Clearing Out & Cleaning Up | How to Make Money by Selling Your Gently Used Clothing

how to make money cleaning out your closet

Each season I like to rotate over my seasonal clothing and place it in storage. This is great because a) it saves space in my actual closet b) I only see things that I can wear now (I’m a believer that limits can enhance your creativity).

This is also a great time to purge all of the items I didn’t wear or don’t think I’ll ever wear again and make a little pocket money in the process. Here’s how I do it:


Hanger by hanger, I have a good look at my clothes. I ask myself: Have I worn this lately? Was it too trendy or experimental for me to keep? Is it in good shape? Does it fit? Be real with yourself! I have so much trouble doing this on my own that I make Adam get in there with me. Having a gentle push helps me let go of things I don’t really love anyway. 

And I’ll be real with you guys - the past couple cycles of closet clean outs have been the hardest because I have to admit to myself a) my body is different after pregnancy and breastfeeding and b) I’m not in my twenties anymore (what!?!?). So I’ve started to let go of things that just don’t have a place in my stay at home mom life anymore.

Did I wear this? 

There are some pieces you may not wear often but are good to have around - namely church dresses (for weddings and funerals), something sexy for date night (because we all know those are few and far between once kids enter the picture), and something business casual (should you need to be at an event that requires it). You decide what makes sense for you. Most people have more trouble getting rid of things than letting go of too much, but keep these rare circumstances in mind. 

Was it too experimental for me? 

I know what I like but sometimes I want to try a trend just for fun. Maybe you loved it in the dressing room but never managed to get out of the door because it just wasn’t you. Lightly (or never!) worn items seem the hardest to get rid of but it’ll only make you feel guilty for not wearing it. (And these pieces are the best ones to resell!)

Is this item in good shape? 

Pilled sweaters, torn seams, fallen hems - either fix ‘em, turn them into rags or (if they aren’t badly worn) donate them. If you have a fabric recycling program near you, I encourage you to use that as well. Some fabrics can work in the garden, like jeans, which are good weed barriers.

Does it Fit? 

The mother of all closet questions. If you’ve recently had a baby, you might want to not use this question as you sort your clothing because your body can change so much over the course of the year after your child is born. Honestly, I don’t know where I’m going to land once we’re done breastfeeding and I can get back to a normal exercise routine, so I’m holding onto favorites in case. But by holding on, I also mean outta sight outta mind because trying on too tight jeans is a self esteem killer (for me anyway). Once my current pairs are loose I might give those another go. 


This is the fun part - now you have a pile of clothes that are great but not for you any longer, so it’s time to figure out what you want to do with them. I try to strike a balance between supplementing my income with a little pocket money and donating pieces. How much money you make depends on a) the quality of the items you’re selling (obviously designer and name brand goods will fetch a higher sell price) and b) how much time you want to invest in the project. Generally, the more you invest your time (photographing clothing and selling it for yourself vs. taking it to a shop for resale), the more you’ll receive. Here’s how I do it:

The What I Wore Shop on Instagram

My best quality pieces get photographed and listed online. I use an auction style and flat rate shipping and always set my prices low to start. Then I just let the market dictate what the final sell price will be! I also like using a separate Instagram for this purpose. Remember - you don’t need a million followers either! It only takes one buyer to sell an item! It takes about a week from laundering, photographing, listing and shipping.

Keep it season specific as well! List things people want to buy and wear right now. I have a current auction that just went live this morning, so you can see what I mean!

(There are a LOT of other online options - from Poshmark to ThredUp, but I like being in full control of the promotion, pricing and shipping)

Local Resale Shops

My next tier of pieces are for the resale shops (Plato’s Closet, Clothes Mentor or in my NYC days - Beacon’s Closet). Always take items in clean, ironed and folded nicely - it makes a difference. I do this regularly with baby items too! They usually offer store credit or cash. 

Vintage Stores

I generally hang on to my vintage pieces, but I do have things that I bought on a whim, never fit into or were given (a lot of elderly folks like to give me their old clothes - which I LOVE!) and these pieces deserve better than to just sit around in my closet. In the past I’ve either done a flat rate for a large lot or store credit.


Inevitably there are things that aren’t selling well at the shops and they’ll pass on, which is fine. I just take those pieces over to my local thrift shop and donate them. Or perhaps I think the style isn’t going to have luck in either the instagram shop or resale shop and I just add it to the thrift pile. PLEASE wash your things before you donate them. I shop at these places too and the number of times I’ve see a nasty stain are too many to count (and a good reminder to wash your thrift store goodies too).

By regularly cleaning out your closet, you’ll actually wear more of what you love. Quality over quantity - and I don’t just mean expensive things vs. bargains - I mean the pieces that make getting dressed fun! More of those, please!