Sometimes looking at the big picture can be overwhelming – especially if the big picture is decluttering your entire house. Whether you want to work by-room or by-task, breaking down your decluttering project into a more manageable process filled with small, easily achievable tasks will allow you to be more successful and accomplish more without feeling overwhelmed.
How do I start?
Rather than creating a plan for your overall decluttering project, we recommend tackling the one piece of clutter that you don’t have to think about or decide whether you want to keep, donate, or do something else with – trash. The planning can come later.
Get started by going to each room with a medium-size trash bag to collect: any garbage that didn’t make its way to a garbage can, any broken or stained items, or any outdated technology that you know you won’t be able to donate or have no use for. Ideally, this task should only take 10-minutes; however, it could take longer depending on how much clutter you have. If necessary, you could break up the trash collecting by doing one bag a day, one room a day, or setting a timer and stopping when it goes off. No matter how long or how much you collect you’ll be able to check the first item off of your decluttering to-do list.
How can I declutter my home quickly?
While fast and decluttering don’t quite go together, we’ve gathered some quick and simple tips for you to do today to start to clear the clutter from your kitchen to your bedroom and everywhere in between.
Step 1: Set expectations
Be realistic. If you set the goal to be done decluttering your whole house in one day, especially if it’s filled with stuff, not only will you feel let down, but it’s also highly unrealistic and attainable. Before you begin, you should be aware that that decluttering is a process and everyone’s timeline can be different. It may take you a week, a month, or even longer depending on how easy or challenging your space is.
Step 2: Tackle the most difficult spaces
It may seem impossible at first, but we recommend starting with the rooms that need the most cleaning and organizing. You’ll be able to spend more of your time and energy, while you still have it, to tackle these bigger and more difficult projects. It’ll also give you a feel-good boost to be able to sprint through the easier and smaller rooms at the end.
Step 3: Create a decluttering system
It can be as simple or as complex as you’d like. One example of a simple system is to create three piles, boxes, bags, or areas to place items that fall under the following categories as you go through items around your home
- Purge – Junk that you’ll want to dispose of when your done decluttering your home
- Keep or Store – Items that you want to keep, but need to be relocated to a new place in your home or stored if necessary
- Donate – Items in good quality that you no longer need, but could be used by others such as kids’ toys, clothing, or other items from around your home
If you have the time and energy, or the simple system above doesn’t work for you, feel free to explore other organizing methods.
Step 4: Follow through
Once you’ve decided on the items you’re keeping, purging and donating make sure you follow through within the next few days. It’s totally fine to not take the items for donation to the facility the next day, but the longer it lingers in your home the less likely that it will actually make it out the door.
How to Declutter: A Room-by-Room Guide
The most important factor when it comes to decluttering any room – from your kitchen to your bedroom – is keeping the surfaces clear of clutter and other unnecessary items. Surfaces are the first thing you see when you enter any room so keeping them clean will make a huge impact on how clean you perceive a room to be. You may be wondering, where to place the items that once lived on the surfaces, check out our room-by-room decluttering tips to find out!
One way to ensure you get a good night’s sleep is to keep your bedroom clutter to a minimum. Don’t just take our word for it, check out this recent study from St. Lawrence University about how clutter can impact your sleep. Start by making sure that only necessary and frequently used items are left out on surfaces. For all of your other items, check out our best ideas on how you can make room to store your other items :
- Start saving boxes of all sizes – Instead of recycling boxes that you’ve collected from stores and online purchases, up-cycle them to create your own custom storage system for the inside of your drawers. With a little wrapping paper, washi tape, and your own creativity you can create the perfect storage box system to organize all of your small, loose items.
- Create a storage bin system for kids’ toys – A toy can be in one day and out the next, to help keep them from accumulating all-around your home allocate 2-3 large bins for toys. Keep your kids’ most played with toys in a place you both can reach, such as the bottom shelf. Place toys that are used less frequently a bit higher, since they won’t be in demand as often. The third bin can be placed in the bedroom if there’s room, or somewhere else since it will be used for toys that are no longer played with. After the bin is filled, go through it with your child to make sure they no longer want the toys from the bin, before donating or giving them away to other children that could use them. You could also have them remove a toy for every new one they receive to prevent their room from becoming overwhelmed with toys and stuffed animals.
- Keep things off the floor – It may seem like a simple task but for many people, it may come as a challenge. This doesn’t mean that everything has to be put away and organized all the time, but by keeping the floor clear it will give you the impression that your room is less cluttered than it may actually be.
For most people and families, the living room is one of the most used rooms in your home. It’s often used to host everything from family gatherings, movie nights, board game tournaments, and everything in between. Keeping it decluttered can be a challenge, but with our great tips, it can be easier than you think.
- Remove items that aren’t meant to be there – The central location of the living room in your home often makes it a dumping ground or the place where people tend to throw things when they’re in a hurry. The first step to decluttering your living room is to take all the items that aren’t meant to be there and put them in their proper place immediately. You won’t be able to focus on decluttering the items that are meant to be there until you get rid of the items that are out of place.
- Look for items that can do double duty – Because this room and the items in it are so frequently used it doesn’t make sense to store your things far away. Many furniture pieces are built to serve a dual purpose such as an ottoman and storage, or a sofa and storage. By utilizing these space-saving furniture pieces you can make more livible space in your home and you’ll never have to leave the room to get to your favorite blanket or toys.
- Throw out broken or outdated items – You’ll be surprised at how much more room you’ll have when you get rid of any broken or outdated technology you have lying around. Technology is constantly improving and getting smaller. Whether you still have your old VHS player or other technology from yesteryear, now’s a great time to ditch it. Technology isn’t the only thing that can be outdated. Don’t forget to get rid of any old magazines that you have lying around too. Don’t hold on to an entire magazine if you just need a particular article or recipe. Instead, carefully tear out the pages and put them in a binder, accordion folder, or even scan them so you have them on your computer.
In the kitchen, keeping surfaces clean and free of clutter is key. Regardless of whether you like to think of yourself as a gourmet chef or prefer to do all of your cooking in the microwave, your counter space is valuable so don’t waste it on items that could be stashed in a drawer or elsewhere. Tackling the kitchen is probably one of the biggest projects you have when it comes to decluttering your home.
Step 1: Choose how you want to organize and declutter – Do you want to go drawer-by-drawer, cabinet-by-cabinet, or by section? Regardless of how the method you choose, it’s easiest if you break down the kitchen into small, manageable pieces.
Step 2: Question each item you pick up – It’s funny how easy it is to accumulate kitchen clutter! You may think that keeping a few spare plates or mugs is a good idea, but when your mug collection quickly grows out of hand it may be time to store them elsewhere or ditch a few altogether. To determine whether you keep, donate, store, or trash the item you’ve picked up, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I currently use this? Make sure you think about the item in the present, not if you’ll use it in the future. There are always appliances or tools that we would like to use, but if we haven’t used them in the past year, we’re most likely never going to use them and they should be donated to someone who will actually use it.
- How many do I have? Some of the easiest items to have duplicates of are spices, mugs, wooden spoons, and mixing bowls. Spices accumulate due to the size of the jars and how they’re stored. When you can’t easily see which spices are you have available, you end up buying a duplicate. Mugs, wooden spoons, and mixing bowls seem to accumulate naturally over time. Decide on which ones are your favorite, most used, or necessary for your lifestyle, trash any chipped or broken ones, and donate the rest.
- Would I buy this today? Your taste often changes over time, make sure that as you go through your items they’re still something that you would see in a store and purchase today. It’s not worth keeping something if you’re never going to use it or if it’s always hidden because it doesn’t match the rest of your home.
Step 3: Make the kitchen functional for you and your family – Aside from eating and cooking, what else do you use the kitchen for? Paying bills? Homework help? Pop-up office? Think about different ways that you can make sure your kitchen can accommodate all of the different ways you use it to so that clutter doesn’t pile up. If you use the kitchen as a place to check the mail and pay bills, set aside a small drawer for stamps, envelopes, and folders to keep track of incoming, outgoing, and paid bills. Keep pens, pencils, calculators, and other small objects that are useful for homework help within reach so that you can easily access them when needed.
Bathrooms are typically small, compared to other rooms in your home, which makes it extremely important to keep these spaces decluttered, but finding an appropriate place for your beauty products, linens, and toiletries are no easy task. Luckily, we’re here to guide you through it all with these simple tips:
- Only keep items that you use daily on the counter – When the room is small like most bathrooms typically are, it’s even more important that the surfaces remain clear and that everything has it’s own home to return to. Utilize drawers and inserts to create the perfect home for all of your items. Only keep things that you use more than once a day on the counter to save space.
- Utilize shelves for added storage space – Consider unusual spaces to add shelves. There is often room to add a shelf above the toilet or even above a doorway. Installing shelves in these unusual places can add a good amount of space to help you declutter and organize your items.
- Keep it clean – A lot of things happen in the bathroom, make sure that you are regularly cleaning and decluttering your toiletries and beauty items. Check labels to make sure that nothing has expired. If it has, throw it out – there’s no use in keeping something that has gone bad.
For even more tips, check out one of our favorite videos from Melissa Maker of Clean my Space:
Prevent Future Clutter
The decluttering tips above are a great way for you to start cleaning and organizing your cluttered home, but your ultimate goal should be keeping and maintaining your newly organized and clutter-free space. For even more decluttering tips, check out what some organizing experts have to say and remember that decluttering is a process.
Take a look at our list below for some quick and easy tips that will help you to maintain your decluttered home:
- Declutter a little each day – Whether it’s 5 minutes or 15, doing a fast walk-through your house and removing clutter will help maintain the home that you’ve put so much work into already.
- Always have a box or bag that you can place items that you want to donate – Having a bag or box in place for items you no longer need or use will help prevent them from ending up in a place where they shouldn’t be. By waiting until the bag or box is full to take it to a facility it also allows you to have some time to ensure that you no longer need the item.
- Utilize the “sharing economy” – The recent emergence of a sharing economy where people acquire, provide, or share access to goods and services is relatively new but can be really useful when it comes to something you need use once or twice a year. Instead of buying the item you need, see if your friends, neighbors or a shared economy community website has what you’re looking for. It’s a lot easier to store something for a few days instead of storing something that may never be used again for a long time.
- Embrace storage – Sometimes we just have too many things that we love and need, but don’t have space for them. If this is the case, you may want to look into storing your items long-term. Storage options range from traditional self-storage facilities to on-demand storage services such as Wayforth. With on-demand storage, trained professionals will come to your door to pick up your items making storage easy, convenient, and pain-free. No matter which storage option you choose make sure that you’ve done your research. For example, here are just a few self-storage horror stories that your self-storage operator may not want you to know about.