large 5 bedroom house to a townhouse.

  • Jolyn Myers

    A good post might be the process of making a donation claim and how you calculated the worth of your clothing. (I think there’s a site somewhere that designates a value for item type?) Then a step further, calculate what taxes you ultimately saved (if any) by itemizing these deductions.

    My sister used to do this with all her donations — itemize the value of each — until her husband told her to stop because it wasn’t saving them anything in taxes. However, his salary was six figures…

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      That’s a good idea! I don’t itemize right now since the standard deduction is more than I typically have, so I don’t know if it will benefit me or not. I still plan to take them and find out!

  • Sarah Tobergta

    I just made a similar donation. Some items of clothing I haven’t looked at since we moved into our house nearly five years ago, and I barely even remember buying. It is pretty awe-inspiring looking at all those clothes, and depressing too, because I can’t believe I used to fit into all those clothes.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      Oh I know! I held up some of those shirts and thought, “There’s no way I was EVER that skinny!” It’s a little depressing.

  • Carrie Starr

    It is the greatest feeling in the whole world to clean out like that! I am often hesitant to do it, but I always feel so much better afterwards. And it’s so much easier to find the things you actually wear and enjoy without all the clutter. Thanks for sharing and inspiring us to follow your example! =)

  • Rachel

    I need to do this, but I just can’t pull the trigger. The last time I did this I got rid of all the clothes that didn’t fit. I immediately got sick and lost 50lbs which never came back. I have yet to recover from my lack of work clothes. That being said. I’ve maintained the same weight for about 3 years. I doubt my size is going to change that dramatically ever again (crossing fingers toes and knocking on wood). Maybe I just need to enlist the help of a nice drill sargeant to get me moving.

  • Kris @ BalancingMoneyandLife

    Wow, that’s a lot of clothes! I admit, I hate cleaning too (I mean really, really hate it!) But I do get a lot of satisfaction out of decluttering. And I love a clean, well organized closet!

    I don’t judge you organizing your clothes by color, if you don’t judge me organizing by purpose/type! (Concert T’s, work shirts, work pants, workout pants, etc.)

  • Miss T

    Congrats on making some more space and in helping others out. We are on the declutter mission too which I say is the last time. Hopefully I am right. I have been making a real effort to be minimalist. I always find it amazing how much stuff you realize you have once you start looking.

  • April Stotler

    Think of how much easier it’s going to be to do laundry now! You won’t have to stress as much about the piles since they will all have a place to live.

    Are you doing anything else for the declutter challenge? It’s not my closet that needs work. It’s my office. Man…how do the papers just sort of BREED?

  • Aloysa @My Broken Coin

    Wow! Nicely done! You cleaned out quite a lot. Now if I only could take a closer look at your clothes! lol

  • Melissa@LittleHouseInTheValley

    Way to go! Goodwill was probably glad to see your donation. You did a great job, and I am sure it feels like a weight has been lifted. Congrats.

  • Matt, Tao of Unfear

    Ugh. I really hate having stuff.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like getting stuff. And I always feel weird about how minimalist my apartment is in comparison to come of my friends. There’s kind of the sense that no one actually lives here.

    But I hate taking care of stuff, and storing stuff, and picking up stuff, and cleaning stuff, and repairing stuff, and throwing stuff out. I don’t even want to think about moving on account of how much stuff I’d have to pack.

    I’ve been really tempted, on many occasions, to sell all of my non-essential crap. But then there’s the whole “feeling weird when I don’t have stuff” thing again. o_0

  • Donna Freedman

    I’ve never owned very many clothes at a time, but am in the middle of a massive de-cluttering effort. There’s a rummage sale to which I’m donating it all. The name of the sale is “Superfluity,” as in “get rid of the superfluous stuff in your life.”
    It was a little scary to see just how much stuff a frugal person can collect. Some of it was hard to let go of; some of it I decided to keep. But it’s left so much more room in my life as well as in my house. The way I felt about it is summed up in the title of the post I wrote: “The crap that crowds us.”
    Keep at it! It gets easier.

    • Andrea @ SoOverDebt

      I’ve been following your decluttering efforts - did you ever get rid of the Alaskan prints? It’s always amazing how much stuff people end up with - especially the things we think will be worth something later. I kick myself every day for selling my Strawberry Shortcake house (complete with all accessories and all the characters) when I was a kid. Yet I held on to random things that aren’t worth the boxes they’re stored in.

  • Anonymous

    So glad you jumped on the de-cluttering bandwagon. I had great plans this weekend to do the same, but fell of the wagon and got nothing done! Bleech! But this week is not over and I am hoping to get something de-cluttered!!