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How To Declutter Shoes

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Today’s mission is to declutter shoes. Actually, since this can be quite a task it is a mission that I’ve got on the Declutter 365 mission calendar for the next several days.

Organize Shoes & Boots Challenge

This mission is designed to be done while we work on the

Organize Shoes & Boots Challenge

here on the site, as part of the 52 Week Organized Home Challenge. Of course, you can do it whenever you want or need to in your home.

When working on these missions, for adult shoes, kids shoes, those by the entryway, and any additional shoes like boots and more that you’ve got in your home, make sure to always work 15 minutes at a time, so you don’t get overwhelmed.

In addition though, get rid of the no brainer types of shoes to declutter first, and then focus on decluttering shoes from each set of categories for each person in your home, so you make sure to keep the shoes you will actually need but get rid of the excess.

Type Of Shoes You Should Declutter

When doing this mission, make sure you get rid of these types of shoes for each person in your home:

How to declutter shoes for both adults and kids, including list of shoes that are obvious clutter, guidelines for how many shoes to keep, plus before and after photos from readers who've done this Declutter 365 mission in both their closets and entryways {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest
    • Those without a matching pair

    • Too small

    • Hurt your feet

    • Out of style (either out of style completely, or no longer your particular style)

    • Bought for a specific outfit, but you no longer wear or have that outfit

    • Have holes, excess wear or are damaged (and you know you won’t spend the time and money to repair them — be honest with yourself!)

  • Haven’t worn them in 6 months to a year

Decide How Much Space You’ve Got For Shoe Storage And Then Stick To That Amount Of Shoes

If digging through your closet you find some shoes you’d forgotten about but are now excited to wear again, great!

However, it is possible to have too many shoes, meaning that there is really no way you could wear them all frequently enough to enjoy them.

For that reason I find it is helpful, when decluttering shoes, or anything else you can collect and love, to decide how much room you’ve got in your home for shoe storage, and then to keep decluttering your shoe collection until you winnow it down to the amount that will fit into the designated space available.

That requires you to keep decluttering until you’re just left with the very best ones. That can be tough, but you’ll be thankful with yourself when the job is done.

What you don’t want to do is save only shoes you LOVE, without thinking of the shoes you also practically need.

Therefore, it’s best to declutter by category of shoes, to make sure you keep the necessities first, for each category, and then you can fill up the rest of your shoe storage area however you want, with whatever type of shoe you love the most.

I know it can be difficult to decide how many of certain items to keep when decluttering, so below I’ve provided some guidelines you can use to help you make sure you keep at least the necessities in each shoe category for each family member.

Top photo in decluttering mission collage courtesy of Stacy and the bottom photo courtesy of Mark Quintanilla

Guidelines For How Many Shoes Kids & Adults Need

As mentioned above, it can be difficult to decide how many shoes to keep when you take on the task of decluttering.

Below are some guidelines and thoughts to use when making this very personal decision.

I say it’s personal, because it really is. There is generally, a minimum number of shoes you need — one pair, so you’re not shoeless, but beyond that it is based on your needs, your desires, and often the most limiting aspect of all, how much room you’ve got for shoes.

I’ve listed some guidelines for the minimum amount of each time of category of shoe that most people, typically, need. Make sure you have these and then keep whatever additional shoes will fit into your designated storage area until it gets full, and get rid of the rest.


If you regularly work out, or play a sport, you know you’ve got to have the right footwear for these tasks. If you don’t, you won’t be able to do these activities you enjoy or choose to do for your health.

Therefore, keep at least one pair of shoes necessary for each athletic activity you do.

Depending on how dirty the shoes get, or how often they need to be rotated, you may want to keep one spare pair as well.

For example, my kids all play tennis, and there are specific shoes to wear on the tennis court. They generally keep the one pair they’re currently playing in, and one older pair that is still in good condition just in case something happens to their main pair (assuming those shoes still fit, if they don’t, or the old pair that fits has a hole, they just don’t have a spare pair).


You typically only “need” (notice I didn’t say “want”) one to two pairs of casual shoes, assuming you choose shoes that will go with a variety of outfits.

When looking through the shoes you’ve got think about which pairs you wear, over and over again, with multiple outfits. Those are the types you want to keep, and perhaps buy those same brands and styles again in the future, since you know you like them and they go with many different things you currently wear.

If you wish to have more casual shoes than that, go for it, but know that they are a “want” and not a “need,” so only keep extras after you keep some from each of the additional categories listed.

Work or School

Sometimes where you work or go to school requires, as part of a uniform, or for safety reasons, a specific type of shoes. Obviously, keep those shoes to be able to do your job, or go to class.

The same reasoning goes for whatever other activity you regularly have to, or wish to do, that requires specific footwear. Keep those types of shoes.

If your work shoes, or school shoes, aren’t required to be a specific type, then they can probably be the exact same shoes designated for a different category, such as casual shoes, or dress shoes, depending on the place you work or go to school.

(You can get more tips for decluttering workwear from your closet here.)

Evening or Dress

You should have at least one nice pair of dress shoes that you can wear when you put on prettier clothes, or are dressing more formally, such as for an evening out, or to go to church.

Ideally, choose a pair that will go with a variety of outfits, such as standard colors. Often, people will have a couple of standard colors, such as black, navy and brown, to go with a large variety of outfits.

Again, you can have lots more pairs of dress shoes if you so desire, assuming you’ve got the space to hold them all in your home.

Seasonal Shoes (I.e. Boots, Sandals, Etc.)

What you need in regard to seasonal shoes depends a lot on the climate that you live in, and what types of outdoor activities you normally do.

For most people, one pair of boots and one pair of sandals will suffice, but if you live in a very hot climate you may not need boots at all, or if it rains a lot waterproof boots will make more sense than snow boots, etc.

The important thing is to make sure you’re prepared to move around outside safely and comfortably in the types of weather you normally have.

Spare Pairs For Emergencies & Messy Situations

If you really want to be minimalistic about the number of shoes you have, you really don’t have to have many at all.

But I will caution you that shoes do get excessively dirty, you might step in something unpleasant, and sometimes they either wear out or even just break unexpectedly.

Because these things can happen, and I bet they’ve happened to you in the past, you should keep a spare pair or two.

With anything spare or extra you can take it too far, and really use it as an excuse to keep a bunch of shoe clutter. Don’t do that.

However, one spare pair that you could wear to the store to buy new shoes, or one pair that is old and doesn’t matter if they get dirty, and therefore spare your nicer pair from getting dirty in some situations, can often come in handy.

Therefore, be sure to designate a pair for such purposes when decluttering, and pull them aside.

Special Note For Kids Shoes

Kids feet grow quickly, and sometimes unexpectedly, so that “new” pair of shoes you bought for them may only last a few weeks before they’re outgrown.

Therefore, I caution you to be especially careful about getting too many shoes for kids. It can be a budget buster without even giving you the joy of seeing them wear them very often before they’re outgrown.

On the other hand, kids can be very hard on their shoes, so if they are going to wear one pair a lot it is often better to purchase one sturdier pair instead of several pairs that will fall apart more quickly.

I know some people will disagree with me, but as long as the shoes are in good condition when one sibling finishes with them, I’ve often saved the shoes for the next child. After all, I do not waste money unnecessarily.

Therefore, when doing this mission there may be some kids shoes that you remove from their closet, for example, in the short term because the shoes no longer fit the older child, but instead of decluttering them completely from the house, you may want to set them aside, labeled and stored in a place you’ll find them again later, so later the younger child can wear them.

via How To Declutter Shoes