Blame it on Marie Kondo. Until I read her book I hadn’t really given clothes hangers much thought. However, after studying Kondo’s process of decluttering and purging unwanted household items to leave only those that “spark joy,” I had a new appreciation for the role that clothes hangers play in organizing my closet and a curiosity about how they compared.
To discover the best hangers, we spent a week hanging, moving, and removing various types of clothing, some damp and some dry, hung on 10 different types of hangers.
Having recently gone through my own personal evaluation of several types of hangers, I wasn’t surprised by the outcome of our testing: The Container Store’s Basic Acrylic Hanger(available at The Container Store) was the best overall. Not only does it look chic hanging in your closet, but it had the least impact on the shape of the sweaters and blouses we hung on it.
The sleek design of the Timmy Stainless Wire Hanger (available at Amazon) was also impressive because its thin but sturdy profile lets you fit more clothes in your closet, making it our favorite hanger for small closets. And we also really liked the IKEA’s Bumerang Hanger (available at Ikea) when it’s paired with an extra Bumerang Shoulder Shaper (available at Ikea), which adds a layer of sturdiness without marking your clothes.
These are the best clothing hangers we tested ranked, in order:
The Container Store Basic Acrylic Hanger
Ikea Bumerang Hanger + Bumerang Shoulder Shaper
Timmy Stainless Wire Hanger
Whitmor Satin Padded Blouse Hanger
Target White Plastic Room Essentials
The Container Store Basic Natural Wooden Hanger
Sharpty Everyday White Plastic Hangers
Free hangers from your dry cleaner
Joy Mangano Platinum Huggable Suit Hangers
AmazonBasics Velvet Suit Hangers
The Container Store Basic Acrylic Hangers
I will admit right up front that I think this is the most attractive hanger we tested. The sleek, clear acrylic design works well in upscale modern closets as well as dark, tiny closets because you can see through them.
The width of the top of the hanger also means you’re less likely to get marks on the shoulders of your shirts and sweaters; the rounded edges help prevent that. But the crossbar below the hanger, on the suit hangers, also makes it easy and convenient to hang pants, whether as part of a pantsuit or on their own. (Personally, I hang all my pants so that I don’t need a bureau in my bedroom that takes up additional space.) However, that hanger width also means you can’t hang dozens in your closet; they take up a good amount of space. So, if you have a smaller closet, this may not be your best option, unless you limit what you hang.
The hangers glided smoothly across the metal rod in my closet, as did the clothes when I went to remove them. There are notches in the tops of the hangers that make it easy to keep lightweight dresses and camisoles in place.
The only real downside of this particular hanger is the price—it’s the most expensive in the bunch.
Before this round of product testing, I thought all wire hangers were the same—all pretty bad. I assumed the thin metal would cause lines and marks on the shoulders. But, in the case of the TIMMY Stainless Wire Hanger, I was completely wrong.
Perhaps because the hangers are made of thick stainless steel, they don’t leave obvious marks. And the metal makes them easy to move, hang, and pull clothing off of them. In addition, because they are only a few millimeters in width, you can load them up in your closet. While they aren’t marketed as a slim hanger, they function like one. The advantage of these hangers is that they are as durable as the wooden hangers, although much slimmer.
Besides the appealing low price of Ikea wooden Bumerang hanger, the option to add a plastic white shaper over top to prevent shoulder stretching makes the hanger very attractive. You get the sturdiness of the wood, available in three finishes—natural, black, and white—plus an accessory that covers the rough edges common to wooden hangers. (Note, the shaper can be used with other hangers, too.) Wood hangers can hold almost anything, so adding the shaper provides soft protection to your clothing.
I’m Marcia Layton Turner, a freelance writer who has written for Woman’s Day, Health, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Businessweek, US News and World Report, and I currently write for Forbes.com and a number of other outlets. I’ve also tested products for magazines and websites. I was the baby product reviewer for ePregnancy magazine years ago, am an Amazon product tester, and frequently offer my unsolicited two cents when I come across products I love.
As a new devotee of Marie Kondo, I recently cleared my closet of pants, jackets, shirts, and dresses that I hadn’t worn in ages. It left me with a fair amount of space in my walk-in closet, which inspired me to swap out my old collection of random hangers. That’s when I discovered the wide variety of hangers available.
I wanted hangers that were uniform in appearance to make my closet look more organized, and that could hold everything from heavy jackets to lightweight blouses.
We chose which hangers to test by getting our hands on some of the most popular brands, such as Joy Mangano’s Huggable Hanger, and others from popular stores like The Container Store, IKEA, Target and Amazon.
To determine which hangers performed best and which didn’t, we tested them over the course of a week in an empty closet. We hung damp and dry clothes on all the hangers in that one closet, so they’d be in the same environment. Then we moved them twice a day, both to see if that affected the clothes and to gauge how hard it was to relocate the hangers themselves. We also pulled them out and removed clothes to see how easy or difficult it was to take them off the hangers; some were surprisingly difficult.
In addition to measuring ease of hanging and removing clothing, we checked whether marks were left in the clothes from the hanger and whether clothes stayed hung or slid off, as well as how many fit in a small space.
We also tested the free hangers you get from the dry cleaners as another option, just for comparison.
What You Should Know About Clothes Hangers
If you looked in my closet a couple of months ago, you would have seen a hodge-podge of thin wire dry cleaner hangers, white plastic hangers, and Ikea wooden ones. I tend to buy hangers when I notice that I have more clothes than things to hang them on. But post-Konmari, I decided I wanted a more uniform appearance with hangers that weren’t bent or misshapen from trying to hold my long wool coat that must weigh close to 20 pounds.
In researching the single type of hanger that would work best, I came across a number of factors. As you weigh your many options, I’d recommend you consider some or all of the following:
Price: Granted, hangers aren’t very expensive, but you’ll find some that are $8.99 each and others that are $8.99 for a couple of dozen. If your goal is to outfit your closet with one type of hanger, do the math to make sure it will fit your budget.
Type of clothes you’ll be hanging: This is the biggest factor because the type of hanger you choose should be determined by what you’re hanging. Heavy jackets and sweaters need more substantial hangers to avoid bending under their weight while silk blouses and camisoles will likely do better on fabric-covered hangers that prevent marks. If you’re hanging pants, you’ll need hangers that have a horizontal bar for that purpose; not all hangers do.
Extra parts needed: I found that I loved the Ikea wooden hanger and loved it even more with the shoulder shaper that sits on top of it. The shaper provides an extra degree of protection against shoulder marks, but the accessory costs an additional $.50 per hanger. Likewise, our top choice, The Container Store Basic Acrylic Hanger and Wooden Hanger come with and without the pants bar; the design with the bar is $1.00 more.
Closet space: The amount of space you have in your closet may limit your choice of hangers. Some hangers are designed to be compact, allowing more clothes to be stored in a tight space, while others are wide for the protection of the clothes, but which then limit how many can be hung at one time. Make sure the hanger you choose will allow you to hang all the clothes you need.
Durability: The heavier the materials used to make the hanger, the more versatile and durable it is. If you have heavy clothes, you’ll want to err on the side of a wooden or heavy metal hanger. If you have lightweight outfits, plastic and satin hangers will work just as well.
A Note About Wire Hangers From the Dry Cleaners
We tested the free hangers you get from the dry cleaners as part of a control group, figuring it would have the fewest features, and they turned out to be much sturdier than anticipated. My local dry cleaner appears to have stepped up its game, investing in a thicker wire that is able to hold a heavy jacket without being doubled up. While they are certainly slim, can hold pants, and, best of all, come free with any dry cleaning you have done, these hangers aren’t particularly attractive and you may not get the exact kind of hanger each time, so closets may not look aesthetically pleasing. They didn’t cause much in the way of marks during the week of testing, though I suspect long-term, the harsh points of the wire might cause some denting.
Other Clothes Hangers We Tested
Although The Container Store’s Basic Acrylic Hanger climbed to the top of our rating, we tested a wide range of products to find the best clothes hangers. Here are some others for you to consider:
Whitmor Satin Padded Clothes Hangers
Buyers who own a lot of silk and satin will definitely want to consider investing in the Whitmor Satin Padded Blouse Hanger because those are exactly the types of fabric it was made to protect. The smooth fabric wrapped around the hanger prevents any kind of marks on shoulders, which is its biggest advantage. It is certainly gentle on lightweight clothing.
However, its function is somewhat limited. Since it wasn’t designed with a bar across it to hang pants, you’ll need to buy a different kind of hanger for that purpose. The padded hanger is also a tad bulky, requiring almost as much room as wide wooden hangers. It is also on the shorter side, so if you have wide shoulders, it’s unlikely they will fit well.
Another side effect of satin is that it’s very slippery, causing some larger blouses to slide off. There’s nothing to grip dresses and blouses, so these hangers aren’t the best choice for wide necklines or larger sizes.
I have to admit that I owned a lot of these Target White Plastic Room Essentials hangers before we started testing. I stocked up when I moved and gave them to my teenagers for their closets. They’re very happy with them. They’re not too thick, so you can fit a lot of them in even a smaller closet, and the bright white gives a clean, uniform appearance.
They have an indentation on the shoulder that works well on strappy tops and dresses. And they’re fairly durable; except for a heavy leather or wool long coat, they do well. They’re also extremely economical, with an 18-pack costing $2.00. At that price, you don’t stress about losing a few, and if you do they’re simple and cheap to replace.
If you prefer wood hangers, The Container Store Basic Natural Wooden Hanger is a good option. It’s durable and economical and you can buy them in packs of six, making it easy to outfit your entire closet in the same type of hanger.
As far as performance goes, these wood hangers did cause a slight indentation in sweaters and blouses that were hung on them but are an excellent choice for heavier jackets and coats.
Another great option in plastic hangers is the Sharpty Everyday White Plastic Hanger. Designed almost identical to Target’s Room Essential, the plastic is strong, and it, too, has an indent for straps and a bar for pants. The main difference is the availability of these hangers on Amazon.
There are some shoppers who are squarely in the flocked hanger camp, of which Joy Mangano’s Platinum Huggable Suit Hangers are the gold standard. These are the brand name version of velvet-covered hangers, which are great for preventing clothing from sliding off; the sprayed on velvet coating acts as a grip that keeps fabric in place.
These hangers are also very slim, making it possible to get many more items of clothing in a closet than with thicker hangers. If you have a small closet, you should consider these.
But its advantage—a tacky surface—is also its disadvantage. Removing clothes from the hanger feels a lot like a fight. You can’t just tug on the sleeve like you can with smooth metal, plastic, or wooden hangers; the clothes won’t move. You have to almost pull the entire hanger out of your closet and peel the clothes off. It was a bit of a hassle and the main reason these hangers didn’t get a higher rating. If you love hangers that grip your clothes, buy these.
Another advantage of the Joy Mangano brand is a gazillion color choices, making it possible to match your hangers to the paint on your walls, or at least come darn close.
The AmazonBasics Velvet Suit Hangers are another great option for those who love hangers that don’t give up their clothes easily. They are slim, coated, and less expensive than the Joy Mangano brand, and available in beige, grey, and black only. They’re a great value as you can purchase them in quantities of 30, 50 or 100 at what comes down to about 50 cents per hanger (lower for the larger packs).
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