Organize a Closet

3 Clever Ways to Ensure a Tidier Closet
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Helping your loved one stay organized can eat up hours of your time each day. Try these clever ideas:

1. Let there be light.

Sometimes closets get unruly because nothing can be easily found. Your loved one may reach for item after item, questing for the right one. Solution: Add some light.

Stick-on LED lights (also called stick-and-click lights) are an economical, easy option to add lighting in hard-to-reach places. (They work well inside bathroom cabinets, too.) To turn the light on, you simply press it with your hand.

2. Find what works -- and eliminate the rest.

Minimizing the number of options in the closet is the quickest path to easier cleanup -- at any age.

Chances are good that your loved one is hanging onto many items that haven't been worn in a long time. Physical limitations may have made pull-on garments or shirts with many tiny buttons too complicated to mess with, for example. Or fancy clothes may no longer match a more close-to-home lifestyle.

Figure out what works best for your loved one now: Snap-front housedresses? Slacks without belts? Cozy cardigans with zip fronts? Stock the closet with two or three options of these most-worn clothing items, and clear out the rest.

Worried about resistance? Tie the change to a seasonal shift. Move all the extras to a spare closet or box them up, if your loved one isn't ready to part with them altogether. Fewer options means less mess.

3. Think hooks, not hangers.

Some older adults don't have the stamina to hang clothes back on hangers -- so they wind up in a heap at the bottom of the closet. Hanging everything back up makes more work for you to do. So why not ditch the hangers altogether?

Hooks are a great clutter-free alternative. Screw large hooks in your closet wall within easy reach for your loved one. (White hooks are especially easy to see.) Many people find it much easier to hang sweaters, pants, housedresses, and other items on individual hooks rather than to mess with hangers.

Worried about humps in their garments where they were hooked? Most humps disappear after a few minutes of wear. For the rare exceptions, try a quick spritz of wrinkle-release laundry product, then smooth the area with your hand; most humps and wrinkles disappear.


over 2 years ago, said...

This has given me a chance to know and understand in what ways we can extend help to loved ones and also to others without their asking. It gives immense pleasure in return for both.


over 3 years ago, said...

Suggestion #2 is gradually helping. If I act too quickly my wife notices and calls me on it. One of the symptoms with which I deal is hoarding and rummaging related to security and her clothing. Sometimes if she thinks something has been "stolen" and I find it, if it is something she no longer uses or no longer fits (weight gain), I just put it away. I'm getting there.


over 3 years ago, said...

The lights that are mentioned in this articule for the closet are no good. I have spent more money on these phony things and they either fall off the wall, lights don't work after about 2 weeks... I brought a very good flash light and hung it in the closet , works wonderful....


over 3 years ago, said...

your hints are very specific as though you are a fairy godmother in my house leaning over my shoulder with wise advice. Thank you!


over 3 years ago, said...

Love the light idea. Elderly people frequently have eyeseight issues anyway, so lights never hurt to add. And the hook idea? Wonderful! Now, the people who are going to benefit most from this idea are going to be those who no longer keep a large wardrobe, because their lives no longer require multiple types of clothing in their bedroom clothes closet. They need their favorite comfortable items accessible (according to the season) and a dressier outfit or two for special occasions, a couple of sweaters/wraps - that's about it. With the hooks, it's easy for them to see the items, easy to access, easy to put away - and wouldn't you agree that having items on hooks is better than them being on the floor? Another option if you are concerned about humps in the clothing - sew a soft piece of brightly colored thick yarn or ribbon into a small loop (about the size of a large rubber band) into the neck at the back of the shirt, and use that to hang the item on the hook.


over 3 years ago, said...

I tend to clutter, and just these simple ideas should help a lot. Thank you.


over 3 years ago, said...

I was interested to see the endorsement of stick and click lights. I have been trying to decide if it would be smart to buy them to supplement the overhead light I have in my main closet and some some raves and some boos.


about 4 years ago, said...

I'll try some of yourhints. I have aboogey man in my closet second only to the one in the dryer who steals my socks.


over 4 years ago, said...

Your organizational ideas were right on target. I knew some will try others. Thank you, every idea helps us to remember or learn.


over 4 years ago, said...

It is nice to engage in dialogue and to share ideas with other caregivers in a respectful manner. So glad this forum is monitored and that only support is permitted. Not to get too "hung up" :-) on this, it seems that, as with much in life, there can be different solutions for different people. I personally like the idea of some hooks for my parents (in their 80's with a terribly small closet in assisted living), because hooks can be used for those frequently used items, such as a robe, house dress, suspenders, etc. My Mom has way too many clothes for her half (+) of their little closet, yet she is not ready to pare down anymore at this time. What that shows to me is that, at 88 y.o. and with having received "the last rites" a couple of times over the years, she still has desire for color, for her own style which is just wonderful, IMHO. My job is to store their out of season clothing and to make sure their current wardrobe is easy to maintain, by hook or crook! Great day, caregivers!


over 4 years ago, said...

You are correct, I have not personally cared for anyone who was physically challenged, or who kept a cluttered closet. But I spent my early years in the house where my mother cared for my grandfather, who had mental, not physical, disabilities. His room had no closet, or space for hooks. My mother folded his clothes and stored them in dresser drawers. His frequently-worn clothes tended to be piled on a chair or the bed until folded.

I understand all of the reasons why commenters recommend the hooks. Personally, I see nothing but problems with the idea, and the more arguments offered in favor of it, the more problems I envision. I offered my own suggestion, which all are free to accept or to conclude is stupid.


over 4 years ago, said...

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over 4 years ago, said...

I think you've missed the point . The main reason appears to be to help caregivers and their loved ones a way to eliminate some of the stress & clutter in their lives. The elderly have diminished eyesight which #1 addressed. They also tend to cling to familiar things, which can lead to hoarding inside their closet and #2 dealt with the clutter. Because fingers become arthritic, stiff, etc., not being able to put something away on hangers as they normally would, leads to great frustration for them and the reason for #3.Some older people have gnarled, painful fingers and folding anything neatly or otherwise is impossible. Using these tips, means that the caregiver doesn't spend unnecessary time in the closet, picking things up off the floor and hanging them, trying to find something that fits, or pressing wrinkles out of the items which have been crammed together. It also means that the loved one can safely put away their own items of clothing and feel like they are doing their part. Caregivers are less concerned about damaging the clothing, than the damage done to the loved one when they lose their independence. From your comments I must assume that you have never cared for an elder parent, physically challenged child, spouse, or anyone else with limited abilities. I'm fortunate enough to have my parents at 91 and 95 years of age, and I am well aware of their limitations and mine. The suggestions were most helpful in my situation. When you start a comment with, "I thought the hood (sp) idea (#3) was stupid.", what was your intention? If you want respect, then give it. Perhaps you could offer suggestions on stain removal, my parents balk at wearing adult bibs in public.


over 4 years ago, said...

I meant no disrespect. I grew up around dry cleaners, and learned a lot about the proper care of clothing. Hooks are destructive to clothing (especially sweaters), which I pointed out in my original post. However, I also have trouble seeing them as being a workable solution to the problem of closet organization.

If there are five hooks in the closet, I can only envision hanging five, maybe ten items before items begin to be hidden. The spacing between the hooks should allow for garments to be removed without disturbing neighboring garments, which suggests eight inches on either side, so the five hooks consume three feet of wall space. Three three-foot long shelves in the same space would hold more clothing, allow better visibility to the items, and not be as damaging to the clothing.

Most clothing does not need to be hung, either on hangers or on hooks. Sweaters and other knits, for example, should never be hung. Consider a simple fold, where a top is held by the shoulders, then doubled so that the collar touches the hem. The garment is neat, easily seen, and undamaged.


over 4 years ago, said...

Goodness! You dont need to call someone else's idea stupid. I'm 44 with lupus and fibromyalgia and I have terrible trouble putting clothes on hangers. Let's respect each other and know that we're all trying our best to care for our loved ones.


over 4 years ago, said...

The hooks....such a good idea.! My husband would love those. Thanks for writing about a mess inside the closets.


over 4 years ago, said...

EWverything!


over 4 years ago, said...

I found out last year that the hooks are especially true for his comfort of 'hanging' up his clothes....I had to put the series of hooks on the wall in the bedroom because he doesn't like to use the closet at all.


over 4 years ago, said...

I wouldn't do away with hangers altogether. The clothes my 91 & 95 year old parents use daily at home, are different than the ones they wear for doctor visits, eating out, church, etc. Shelves would be great storage also, for folded items that they would wear while at home, i.e., giving them a choice of pants, sweaters, scarves, and shirts the can access easily and choose from. The pegs are great for hanging their night wear, robes, sweaters and jackets within easy reach. Humps in clothing that is worn around the home is not as important as them maintaining a measure of independence as long as they can. Fine motor skills decrease with age as does the eyesight and other senses we depend on. Let's not forget to mention balance, my parent fell and shattered an ankle when it slipped under the toe area of the counter and became wedged. Her body flipped to the side, but the ankle remained under the counter.


over 4 years ago, said...

Yes in many ways.


over 4 years ago, said...

MozzarElla: I hear your point. But if looking neat and maintaining visibility are the key objectives, the hooks still don't work for me. The humps on the clothes scream "unkempt", and there would have to be a large number of hooks in order to keep everything visible. Most likely, new clothes would be hung on top of old clothes. I don't know how fine the motor skills would have to be to fold a pair of slacks, or to fold a sweater's arms together and then fold it in half, to put it on a shelf. To me, stacked clothes provide more visibility than the hooks. In terms of height, I assumed that the shelves would be placed at lower heights. That would allow for three shelves in the space that a hanging sweater would cover (36" - 40" in height). It could also help with sorting, with sweaters on the top shelf, shirts/blouses on the second, pants/skirts on the bottom. ClipClop: Thanks for correcting my typo.