Clean Out a Stash-and-Dash Closet

1 year full of home improvement projects
+ hosting several events and guests
= a closet stuffed from last-minute stash and dash efforts to make this home look respectable.

As I’m working my way through some of the messy places in my house, we put away the pile of clothes next to the bed and uncovered the kitchen counters. (They’re a work space, not a storage space.) Another place that stuff can pile is a storage closet. I think every home has at least one pile of things that have been tossed in the closet at the last minute. Here’s mine.

All of these things were shoved in the closet in a quick attempt to clean up, but now that the party’s over and the guests have left, it’s time to uncover the pile, put things away properly, and see what can be found.

If your closet is full to the point that it’s hard to get things out or you just want to close the door, I recommend pulling everything out. That’s how I cleaned out my Monica’s closet a couple of years ago, and I couldn’t have done it otherwise. There was never going to be a weekend when I felt like cleaning it out, so I just had to get started and do it.

Under all the blue fabric that will one day be my new living room curtains, I found my summer hat. I’ve been looking for it for days.

Do you have a stash closet too?

p.s. I’m also doing some housekeeping behind the scenes on this blog, so post frequency is rather light as I get ready for good things to come.

clear the clutter

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. We have a “scary closet” off the half bath downstairs. It extends under the staircase…meaning that it’s about 8 feet deep, with a slanting ceiling.

    At least every 2-3 months I have to haul everything out and reorganize it. It’s partly the triangular shape; partly the “oh no people are coming, let’s shove stuff in” syndrome.

    And it’s much more scary than your stash closet. No internet pictures of mine! :)
    Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm´s last post…Audio Review: Deborah Crombie

  2. I have a “day of reckoning” for odd junk around the house every Friday. I don’t get to everything every Friday (and it’s more for clutter than deep pits), but it gives me a reason to put things away at least once a week. I also disconnected this clean from entertaining, so it gets done weekly regardless and makes us feel quite nice to live in a tidy house.

    That blue fabric looks fab – can’t wait to see your curtains.
    Margo, Thrift at Home´s last post…Keeping House in 5-Minute Slots

  3. Monique says:

    I know exactly what you’re talking about! Except at my apartment, that spot is my desk. It just gets covered with stuff. Now I just need to get my infant and toddler to nap in the same room so that I can work on it. I definitely need to do that so we’re not boxing random stuff when we move.

  4. Sunny Penner Cox says:


    Perfect opportunity to offer our gratitude after giggling knowingly! What’s remarkable about this particular post is that we identify because we USED to have a stash-and-dash BEDROOM. Somehow when guests arrived, in the name of hospitality, all the clutter got scooped up and swept onto our bed! BUT, when we moved to our very first home of our own, motivated by your good advice and the prospect of recovering the hospitality long-overdue to my husband, I read and re-read your post on changing tactics and tackling your own bedroom first, and alongside it, the admonition that simplifying is less stressful than organizing, and that a quick purge of unnecessaries is the most effective low-cost makeover around…and…success! My husband helped me kick off our own year of home improvement projects
    + various entertainments + new baby on the way with a bedroom overhaul that we both admire daily in disbelief. For the first time in 35 years of existence, I can walk into our room, a room we are proud of and that we enjoy and see and appreciate the top of my dresser… For now at least, it’s so much easier to say “Nope! I am not putting this pile of stuff down here!” Many, many thanks for some very real, very effective encouragement! Here’s hoping that the coming year is as filled with successes and reminders that there are so many good reasons to persevere!

  5. Well, I do have a stash closet (the entryway closet), but I usually require more space than that, so things get stashed in my bedroom and/or in the basement, too. And going back promptly to the stash to take care of it is important, too. But I know less stuff to stash is what I really need to do. I’m working on this!
    Elizabeth@ReadySetSimplify´s last post…A Time Diary Experiment – Join us!

  6. 1. I hope we get to see those new curtains someday! 2. Good luck with the blog housekeeping. I’ll be excited to see what changes you come up with! 3. I have one particular counter in my kitchen that tends to hold all the odds and ends until I can find homes for them. I’m surprised to say that I think that’s as close as I’ve got to a stash closet right now!
    Erica {let why lead}´s last post…Behind the Scenes of Let Why Lead

  7. My whole closet is this type of place ! One day…hopefully not.
    Tasmanian Minimalist´s last post…Lucky Magazine

  8. Just want to say that the blue fabric is going to make some gorgeous curtains!

    The bottom of our linen cupboard is where I stash items that I need to return to others. Because my sisters and I share kids’ clothing between us, there’s always a huge pile of clothing sitting here waiting to move on to the next house.

    My son is brilliant at stash and dash, particularly with his socks. Just about every day I find a pair of his socks somewhere in the house, just never in the same place twice :)
    Kim @ Extra Organised´s last post…Clothes for tomorrow

  9. I have arranged my closet few days ago. It was kind of exhaustive task for me, mentally.. you can read my post about closet organization here :
    Hetal@Real World´s last post…So Imperfect, the true ME!!!

  10. I LOVE the reference to your “Monica’s closet”. I have a small closet literally in the living room that I keep the vacuum in and where we hang our coats. After reading your post I looked in that closet and have a couple of things that can be purged along with a coat or two that we have no idea who they belong to. I don’t know why I’ve left them there for, oh, I don’t want to say how long!

    My stash and dash area is my sewing/guest room, it’s at the end of the hall, I’ll pile things on my work table then shut the door. Thank you for motivating me to take care of that TODAY and work out a better system. Inspiration as always, thank you!!!!!

  11. We don’t have any bad closets, we don’t have enough closet space to not use them correctly. But I have an attic that was stuffed with stuff, really bad, really daunting. But I’ve cleaned it up like 80%. I’d like to go and further organize. We have storage bins with kids clothing and our clothing for different seasons and I always mess it up when I’m looking for things. So I’d like to have it really organized and only be storing the things we really want to keep. Thanks for sharing your messy closet, it’s reassuring when we see ur not perfect either! Have a fabulous day!
    Jen at a place 2 call home´s last post…A little break

  12. rachel, thank you for this post! it’s awesome that you put up a pic of your closet – totally encouraged me! my husband and i are feeling overwhelmed with all the stuff in our apartment (and with 3 kids and one on the way, that feeling isn’t going to be diminishing by itself!). i keep trying to remind myself to simply take the first step…and your post today was the perfect finishing nudge to get me started (that and i’ve started feeling better after morning sickness). the bedroom looks much better without the piles of clean clothes:) thanks for sharing!

  13. One of the stash pile-ups in my house is my own dresser top. Yesterday was our wedding anniversary so in an attempt to make our bedroom a little more romantic and to make way for lit candles, I just did a sweep into a box and chucked it into the closet. Thanks for the reminder to go get the box out this morning and take care of the stuff in it!

  14. My stash and dash closet is MY closet. It’s terrible. I can barely get to the things I need on a daily basis. I can’t even see the floor! I’ve slowly been taking things out and putting them back in their place but it’s soooo slow….I need to handle it like a band-aid. Just rip it off all at once and get the job done. Thanks for the reminder.
    Mel@TheDizzyMom´s last post…We Had a Week

  15. Fortunately, this isn’t that much of a problem for us, since we only have one closet and it’s full of our clothes. Unfortunately, it means that most of our “stash and dash” stuff ends up on our bed with the bedroom door closed. Although unfortunate if our guests need to use the restroom which is through the bedroom.

    Sometimes, we just pray they don’t need to use it, and shrug it off if they do. Who needs a perfectly clean house anyway?
    Jennie´s last post…The Girl Reads a Lot of Books

  16. LOVE your hat!

  17. My enormous desk is the pile-it spot most often, but I’ve been doing better about cleaning it off regularly and guarding it from others’ slap-dashedness. It really doesn’t feel good to dump stuff where you know it doesn’t go if you’ve trained yourself long enough and dealt with the consequences long enough.
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life´s last post…This Land was Made for You and Me

  18. I am embarrassed to admit that I have a whole “stash and dash” ROOM! My mother and I call it the “Hording Room” (she has one also). The spare bedroom in my house becomes the catch all for whatever I can’t spend 3 extra seconds putting away. It’s so easy to close the door – outta sight, outta mind!
    Here’s the thing though, I’m a total neat freak. I feel out of sorts if my house is messy, or things aren’t organized. Apparently I’ve installed a mental block for this room. If the door is closed, it obviously doesn’t exist!
    Maybe I need to re-purpose the room into something else other than a spare bedroom so I am forced to be in there (at which time the room will remain clean, like the rest of the house)??
    Hilary´s last post…Building a Greenhouse

  19. I have a stash & dash closet, (the only closet in our 100+ yr. old house) a s&d attic, a s&d bedroom, a s&d dining room table (although that doesn’t really count as stash, does it?) I just quit my 2nd job, so hopefully I can attack this in 15 min. increments before and after work. Oh, and I have a stash & dash HUSBAND, who deals with all of his stuff this way, and then never deals with it afterwards, so he has bins and bins of stuff that are quite possibly years old.

  20. I don’t have a closet…I have a room that my husband calls ‘The Woman Cave’. It terribly needs cleaned out because I can’t even find stuff in it. What’s the point of having stuff if you can’t do anything with it?
    Nickolina´s last post…Is He the RIGHT Guy for Me?

  21. So timely! Right down to the hat – only mine was a visor. LOL! We have upstairs/downstairs, and the only closet downstairs is the coat-closet-under-the-stairs – which does become our stash-and-dash area. Husband has lots of hats, we do lots of outside activities, so have light jackets and medium jackets and heavier jackets (in winter) and warm-up jacket and yoga mat, and other stuff for the activities, and work-out bags and music stuff and TV trays and computer-work-bags and office stuff for when we work downstairs, and the smallest back area has Christmas items. We clear out the basics every couple of weeks, and do a complete overhaul every couple of months, just in case something’s slipped down in the back. Wouldn’t buy a two-story ever again. Excited to see the curtains!

  22. Love this concept. Thank you!
    tacy´s last post…Florence… not Nightingale

  23. Hahaha, I have a stash-and-dash room. Yes, an entire room dedicated to all this type of stuff. I’m so inspired to clean it out now. What a waste! We are completely wasting an entire room with stuff. There are so many things we could be doing instead! *shaking my head*
    Kate @ Our Little Sins´s last post…day 28 + 29 | 100 Pantone postcards project

  24. The top of my beautiful bedroom armoire has become the “everything I don’t want my preschooler to get into” dumping spot. Would you someday share any wisdom you have for big-kid-proofing your home? Thanks!

  25. Ooh.. I totally get this.. We just cleared out a whole stash-and-dash ROOM. Except, we called it the Store. Only thing it stored was stuff we didn’t want to let go off, not know what to do with and the usual ‘just in case’ things. Clearing it out took half a day but totally worth it!!

  26. The top of my dryer gets dumped on a lot. It’s behind doors so it’s so easy to stash and dash. I like how your blog gently and humbly points out weak spots we can all work on!

  27. Marnie Byod says:

    Sounds like we have the same closet. I use to clean my closet when it is already really looks mess. I am busy woman I just once a week cleaning my closet.
    Marnie Byod´s last post…property website

  28. i live in indonesia & don’t have any closets (though i do have piles, of course), but this post reminded me of my sister’s apartment. she & her husband have a stash-and-dash closet that my mom once accidentally called the “shed” instead of the “closet” – it was fitting so it stuck & now we just refer to it as the shed. :)

  29. Adrienne says:

    My stash closet is actually my whole bedroom. Thankfully, I have reduced the odds of this happening by getting rid of a lot of things. Now to just keep my clutter hotspots under control…

  30. Michelle says:

    Reading your blog has really transformed the way that I keep house. I was definitely going in that direction before I started reading but you pulled my thoughts together with your simple, straight-forward writing. And to think I was googling how to store digital pictures when I came across your blog in 2011!

    Result of your writing and my hard work: no stash-and-dash closet! If necessary it’s a quick pick up to dash-and-stash everything into it’s place before someone comes over.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I miss the Monday declutter challenges. Are you planning to bring those back? They either got me off my butt to finish a project that needed to be done or I got to pat myself on the back for a job that was already completed. A great boost either way for a Monday.

  31. i am a little late to the discussion, but i too have a closet that needs cleaning out: my crafting closet! it is all stuff that i use, but it has gotten so disorganized that i can’t find what i am looking for and that is always frustrating! thanks for the motivation to work on little areas of the house that i am not normally motivated to tackle.
    charis´s last post…undignified