Is it possible to learn how to declutter your house in one day?
While it may not be possible for everyone to declutter their entire house in a day, you’ll learn how to streamline and declutter your home with these expert decluttering strategies.
It’s common for everyone to have some clutter lying around their homes – and for many, it’s more than just a bit. While household clutter may seem innocuous, the reality is that being surrounded by more possessions than one can manage can lead to stress and a sense of life spiraling out of control.
Decluttering your home is a form of self-care, providing numerous benefits such as improved organization, increased productivity, a more harmonious living environment, and a heightened sense of well-being.
In this comprehensive guide, compiled from various posts on organization and decluttering encountered during my personal decluttering journey, I’ll assist you in kickstarting your own decluttering project. Gain insights into cleaning up any room or space in your home with organizational ideas and decluttering tips from some of the leading experts in the field.
Why Decluttering Your Home is Importnt
To begin with, what exactly is clutter?
Clutter encompasses anything you’re holding onto that doesn’t contribute value to your life. Decluttering involves creating space in your home for the things that genuinely matter.
When does clutter become a problem?
For many individuals, clutter can drain energy or result in significant time wasted searching for misplaced items. Unwanted clutter in the home can induce stress and even feelings of embarrassment. In extreme cases, individuals may experience depression or obesity as a consequence of excessive consumption beyond material possessions. In more severe hoarding scenarios, health complications may arise from the presence of mold and dust, and in rare instances, clutter-filled spaces could pose fire hazards.
Why is it essential to declutter your home?
Organizing and decluttering offer stress relief for many, instilling a sense of control and accomplishment. It can lead to a reduction in overall stress levels. Others find that eliminating excess belongings creates additional space in their homes that wasn’t previously available. Some may opt to declutter before a move. Regardless of your motive for decluttering your home and, consequently, your life, this highly comprehensive guide will guide you through the process.
How to Start the Decluttering Process in Three Simple Steps
1. Set a Timeline and Goals
Before diving into the decluttering process, it’s crucial to create a plan. Setting specific goals will help alleviate frustration and obstacles, regardless of the amount of clutter you need to tackle. Consider the following as you begin:
- Create a map or list of all the rooms and “clutter hot spots” you intend to address.
- Grade each space based on clutter severity to prioritize your efforts (e.g., using a scale of 1-3, with 3 being the most cluttered).
- Focus on one room or area at a time.
- Set realistic completion dates for each phase of your cleanup, turning the process into a manageable challenge.
- Plan dedicated time for areas requiring longer decluttering sessions, such as the basement or garage.
2. Establish a Sorting System
As you move through your home, develop a system for categorizing discovered items. Whether creating your own method or using the widely accepted Three-Box Method, this step helps maintain organization and prevents a worsening mess. Follow these decluttering tips:
- Keep: Items with daily usefulness. Empty this box after each space, placing items in neatly labeled containers or drawers.
- Get Rid Of: Items no longer needed. Empty this box after each space and decide whether to donate or discard each item. Store giveaway or sale items outside the home.
- Put In Storage: Seasonal or sentimental items. Empty this box into labeled storage containers, stacking them neatly in a designated storage area.
3. Eliminate Clutter from Your Home
Dispose of items in the “Get Rid Of” box through various options:
- Donate or Freecycle: Contribute items in good condition to local charities or online platforms for others to use.
- Recycle: Utilize curbside pickup for recyclables or take them to the nearest recycling drop-off location.
- Garage Sale: Potentially earn money by hosting a garage sale if items are suitable for resale.
- Rent a Dumpster: For items not fit for donation or sale, consider a stress-free dumpster rental to efficiently dispose of clutter. Obtain a free quote for a dumpster rental to facilitate your decluttering project.
10 Essential Decluttering Tips for Your Home
It can be tough for people to say goodbye to things they bought with their own money or things they liked and used a lot. These things often remind them of good times and mean a lot to them. That’s why it’s hard to let them go.
Remember, you have choices when dealing with clutter, so don’t feel bad about getting rid of things. Prepare yourself mentally for cleaning up your space and remember these tips:
Embracing the 80/20 Rule:
Recognize that, most often, we only utilize a small fraction of our belongings. Focus your decluttering efforts on items seldom used, adhering to the 80/20 principle.
Letting Go of Sunk Costs:
Shift your perspective away from past expenditures and concentrate on the prospective value an item could bring to your future.
Evaluate whether each item is in working order. Promptly address any repairs, or consider parting ways to prevent unnecessary accumulation.
Reflecting on Necessity:
Consider the last instance you found an item indispensable. If it hasn’t been used in six months or slipped from memory, it may be time to bid it farewell.
For items like clothes or books, monitor their use by turning them around after each use. If a year passes without utilization, contemplate decluttering.
Evaluate your emotional connection to possessions. If an item hasn’t been used in over six months and fails to evoke joy, consider placing it in the “Get Rid Of” pile.
Sleeping on Decisions:
When uncertain about parting with something, sleep on the decision. By morning, you’ll discern whether it’s genuinely indispensable.
Commencing with Small Triumphs:
Alleviate the overwhelming nature of decluttering by initiating with smaller projects. Building a sense of accomplishment can propel you towards more extensive tasks.
Decongesting Flat Surfaces:
Recognize that flat surfaces tend to attract clutter. While some items may warrant visibility, strive to keep surfaces clear and consider storage solutions for frequently used belongings.
Categorizing for Order:
Group similar items together during the decluttering process. This not only facilitates organization but also enhances accessibility to needed items.
Room-By-Room Organizing and Decluttering Tips
Armed with the necessary tools, you’re ready to take on any decluttering endeavor at home. Let’s proceed to our systematic decluttering guidance for each room. Approaching it room by room proves to be the most effective method for organizing and decluttering, with many rooms manageable within a weekend timeframe.
How to Declutter Your Bedrooms
Bedrooms often end up being places where things just get piled up because they don’t have a designated spot in the rest of the house. Our survey found that bedrooms are usually the most cluttered rooms in homes. But honestly, all you really need in a bedroom are the basics – a bed, nightstands, and some storage for clothes, shoes, jewelry, and makeup.
Depending on how much stuff you have, it might take you an afternoon or a whole weekend to tidy up and organize your bedroom. We’ll talk about sorting out your closet in another section because that can be a bit tricky.
Start with the drawers: Take everything out and ask yourself two questions about each item:
- Does it belong in the bedroom?
- Have you used or worn it in the last year?
If the answer is “no” to either question, put the item in a “Get Rid Of” pile or take it back to where it belongs. When putting things back in the drawers, consider using dividers or small containers to keep similar things together. You can get creative and use small boxes, like shoe or cereal boxes, or even plastic containers as drawer organizers. You can also add shelf paper to make cleaning the drawers easier later on.
Keep flat surfaces clear: Try not to clutter the tops of dressers or nightstands with too many things. A few decorations, a lamp, or some pictures are fine, but keep each surface to less than five items. This helps make the bedroom feel more peaceful.
Use storage bins for things like seasonal items and toys: Not everything can fit in closets, so baskets, toy chests, or shelves can be handy for kids’ toys. If toys aren’t getting much attention, it might be time to donate some. For seasonal stuff like clothes or bedding, store them in plastic or cloth bins under the bed or in a closet. You can also use space-saver bags to compress big items and save space.
Additional Bedroom Decluttering Resources:
- How to Declutter Your Master Bedroom in 5 Easy Steps
- How to Get Bedrooms Ready for a New Baby
- How to Deep Clean Your Bedroom
How to Declutter Your Closet
Clearing out your closet can be a therapeutic experience. Sorting through clothes, shoes, and other long-forgotten items not only tidies up your home but can also lighten your mental load, freeing you from any emotional attachment to these belongings. This task typically takes an afternoon, although particularly stuffed walk-in closets might require a week of decluttering sessions.
Make sure to have your “Keep,” “Get Rid Of,” and “Put In Storage” bins nearby as you follow these steps to declutter your closet.
Start from the Bottom Up
While many people instinctively begin with hanging items at the top, a more efficient approach is to kick off the cleanup by addressing the mess at the bottom of the closet. This not only creates space to work but also gives you a sense of progress, making it feel like you’re halfway through the closet in no time.
Get Rid of Clothes and Shoes
Following the simple decluttering tips we discussed earlier, it’s important to stick to the 80/20 rule when cleaning out your closet. Since we usually wear about 20% of our clothes 80% of the time, there’s likely a good amount of clothing you can let go of.
If you’re unsure about what to toss, ask yourself these questions about each item:
- Does it fit?
- Is it damaged, stained, torn, or faded?
- Has it been worn in the past year?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions (or “yes” to question #2), put the item in your “Get Rid Of” bin. Seasonal clothing and items with sentimental value that you don’t wear often should be stored in a separate bin to create more space in your closet. This applies to shoes and jewelry too.
Even after this cleanup, you might still keep things you should have let go of. To find these items, try the “backwards hanger” trick. Begin the year with all hangers’ tips facing the front of the closet (backwards). After wearing something, put it back with the hanger facing the back. By the end of the year, you can easily identify clothes that you no longer need.
Clean Up Closet Shelves
Empty your closet, wipe down the shelves, and get rid of anything that doesn’t add value to your life. Avoid stacking clothes and storing things on shelves that can get hidden behind hanging clothes. Except for items in containers, you should be able to see everything in your closet without moving too much around. Use shelf space to store smaller items in boxes and bins.
If you’re decluttering a closet not used for clothing, resist the temptation to stack everything like a game of Tetris. Instead, consider adding more shelving above floor items, like vacuums or storage bins. You can also install hooks inside the door for brooms, mops, and dustpans.
Cleaning up your closets will improve your quality of life. You’ll save time when you no longer have to search for items you “could’ve sworn were in there,” and make room for new belongings that bring you more joy. Plus, you can save yourself the risk of items falling on you the next time you open a closet door.
Additional Closet Decluttering Resources:
How to Declutter Your Living Room
The main goal for any family room or living space is to be a relaxing environment. If the room is cluttered with toys, books, wires, blankets, old magazines, and more, it can be challenging to truly unwind. After bedrooms, the living room is the second most cluttered space in many homes.
Chances are, your living room could use a bit of a makeover. Follow these decluttering tips to reclaim your serene family space in just a weekend.
Un-Decorate and Remove Items That Don’t Belong
Your living room might feel crowded and overwhelming due to an excess of things. Hanging pictures and adding floating shelves to the walls can clear tabletops of clutter. Simplify the number of throw pillows and blankets to a few statement pieces.
Start by removing items that don’t belong, such as toys that should be in kids’ rooms, mail or magazines meant for the office, and glasses or dishware that wandered from the kitchen.
You might also have an abundance of books, CDs, DVDs, and other entertainment items taking up space. Sort through them and donate or sell what’s no longer essential. Consider converting your music and movies to a digital format to free up space without losing anything significant. Eliminate broken or unused toys, remote controls, or anything else that has lost its purpose.
Add More Storage
As you declutter, you may discover you have a surplus of items that do belong in the living room. Here are simple storage solutions:
- Use baskets for frequently-used toys and blankets.
- Install shelving for video games, DVDs, and other media.
- Look for storage furniture like ottomans, trunks, or furniture that doubles as storage, such as couches with hidden compartments.
- Get furniture like entertainment centers with shelves and cupboards.
Wrangle the Wires
The mess of wires around your TV can be unsightly. Consider these tips for managing cords:
- Use appropriately sized cords – avoid excessively long ones.
- Choose furniture that conceals cords if you don’t want to feed them into the wall.
- Store extra cords in a container that matches your room décor.
- Conceal some cords with an area rug.
Sometimes you can’t eliminate cords entirely, but you can hide them cleverly!
Additional Living Room Decluttering Resources:
- How to Get Rid of Stuff Around the House
- Maximizing Space in the Living Room
- How to Dispose of Electronics
How to Declutter Your Home Office
Getting distracted by all the clutter surrounding you? Take back your workspace in a single afternoon with these decluttering tips, so you can get organized and be more productive in your home office.
Sort Through Paper Items
Even if you don’t have a designated home office, chances are you still have some office-related clutter. For many, this involves important documents, stacks of bills, receipts, and other papers waiting for attention. When tackling the decluttering of an office or workspace, it’s a good idea to begin with paper items. Getting the paper mess in order is often half the battle!
Start by organizing your office papers into three piles: “File,” “To-Do,” and “Trash.” Once sorted, immediately file the papers you need to keep. Place the to-do pile in a basket or file folder for later, and dispose of or shred the items in the trash pile.
Here are some additional tips for handling stacks of papers:
- Scan important documents and receipts to create a digital record; then, shred or discard the paper if you don’t need a physical copy.
- Store older paper files, like taxes, in a plastic bin in a less frequently accessed space, such as the basement or garage.
- Designate a specific spot for important mail or pending documents you need to address soon, as well as for incoming papers in the future. This way, you’ll have a designated place to put them when they arrive.
Clear Off Your Desk and Organize Drawers
Challenge yourself to clear most items from your desk, keeping only essential items like the computer, a lamp, and a few necessary tools. Limit desk decorations to a few knickknacks—don’t overcrowd!
Whenever possible, store office supplies in drawers. To keep your office drawers organized, follow these three simple steps:
- Empty the drawers completely.
- Eliminate excess items. If you have more than you’ll need in the next year, consider letting it go. If you haven’t used something in six months, it’s probably time to part with it.
- Organize similar items together and avoid leaving too many loose items in a drawer. You can use drawer organizers or repurpose small boxes and containers you already have.
Tame Your Cords
While not an essential step for organizing your home office, wrangling your cords will help you achieve a clean, crisp look. A simple online search will bring up plenty of cord management products, and you can use a few of these clever cord hacks:
- Label cords with tape, so it’s easier to tell which cord goes with each device.
- Hold up cords that are frequently unplugged on your desk using binder clips.
- Use twist-ties or rubber bands to tie up excess cables. It won’t be fancy, but it’s effective!
Additional Home Office Decluttering Resources:
- How to Set Up a Home Office
- Maximizing Space in Dual-Purpose Rooms
- Things to Get Rid of in the Home Office
How to Declutter Your Kitchen
The kitchen is often the busiest room in the house, especially if you cook regularly. With dishes, cookware, utensils, small appliances, food, spices, and more, your kitchen can quickly become crowded. Clutter tends to accumulate in various spots, such as cabinets, drawers, and countertops. Reclaim your kitchen space in just a weekend and make cooking a less stressful experience with these easy kitchen decluttering tips.
Start by Decluttering Countertops
Kitchen counters often attract clutter, making it an excellent starting point for decluttering. Follow these two simple steps for significant improvement:
- Clear everything off the counters, leaving only 3-5 essential items like a coffee maker or knife block. Place the cleared items on the kitchen table or floor, but ensure they’re off the counter.
- Put away or find new homes for the cleared items. Discard papers or junk mail, throwing them away, or relocating items needing attention to your office.
This quick project can take a few minutes or up to an hour for highly cluttered counters, giving your kitchen a refreshing feel when completed.
Divide the Kitchen Into Zones
To prevent a bigger mess, declutter one section of your kitchen at a time. Zoning can improve organization as you put things away:
- Designate the space near the stove for cooking utensils, pots, and pans, keeping them conveniently located for cooking.
- Store baking supplies in a cabinet or shelf unless you bake daily. If you have a countertop mixer, organize baking supplies nearby.
- Create a zone for storage bags, cling wrap, aluminum foil, and cleaning supplies.
Purge and Relocate Items
Consider discarding or donating items untouched for a year. If keeping infrequently used items, store them outside the kitchen. Move items to their new zone:
- Small Appliances: Evaluate and keep only frequently used small appliances. Those with multiple functions are usually keepers.
- Plastic Storage Containers: Declutter excess containers and lids, keeping only what’s necessary. Store spare containers in the kitchen or outside if there’s a surplus.
- Pots and Pans: Donate duplicate pots and pans unless they serve a special purpose and are used frequently.
Simplify to limit chaos in this high-traffic space. If hesitant about discarding kitchen tools, store them in a box and reassess their necessity over the next year. If unused, consider donating the box to Goodwill.
Additional Kitchen Decluttering Resources:
- How to Declutter Kitchen Counters
- How to Dispose of Appliances
- Maximizing Space in the Kitchen
- How to Deep Clean Your Kitchen
How to Declutter Your Washrooms
Decluttering the Bathroom Made Simple
Decluttering your bathroom is an uncomplicated task that involves purging and organizing items on your countertops, shelves, and inside drawers. With just one afternoon of work, you can bring order to this space.
Pull Everything Out and Toss the Excess
- Clear off bathroom counters, empty drawers, and thoroughly clean linen closets.
- Consider decluttering multiple bathrooms simultaneously to assess the overall excess.
- Check expiration dates and discard products with minimal remaining content within a month.
- Donate excess items, such as towels, to local animal shelters.
- Dispose of items you don’t like or use, like unused bath bomb sets or fancy soaps.
Put Like-Things Together
- Group similar items together, even if they originated from different bathrooms.
- Create piles for medicine, towels, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and makeup.
- Combine multiples of the same item and discard empty bottles or packaging.
Set Up Organization Systems
- Use dividers, drawer organizers, small boxes, and baskets for effective bathroom organization.
- Keep like-item groups together in an organized manner.
- Repurpose small boxes or plastic containers from around the house as drawer organizers.
Streamline Bathroom Countertops
- Aim to minimize items on bathroom countertops.
- Organize daily-use items neatly on a tray, shelf, or easily-accessible drawer.
With these steps, your bathroom will become a well-organized and clutter-free space in no time.
Additional Bathroom Decluttering Resources:
- Space Saving Ideas for Your Small Bathroom
- Maximizing Space in the Bathroom
- How to Deep Clean Your Bathroom
- Things to Get Rid of in the Bathroom
How to Declutter Your Laundry Room
Streamlining Your Laundry Room
Laundry rooms come in various shapes and sizes, from unfinished basements to second-story spaces. Each setup presents unique challenges, but these decluttering tips apply universally. You can transform your laundry room into an organized space, whether you have a few hours or a weekend to spare.
Eliminate Unnecessary Items
- Identify and relocate items in the laundry room not related to laundry activities.
- Avoid using laundry shelves for miscellaneous storage to prevent adding to overall clutter.
Organize with Shelving, Bins, and Baskets
- Group similar items together that belong in the laundry room.
- Store these items in well-labeled bins or baskets for easy access.
- Install sturdy shelving to maintain organization and prevent clutter.
- Enhance the aesthetic by storing detergent and fabric softener in glass jars or beverage dispensers, especially if the laundry room is a high-traffic area in your home.
Make a Plan to Keep the Room Tidy
Once you have organization systems in place, you should make an effort to keep things that way. First, keep clothes off the laundry room floor. Any clothes in the laundry room, whether they’re dirty or waiting to be folded, should be kept in a hamper or laundry basket.
You should also avoid storing items on top of the washer and dryer. Remember the declutter mantra: “Keep flat surfaces clear.”
Additional Laundry Room Decluttering Resources:
- How to Build a Mudroom/Laundry Room Combo
- DIY Laundry Room Upgrade
- How to Deep Clean Your Laundry Room
How to Declutter Your Basement or Attic
Tackling Basement or Attic Clutter: A Step-by-Step Guide
Clutter often finds a long-term home in basements or attics, where the “out of sight, out of mind” adage holds true. To address the clutter in these storage spaces, allocate a substantial amount of time, as these projects usually extend beyond a mere hour.
1. Divide Into Zones and Clear Out:
- Work on one specific area at a time, such as shelves, boxes, or seasonal decorations.
- Empty shelves or bins completely before moving on to the next zone.
- Sort items into “Keep” or “Get Rid Of” bins as you progress through each zone.
- Consider an additional category for broken items, setting a deadline for repairs before deciding to recycle or discard them.
2. Keep Like-Things Together and Discard Junk:
- Move items you’re parting with outside of the house immediately.
- Discard items directly into the dumpster or trash bin if they’re not reusable.
- If donating or selling, place items in the designated vehicle or keep them in a porch or garage until they can be transported.
3. Organize and Sort Into Bins:
- Keep similar items together when putting them away for easy retrieval in the future.
- Sort ornaments, for example, by color to streamline future decorating.
- Label boxes and bins clearly, either by writing directly, using a label maker, or attaching a paper list to the front.
- Consider transparent bins for improved visibility of contents.
Additional Basement and Attic Decluttering Resources:
How to Declutter Your Garage
Revamp Your Garage: A Simple Decluttering Guide
Garages tend to become dumping grounds for various items, from forgotten tools to outdated sporting gear. While decluttering this space might seem daunting, it’s entirely achievable! Follow these practical tips to transform your garage over a weekend or two, restoring it to a functional space for parking your car.
1. Take Everything Out and Purge:
- Choose a weekend with favorable weather to pull out every item from the garage.
- Sort through items, identifying duplicates or items not needed in the next five years.
- Sell or give away unnecessary items, and discard worn or damaged belongings.
2. Sort Through and Categorize Your Items:
- Determine categories for the items you’ve decided to keep (tools, sporting equipment, gardening tools, etc.).
- Avoid putting items back until you’ve found an organized place for each category.
- Create zones within the garage for specific categories, making it easy to locate items when needed.
3. Add Storage and Organization Systems:
- Purchase additional storage bins, a tool cabinet, or a pegboard for efficient hanging.
- Install sturdy shelving to utilize vertical space and keep the floor clear.
- Optimize storage by elevating items when possible.
- Clearly label every box, bin, or drawer for easy identification of contents.
Additional Garage Decluttering Resources:
- Cheap Garage Storage Ideas to Keep You Organized
- How to Clean Out Your Garage
- How to Have a Successful Garage Sale
Keep Your Home Decluttered for Good
After all the effort you’ve put into decluttering your home, be sure to keep these simple tips in mind to prevent clutter from returning in the future.
Don’t allow potential clutter into your home in the first place.
Before purchasing or acquiring anything new, ask yourself, “Do I really need it?” and “Where will I keep it?” If you don’t have an immediate answer to those two questions, don’t bring it home.
Declutter a little bit each day.
Deal with common clutter such as mail, clothes and toys every day. By setting aside 20 minutes each day, you’ll avoid having to spend hours cleaning up in the future. If making decluttering a daily routine isn’t doable for you, plan a weekly sweep instead.
Use the “one in, one out” rule.
When you bring something new home, throw away or donate something else. You can even implement this room-by-room, to make you think about where you’ll keep this new thing.
Don’t buy – rent or borrow instead.
If you only need an item once in a blue moon, consider renting or borrowing it. Whether it’s a book, movie or power tool, there are plenty of resources available. Borrow items from friends, the library or your local home improvement store.