By Lorie Morrero

Goodwill graphic in blue of kids with text saying, " 10 Steps to get Organized for Back-to-School Clothes Shopping"
Get organized before school starts with these helpful tips.

It’s back-to-school time so let’s get you and your family back in the game with a quick project to ease your way into the new school year with some helpful organization tips on school clothes.

You may have already seen a few back-to-school promotions, including ads from your nearest Goodwill, with great deals on clothing and supplies. But the best way to take full advantage of these savings is to know what you need in the first place!

You can save the most time, money, and hassle if you know what you already have that works, what each child needs for the current season and what each child needs for the next season. So let’s help you get ahead by organizing your kids’ clothing for some savvy shopping.


Typically, you want to get as much of this project done as possible without the kids and include them during a targeted amount of time at the end. If the kids are older, invite them to help. They may learn from what you’re doing and grasp a better understanding of why.

You need the following supplies to begin

  • Paper grocery sacks,
  • Plastic storage bins,
  • Permanent marker,
  • Paper and
  • Pen.
  • Bonus: label maker for bins


1. Get all of the laundry done

Do as much laundry as possible to give you a full view of what you have. As you fold the laundry, note the sizes of the kids’ underwear, shirts and pants. Note anything that needs to be replaced.

2. Tell the kids you’re going to ask them later to try on a few clothes to see if they fit

Many children cooperate better when they have been given advance notice to transition into activities.

3. Start with folding clothes

Go through clothes in the dresser drawer, such as socks, underwear, shorts and sweaters. Check each item for size and wear-and-tear, neaten it up and organize as needed. Make notes along the way of anything you need to purchase.

4. Begin a try-on pile for each child for later

If you’re not sure whether something fits or not, starting a try-on pile will help you sort faster and can include your child in to help later.

5. Place anything that has been outgrown in a paper sack and donate to Goodwill

Mark the bag with the permanent marker with the word “donate.” You can also label and use the bags to sort other items like toys that need putting away in other rooms.

6. If you have young family members who may want outgrown items as hand-me-downs, put these items in storage bins

Label the full boxes by child, range of sizes and season.

7. Next, move to the closet and tackle the hanging clothes.

Note what needs to be replaced and the areas coming up short. Consider everything in terms of “good school clothes” and count how many shirts, pants and dresses will currently work.

8. Once you’ve gone through all of each child’s clothing, take whatever’s left in the try-on pile and grab the kids for a try-on session

Some kids may be more cooperative if you let them try-on clothes while they watch a favorite show as a treat, and some may think it’s a big fun fashion show! Do have fun with it and work with your child’s preferences to make it painless for everyone.

9. Write down everything you need for back-to-school and note the correct sizes for everyone

Don’t forget underwear, socks, belts, ties, hair accessories, jackets, sweaters, school uniforms, “party clothes,” athletic shoes, casual shoes and dress shoes.

10. Take your bags of donations to your nearest Goodwill donation drop off

You can find the closest one through our online store directory. You’ll be helping fund programs and services in your own community that help people get good jobs while helping the planet too!

Now you’re ready! Your kids’ clothes are organized, and you have a list of exactly what back-to-school clothes you need. And don’t forget the bargains you can get every day shopping at Goodwill, where gently used kids’ clothing can be the perfect way to save even more.

Happy summer and welcome back students!

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