Updated November 2021
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Buying guide for best portable closets

Decluttering and organizing your closets can only take you so far. At some point, you may find that you need extra space for your clothing or linens. After all, where do you put winter coats and comforters in the summer? How do you handle that formalwear taking up valuable closet space? That’s where a portable closet comes in.

A portable closet stores clothing and linens. It typically consists of a metal frame covered by a protective canvas. A clothing rack without fabric is also considered a portable closet and holds an overflow of frequently worn clothing. Portable closets offer various configurations with multiple rods, shelves, or cubes for footwear, clothing, or linens.

There are portable closets of many lengths, depths, and heights. Choosing one is a matter of knowing your specific storage needs and the best models available, and our shopping guide covers both.

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If you’re short on space, consider a portable cover-free clothing rack. A rack takes up less space than a covered portable closet, and its sleek look can add modern character to a room.

Key questions

The right portable closet for you depends on various factors. Answer these two questions first for a sense of the models and features you should start with.

Where will you put your portable closet?

It’s important to know where you’ll locate your portable closet for two reasons. First, if you’re keeping the closet in a bedroom, bathroom, or guest room, you’ll likely prefer a stylish model, such as a rolling or expandable rack with or without a fabric cover. If you’re storing clothing in an out-of-the-way space, such as a basement, attic, or garage, a no-frills portable closet may fit your needs. However, storing clothing in these types of spaces requires a portable closet with covered protection from dust, dirt, mold, mildew, and moths. Corrosive-resistant, rust-resistant steel frames typically withstand all types of interior environments.

Second, if you’re planning on moving around your portable closet, consider the size and weight of the unit. A typical covered unit weighs between six to 11 pounds when empty.

How much clothing do you want to store?

The number of items you want to store determines the closet size you need. Bulkier items, such as outerwear, formalwear, or suits, take up more room than everyday clothing. Heavier items also require a sturdier frame, rod, and other components that won’t allow the unit to sway, collapse, bend, lean, or tip over under the weight of clothing.

"Portable closets with sealed bases typically have openings where the legs stick out at the bottom. The holes act as vents. But for extra peace of mind, you can cover the holes at the bottom with duct tape to keep insects out."

Key considerations

Loading capacity

Check how much weight the hanging bar or bars can hold as well as how much weight each shelf (if there are any) can hold. A hanging bar with a loading capacity of 22 pounds may not be right for a collection of heavy wool coats, for example, but it would be useful for a collection of lightweight children’s clothing. The number of hangers a rod may hold is irrelevant because it depends on the weight and thickness of the pieces you’re hanging. Overloading your covered closet could tear the fabric.


Assembling a portable closet should take about an hour. One key to a stable portable closet is the clarity of the assembly instructions. Though you don’t need tools to assemble a portable closet, a rubber mallet quickens the process by nudging the connectors together. Poles should reach the bottoms of their plastic connectors for greater stability. A correctly installed cover also stabilizes the poles.


For a long-lasting portable covered closet, opt for one with non-woven fabric. When assembling the unit, gently tug the cover into place on the frame without forcing it. When choosing a closet with a zippered cover, find zippers (typically made of nylon tooth) with reinforced stitching at both ends. Bear in mind that reinforced zippers may endure slight strain from an accidently overstuffed closet.


There’s no standard size for covered and uncovered portable closets. Take measurements of your space to be sure you select the right model. The size of a covered portable closet includes the fabric. Height ranges from 64 inches up to 72 inches. The hanging rod is typically located as high up as possible, so a floor-length gown up to 62 inches long would likely fit. Length (side to side) can range from 36 inches to 60 inches with varying increments. There are units that can range in depth (from front to back) from a slim 14 inches up to nearly 20 inches.

If you’re planning to place a portable closet inside a reach-in closet, measure carefully. The standard size of the reach-in closets commonly found in bedrooms and hallways of older homes measures between 96 inches from floor to ceiling, 36 to 96 inches long, and 24 to 30 inches deep.


When comparing portable closets, keep an eye out for these features that’ll help keep your items better organized.

Rods: Hanging rods are the key feature to portable closets. A unit may have a single- or double-rod configuration. (Hangers are typically not provided.)

Shelves: Depending on the configuration and style of the portable closet, you might have fabric or plastic shelving for extra storage. The manufacturer’s specs should tell you the load capacity of each shelf. For example, a fabric shelf may hold 6.6 pounds, whereas an industrial-strength steel-wire shelf may support up to 100 pounds.

Cubes: Made from fabric or plastic, storage cubes act as drawers to keep items organized. As with shelves, specs should show how much weight each cube can hold. Cubes may be deep or shallow, depending on the unit’s design.

Side pockets: Covered portable closets may have side pockets on the outside of the fabric to hold shoes or other accessories.

Viewing window: A see-through plastic or vinyl window conveniently located on the front of a covered unit helps you view what’s inside without having to unzip the door.

Portable closet prices

Inexpensive: In the $18 to $30 range, you’ll find basic covered portable closets with one hanging rod and about 35 inches from side to side. The frame may be made of tubing or piping with a smaller diameter than more expensive models.

Mid-range: In the $30 to $90 range, you’ll find covered units that are more spacious and multifunctional. Frames are constructed with higher-quality tubing. Units expand lengthwise, reaching up into the 60-inch range. You’ll begin to find extra features such as double rods, bungee cords that enhance stability and strength, interior shelves, cubes, and lockable casters. You’ll find more enclosed bases in this price range, too. Uncovered units in the mid-range may lack bells and whistles, but they appear sleek in steel or wood.

Expensive: Above $90, portable closets begin to look more like actual furniture. Covered units may have stylish tiebacks; plastic cubes may have magnetic closing systems. Uncovered racks may consist of steel wire to support greater weights.

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Did you know?
There are several easy ways to remove dust from a covered portable closet. You can wipe it down with a damp cloth. You can zip it and gently shake it. You can vacuum it or use a blow dryer to remove dust.


  • You have three options if you’re planning on moving your portable closet from room to room. You can use furniture-moving pads under the legs and slide it around; you can opt for a portable closet on wheels; or you can purchase a model that accommodates retrofitted casters.

  • You may be tempted to customize your closet during assembly, but use caution. Altering the unit could result in an unstable closet after it’s assembled. Rods and legs are designed with markings and set dimensions that allow the unit to stand in a stable position. Eliminating components such as side shelves or cubes for more hanging space could cause the unit to collapse.

  • Portable closets are designed to evenly distribute weight without having to be tethered to a wall. Attaching a portable closet to a wall could shift the way the unit is meant to sit. It could also damage the fabric or frame. If the unit seems uneven, place a couple of wood shims under the feet.
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You’ll find a T-zipper or a D-zipper configuration on covered portable closets. A D-zipper closes and opens from the side and handles the weight distribution of a fully loaded closet quite well. A T-zipper may strain if constantly jabbed by hangers.


Q. What are some reasons to buy an enclosed closet (as opposed to an open one)?
If you don’t want your pets or other critters to crawl into the closet, a model with a fully enclosed and sealed bottom offers the best protection. Enclosed bases are best for storing and keeping clean long items, such as gowns and overcoats. An enclosed base is also functional: it can hold footwear or other accessories.

Q. Can I pack clothes in a covered unit and mail it to my destination?
Manufacturers discourage this, as shipping the unit could loosen the connectors. However, there are instances where customers have used units as a solution for transporting voluminous wedding dresses and suits to destination weddings or additional clothing for patients living in nursing homes.

Q. What is a non-woven fabric cover, and why is it on a portable closet?
A non-woven fabric is fabric that’s made with fibers bonded together using heat, chemicals, or pressure. Though non-woven fabric is not as strong as woven fabric, it’s breathable. The cloth used on a quality portable closet should be flame-retardant and resistant to impact and liquids.

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