Step-by-Step Guide to Packing and Moving a Closet

Woman looking at shirts and suits hanging in a closet

The closet is the one space in the house that we tend to forget. Every day we keep adding to its contents, then quickly close the door and leave it for that magical day when we'll finally get around to cleaning it out. Well, that day has arrived! You're moving and it's time to throw open that door and unveil exactly what you've been keeping in roll up those sleeves and get ready!

Clear Out the Closet

Remove everything from the closet and I mean, everything!

Don't sort it yet, just move it out into the middle of the room or hallway.

Clean the Closet

Now, after you've removed everything, grab a bucket, cleaner and a sponge, mop or whatever cleaning tool you have on hand. Completely clean it from top to bottom. Dust the shelves, scrub the floor (or vacuum) and wash the walls. It's probably been a long time since this closet has been so thoroughly cleaned.

Sort Through Your Stuff

While the closet is drying and you're enjoying the fresh smell that replaced the dingy, dusty one, start sorting the contents. Place them into piles of "keep" and "don't keep". You can even go a step further and sort the "don't keep" into a sell or donate pile.

Remember to be ruthless.  Make sure that the stuff you decide to keep you really need to keep and move. There are a few questions you can ask yourself to figure out what should be moved and what you need to get rid of.


Place all the donate or sell objects in separate bags or bins and set them in a place where they will be out of the way, but not forgotten.

Look at the items that you decided to keep. Go through each one to make sure you'll use it again. If you're hesitating, add it to the "donate/sell" pile. The things you want to keep, organize by type and select the appropriate sized boxes.

For example, you may want to pack all the shoes into one medium-size box. Label the box with the contents and which closet it came from, i.e., "hall closet" or "bedroom closet".

Use the Right Boxes

For clothing, use large-sized boxes and carefully fold clothes before placing them inside. For ease of unpacking, keep items on hangers and simply fold them into the box. Make sure you don't pack too much into one box. Clothing can be heavy.  

You can also purchase specialty wardrobe boxes from your mover or moving supply store.  These boxes are a fast and easy way to move your hangers and clothes.  The box is tall and has a rod built in so you can hang your clothes inside and don't have to fold them. It also makes unpacking really easy. I highly recommend them especially for heavy coats, dresses and clothes that wrinkle easily.

Keep Pile

To decide if an item should be kept or tossed, ask yourself how often you've worn or used the item in the last year. For clothing, you should've worn it at least 2 times to warrant keeping it.

Donate Pile

Items that you haven't used or are unlikely to use and are still in good shape, add them to the donate pile. Make sure the items aren't ripped or stained. If they are, they should be put in the garbage or made into cleaning cloths.

Don't waste a charity's time by donating unusable items. For more information on where to donate items, check out the article Getting Rid of Unwanted Items.

Sell Pile

These may be items that you know you could fetch some money for, things that you can imagine someone else using. Take clothing to consignment stores. Household items can be sold on eBay or in a garage sale.

What You Need:

  • Cleaning Products and Tools
  • Moving Boxes
  • Garbage Bags
  • Marker and Packing Tape