Kids’ Clothes Clean-out!

Trying Out a New Method

Over the Christmas break, a friend recommended that I read the popular organizing book “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo (2014, Ten Speed Press).  Her method, also known as the Konmari method has helped many simplify and de-clutter their homes in short periods of time by identifying items by whether they bring them joy.  I decided to check it out and see if some of the ideas might work for me.  I wasn’t sure if “joy” could realistically be the determining factor for all my belongings (who loves bills?), but maybe I could pair down to what I loved, and truly needed.  I was also skeptical about de-cluttering by type of item rather than room or section of the house, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try, so after reading, I plunged into the method’s 1st category of items: clothing.  I really wanted to dig into my own clothes, but I decided that I could face my kids’ clothes with less emotion, and their room (and our laundry baskets) were brimming with clothes.  So off I went….

My Clothes-culling Strategy

Step 1 – I started out by collecting every piece of dirty laundry I could find in my home.  I collected everything from kids’ room (I even looked behind their bed) and every room of the house, and took them to the laundry to sort.  I sorted it all into the following piles: kids clothes’, my clothes, husband’s clothes, and linens.  Then I started a load of kids’ clothes and determined to keep washing through just the kids’ clothes until they were complete.

Step 2 – Once the wash was started, I separated the clean clothes that were around the house (like the piles on my couch) into kid’s clothes, and everything else.  I folded all the kids’ clothes and separated them by kid.  The clean clothes would now be ready for when I sorted through the contents of the dressers and closet.

boys 001Step 3 – I already have the kids clothes organized by type in the dressers (shirts in one drawer, pants in another, etc.), so I knew I could just pull one drawer at a time to organize each type of item.  Since, my kids socks were all mixed up and they couldn’t find any pairs, I decided to pull all the socks from both dressers.  I brought the sock drawers into my Living room where I could sort them.  I dumped them all onto the floor and started sorting them by type.  I added in the socks from the folded laundry I had just finished, and matched up as many pairs as I could and then put them away.  I then threw out any that were ripped or were no longer the right size, or I just didn’t like the look of anymore.  I left a small pile of single socks that had no match in the living room, to match up with others later as they came out of the wash.

boys 003Step 4 – With socks done, I started drawer by drawer per kid.  I immediately eliminated any that were not in my son’s current size and put them in a donation bag.  Rather than deciding if each item brought me “joy”, I asked myself: “Does this fit him?”, “Am I sick of seeing this?”, Is it too worn or stained?”  Those questions helped me quickly divide out the ones I no longer wished to keep.  I folded them neatly back into the drawer as I went along.  I then turned to my pile of clean clothes from the washed and decided if they were all keepers.  If not, they went straight to the donation bin.  If I couldn’t fit everything in the drawer, I decided which items we had too many of, and eliminated the ones I loved the least.  **Tip – This process was so much easier with the kids at school.

Step 5 – Repeated steps with other son’s dresser.  I also checked occasionally on washer, stopping to fold up kids clothes and cull/put-away into the drawers I already completed.

boys 002Step 6 – I tackled the hanging clothes and jackets last by the same process.  I only hang my sons’ collared shirts and jackets, so it was fairly easy to cull through.  And I decided how many coats we really needed, and limited my favorites to that number.

The Result

Wow!  I can’t believe how fast this seemed to go.  In 2 hours, I had not only collected and sorted all the laundry in the house in preparation, but I cleared out and organized ALL of the kids clothes in 2 dressers and their closet (including baseball uniforms and swimsuits)!  I had been skeptical by organizing by type rather than location, but let me tell you….I loved how THOROUGH this felt!!  I knew I had organized everything!!  And as items continued to come out of the dryer, I could quickly match up the lingering single socks and cull or put-away remaining items.

I also de-cluttered 5 full bags of kids clothes!!  No wonder laundry had been over-flowing!  I only kept what we loved and used, and the kids still had full dressers.  I had thought that both kids needed new jeans because they had repeatedly come out in the mornings with too-short, holey jeans….but it turned out, the perfectly good jeans were just buried somewhere.  If I had not gone through all the clothes in such a methodical way, I would have spent money on several more pairs per kid!  In the end, I had more pairs of good pants than I needed, and even gave a few good pairs away just to keep from packing the drawers to tight.  So I managed to save $$, have plenty to give to friends or to donation, and every piece of clothes they own is organized and put away!  Boy, that was productive!  Try it and let me know what you think.