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Cleaning out Your Closet: What to Keep, Donate, Trade, or Toss

Our tips on how to clean out and refresh your closet for spring

women's shirts on a shirt rack
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Spring is all about new beginnings. Which makes it the perfect time for one very important task: cleaning out your closet. But even if you have the best intentions, a spring closet clean-out can seem like a mammoth task. So where do you start?

We're sharing our top tips on what to keep, donate, recycle, or toss, as well as the spring essentials we're stocking up on for the new season.

How to refresh and revamp your spring wardrobe

Go through everything one by one

It may seem time-consuming, but sorting through each and every piece in your wardrobe is the best way to start your spring closet cleaning. To make things easier, start by category. For example, begin with basics (such as jeans) and go from there. Think about the pieces you actually wear, versus what just sits in your closet to be worn "one day."

If you haven't worn an item in a while, like shorts from last year, it's recommended that you try it on before slipping it back into your dresser drawer or closet. If you find some of your favorite items no longer fit, consider having them altered or tailored.

Working your way through categories—from tees and blouses to dresses and accessories—will help you break down the task into bite-size pieces and give you a sense of accomplishment along the way.

Pile of folded winter sweaters

Put clothing into 3 piles

As you get a general feeling of what you want to keep versus what you want to pass along, start making piles. Put pieces you love and want to keep in one pile. These can go right back into your closet.

Create a second pile for items you want to keep that need to be repaired or tailored. A good tailor can salvage old favorites by altering waistbands, adjusting hems, relining dresses, and even replacing zippers and buttons. Don't have a tailor? Nordstrom employs the largest team of professional tailors in the nation and offers full alterations and tailoring services for your clothing—whether it came from Nordstrom or not.

Make a third pile for what you no longer want or may be on the fence about (which, let's be honest, usually means you should get rid of it). There are many options to consider here, and we've broken them down for you.

Woman put folded clothes in a box

Donate gently used clothing

There are so many great charitable organizations out there. Dress for Success accepts gently used, nearly new professional attire, and Goodwill is a convenient option for all types of clothing. When considering donating, you'll want to make sure items are in good condition and freshly laundered. Socks, undergarments, and visibly worn pieces all need to go in the toss pile.

Resell clothing or swap with friends

Maybe you made an extravagant purchase and it no longer fits. Or perhaps you splurged on a bag and it's no longer your style. Luckily, there's a ton of resale options for used fashion. (Make sure to check out Nordstrom See You Tomorrow if you're interested in consignment.) You can also set up a clothing swap with friends, or go to a local vintage shop and trade for some pre-loved treasures.

Recycle worn-out or damaged items

For all the pieces that are damaged or other clothing you can't get rid of by way of swapping, donating, or selling, consider recycling. Many neighborhoods have textile recycling bins, but you can also check out Recycle Now's Recycling Locator tool to find a textile recycling center. This is a great option for items with wear and tear (like heavily pilled sweaters, stained items, or clothing with rips or tears) if repair isn't possible or worthwhile.

Throw the rest away

Items like underwear, bras, and socks will likely end up in the toss pile, as will items that are beyond repair or recycling. Consider all of the options above before ultimately deciding to throw anything in the trash.

Women trying on shoes

Don't forget about shoes and accessories

When cleaning out your closet, sort through your shoes, accessories, outerwear, and bags, too. These items often need a lot of maintenance if they're well-worn, so be careful not to overlook any much-needed repairs.

Refresh your wardrobe with new pieces

This is the fun part. Once you've identified the keepers, you should consider buying similar styles in different colors or patterns.

A spring refresh is also the perfect time to make sure you have seasonal essentials. White tees and denim are a must, as are sandals, skirts, and dresses. Staples like tanks and shorts in solid colors are versatile spring and summer wardrobe items that can pair with almost anything.

Fashion is ever-evolving, so consider refreshing your wardrobe with new pieces that are on-trend. Some of the trends we're loving for spring and summer include natural fabrications, unusual necklines, and all things white.

Organize your closet thoughtfully

When putting the winners back in your closet, keep your best layering pieces in easy-to-find places for spring's unpredictable weather. Cardigans, lightweight scarves, and long-sleeve tees are definitely worth keeping close for transitional weather and the return of indoor air-conditioning.