Women's Style Inspiration  / Travel & Lifestyle Advice  / Cleaning Out Your Closet: What to Keep, Donate, Trade or Toss

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

A step-by-step guide for spring-cleaning your closet.

A collection of women's clothing organized on hangers.
Find your new favorite must-haves with personal styling.

Spring is all about fresh starts. This makes it the perfect time for one very important task: cleaning out your closet. No matter the size of your space, a closet clean-out can seem like an intimidating task. So where do you begin?

This guide shares our top tips on what to keep, donate, recycle or throw away, as well as the spring essentials we're stocking up on.

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, work by category. For example, begin with the basics (like jeans) and go from there. Think about the pieces you actually wear, versus what sits in your closet to be worn "one day."

If you haven't worn an item in a while (like those 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.

Two stacks of folded 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.

A woman putting a folded stack of clothes into a box.

Donate gently used clothing

Nordstrom makes it easy to give used clothing and accessories a second life with a clothing donation program. The charitable organization Dress for Success also 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 doesn't fit anymore. Or perhaps you splurged on a bag that's no longer your style. Luckily, there are a ton of resale options for used fashion. You can also set up a clothing swap with friends, or go to a local vintage shop and trade for some preloved treasures.

Recycle worn-out or damaged items

For 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 recycling bins for clothing, 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 blouses or jeans with one too many holes) 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.

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 always evolving, so consider refreshing your wardrobe with new, on-trend pieces. Some of the trends we're loving for spring and summer include retro-inspired denim, bold blouses and joyful prints.

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.

Find your new favorite must-haves with personal styling.