How to Organize Your Purse and Keep It Clean

Once you learn how to organize your purse so it’s always clean, you won’t have to worry about lost receipts or embarrassment at the checkout lane ever again.

The messiest spot in your home just might be hiding right under your nose…or more likely, right under your arm.

How many times have you held up the checkout line because you can’t find the card you need in the pocket in of your purse?

Or wanted to write something down, but couldn’t find the pen you know you dropped in there just a couple days ago?

Or needed to return something, but couldn’t locate the receipt, no matter how hard you dug through the mess of papers and gum wrappers in your handbag?

A woman putting her wallet and phone into the purse on her shoulder with the words "how to organize your purse and keep it clean"

When you’re a busy woman, your purse is so much more than “just a purse.”

It’s the place you put our cell phone so you don’t leave it in a public restroom. It’s where you keep your very favorite shade of lipstick. It’s your impromptu filing cabinet for the receipts and school notes that flow into and out of your life.

Unfortunately, it also tends to be a junk drawer. A garbage collector. A gum wrapper graveyard.

I literally used to cringe every time someone asked me for a pen or my husband needed a pair of glasses to read a restaurant menu. There’s nothing more embarrassing than sifting through a random mess of trash – mixed with life’s necessities – while someone else is watching and waiting.

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Not to mention the sheer weight of all that junk hanging from my arm and pulling on my back. It was just plain crazy to lug around that embarrassing (and totally unnecessary) mess, only to have it make my back ache for the rest of the day.

No more. I finally figured out how to get rid of all that junk and organize my purse with only the things I absolutely want and need to carry with me. I was even able to downsize my bag itself, so it’s even less weight to carry around.

A purse should be a fun and practical accessory, not a mobile storage unit. It’s time to clean out and organize your purse so you can use it for what matters most (you know, holding your secret stash of chocolate).

Leather pouches for organizing a purse

How to Organize Your Purse and Keep It Clean

1.  Empty the entire contents of your purse.

Before you can organize your purse, you first have to empty it out so you can start with a clean slate. Dump out everything – and I mean EVERYTHING. Be sure to empty out the exterior zipper pockets, the interior zipper pockets, and all those compartments full of paperclips and chewed up gum.

2.  Sort the contents into three piles: trash, put away, and keep.

Now it’s time to get to work. Separate out what belongs in the trash, what needs put away in your home somewhere, and what rightfully belongs back in your bag.

Be sure to check the dates on any medication you’ve been carrying around, and throw away any that are expired, loose, or undated. Also, check to see if cosmetics are still usable, if pens still work, and if gum and mints are still edible (and don’t smell like hand lotion – yuck!).

3. Take a second look at what you’re keeping, and reevaluate if everything is truly needed.

Once you’ve eliminated the obvious junk and gathered everything you want to keep, flip through it all again to be sure you aren’t still lugging around unnecessary weight. Try paring down the contents of your purse even more, until it’s only holding the bare necessities.

 4.  Contain random items and objects.

Here’s where it starts getting fun. Use small make-up type bags (these ones would be perfect) to organize the things you want to carry in your purse. You might want one for coupons and store loyalty cards, one for make-up and hair necessities, and one for receipts.

Of course, you may have other things you carry in your purse. Whether you have kid stuff, writing stuff, or work stuff, just be sure you don’t have a bunch of “stuff” floating around and cluttering up your bag.

5. Organize your purse to fit your lifestyle.

Now that you know what you’re keeping and you have loose items contained in their own little bags, it’s time to arrange everything back into your purse. Strategically use the built in pockets and the zipper pouches you’re adding. Be sure the things you use the most are easy to find and easy to put away when you’re done.

Also, make sure you know exactly where you’ll put the things you regularly toss into your purse at the last minute, such as your cell phone and keys. You may even want to save one of your purse’s built-in pockets just special for those things so they’re always easy to grab out in an instant (imagine that!).

6.  Do a quick clean every day, and once a week do an all-out cleaning, if needed.

The best way to keep your purse organized is to very quickly clean it out every time you use it. When you get home, take thirty seconds (that’s literally how long it will take) to throw away any trash, such as gum wrappers or used tissues, and quickly deal with receipts or other items that may need put away.

But even if you aren’t disciplined enough to clean out your purse every time you use it (I’m talking to myself here!), add this task to your Weekly To Do List and take a few minutes one day a week to clean out and organize your purse.

Spending just a few minutes once a week will keep you from having to dig through a cluttered mess ever again!

Get My Top 20+ Super-Simple Cleaning & Decluttering Tips

Subscribe to SMALL DOSE DECLUTTERING and get simple tips every week to turn your house into the uncluttered home you didn’t know was possible…and it’s 100% FREEEEE!

Your email is safe with us. We wouldn’t dream of sharing it with anyone else!

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  1. These are such good ideas! And so wonderfully simple! I seem to waste so much time sorting through to clean out my purse, usually every day, but never thought to have a place for everything to go into. I think I will add one more pouch, a ziplock Baggie to put the trash in as it gets put in my purse. Then when I clean the purse, there goes the trash bin too!
    Thanks for the great tips.

    1. I love the idea of using a zipper bag to collect trash so it can just be thrown away when you get home. Brilliant!

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