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Clothing Inventory and Organization

By on January 24, 2007

Taking an inventory of the clothing in your home can help you avoid purchasing more than you need. Whether you purchase clothing on clearance or secondhand, creating a handy reference list when you purchase clothing in advance sizes and seasons, is time well spent. This will narrow the gap of having to purchase clothing full price too.

Getting Started

Empty out clothing room to room. Work one room at a time because this can be time consuming. Organize the piles into containers labeled keep, toss, and give away. With your “keep” pile, start organizing by season and type of clothing. Put matching sets together. As an example, short sleeved shirts in one pile and jeans in another. The other containers you get rid of. Be certain what you keep is clean before you store it or donate it.

Next, start tallying up the clothing in the “keep” pile. You can put the name of each person on a piece of paper with the types of clothing they have and sizes. It will help if you write down the colors and condition of the clothes too. Some clothing sizes aren’t “true to size”, so consider taking notes on actual measurements for future reference.

What is Needed

Clothing needs are going to vary person to person and ages will make a difference too. As an example, an infant might require more pajamas and blankets, but less footwear versus an older child.

The following is a rough guideline of an inventory list:
Printable Inventory List

You can customize the inventory sheet to fit your needs, or try an online personal inventory solution.


When purchasing clothing in advance or storing out of season clothing, you’ll want an organizational system. A good system will allow you to set this clothing aside, yet they will be easily accessible. You’ll want to think about available storage space in your home. Be certain this space isn’t damp and doesn’t have potential for mold or bugs. Some people utilize the space under beds.

Next, you’ll want to select storage containers. This can be spare cardboard boxes or plastic containers. Mark on the outside what these containers are holding. Some people use an index card taped on the outside. Keep in mind to update and revise these container lists when you remove anything or add anything to them.

A common question is how long to store items. How often have you heard of someone that just tossed out or donated their baby and maternity clothes, and then found out they were expecting? You can’t always avoid this situation, but clothes storage of approximately up to three years is suggested. It can be longer if you purchase clothing that isn’t terribly trendy, and if you stick to basic colors and styles. You can always sell these clothing items or pass them on, so no harm done in saving them, unless you are really low on storage space.

An added benefit to storing clothing this way is that it’s not cluttering up closet and dresser space. This means the clothing that is there is being worn and used, and nothing is lost or tucked way in the back or underneath anything.


Now you’ve pared down and organized what is going to be temporarily stored away. Next, you can consider organizers such as shoe racks, closet organizers, specialty hangers, extra hooks, hanging or collapsible shelves, and totes to organize what you are keeping in your dressers and closets.

Your clothing is organized and items are accessible. You know what you have and what you might need. Your closets only contain what is currently wearable. Remember your family can learn from you. Organizing encourages your family to be more responsible in helping to keep things orderly.

Added tips for storage space:
Under couches
Closet shelves
Over the door organizers
Using trunks as tables
Freestanding organizers
Making room in linen closets by placing spare sheets between mattresses
Storing in luggage

Additional reading:,2041,DIY_14119_4493768,00.html,21770,1043872,00.html


  1. Robin

    2/1/2007 at 11:29 am

    Hey Sara,

    I love your site. As I strike out on my own in business, I find living the frugal life to be freeing, not confining. Things just weigh us down.

    I like your article here about purchasing and storing clothing. I hesitate to purchase too far in advance, no matter how great the bargain, as styles and tastes change. However, buying out one season is a great way to extend our dollars.

    One of my businesses is The Closet Audit™. I encourage all of my clients to store seasonal items. It creates more room in the closet, lessens confusion and makes them feel like they have a new wardrobe as they unpack their seasonal clothes that they haven’t laid eyes on for several months!

    Finally, why do we all feel we need so much in our closets. I notice myself, my daughters and my clients wearing the same 10 articles of clothing each week. We rarely wear all of our clothes in the closet in one month. I encourage clients to invest in 10 basic pieces that can be mixed and matched. Spending a little more up front on quality, versatile items means less spending later on. Plus a more organized, calm closet!

    Well, there is my two cents. Thanks again. I’ll surely return often.

    Robin Gifford

  2. SauerKraut

    2/1/2007 at 2:47 pm

    I have hundreds, maybe thousands, of t-shirts and other articles of clothing from road races, awards, gifts, and other reasons. Some are years and years old, and some of those have shrunk with countless washings. I would hate to part with them, but I have dumped a few hundred of them into rubbermaid containers and stuff them into a corner in the basement. When the wee ones get large enough, or I loss a few more pounds, I might just bring them back into the light of day… or I’ll find a quilt-maker.

    • Carterchristian

      1/26/2012 at 6:52 am

      Great. Do not discard, but do arrange them in dry bens with some kind of finding aid.Can be very simple. Then get one or more display cases and organize displays. Might be school related, events, or special times, such as Christmas or birthdays. Add photographs, clippings. You may want to share your display with say a library or school. Don’t feel that you have to discard them. You may also consider wearing them again from time to time.

  3. Kathy

    2/5/2007 at 1:44 am

    I did the decluttering of my clothes this summer. I blogged about it on the village blog. I am proud to say that I only have one closet full of clothes rather than 3 and I went with the mix and match and have lots of outfits without buying a ton of clothes. It was freeing for me to get rid of clothes I hadn’t worn in years. And I only have 3 pair of jeans now…shocking I know, but you can only wear one pair at a time…Thanks for the blog..Kathy

  4. AheeK

    2/17/2007 at 11:05 pm

    I always plan to buy winter clothes (jackets, boots, etc.) in end-of-season sales. Where I live, it’s only 4-5 months before it’s winter again anyways!

  5. Amy

    2/17/2007 at 11:20 pm

    Well, Sara…you know me…I hate clothes shopping, and the result is that I don’t have enough clothes to have to organize and rotate. However, I still loved reading the blog! You know me…organize, organize, organize!

  6. Bumplett

    2/18/2007 at 12:48 am

    the sad truth is – I live in jeans & tee shirts 🙂

    and I will admit to having that drawer full of concert tees that I can’t part with! ugg –

    I love the printable inventory list though — very handy.

  7. Marie78

    2/18/2007 at 3:54 am

    I love these tips. I have been gaining and losing weight for 3 years now. I wish I could blame it on children, but it’s just me and my “battle of the bulge.” As a result, I have clothes for the 3 sizes I go between ( 8, 10, 12). I gave my mom a bunch of size 12 recently and I gave my sister all but a few size 6’s. I used to be a steady size 6, until 3 years ago. Now my goal is size 8. I keep all of my too big or too small clothes (that are still in style) under my bed in storage. Then I keep all of my current clothes in my dresser drawers and closet. I really need to go through my closet again, weed through things that have gone out of style. Especially shoes, I have a few pairs I won’t wear again! If I hadn’t saved enough clothes in these 3 sizes, I would have had to spend a lot of money on new wardrobes over the last 3 years.

  8. mom23boys

    2/18/2007 at 6:40 pm

    I need to declutter my clothes, DH’s clothes, and the boy’s clothing. It seems like they are starting to grow into their own little world. They are multiplying and I know we have way too much. I don’t know where it all comes from because I don’t like to purchase new clothes. I will make spring break week my conquer the clothes week!!

  9. emily_hope

    2/18/2007 at 8:57 pm

    I have been decluttering clothes recently. After washing an item I have worn, I hang it at the beginning of the rod. If there are things still hanging on the other end of the rod when the season is over, I get rid of it.

  10. Maggi

    2/19/2007 at 11:11 am

    Oh Sara can you come to my house? It seems once a month I go through our closets and pack up stuff from myself, dh and son. My dh gets work shirts and pants once a year for free. He has 34 work shirts and 20 pairs of work pants. I iron all his clothes. Gasp!
    I keep telling him to go through them and get rid of the ones that have bad oil stains or if he can use them for rags to tell me which ones and I will cut them up. My son has his clothes, his friends clothes and whoever left what when they came over to change for a date or event. My rule on that one is if they don’t claim it in 3 months, its donated or in the garage sale bin. For myself, I have three different size clothes, Menopause put me up to a size 14 and then I have from size 9 to 5. I don’t think I’ll see the size 5 again. So I’ve been going through them with tears. lol

  11. Darling Diva

    2/19/2007 at 7:08 pm

    Its great to purge…remember to donate some of those useful items to those less fortunate…local shelters really rely on those donations.

    Also instead of rushing out and purchasing on impulse those great new trends …check your closet …chances are that you have something similar in your waredrobe already. Fashion always recirulates.
    And remember if it doesnt FIT get rid of it …you cant find what does fit cus the stuff that doesnt is obstrucing your view.

    Less is more
    basics my friends can always be dressed
    with hip accessories.
    darling diva

  12. Darlene

    2/24/2007 at 2:38 pm

    I think it’s ok for me to get rid of some shirts from the 80’s now…I really have many, kids make fun of me. I guess I’m a hoarder stuck in a time warp. I don’t have alot of clothing but much of it is frumpy and out of date. Seems like every season I buy a couple new tops to go with jeans & that’s it.
    Going though my drawers and tossing most, sure would make finding things easier. Guess what I’m doing tomorrow.

  13. jinx

    3/3/2007 at 11:42 pm

    I did a complete clothing inventory of both my husband and I this fall. I did it as I was changing over from summer to fall/winter clothing. I started with the summer clothes before I put them away.
    What I did is go through everything I tried on just about everypiece in my closet. I made my husband try on things too. What didnt fit, was old, or just didnt want anymore but still in good shape I bagged to give away. The items that were stained, or not in the best shape were tossed. I sent summer sweaters and anything that needed to be drycleaned out. My cleaners offers storage of cleaned garments. The dress clothes, and anything on hangers were placed in a walk in cedar closet that we have, everything else is in a cedar chest. I also did the same with the fall clothes. I couldnt believe what I kept from the year before, at least 1/3 of it was either given away or tossed. What I did that was differnt from other years, was to make a list of what needed to be replaced, or what would be nice to have. Now I have a list of what to buy when I go shopping at a big sale. Slowly I have been replacing, I never buy unless it is on sale.

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