Clothes Clutter: Organizing Kids Clothes

posted by Andrea | 08/17/2011
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It’s officially the middle of August which means the start of a new school year is just a week or two away {I even know of a few schools who have started already!}

And even though I’m not quite to the back-to-school stage of life yet, {we’re still dealing with little baby clothes} I’ve worked with enough moms of school-age kids to know that they WILL most definitely have outgrown some of their clothing from last year, and they will probably need at least a few new items for school.

Since I’m right in the middle of a mini series on “Clothes Clutter”, I figured now would be an excellent time to talk about ways you can tackle your kid’s clothes clutter!

Here are a few tips to get you started — and I have a couple more links to helpful information down at the bottom!

1. Get Your Kids Involved.

Just because you’re the adult doesn’t mean that your kids can’t get involved. I know everything always takes longer when kids are involved, but this is a great way to SHOW and TEACH them how to organize their things.

Plus, they will be MUCH more likely to keep things neat and organized if they played a role in the organizing process.


2. Make it FUN!

Yes, it IS possible to make organizing fun — and if you are going to involve your kids {see #1 above} you’ll HAVE to make it fun!

My favorite idea {which I’ve probably mentioned before} is to host a mini fashion show. The kids can take turns trying on their clothes and then “strutting their stuff” up and down the hallway. This will give you a great opportunity to see what fits and what doesn’t.

Some other ideas are to offer incentives for the child who gets through their clothes the fastest; offer to buy one new article of clothing for every 15 they get rid of; or even allow them to help YOU purge your closet after you help them {seriously, some kids think that is so fun!}


3. Love it or Lose it.

As you go through your kid’s clothes clutter, keep in mind that if you don’t love it, you should lose it… period. There is no point in keeping anything that isn’t loved or valued {yes, this will work for your closet too!}

Love it = Clothes and shoes that fit, clothes that they will actually wear, a variety of outfits that are appropriate for school, play, church, etc.

Lose it = Clothes and shoes that don’t fit, clothes that they won’t wear, and anything with obvious stains, large rips, or in ratty condition.


4. Save, Store, Sell, or…?

If you’re like me, then you most likely purchased your kid’s clothes from a garage sale for less than $0.50 — which means you are probably willing to donate them to a local thrift store and get them out of your house!

However, I know lots of people who want to save certain items for sentimental purposes, store items for the next child, or try to sell them at a garage sale or consignment store. If this is true for you, then you’ll need a system.

I like using clear plastic bins with clearly visible labels. You should have bins for items you want to sell, and other bins for items you want to pass on to the next child {label those bins with the size, season, and gender.} Then, create a separate location for anything you want to save as a keepsake — like a cedar chest or special storage box {and don’t get too carried away!}


5. Donation or Trash the Rest.

Obviously, there will be some items that simply need to go in the trash {we use junky t-shirts to make rags} but you should definitely find an appropriate place to donate the rest. This is also a really good learning opportunity for your children as they can see how their unused items benefit people in need. Oh, and it’s the fastest way to clear the clutter from your house!


More Kid’s Clothes Tips:

Here are a BUNCH more tips for sorting, purging, and organizing your kid’s clothes clutter.

Here are a few tips to keep your children clutter free.

Remember that YOU are the adult, and even though you should try to involve your children, YOU have the final say. Don’t let them guilt you into keeping their favorite shirt that is 5 sizes too small. Some kids want to keep everything, and if you let them, they won’t learn the valuable lessons of purging and organizing!

What are your best tips for organizing kid’s clothes clutter?

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  1. Www.Infusionart.Co.Uk


    Heya! I’m at work browsing your blog from my new iphone
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  2. Shelly


    I have a question about storing clothes for the next child. I have two daughters, one is 7 and the other is almost three months. Big gap there! 🙂 I have saved some clothes from my first daughter and I am finding that I don’t like them as much the second time around. Do you think that, due to the large gap in ages, I should just purge and buy clothes for my youngest as we go? I tend to be a bit of a hoarder so I’d really appreciate your perspective.


    Andrea Reply:

    If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me this question — LOL 🙂
    My answer is ALMOST always “Don’t save clothing for the next child”. I know this might sound like a waste of money, but most of the people I know who save clothing end up with similar issues to you. They waste tons of space storing baby clothing… and then never end up having a child of the same gender, or end up with a large age gap in which case the clothing is no longer in style. In my personal experience, baby/kid clothing is super easy to find for free (hand-me-downs from friends) or really cheap at garage sales/Craigslist.
    At this point, I get rid of most clothing that is too small for Nora and have only kept a few of my favorite items — or gender neutral items like white onesies, socks, sleep sacks, etc.
    I know it’s difficult to part with the cute baby items, but I honestly think it’s better to let someone else utilize them instead of storing boxes and bins of baby clothes “just in case”.


  3. Jennifer


    What would you suggest for kids who have to share a closet? My girls are 6 and 9 and share a bedroom and a (decent size) closet. They each also have a dresser. Would love to hear your thoughts!


  4. Andrea Schwake


    I started doing the “mini-fashion” show idea about a year ago with my daughter. We do this when trying on clothes that have been stored in the off-season bin. It is great incentive to have fun while trying on clothes!. She can dance around in front of the mirror while I sort out the clothes that are yet to be tried on. I also add some extra incentive that she earns one “coin” per piece of clothing tried on. Usually the coins are pennies but I throw in a couple of quarters and dimes for extra incentive.


  5. Gwynn


    I keep a large shopping bag on the floor of each kid’s closet (and one in mine). Whenever they put something on that is too small, I tell them just put it in the “too small bag.” When the bag is full, I either give it to a friend with smaller children or pack the contents into a black plastic bag for my school’s used clothing drive. My 12-year-old daughter has been helping me for several years now with compiling a list of what we’ve donated. Then I use the list to calculate how much of a deduction we can take at tax time.


  6. Robin


    The sizes of clothes seem to vary so much, plus my boys frequently wear a different size pants than top. I currently organize boxes by size (actual size, as Tammy said!), and if there is more than one box worth, further dividing by season. But I am thinking about switching to a storage-by-type system (e.g. short sleeved shirts, long pants, pajamas, etc…). When I initially pull boxes out at the change of seasons, it seems to be for something like each of the boys needing a different set of pajamas… then I need to pull out a box for each, or more boxes if I don’t get their size right. Plus I buy things for the boys to grow in to, so sometimes I don’t know what the “actual” size is, and I still miss having them wear stuff! I’ve been doing this for 5 years for my 3 boys, and still don’t feel like my system is quite there yet.


  7. Tammy


    One of my tips with clothes for children under 5 is to not just use the labels as a guide for the size. For instance, an article labeled 12months size may run a little small…if it is closer in size to most of the 6-9 months clothes you have, store it with those. I kept clothes only to discover the next child had already outgrown it because the pieces.


    Andrea Reply:

    yes, great tip Tammy! I’m already noticing that with baby clothes. They might be marked the same size, but when you hold them up next to each other — one is much larger!