Much like desk organization, kitchen organization and garage organization, tackling a closet organization project can be overwhelming, and finding affordable ways to get it done is a struggle for many people.
If you are a person who gets easily overwhelmed, try breaking the task into smaller jobs; for example, you may take one day to sort through pants and shirts, another to tackle dresses and skirts and another for coats and shoes. Weed out clothing that is damaged, no longer fits or is just out of style, and donate them or bring them to a rag recycling drop-off. Then, once you know what items make up your pared-down wardrobe, you can find storage solutions to fit your new needs.
To help you out with those storage solutions, we enlisted the help of home organization expert Nonnahs Driskill, founding organizer at Get Organized Already!, and Alex Rush, a professional organizer whose company, Spruce NYC, specializes in small spaces. We asked these experts to help us pick out 20 of the absolute best closet organizers, all priced under $20.
Amazon Basics No-Slip Slim Hangers, 30-Pack ($16.49; amazon.com)
The best upgrade I’ve ever made to my own closet was to buy a set of slim hangers. It took me longer than it should have to become a convert, but now I’ll never go back to bulkier plastic hangers. Both the hook and the shoulders of slim hangers are, yup, slimmer than standard hangers, so they truly do maximize closet space. And, unlike plastic hangers, most slim hangers are covered in a nonslip velvet so delicate items like silk blouses stay put rather than sliding off the hanger and getting rumpled — or worse, ending up on the closet floor with your shoes.
Whitmor Padded Hangers, 6-Pack ($12.99; amazon.com)
Slim hangers are the right choice for most clothing, but investing in a small set of specialty hangers is also a good idea. Padded hangers are the perfect thing for hanging more delicate fabrics like cashmere or fine cotton to prevent damage while in storage. Also, much like those velvet-covered hangers, padded hangers are perfect for fabrics that tend to slip off of plastic hangers.
Chrome Purse Hangers, 6-Pack ($9.99; containerstore.com)
There are specialty hangers of all sorts, but Rush especially loves a purse hanger that’s designed to fit on a standard closet rod. “I love an S-hook for hanging handbags so they get the breathing room and prime real estate they deserve,” she says. “They also work for hanging duffel and overnight bags, boots, scarves — you name it!”
mDesign Plastic Divided Purse Organizer ($17.99; amazon.com)
Another divider-style organizer that’s great on a closet shelf is this purse and clutch holder. It has slots for three small purses, clutches or wallets, and comes in either light pink, white or clear plastic.
Keetdy Over-the-Door Hat Organizer for Baseball Caps ($16.99, originally $17.99; amazon.com)
If your accessories collection runs more toward ball caps than clutches, this over-the-door organizer will help to keep your hats stored in one place where you can see them all. It takes design cues from the old closet standard, the multi-pocket shoe holder, and has slots for 24 baseball-style caps, as well as beanies, bandanas and other unstructured hats.
MarleyLifeDesign Heavy-Duty Hooks ($4.42; etsy.com)
Driskill loves a heavy-duty hook for performing all kinds of functions in a closet, from hanging a robe, a handbag, tomorrow’s outfit or, as she puts it, “clirty” clothes — that’s clean but dirty.
Geo Hooks, 3-Pack ($18; urbanoutfitters.com)
Rush also recommends making use of hooks in a closet: “Utilize every inch of wall and vertical space that you can!” She picked these hooks, which she says are great for everything from jewelry to handbags to bathrobes because “they’re pretty.”
Command Medium Adhesive Wire Hooks, 2-Pack ($3.68; lowes.com)
The adhesive Command Hook, which has a pull-down tab that allows you to remove it without causing damage to the wall, is another style that Driskill recommends for use in a closet. These hooks are the perfect thing for hanging smaller items like necklaces, slim belts or ball caps.
Karcy Retractable Closet Pull-Out Rod ($8.99, originally $9.99; amazon.com)
Closet valets are such a handy tool that many people don’t even know exist in this world. They’re thin rods that extend out to create a place to hang garments for steaming, or to air them out after they’ve been worn, or just to set out an outfit for the next day. The installation is easy — just a few screws — and the rod retracts when not in use.
Whitmor Double Closet Rod ($17.99; amazon.com)
Of this closet extending rod, Driskill simply says, “It will double your hanging space.” It hangs over any standard-size closet rod and requires no installation other than literally hanging it on the rod like a hanger.
Lynk Vela Shelf Dividers, 2-Pack ($10.34; amazon.com)
If your closet is outfitted with a long shelf above the rod, you probably know that the vast expanse of storage space can quickly become a mess. Shelf dividers create cubbies in which you can stack things like folded sweaters or T-shirts without the piles falling over and making a big mess. The dividers are also great for organizing handbags and other accessories by keeping them upright and easily accessed.
Hmdivor Clear Acrylic Shelf Dividers, 4-Pack ($16.99, originally $17.99; amazon.com)
“These shelf dividers are amazing for keeping the items you aren’t hanging looking nice and tidy,” because the clear acrylic style creates a boutique-like look, Rush says. “Folding and stacking things like bulky sweaters and jeans will free up a significant amount of hanging space while still making them easy to access.” She also loves them for handbag and clutch organization.
Whitmor 5-Section Closet Organizer ($10.99; amazon.com)
Driskill picked this set of fabric hanging shelves because they are so incredibly versatile. “Use it in any closet to organize shoes, sweaters, stuffed animals, tools, workout gear, anything!” she says. The metal frame lends structure, and the fabric construction allows for some flexibility in storing oddly shaped items.
Room Essentials 3-Drawer Cart ($12; target.com)
This lightweight plastic three-drawer unit is super versatile, especially if drawer space is limited in your home. Use it to store smaller items of clothing like socks, underwear and PJs, or for organizing small accessories like belts, scarves, hats, gloves and so on. The clear drawers allow you to see what’s inside, so your things won’t be forgotten about while they’re in storage.
Weiai Clear Acrylic Floating Shelves, 3-Pack ($18.98; amazon.com)
Rush suggests using all available vertical space in a closet, and picked these floating shelves because “they are perfect for storing accessories such as belts (roll them up like a coiled snake) and sunglasses. I love that they’re acrylic so you can see each item, and therefore will be more likely to wear and use them.”
Umbra Skinny Sleek & Stylish Small Garbage Cans, 2-Pack ($13.98; amazon.com)
You’ve probably never thought about putting a trash can in a closet, but this slim wastepaper basket can be a great organizer. Use it to stash oddly shaped items that might otherwise end up on the floor of the closet, or in a hard-to-reach back corner, like exercise mats, umbrellas or rolls of wrapping paper, so you can easily find and grab them when you need them.
2-Tier Shoe Rack ($9.99; containerstore.com)
Driskill picked this shoe rack because, she says, “this design allows a lot of airflow.” She suggests buying two of them and placing them side by side to create plenty of space for all your shoes; each rack can accommodate six pairs of adult-size shoes, and if you count the floor space under the bottom shelf, which is the right size for low-profile styles like flip-flops, sandals or ballet flats, you’ve got room for another three pairs.
Fix Find Pool Noodles, 5-Pack ($17.49; amazon.com)
Driskill offered this absolutely genius — and very budget-friendly — solution to the problem of tall boots falling all over the place when stored upright in a closet: Use pool noodles! She explains that pool noodles can be “cut to fit and stored inside your boots to help them hold their shape.” Brilliant!
Sterilite Sorting Hamper ($13.99; containerstore.com)
“If you don’t have room for a hamper in the bathroom,” Driskill says, “keep this slim model in the closet.” She offers another super-smart suggestion to help manage laundry day: “Buy two and stack them so when one hamper is in the laundry room, you still have another hamper to gather the never-ending dirties.”
DampRid Hanging Bags, 3-Pack ($10.99; amazon.com)
While it’s not technically an organizing solution, people who do choose to keep a hamper in the closet may want to also invest in a moisture- and odor-absorbing product to keep musty smells from developing. DampRid is also great for use in damp closets, where mold and mildew can develop, leaving an unpleasant smell on your belongings.