17 Best Tips to Organize Your Coat Closet

Storage Solutions to Maximize Your Space

Coat closet organized with bag hooks, wire shelves and shoe bench

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 1 hr
  • Total Time: 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Have you taken a good look at your coat closet lately? Are there even any coats in there? Whether it's a closet near your front door for guest coats or the catchall closet near the family entrance, it should be functional and well-organized to accommodate the needs of your family and guests.

These steps to clean and organize a coat closet work well even if your "closet" is open shelving or hanging storage in a mudroom. Keeping the area organized makes morning and evening routines easier for every member of the family.

How Often to Clean and Organize a Coat Closet

The best way to schedule the organization of a coat closet is to tackle it when the seasons change. Items stored in the closet during summer activities won't always be suitable for cold, winter days. Taking just an hour or so at least twice per year will save you many more hours of frustration later on.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sturdy clothes hangers
  • Wire or woven baskets or plastic containers
  • Vacuum or mop
  • Microfiber cloths
  • Hooks
  • Vertical hanging organizer
  • Label maker
  • Towel or curtain rods
  • Wire shelving

Materials

  • Cardboard boxes or trash bags

Instructions

How to Clean and Declutter a Coat Closet

Materials and tools to organize a coat closet

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  1. Empty the Closet

    Take everything—yes, everything—out of the closet. The only way you can assess what is in there is to spread it all out.

    Coat closet emptied with umbrellas, shoes and other clothing items before organizing

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  2. Vacuum and Dust

    Now that the closet is empty, give it a good cleaning by vacuuming or mopping the floor and dusting any shelves and the hanging rod. A thorough cleaning will help remove insect eggs, larvae, and droppings.

    Tip

    With the closet empty, it's a good time to add a pop of color with a coat of fresh paint or some wallpaper. It's a good incentive to keep the newly organized closet neat and tidy.

    Coat closet vacuumed with attachment hose

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  3. Sort the Closet Contents

    With the contents of the closet spread out on the floor, begin sorting it all into four piles:

    • Return to another spot
    • Donate
    • Discard
    • Replace in the closet
    Closet contents sorted into plastic bag, boxes and basket to keep or donate

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  4. Return Items to Their Proper Spot

    This pile is for all the things that have gotten stuck in the closet that shouldn't be there. Unless you have an exceptionally large coat storage area, this is not the place for sports equipment, toys, or snow shovels.

    Laundry basket filled with toys, sports equipment and other items to be removed

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  5. Donate

    Sort through coats, boots, scarves, gloves, and hats that no longer fit or are worn. Wash or dry clean them and donate to a local charity. Make sure that you take them to the charity within one week so they won't get stuffed back in the closet.

    Cardboard box marked to donate with cowboy boots and clothes hanging out

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  6. Discard

    Discard broken umbrellas and badly worn boots or shoes. Recycle paper goods and anything that your local waste management company can accommodate.

    White plastic bag with clothes and umbrella sticking out in front of closet

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  7. Replace Remaining Items in the Closet

    Appropriate items for a coat closet are, of course, coats and jackets, outerwear accessories, umbrellas, boots, and dog-walking supplies.

    If possible, store only the appropriate seasonal items. Sort coats by length to provide the most wall space for shelves or storage bins.

    Follow the 80/20 rule. The storage area should be no more than 80 percent full. The remaining 20 percent is for guest coats and breathing room so that coats will not be overly-wrinkled. Keep a donation box handy and as new items go in, an older item can be placed in the box for donation.

    Coat closet filled with coats and jackets

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

Coat Closet Organization Ideas and Tips

  1. Use the Right Hangers

    Invest in some sturdy hangers for heavy coats. This will keep them from falling to the floor. Wooden cedar hangers are an excellent choice for woolen items.

    Include a few skirt hangers. The clips are great for holding gloves or scarves.

    Sturdy wooden hanging with brown coat closeup

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  2. Make Use of the Door Space

    The interior of the closet door is the perfect place for hanging lightweight items.

    • Add a vertical shoe storage bag to hold small items. You can even label each pocket to help kids find their gloves and hat.
    • Install hooks for hats, purses, backpacks, and dog leashes.
    • Add narrow wire baskets or hanging file holders for mail or small items.
    • Install towel or curtain rods with shower curtain clip rings for hats and scarves.
    Coat closet door with hooks to hang crossbody bags and umbrella

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  3. Creative Ideas for the Closet Floor

    Once you know the length of your coats, assess the floor space. You may be able to have shelving installed across the entire width of the closet or add a shorter custom set of shelves.

    Use the shelves for shoe and boot storage, This can be left as open shelving or add baskets to hide the clutter.

    Wooden bench with shoes and basket in coat closet floor

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  4. Organize the Upper Shelf

    Almost all coat closets have at least one upper shelf. This is the perfect spot for baskets or plastic tubs—don't forget to add labels—for additional storage.

    Look up in the closet. There may be room to add another coat closet shelf above the one already in place. Be sure there is room to access it as a great way to add some additional storage for seasonal items.

    Upper shelf of coat closet placed with decorative baskets to store seasonal items

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  5. Don't Forget Wall Space

    If you don't have many coats, you may find that the closet works better with just a small hanging area and the rest of the wall space dedicated to shelves. Wire shelving is simple to install and very practical.

    You may even find that there is space between the door and the coats for a few hooks to hold umbrellas or dog leashes.

    Wire hanging shelves hooked underneath upper shelf to store extra items in coat closet

    The Spruce / Sarah Lee

  6. Install Built-In Storage

    Permanent storage solutions can be used to maximize space in a small closet. Consider installing a built-in storage system that offers upper shelves and a clothing rod. Coats and jackets can hang on the rod, while your most-used accessories can be stored on the upper shelves to keep them easily visible for daily use.

    Opt for a system that includes shelving and drawers underneath the clothing rod. Here, you can store hats, gloves, and scarves in drawers and organize extra shoes on the shelves.

  7. Use Garment Bags

    When your coats aren't in season, you create more space in your coat closet by storing them in garment bags that can be vacuum sealed. Place these items in the back corners of the closet during warmer months of the year when they aren't being used.

    Standard garment bags without vacuum sealing are also an excellent way to protect delicate or valuable coats from damage throughout the year (especially when it comes to fur or faux fur items).

  8. Double Up on Space

    A simple and budget-friendly organization idea for small coat closets is to add a second clothing rod below the upper rod. This works great to maximize hanging room for coats, light jackets, sweaters and more.

    If you need to maintain room on the floor, you can move your current clothing rod higher up in the closet. This will allow you to hang two levels of coats with extra storage space below them.

  9. Hang Baskets From Clothing Rods

    If you don't have enough coats to fill the entire closet, you can benefit from hanging baskets on your clothing rod. Use simple shower hooks attached to the basket's handle for an easy, removable option.

    Here, you can store small accessories or even miscellaneous things like tools, flashlights, and other daily items. Adding a basket specifically for mail can keep important papers organized without them cluttering your home's living areas.

  10. Choose Clear Bins for Your Least-Used Items

    Some items in your coat closet will always see more daily use than others. Instead of keeping your least-used items out for easy accessibility, simply store them in clear bins on the floor or shelves.

    Clear storage bins make it extra easy to see everything inside without taking items out. Opt for a few small bins on the top shelf organized by type, or utilize one large bin at the bottom of your closet to wrangle items you don't need often.

  11. Save Space in Deep Closets

    Not all coat closets are equal, and it's common for this space to have an awkward layout. If your coat closet is small and deep, consider moving the clothing rod from front to back instead of side to side. This works best in deep closets with enough room to walk on one side.

    If your closet isn't wide enough to accommodate clothing from front to back, you can move the clothing rod to the back of the room and leave it in its current orientation from side to side. Add small hanging cubbies on one side wall before the clothing rod to store accessories and other small items.

  12. Store Seasonal Accessories in the Back

    Large scarves and out-of-season hats don't need to take up your coat closet's prime real estate throughout the year. While you may already have hooks behind the door or on the side walls, you can also install hooks on your closet's back wall.

    Here, you can store seasonal clothes like scarves and hats during warm weather. In the winter, this space can hold your favorite swimsuits and summer hats for a year-round storage solution.

  13. Organize by Zone

    With a wide variety of items inside your coat closet, you can't always organize every cubby or basket by type. However, you can still set up the entire closet with zones.

    Keep coats and heavy jackets on one side of your clothing rod, then reserve the other side for sweaters and lighter jackets or flannels. Separate other zones by placing shoes together, along with dedicating specific places for accessories and miscellaneous items.

  14. Add Cubbies Below Your Coats

    Your coat closet may already have plenty of space for hanging clothing—especially if you don't own many coats. Instead of focusing on outerwear, look to the floor. Here, you can add cubbies (either built-in or store-bought) to separate items for easy access.

    Opt for cubbies with small compartments if you're in need of shoe storage, or choose a variety of large and small cubbies to make room for baskets and smaller accessories.

  15. Separate Each Family Member's Accessories

    Especially in homes with multiple children, it can be difficult to keep accessories and smaller items from getting mixed up. Thankfully, there's an easy way to store them functionally in your coat closet.

    Add hanging storage baskets behind the door with a basket for each family member. Choose bathroom storage baskets or magazine baskets for a slim option that leaves plenty of room for clothing inside the closet.

  16. Hang Gloves From Clothespins

    Gloves are often exposed to winter weather, and in reality, they aren't always perfectly dry when we come back inside and remove them. Instead of storing your most-used gloves in cubbies or drawers, you can separate them without taking up much space.

    Add thin rods or a vertical clothesline wire in your coat closet, either on an inside corner or behind the door. Here, you can add clothespins to pin pairs of gloves together while allowing them to air dry. Bonus: This also ensures that two gloves of the same pair always stay together for easy grab-and-go on cold mornings.

  17. Remove Your Clothing Rod

    If you have a large amount of coats, it may actually be easier to reach them without a clothing rod. Replace the rod with multiple coat hooks lining each side and the back of your closet to quickly hang them up and find what you're looking for.

    You won't have to wrestle with hangers or pushing coats back and forth to fit them inside—plus, if you have any hooks left over, they can be installed at the front corners for scarves and accessories.

FAQ
  • What should be stored in a coat closet?

    Coat closets are typically used to store jackets, coats, and other accessories, but this space can also be utilized for items like umbrellas, shoes, hats, gloves, and more. If your home has minimal closet space, your coat closet is the perfect place to add functional storage solutions with dedicated sections for each type of item.

  • How do you store coats in a small space?

    When they're not in season, you can store coats by folding them delicately in bins to save space in your coat closet. During the winter, you can store them inside a coat closet or add wall hooks in another room for your most-used coats to keep extra items out of sight in the closet.

  • Is it better to roll or fold clothes for storage?

    Rolling clothes is a great space-saving technique for items like shirts, pants, light sweaters, and other small items. If you have bulkier articles of clothing that cannot be stored on a hanger, it's helpful to fold each item in half and stack it below smaller items in a storage bin.