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Do you find yourself "cleaning" by throwing things into hiding places? We all know that this method is quick and satisfying, but always comes back to haunt you. Of course, it may be necessary to do this if you're having surprise guests, but otherwise it is a bad idea. Unfortunately, our closets are often the place to suffer. It's too convenient to shove things in when we need to get them out of sight! It can be impossible to keep you closet neat and clean when you don't feel like you have the space to put everything easily enough to stay organized. If you've been thinking about hiring a professional organizer, read this first. You may be able to do a lot of organizing on your own if you use your imagination and follow these simple guidelines.

1) The closet should not be thought of as a hiding place. We use our closets every day and they should be respected as an area that we need to keep organized. Don't allow junk to enter your closet. Start being conservative with what goes in and you won't have to start from scratch very often. Empty the closet out and determine what you really want to keep in there. Shoes, clothes, accessories, luggage, and other common items generally can be stored in any closet.

2) If your closet seems too small, you may have to get creative with storage space. Large, shallow containers fit nicely underneath beds and couches. You can store your out of season clothing underneath furniture, in vacuum sealed bags, or in the garage or basement if you have to. Only allow things that fit correctly in your closet to stay.

3) Keeping the investment that you've made in your clothes, shoes and other items is very important. You wouldn't want to go get your winter clothes out of the garage and find out that they have been chewed up by bugs, molded, or mildewed while in storage. You may have heard that you can place dryer sheets with fabric softener into your closets and storage containers to keep that fresh clean laundry smell. Don't do this unless the sheet doesn't touch any of your clothing. The chemicals in the fabric softener change when they are exposed to heat and humidity. They will leave a waxy residue on your clothes and damage certain fabrics. Use cedar as an alternative, because it absorbs moisture and repels pests. No more musty odors!

4) One option for storing clothes is a rolling garment rack. Some fold, so you can store them when they are not in use. Hanging clothing that is out of season will ensure that it doesn't get wrinkled or damaged while in storage. Cover the stored items with a garment rack dust cover to keep out pests and moisture.

About the Author: Jo Granville is on the staff of Only Hangers, a leading online resource for high end clothing hangers.