The struggle to keep a handbag organized is real.
How many times have you gone into your bag looking for something specific, digging around the bottom and touching each item until you find exactly what you’re looking for? Is your bag a bottomless pit?
When’s the last time you cleaned out your bag? If you’re someone who carries the same bag every day, it’s likely that you haven’t cleaned it out in a little while. That’s okay! We recommend doing a full clean out of your handbag about once a season.
Tidying Up guru Marie Kondo actually recommends clearing out your bag daily, which may sound daunting. Let’s face it, our handbags become extensions of ourselves and our lives. We put everything in them, and sometimes they get messy. Let’s do something about that.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed with the thought of organizing your bag, it’s okay. Using Marie Kondo’s advice as a foundation, we have a few tips to help you organize your purse so it brings you joy every time.
Take everything out
To get started, take everything out of your purse so you can see all the stuff you’ve been carrying around on your shoulder. Find a clean table or flat service to completely empty your purse out. EVERYTHING! Make sure to check all interior and exterior pockets.
Clean the interior of your bag
Now that your items are out of your bag, use this rare opportunity to turn it upside down and shake it over the trash to get out all the loose debris, crumbs and dust. Some bags, like a Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas Speedy, can be carefully flipped inside out to clean. Use your vacuum attachment to clean all the crevices. Take this opportunity to clean the exterior of the bag and polish the hardware. Your bag needs a little extra care sometimes too!
For more bag cleaning tips, read our guide to keeping your bag clean.
Sort and organize everything into piles
Organize everything into small piles. Yes, all of your loose change, toiletries, sunglasses, cosmetics, keys, paper, etc. Using Marie Kondo’s “corraling” method, separate your similar items and place them together.
Purse Pile Ideas:
• Cosmetics (lipstick, compact, mascara)
• Medicine/First Aid
Identify your most used items and relocate everything else
Take a look at your piles now. Keep only the things that “spark joy” for you — the items that make you happy and add something positive to your life.
If your purse is usually bursting and full, ask yourself if you actually need to carry around all of those things. Is everything really necessary, or are they items you have ‘just in case‘? Are your ‘just in case’ items for emergencies? If so, keep them. If not, ditch them.
You might realize that you have some items that are duplicates or that you haven’t used in a long time, and now it’s time to let those items go. Find them a new home.
Organize similar items together into pockets, zip pouches, or pochettes
Give each pile its own designated space to live to really help keep your bag organized. Chances are, you may have a bunch of items that you need in your purse on a day-to-day basis. Instead of letting these items rattle around in a black hole of 100 miscellaneous items, consider separating your items into different accessories. That way, nothing will be left floating around the bottom of your handbag.
Sort through your cash, cards, and coins and identify how much of each you really carry. If you never have cash or coins, you might consider swapping your wallet with a cardholder instead. If your wallet is bursting with cards, you might consider getting a larger zippy wallet. If you have tons of loose cards and coins floating around, you could consider getting a separate coin purse.
Organize your cosmetic pile and invest in a cosmetic or toiletry pouch; many of them are lined in nylon for easy cleaning. Organizing your lipstick and cosmetics in a separate cosmetic bag can protect the lining of your bag too.
For your tech accessories or other miscellaneous items, a zip pouch or pochette can help you stay organized and keep your cords from tangling.
Put everything back in your bag!
Now is the most important part: packing up your purse. Give everything a home!
Take another look at the bag you want to carry. Are there separate compartments or pockets? Decide what should go where. I like to keep the things I use the most in the easiest places to get to (i.e. my card holder and phone go into an easily accessible pocket).
Place the largest items in first (pouches, books, etc.) and then slot smaller items (such as sunglasses) in around them.
If you can see everything inside your purse, you’ve done a good job.
For even more organization, a purse organizer can be super helpful too.
Tips to keep your bag clean and tidy
Minimizing something that’s with you every single minute of the day can be difficult. It might feel like tossing away parts of yourself; but like anything, you’ll feel better, calmer, and less anxious when your bag is organized.
Now that your bag is clean, do your best to keep it that way. Moving forward, try to keep it from getting messy and turning into a “black hole.” The American Chiropractic Association recommends that a handbag weigh no more than 10 percent of its owner’s body weight, so do your best to keep your bag as lightweight as possible, especially if you need to carry a laptop.
Designate a storage area for all of your purse pouches
Designate a place in your house to store the items from your handbag that you carry each day. Every morning, pack only the items you need on that particular day.
Put things back into their places as soon as you are done using them
Start this habit immediately and stay consistent. Soon it will become second nature.
Avoid picking up free stuff and samples
I know this is hard, because who doesn’t love a free sample? But to be perfectly honest, these items usually end up at the bottom of purses.
Ask for no receipt or your receipts emailed instead of printed
Nowadays, your email doubles as a file folder too! Printed receipts can end up crumbled in the bottom of your purse. If you need printed receipts, a checkbook holder could be a good choice for your bag organization.
Consider keeping a supply kit in your desk or car
A lot of the large items in everyday bags are necessities and items we use regularly like snacks, medicine, and makeup. Those items usually end up taking up more space in your bag, but you might be able to relocate those items to your desk or car.