You may fill your closet with organic cotton shirts and sustainably made shoes, but are you really treating your eco-friendly clothes with the respect they deserve? If you’re doing laundry with industrial strength detergent and shoving your sweaters on dusty shelves, it’s safe to say you’re not. Most laundry detergents are packed with harmful chemicals, and accumulating dust can do as much damage to your allergies as pollen season. Often we take an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude when it comes to our closets, but a neglected closet is no better than a messy living space. With a few simple organization tips and, of course, green cleaning products, you’ll never want to shut the closet door again.
Handle With Care
The first step to a cleaner closet is clean clothes. But beware — Just like other common household cleaners, many laundry detergents are packed full of harmful chemicals including phosphates, chlorine bleach, and napthas, which have been linked to cancer, lung inflammation, and mucous membrane damage. The chemicals stay in your clothing and can easily irritate your skin and allergies. It’s best to use a non-toxic detergent (Method makes a good one). You can also make your own eco-friendly detergent by mixing grated all-natural bar soap, baking soda or borax, and hot water. Play around with the mixture until you find a ratio suitable to your liking.
When it comes to stains, there are endless ways to get them outwithout using a store bought stain remover. For best results, tackle stains as soon as they happen and never use hot water, which helps stains set. Check out our list of homemade stain removers here.
You can also make a homemade fabric softener. Add 1 cup of baking soda to a large bucket, then add 1 cup of water. Next, slowly poor in 6 cups of distilled white vinegar. The mixture will fizz and the baking soda will dissolve. Add 6 more cups of water — this should make the solution stop fizzing. For a pleasant scent, add 10-15 drops of your favorite pure essential oil.
Banish Dust Bunnies
After you’ve taken the time to properly and lovingly clean your clothes, don’t negate your hard work by placing them in a dusty closet. About every two weeks, you should remove everything from the floor of your closet and vacuum to get rid of dust bunnies hiding in the corners. The same should be done for shelves, but there’s no need to use an aerosol dust or surface cleaner. Unlike grease in the kitchen or mildew in the bathroom, dust can simply be wiped away with a damp rag, and a quick wipe with a non-toxic cleaner like Method’s all-purpose cleaner will finish the job. If your closet feels cold or damp and is on an outside wall, it may be poorly insulated, so you should carefully check all corners for any signs of moisture or mold.
To prevent dust from building up, you should run a rag or feather duster over exposed surfaces in the closet on a daily basis. Also, to prevent dust from laying on your clothing, you should keep shoes and other not-hanging items in bins that have lids. Not only will this make removing dust easier, but it will make your closet much more organized.
Hang It Up
It’s a no-brainer that closets are meant for hanging clothes, but are you doing it right? Many of us spend way too much digging through our closets, desperately trying to find something to wear. To make your life easier, keep things organized. Hang your clothes in groups, according to type: short sleeved shirts, dresses, pants, etc. You can even make them look extra neat by arranging them by color. To keep things smelling fresh, put a couple drops of pure essential oil on one or two cotton balls and place them in the closet’s corner, or tack a dryer sheet to the wall and replace as needed.
When hanging your clothes, it’s important to consider the hangers you’re using. For delicate fabrics like silk or thin cotton, you should use a thick, preferably padded, hanger so it does not snag the fabric or leave bumps in the shoulders. You should also hang your pants instead of folding them into a dresser drawer. Hanging helps eliminate wrinkles and keep creases clean. Pants hanger work well, but you can also just drape them over a regular plastic hanger.
If the Shoe Fits
Just because they go on your feet, doesn’t mean shoes should be walked all over in the closet. Not only are mounds of high heels and leather lace-ups unsightly, but you can easily damage your shoes by simply tossing them in a pile. Dress shoes, in particular, are often made of delicate fabrics like suede or leather, and they need to be cared for properly. You should spray leather and suede shoes with an all-natural protectant before wearing them. There are a number of eco-friendly options available in stores, but you can also make your own. Simply heat 1 ounce of beeswax and 1/2 cup of olive or safflower oil in a microwave safe jar until the beeswax is melted. Apply it to your shoes while blowing a hair dryer — the warm air will soften the leather and help it absorb the oily wax. Olive oil also makes a great shoe polish.
Clean shoes deserve to be treated with respect in the closet — thankfully, there is a shoe organizer for every type of storage space. Hanging devices with multiple compartments work great for small closets; the slim design fits dozens of pairs while still leaving ample hanging room. Floor stands, with their wide metal prongs are good for mens’ shoes and closets with a lot of floor space. If you have a lot of shelving, simply arrange your shoes in rows. You may want to leave special or rarely worn pairs in their boxes to avoid dust build-up.
If you have wooden shelves in your closet, you should line them to avoid stray splinters or nails from snagging clothes. You can purchase a roll of adhesive vinyl liner or use an old rug or towel. To keep folded stacks of clothes in order, consider different types of containers. Plain plastic bins with lids are great for storing seasonal clothes, and stackable canvas crates are perfect for creating mini shelves within your shelves. This makes finding clothes much simpler, but it also makes cleaning a cinch — boxes are much easier to move than individual items. Purses, belts, and other accessories can easily be organized in different bins or with hooks on the back of the door.
ABOUT METHOD Focused on doing away with dirty, Method was started to bring consumers environmentally friendly alternatives to the harsh chemicals traditionally found in cleaning supplies. Method’s founders, Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, realized people wanted cleaning supplies they didn’t have to hide under the sink or in the closet, so they got started developing new alternatives to old standards like their latest laundry detergent and all-purpose cleaner featuring Powergreen technology.
METHOD’S GET CLEAN SWEEPSTAKES! Don’t forget to enter Method’s Get Clean Sweepstakes! One lucky winner will receive a consultation with an organization specialist from Method and a year’s supply of Method cleaning products to keep their home sparkling clean. ENTER HERE >
Non-Toxic Laundry and Closet Cleaners from Method: + Method laundry detergent + Method squeaky green dryer cloths + Method fabric softener + Method all-purpose cleaner with powergreen technology + Method wood for good surface wipes + Method leather love wipes