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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

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

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Guidelines For How Many Shoes Kids & Adults Need

Discussion and guidelines for how many shoes do both adults and kids need, which can help when decluttering shoes or deciding how many pairs to purchase {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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.

How to declutter kids' shoes, including a discussion of the types of shoes to get rid of, how many to keep, plus before and after photos from readers who've already done this Declutter 365 mission {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

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Before & After Photos From Decluttering Shoes In Closet

How to declutter shoes and boots to make room for the pairs you actually love, including guidelines for how many pairs of shoes you really need {on Home Storage Solutions 101}use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

Shoes can be found all over your home, but two of the biggest places many readers find them around their homes are in their closet, and in the entryway of the house.

To do this declutter mission you need to gather up shoes from all the places in your home that you have them!

The pictures above are from a reader, Gaye, who took on this challenge in her closet. She said, "27 pairs to Goodwill. Dress and casual are color coded. I wear tennies or boots to work so I pull them out as needed, but in a rotation. Rotating is better for your feet and way better for your shoes."

Great job Gaye! You really got rid of a lot, and it will make it so much easier for you to get ready in the mornings!

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Are You Ready To Declutter Your Shoes?

Decluttered kids' shoes ready for donation, from a reader participating in the Declutter 365 missions on Home Storage Solutions 101use this Pin it button to save to Pinterest

The photo above is from a reader, Alcira, who said, "Cleaned out the boy's shoe cubbies. A box full is going to be donated on Tuesday!"

You can tell Alcira was excited by the progress she is making with decluttering.

Want To Do More Decluttering Missions? Get Started With Declutter 365 Today!

Declutter 365 missions: 15 minute missions for your entire home

Once you declutter one type of item in your home I bet you'll want to declutter some more. After all, decluttering gives you a great reward for even a small investment of time and energy.

The Declutter 365 system is designed to help you declutter, over the course of a year, your entire house, with just 15 minutes of decluttering each day!

Hundreds of thousands of people use this proven system to get rid of their clutter, and bring peace and calm back to their homes.

Declutter 365 works to guide you to clear the clutter without overwhelm, focusing on just one small area at a time, and without making a huge mess in the process, so you see consistent forward progress without all that "messy middle" that makes it even harder to function in your home than before you started.

In addition to building a daily decluttering habit, the Declutter 365 program, along with the accompanying 52 Week Organized Home Challenge, teaches you the skills, habits, routines, and mindsets necessary to maintain the clutter free and organized state of your home from now on, so it'll never be as messy and cluttered as it is right now, ever again.

If you haven't already, make sure to get your copy of this year's Declutter 365 annual calendar here (it's FREE!), find today's date, and do 15 minutes of decluttering on the day's mission. Then, repeat again tomorrow, and again and again. Over the course of the next year, if you do this 15 minutes per day, you'll declutter your whole house!

Click here to take me to this year's Declutter 365 calendar

In addition, here are my tips for decluttering shoes in your entryway, and then developing the habits to keep the space free from excess shoe clutter from now on.

How to declutter shoes in your entrywayClick here for Decluttering Shoes In Entryway

Related Pages You May Enjoy

Getting Clutter Free 15 Minutes At A Time Hall Of Fame

Getting Rid Of Bedroom, Clothing & Closet Clutter Hall Of Fame

Go From How To Declutter Shoes To Home Page

Comments for Are You Ready To Declutter Your Shoes?

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guys need this mission too!
by: Allison

My husband needs this but he won't admit it! Married with 3 sons and the only one without a shoe obsession is me, (and my 11 wk old but he will just give it time.)

shoe rotation
by: Christina

I have a very limited amount of shoes. I have one new pair of tennis shoes, one worn out pair that is for working in yard, and one that is for muddy fishing expeditions or painting. As I buy a new pair the oldest gets thrown away so I always only have three pairs. Same goes for dress shoes. One flat, one inch heel and one pair of strappy, in black, beige, white and red. When a new pair comes in one pair leaves! It is very easy for me to maintain less than 20 pairs!!!

don't have time for 30 pairs of shoes
by: Amanda

I'm a mom of 2 little boys, I ain't got time for 30 pair of shoes! Lol. I've got a few pair of flip flops, I wear one at a time the others are back up. I have a pair of ballet style crocs for rainy days, 2 pair of roxy shoes, my winter slip ons (the fake suede knock off berkenstock) and a pair of tennis shoes for working. I use an over the door shoe organizer inside my closet.

one in, one out rule
by: Christine

My Mum said always get rid of a pair for every new pair you buy.

down to 3 pairs of shoes
by: Debra

I did this. Had some pretty shoes that I never wore. Tennis shoes I saved for a rainy day but never wore. Shoes that hurt. Shoes that fit weird. I said dang it I am only keeping what feels good, does not hurt, fits well and I wear often. The rest went. My friend could not believe I was down to 3 pair of shoes. LOL she has a bookcase full of them. I donated all of my shoes that I did not keep.

shoe recycle box
by: Corrine

I try to have the one in, one out principle. All my shoes are comfortable, have outfits they are worn with, and make me happy. I try to encourage my boys to do the same. I have a donation bin on my washer that gets dropped off when full and a shoe recycle box (for shoes in unusable shape) that get dropped off at the bin to be reincarnated into playground surfaces and the like.

rotate by season
by: Sharon

I have a box in my closet. I rotate between summer and winter shoes. Whatever season we are in the other season goes in the box. That way I don't have such a mess of shoes to go through.

What about designer shoes?
by: Anonymous

I have several pairs of shoes that were very expensive but little worn, unlike others that I have enjoyed and worn out.
I cannot bear to get rid of them or donate them. As they’re a tiny size, would they just be thrown out if I donated them.
Quite a dilemma.
Suggestions other than putting on Ebay etc.?

Seasonal Shoe Rotation
by: Tricia

I, like Sharon above, rotate my shoes on a seasonal basis at the same time I rotate my clothes. I love having the extra space in my closet and being able to see everything easily to pick put outfits with matching shoes.

Donate Shoes at DSW for Points!
by: Megnanimous

Every DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) location collects used shoes and donates them to a great organization called Soles4Souls. What Soles4Souls can't re-use or donate, they recycle, so it doesn't matter how unusable you might think your kicks are. AND: if you're a VIP member (free) you get 50 points per donation, that's halfway to a $5 off coupon for new shoes at DSW. If you don't need new shoes, you can also donate your rewards.

Keep only what you love
by: Sherry

After my knee replacements in 2020 I really looked at comfort as #1, style #2. Since I live in the desert, sandals are the majority of what I love and wear (most still in fashion even after several years). Thank you for your guidelines. Will do a review and declutter again in 6 months.

How I organize my shoes
by: Rosi Pinter

Because my bedroom closet had a top and bottom row for hanging clothes, the clothes on the bottom row only left about 3 or 4 inches of space between the bottom edge of the clothes and the floor. Originally I stored my shoes in pairs, side by side.

Unfortunately that only allowed for about 20-25 pairs of shoes.

BUT behind that row of shoes, deeper in the closet, yet out of sight, there was lots of empty unused space! Then it dawned on me one day, if I store my shoes with 1 of each pair in front of the other, as opposed to side by side, I could fit in about 40-50 pairs into the closet. Because 1 of each pair was facing the front edge of the closet, I could easily see what I had to choose from and knew the matching shoe was right behind it towards the back of the closet, even if it was out of view.

So when you would open my closet, initially it looked like I only had 1 of each shoe!

For me, to be able to visually see/organize what I have, is the most important thing. If I can't readily see what I have, I'm more likely to forget that I have it!!!

From 25 pair to 3
by: Joan in Oregon

A foot issue that necessitates the use of a custom orthotic that requires a closed-heel shoe meant all slingbacks and sandals were no longer wearable, plus my size increased to where shoes are hard to find. ALL of the shoes I had went to the thrift shop. I now have two pairs of slippers that will accommodate the orthotic and two of jogging shoes. I found a pair of loafer-like shoes I can wear when jogging shoes simply won't do. Dress shoes? I haven't found any yet. Talk about simplifying the shoe collection! This was forced on me, but, other than having no dress shoes at the moment, it isn't that bad.

have a TON of shoes and I don't even care
by: Kelley

I work part time in a shoe store. No way on earth there is ANY way I could reduce my shoes to so few! And I am perfectly OK with that! And I am not even a shoe junkie!

I actually truly despise shoe shopping. But there is a huge difference between actual shoe shopping and being at work and seeing a cute pair of shoes and trying them on real quick during a break or before or after a shift.

However, I do go through my closet a few times a year and dig through my shoes to find the ones I never wear anymore, etc. and I donate them. I also will know within the first time or two of wearing a shoe if they won't work for me. If that's the case they immediately go into my shoe donation bag in my car.

I still have a TON of shoes of all kinds though and I don't even care.

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