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Everything You Need to Actually Organize Your Closet

The best hangers, storage boxes, shelf dividers, and more.

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An Ikea-furnished bedroom with a nicely organized closet Photo: Ikea

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Many of us dream of having the perfect closet: a spacious, color-coordinated walk-in with a place for everything and some sort of glorious shoe collection on display. Of course, most of us won't get exactly that, but we can make our existing closet space a little dreamier by investing in storage and organization tools that better honor what’s inside.

We rounded up the best of the best, from hangers to shelf dividers to shoe storage options. Do you need some help getting started on a closet organization project before you invest in new storage options? Check out our guide to tackling a closet overhaul.

Sturdy Multi-Purpose Hangers: Proman Wood Hanger ($60.72 for a set of 50)

Okay look, the "NO WIRE HANGERS" joke is as tired and old as Joan Crawford was in Mommy Dearest. But there is actually some legit advice to be found in that old chestnut: Wire hangers are bad for your clothes. They aren't sturdy enough to support heavier clothing, and the thinness of the hanger will leave dents that can cause permanent warping.

The Sweethome spent seven months testing hangers, which is why their Best Hanger pick is also ours (hey, when you have pals that are willing to put in that much research time, you listen to them!) They note that the Proman hangers are "lightweight and slim" and are just as suitable for hanging heavy items like winter coats or business suits as they are for more lightweight items, especially those with delicate straps.

While spending 60 dollars for hangers may feel like a big hit to your wallet, they'll last you a long time and, at just over a dollar a hanger, are a good investment to make to extend the life of your precious wardrobe.

Specialty Hangers: The Hanger Depot (prices vary)

Do you need padded hangers? The Hanger Depot has you covered. Do you specifically need animal print padded hangers? You're making excellent life choices, and also The Hanger Depot has you covered.

This is also the place to go for accessories hangers that can keep a collection of scarves, ties, belts, or bikinis (yup!) stored in style. The site offers hangers in a variety of materials, from plastic and metal to bamboo and cedar. If you need to hang it, The Hanger Depot probably has the right hanger for the job.

The Best Shoe Storage Boxes: Container Store Linen Drop-Front Shoe Box ($14.99)

While we caution you against trying to achieve a perfectly uniform shoe storage setup, should you feel ready to make that commitment, these linen boxes are a great choice. The windowed front allows you to actually see the shoes that are stored within, and the drop-front opening makes it easy to take shoes in and out.

The Best Storage Bins for Shelf or Floor: Varick Gallery Benson Canvas Storage Bin ($13.99)

When selecting a storage bin, choose one with metal or wood supports, which provide structure that collapsible bins can't offer. This canvas storage bin comes in three different sizes and five color options, has handles for easy transportation, and at about 14 dollars, won't break the bank.

The Best Shelf Dividers: MFKS Acrylic Shelf Divider ($39.95 for a set of two)

These dividers can fit on shelves that are three-quarters of an inch or thinner — and require no tools to install — to create divided storage that's perfect for keeping stacks of sweaters, T-shirts, linens, etc. from toppling to one side. They can also be used to corral handbags, making it easier to correctly store them in dust bags while still be able to access them easily.

The Best In-Closet Drawers: Ikea Helmer ($39.99)

The Helmer is a much beloved storage secret among the beauty set, and it's not only great for storing collections of lipsticks and nail polishes — it's also the perfect size to stash in a closet to create drawer space for accessories like scarves, jewelry, belts, hats, gloves, and so on. The Helmer has six drawers, so it can hold a lot of stuff, but at only 11 inches wide, it can fit into small spaces that might otherwise go unused.

The Best Closet System: Elfa (prices vary)

Maybe you're ready to make the plunge and invest in a closet system. Here, you truly get what you pay for, which is why the Elfa system is our pick over less expensive options from Closetmaid and Ikea, which can be difficult to install, resulting in hidden costs, wall damage, and a lot of lost man hours.

If you do opt to go for a less expensive closet system, consider springing for someone to install it for you; services like TaskRabbit are great for finding the right person to take on these kinds of jobs.

Label Maker: Brother P-Touch Handheld Label Maker ($21)

If your closet organization involves a lot of opaque storage, such as shoe boxes or small chests of drawers, it can be hard to keep track of what treasures lurk within. A label maker is a fantastic way to add discrete reminders to yourself that your collection of vintage scarves is stored in the third drawer of your Helmer, or to identify pairs of shoes that are stored in their original box.

The Best Odor Eliminator: Innofresh Odor Absorber ($19.99 for a pack of four)

While these are marketed for use in cars and RVs, their small size makes them perfect for use in closets that need a little freshening up. The Innofresh products are made from activated charcoal, which is an odor absorber, so it will eliminate smells at the source instead of merely covering them with perfume.

The Best Moisture Eliminator: DampRid Hanging Moisture Absorber ($7.97 for a pack of three)

Closets can very easily take on an unpleasant odor that transfers to your clothes. It's no fun to get a whiff of mildew halfway through the day only to realize it's coming from your blouse. If you start to notice a musty or mildewy smell in your closet, the culprit is almost certainly excess moisture — which means you need to get a moisture eliminator up in there, and DampRid is the one you should go for.

DampRid is a desiccant, which is a fancy term for a substance that pulls moisture out of the air and traps it, and we here at Racked love-love-love DampRid in a deeply passionate way. In fact, we love DampRid so much that Racked's executive editor Julia Rubin joined me on an episode of my podcast to discuss this weird and wonderful product and how it can be used to address the issue of a musty-smelling home and/or closet, so if you want to hear two grown women wax poetic about weird and wonderful hardware store buys, give it a listen!