How to Organize Your Coat Closet

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

The Spruce / Sarah Lee

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

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

Tips to Keep Your Coat Closet Organized Longer

  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 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