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Spring Cleaning Day 9: Clean Out Under-Bed and Closet Clutter

A brightly lit bedroom with a bed draped in cozy blankets.
New Africa/Shutterstock

One of the secrets to a tidy bedroom is keeping the floor space open. Today, we tackle the dreaded black holes of under-bed storage and closet floors.

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Earlier in the week, we decluttered surfaces like your nightstand and did a general sweep of the bedroom to rehome things that didn’t belong. Tomorrow, we’ll finish up the week by tackling the floors and doing some last-minute tidying. But if we’re going to tackle the floors effectively, you know what we need to do: Get them free and clear.

Why Declutter Your Bedroom’s “Deep” Storage?

When it comes to the layout of your bedroom, places like the floor of the closet and under the bed become “deep” storage, much like garage lofts and attics are deep storage where seldom-used things go to be forgotten.

While we aren’t necessarily devotees of the feng shui philosophy, we can say this with confidence: Cluttering up the spaces under your bed and around your bedroom definitely does feel like it blocks the flow of energy and life in the room.

It might not be, exactly, some sort of cosmic energy—as the philosophy would have you believe—but we’ve slept in rooms packed to the gills and in rooms with plenty of literal and metaphysical breathing room, and the latter is a vastly more pleasant experience.

We understand that not everyone has tons of storage space and that it may be necessary to use space under a bed or stack things on the floor of a closetbut we strongly encourage everyone to take a long hard look at what they have in these spaces today.

Empty Out Under Your Bed

The first stop is under your bed. When we were kids, it was the stomping ground of swamp monsters and horror movie slashers, but now it’s the place where old Christmas sweaters and seldom worn shoes go to retire.

Pull everything out. Storage boxes, shoe boxes, stuff you shoved there before the company came over three summers ago, the whole bit. There should be nothing left under the bed when you’re done but some dust bunnies and maybe an electrical cord or two for your bedside lamp and your phone charger.

Clear Your Closet Floor

Closets have an astounding capacity to hold things, especially if you have Tetris-master-like skills at packing things into them in the most efficient patterns possible. And yes, that comment is autobiographical. The closet in my home office is packed like a moving truck and probably holds just as much stuff as one, too.

We’re not going to ask you to empty the whole closet today, as a deep purge of all your clothing is a weekend project unto itself. Instead, just get everything off the floor. Shoes, bags, totes, empty boxes for old products, you name it. If it’s in there laying on the floor, get it out.

Evaluate the Pile

We’re going to apply the same clutter-busting principles we used to tackle the surface clutter in your bedroom earlier this week with slight adjustments because we’re dealing with actual storage space here.

  1. Look through the pile and immediately discard anything that is outright garbage (like the box your old cellphone came in or hobby gear you no longer use).
  2. Remove everything that is outdated, unused, or otherwise unneeded. If it has potential for donation (such as barely worn shoes you didn’t find comfortable), then bag it for donation. If it is heavily worn, soiled, or unlikely to end up in the thrift store dumpster anyway, throw it away now.

Items that make the cut are now up for the bedroom-or-not storage evaluation. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you use it frequently in the bedroom?
  • Is there a better place for it in your home?
  • Do you really need it?

The last question is the hardest. It’s easy to figure out if you use something in your bedroom, and it’s pretty easy to say “Well, I could store this elsewhere,” but it’s much tougher to say “I don’t actually need this.”

Think long and hard about storing each item in your bedroom though. Purging things makes the space more comfortable and offers room for new things to come into your home. Filling the space back up under the bed and stuffing your closet with stuff again achieves the opposite: You’ll have no room for new things and a bunch of clutter to clean around.

Storing the Things You’re Keeping

You’ll likely keep some items in your under-bed storage and closet storage, especially if you’re living in a small apartment and storage space is at a premium.

Closet storage is pretty straightforward. We recommend using containers that are slightly shorter, in-depth, than your closet so that you can easily move them in and out when you need to retrieve the contents of the closet—but still close the doors. It also makes it much easier to clean your closet floor if you just have to move a few containers and not a mishmash of things. Cloth bins look nice, especially if you have an open closet design.

Prandom Fabric Storage Bins

Plastic totes make it easy to see what's inside, but if you want something a bit more stylish these bins fit the bill.

Under-bed storage is a little trickier. You’ll need broad and shallow containers that fit within the clearance the bed frame affords. And, to avoid scratching hardwood floors and simply make it easier to pull things out, you’ll want wheels.

Sterilite Wheeled Latching Boxes

This set of 4 wheeled storage containers are shallow enough to fit under even low bed frames and slide quite easily.

As much as we love to recommend storage containers, we’re going to echo our earlier guidance: think hard about what you really need to keep in your room and stuffed under your bed. Storage containers are great when they are helpfully organizing things we need, love, and use. But the containers themselves become clutter when we’re buying them to stuff with things we should have discarded or donated.

You’re making great progress in the challenge! We’re almost at the end of the second week and there’s only one day left in the bedroom!

As always, you can follow along on our Spring Clean Challenge landing page or get the lessons, along with all our other great content, delivered right to your inbox!

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »
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