In this post: Declutter and organize your home with this in-depth guide, featuring step-by-step instructions, frequently asked decluttering questions, and tips for where to begin when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Is the clutter in your home causing you stress? If it is, you’re not alone in that feeling. Clutter in your home clutters your mind while decluttering your home can help you sleep better, increase your productivity and reduce your stress.
In fact, according to a popular 2009 UCLA study, women who see their homes as cluttered have elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol. Which is, of course, the hormone that makes us fat. 🤦🏼♀️ Of course.
Why is Decluttering Your Home Important?
Over the years, I’ve asked my email subscribers and readers one question over and over again: “What is the one thing you’re struggling with within your home right now?” I’ve collected almost two thousand answers to that question. And in all of those replies, much of the time I’ve gotten a response that had something to do with TOO MUCH CLUTTER!
Here are a few of those clutter-related responses:
- “All the rooms contain leftovers and inherited furniture and too much of it. Every room struggles with clutter particularly paper and baby items of our one-year-old.”
- “Too much furniture but little space. Too many things to have but no room to put it all.”
- “…the little bits and pieces make things look cluttered instead of pretty”
And so on. It’s pretty clear that we all struggle with things piling up and looking cluttered.
What is Clutter?
Clutter in your home is anything that takes away from your enjoyment or use of your home. In contrast, decluttering is removing unnecessary things to make room for the things you genuinely love and want to keep in your home.
Our homes have a huge impact on our well-being:
- The UCLA study I mentioned showed that the more clutter people (especially women) have in their homes, the more stressed they are.
- The same study found that women subconsciously relate how happy they are with how they feel about their homes.
So you see, decluttering our homes needs to be a priority so that we have can spend less time cleaning up and have less stress too!
With a little organization and some practice, I’m here to tell you that it is possible to declutter your home so that it looks and feels so much better!
But what if you don’t know where to begin? Or how to find the time to declutter? Or what to do with sentimental clutter?
Lovely, I’ve got you! In this post, I’m going to answer commonly asked decluttering questions so you can get a handle on both your headspace and your clutter, once and for all. I’m going to show you exactly how to declutter each and every space in your house. And I’m going to share the best decluttering tips ever!
As you read on, imagine us sitting down, each with our favorite cuppa, just chatting like old friends (and if you really need it, I can also give you a loving kick in the pants to git ‘er done).
FAQs about decluttering your home
I think that at some point or another, anyone with clutter in their home has asked at least a few of the following questions. And even if you haven’t asked them out loud, I bet you’ve pondered them silently to yourself.
I’m also betting that if you’re reading this, you’ve struggled with how to tackle your clutter and the feelings of overwhelm and maybe even helplessness that clutter can bring.
Wanna know a secret though? YOU CAN DO THIS, sweet momma. You really can. (Seriously, if you can grit your teeth to put up with yet another episode of your kid’s favorite tv show, you can totally do this.)
1. Why is decluttering so important?
As I said, living in a cluttered space causes stress on so many levels. To name just a couple, there are the:
- simple visual stress when you can see all that clutter, which causes unhappiness with how your home looks and sometimes even feelings of inadequacy about your skills (or perceived lack thereof) as a homemaker.
- stress when you can’t find things (like your car keys or glasses) because of the clutter and lack of organization in your home, which can make you late, flustered, and frustrated.
Decluttering is important because helps to ease all kinds of stress, boosts your mood, and helps to improve productivity as well.
Given all the other stressors in our life these days (pandem!c and politics anyone?), it is super important to reduce our stress at home and at work by decluttering.
2. Why is decluttering so hard?
Decluttering can often feel hard because most of us feel like we don’t have the time to do it.
Between all the things we actually have to get done as mothers and all the things we feel like we should be doing, time can feel scarce. And when time feels scarce, we often don’t prioritize things like self-care and decluttering – even though a decluttered home will actually free up our time going forward and self-care can give us the energy we need to keep up with life.
Fear is also another reason that decluttering can feel hard. Fear of starting and not finishing, fear of needing that something later and not having it. A scarcity mindset about what you need and when often gets in the way of a clutter-free home. But in reality, if you haven’t used something in a long time, you likely won’t need it any time soon. And if you do, I’m sure there’s something else that can be used in its place.
And of course, there’s guilt (either self-imposed or instigated by another party) at the thought of getting rid of something that someone has given you. You can’t imagine how you will explain to someone that something they gave you isn’t useful or doesn’t suit your home.
But once you become consciously aware of these roadblocks, you can tackle them head-on – and finally clear out the mindsets and the clutter that are holding you back.
3. Where do I even start decluttering?
I think it matters much less where you start than that you just get started. Seriously.
I think a LOT of us put off decluttering and blame it on not knowing where to start when really we’re subconsciously avoiding the job or expecting all the things in our entire life to be perfectly aligned before we begin.
Spoiler alert: that’s never going to happen.
The fact is, decluttering is work and it’s messy. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. But I promise you that a decluttered home will feel and function SO much better and is very much worth the effort!
4. Should I deep clean or declutter first? What’s the difference between cleaning, decluttering, and organizing?
Cleaning, decluttering, and organizing are three different things that work together in tandem to make your home lovelier.
It is definitely best to declutter before deep cleaning. If you clear out the clutter first, you will have more room to clean and also fewer items to clean.
You could also do two or three at the same time. For example, when I was helping my sister declutter and organize her kitchen last year, we’d empty a shelf in her pantry one at a time and toss what was expired or unneeded (decluttering), set aside the items that were being kept, and wipe down the shelf (cleaning) before returning the items in a more orderly fashion (organizing). This helped us tackle a kitchen deep cleaning and decluttering and organizing all at once!
(If you’re not actually going to tackle decluttering though, don’t put off cleaning your house indefinitely using this as an excuse!)
5. What should I get rid of when decluttering?
Well, that depends on what your clutter is made up of. Most of us can start by getting rid of unused, broken, or duplicated things. And a lot of us could clear out paper clutter or old clothes too.
But if you want somewhere easy to start, that will give you that quick win feeling, check out my post titled 50 things you should “throw away” today. It’s filled with easy-to-part-with, no-brainer things to get rid of and is a great place to start your decluttering.
6. How do I find the time to declutter?
This is literally a matter of priorities.
Have you recently binge-watched anything on Netflix? Or mindlessly scroll through Instagram for hours? While those things are great to take a break from reality for a while, they don’t help your clutter problem at all.
Even the busiest person on the planet can carve out a little time to get their home in better working order and save time later. Which is exactly what decluttering will do.
- If you have only a little time each week, try a decluttering plan that allows you to tackle a little at a time.
- Or if you have one weekend available out of the next ten, plan a major purge session and get that mess cleaned up.
I promise a clutter-free home will be worth the temporary pinch of time it takes to get it there.
7. How often should I declutter my home and storage spaces?
That all depends on how good your rhythms and routines are after you do a big decluttering purge.
Here’s what I mean…
If you spend a whole weekend clearing out closets and pantries, and you get your home to a great place, but you don’t start putting things away when you’re done with them or picking up the living room at the end of the day, you will find your home in a state of disaster again before you know it.
However, if you simplify your routines and anchor your tidying to events in the day – like cleaning up the kitchen after dinner, or fluffing the pillows and putting the remotes away before bed – your clutter-free home will stay clutter-free for much longer!
At our house, I find I still have to purge and declutter with the change of seasons. My decor tastes change, the kids grow, I gain weight or wear through clothes (Old Navy tights are comfy, but not too long-lasting), and so on. So things need to be tossed or donated periodically. And normally for me, I do that with the change of seasons about four times a year or so.
8. Can decluttering help with my anxiety?
Oh my gosh, yes! But also no.
A cluttered home is the cause of so much stress and anxiety, so naturally the opposite – a decluttered home – will relieve stress and promote clarity and calm.
But the actual act of decluttering may in the very short term increase anxiety because it increases mess. It has to get worse before it gets better, as they say. I find it takes effort to meal plan or plan out content for this site and I don’t love doing either. BUT once I’m finished planning, everything is so much easier.
If you are in a period of extreme anxiety only you will know if you can tackle decluttering right now. But I encourage you to try, enlist help if needed, and take baby steps to clear out the clutter in your home.
Because the long-term benefits of a clutter-free home will far outweigh the short-term discomfort and mess of decluttering.
9. Is your house decluttered and perfect all the time?
As I said, I purge with the seasons. And things do get messy. No one is perfect and there are five of us living here with different schedules and natural bents towards or away from organization. So, yes, our house is tidy fairly consistently. But no, it is not perfect all the time.
10. How and where do I start when I feel overwhelmed?
I hate to say it but, put on your big girl panties, crank the tunes, and just get started.
Honestly, my friend. The more time you spend over where to begin and thinking about how overwhelmed you are, the more overwhelmed you will feel. Inaction, or waiting on perfection is keeping you stuck!
Instead of focusing on the overwhelm, focus on the end result – a clean, calm, orderly house that is like a breath of fresh air…after breathing in stuffy, stanky, smoke-filled air for so long.
If having your whole house decluttered feels too far out or impossible, focus on small wins and ways you can reward yourself for even smaller accomplished goals (I talk a lot about building small wins in my new book coming out in the Fall of 2022). Like clearing off the counters, or putting the coats in the closet.
Whatever you need to do to get past the overwhelm, do that. And then do the next thing that needs doing.
Before you know it, you will be able to look back and see that you’ve actually, finally made progress!
11. Does decluttering ever end?
Yes and no. The answer really depends on you. Let me explain.
When your house is in a state of cluttered mess, it will take time and energy to declutter it and clear it out.
Inevitably over time, stuff will come into your house again via gifts, or purchases, and just living life.
But it doesn’t have to become that degree of cluttered mess again.
So, yes, on the one hand, a house full of clutter can end. But on the other, there is always some ongoing effort in the form of maintenance and habits needed to keep the clutter from taking over again.
12. How do I get rid of things that have sentimental value?
This is one of THE most common questions that gets asked about decluttering.
We all have things that are hard to part with. Hand-me-downs from our grandmothers, keepsakes from our mothers, gifts from hubby. Good memories are important and if things help us relive those memories, that’s normal.
But if we are having trouble parting with things we truly don’t have space for, we need to ask if we’re assigning more value to those things than necessary, if there’s another way to hold onto those good feelings and memories apart from the clutter of things.
For example, does holding onto that thing cause you more stress than joy because of the mess it’s adding to your home? Can you take a photo of it, or store a part of it in a memorabilia box?
Some sentimental items can be kept, of course. But others can definitely be let go of. (There will be much more about how to deal with sentimental clutter in my new book, The Clutter Fix, coming out in Fall 2022, so watch for that!)
13. How do I get family on board?
This is both an easy answer (because it’s simple) and a hard answer (because it’s hard to swallow) at once. But here goes…
The truth is you don’t get your family on board.
Not in the same way you will be/are committed to a clutter-free house. They will never want it as much as you do. They will never need it for their sanity as much as you will. (A clutter-free house will definitely help them, just not as much as it will help you.)
YOU are the one setting the scene and leading this battle. You’re the one who will need to put systems in place and assign homes to all the things. You are the one giving the directions.
And yes, dear sweet momma, you WILL have to remind the big and little people in your house to pick up after themselves and to return things to where they belong. And you will feel like you’re nagging them (and you may very well be nagging). BUT IT IS IMPORTANT for your sanity to do this.
You can make the whole process easier on all of you if you label and assign homes to things. If you keep your home simple and uncrowded. If you build in rhythms for tidying up. And if you don’t expect perfection 100% of the time.
You should expect your family to help keep the house tidy since they live there too. But having them care as much about it as you do, just isn’t going to happen. AND THAT’S OKAY.
14. How do I deal with paper clutter?
Honestly, paper clutter is still something we’re trying to wrangle here. For us, it’s mostly because none of us like filing. But here’s what we’ve found helpful at our house to keep paper clutter at bay:
- We’ve slowed the incoming paper by unsubscribing from mailing lists.
- We’ve put a sticky note in our community mailbox (you can do it too, or put a note on your personal mailbox) that says “no fliers, please.”
- We get almost all our bills digitally, except the ones that fluctuate greatly or come at irregular intervals. I like paper copies of those.
- We also assigned two wall file holders for paper – one for long-term filing that needs to go away in the filing cabinet downstairs and one for receipts or papers that only need to be kept for a few weeks.
- And we toss any recyclable things into the recycling bin as soon as they enter the house.
For the bills that come in, I enter the amount into our budget spreadsheet on my phone right away. It only takes a few seconds and then I can put the paper into the folder for filing rather than letting it sit around for days.
15. What about the stuff I need to keep just in case?
Just in case. By that, I assume you mean just in case you need it someday.
Well, my friend, that may be prudent and wise of you. Unless you don’t actually have the space to keep all those “just in cases.”
If you haven’t used something in a year or more, then the chances of you needing it in the future are slim to none. And honestly, if it’s something other than a flashlight for a power outage or bandaids, then throw it out and buy a new one if you ever do need that thing!
Try to remind yourself that you have everything you need for today, right now. If that’s not been the case in the past or you’re holding onto things that won’t serve a real purpose in the case of an emergency, let them go. The stress they are causing you – and likely the memories they’re bringing up of past or perceived lack in the future – are not helping you! Let them go. And take a deep breath.
And remember God’s got you. Just look at these Bible verses if you doubt it:
“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)
“Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!” (Luke 12:24)
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Philippians 4:6)
“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
There are even more Bible verses about God’s Provision right here if you need them.
16. What do you do with everything?
After determining what you need to get rid of, there are only three options for what to do with your things. You can:
- Keep them.
- Donate them.
- Trash them.
If something is beautiful, useful, or extraordinarily sentimental in value, you keep it. If they’re not, you can either donate them or trash them.
How do you know whether to donate or trash something?
If something is showing major signs of wear and tear, you should trash it. If it’s still in good shape, donate it. It’s as simple as that! Also, try to remove the trash and donation items from your sight and your house asap. That way you won’t be tempted to change your mind, or simply create more clutter in another area of your home with the bags and boxes of things to get rid of.
What About Selling Items?
Technically you could sell items that you no longer want, and if you really need the money, then go ahead and do that. BUT this too tends to slow down the decluttering process because you have to take the time to price, list, and deliver/arrange for pickup of the items you’re selling. Sometimes the simplest route of donating these things is the best option.
5 Essential Decluttering Tips for the Home
01| Forget about “sunk costs”
In economics, sunk costs mean that you’ve spent money on something, but you can’t get that money back.
It can be tempting when purging and decluttering to think about what you spent on something and hold onto it solely because of that. But instead, you need to think about the value the item will bring (or take away by causing stress) to your life, going forward.
02| Think about when you last used it
When you’re clearing out clutter, think about when the last time was that you used something. If it was a year or more ago, chances are you won’t need it any time soon and you can safely get rid of it.
03| Start with small projects for quick wins
Getting quick wins under your belt (in anything, not just decluttering) helps you to gain confidence in your skills, abilities, and decision-making.
When you’re decluttering, start with small projects, like a single drawer or shelf so you feel like you accomplished something. This is a bit like Dave Ramsey’s baby step number one where you pay off the lowest balance debt first.
04| Take before and after photos
Much like taking before and after photos of a room makeover, taking before and after photos of a decluttered space is motivating and helps you to see how far you’ve come.
05| Seek out a fresh pair of eyes
If you are struggling to see what needs decluttering, view your home as a first-time visitor and make note of where the clutter is. Or have a trusted friend or family member come over and help you decide what is cluttered and what can be cleaned up.
Related: The 27 Best Decluttering Tips of All Time (on Apartment Therapy)
Where to Start Decluttering Your Home
How do you declutter the house? Well, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time, of course! Although, I personally don’t know why anyone would want to eat an elephant!
The point is the best way to deal with a really big job is one little bit at a time.
I also recommend that you start decluttering your home with small spaces first. That way you can feel the elation of a win faster. Maybe try the junk drawer. Or the front hall closet. And then move on from there. And don’t start with decluttering sentimental items. That tends to slow the decluttering process down because your emotions take over. Save those things until you’ve got some decluttering practice and some clutter-free wins under your belt.
The 3 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself as You Declutter the House
As you go about decluttering and organizing your home, there are three things you need to ask of all of your things.
1. Is it beautiful?
Of course, we don’t just want a clutter-free home. We want one that is lovely too. If you love something because of its beauty – like you’d actually go out and purchase it in the store today – and you have the space for it, it can stay.
A note: beauty is subjective. So, what I may find beautiful, you may not. And vice versa. Only you can decide the answer to this question in your house.
2. Is it useful?
There are a few things that can JUST be beautiful in your home, but there will be many more things that serve a purpose. They are useful items. If you genuinely need something, it can stay.
Now along with this question, there is the additional question of “is this the only thing that can be useful in its way”? If you have somehow collected 3 can openers over the years, they’re technically all useful…but you don’t need three can openers! Get rid of two and keep the best one.
3. Is it sentimental?
This one can be a bit of a tricky question to answer. We’ve likely all been given things from family or friends that we didn’t choose to have. But for one reason or another, they hold sentimental value.
For example, my Grandmother’s China is lovely. It’s classic white bone china with a gold rim. But until recently, I didn’t have the space for it, so it lived in a Rubbermaid tote at my sister’s until I had room to store it. If you have something similar, you will need to decide whether to keep it based on space.
Another example is from our house. Years ago, I was given my other Grandmother’s antique deacon’s bench. I kept it for a long time. I loved it because I adored her it was hers. But when my style and the size of my house changed, I realized it just wasn’t working for us anymore. Now my sister has it.
The sentimental question is something ONLY you can answer. But you also have to ask yourself, are you keeping something out of guilt? Or a genuine desire to keep it?
How to Declutter and Organize Your Home in 7 Simple Steps
The best way to declutter is to tackle your home one room at a time.
The overall steps for decluttering and organizing are the same, no matter which room you’re working on.
01| Empty out the space
Remove everything from the space you’re trying to organize. Dump it all out. Create a huge pile if necessary.
*If this is too overwhelming for you, work in sections or zones. Empty one drawer or cupboard at a time. Or work on one corner of the room at a time.
02| Sort like with like
Next, start sorting. Place like with like. Don’t try to be tidy with this. The mess actually has to get worse before it can get better. Really. Just create piles of similar things.
If you’re cleaning a playroom, for example, make little heaps of toy cars, dinosaurs, dolls, etc. If it’s the kitchen pantry, put all the crackers, cereal, soup, etc. in their own ‘piles’.
03| Edit and eliminate what you aren’t keeping
After your things are sorted, decide what you want to keep and what you don’t.
Get rid of anything that’s broken and unworthy of fixing. Go ahead, toss it. You don’t need it. Next, donate to local and national non-profits any items that are in good shape but that you haven’t used in a while. Then sort by season, color, name, or any other way you need to organize what’s left in a particular space.
04| Assign a home for what you are keeping
All the items you decide to keep need to have a specific place or home within your home.
Once you have sorted and eliminated unwanted items, you should have a pretty good idea of how much space you need for each grouping.
- Assign homes in cupboards and on shelves for these things.
- Assign the things you use often to places within easy reach.
- Things that are used infrequently can go up higher in a slightly less accessible spot.
05| Shop for organization – bins, baskets, and other containers
This step is my personal favorite.
After your ‘keep items’ have a place, you can shop for pretty containers, baskets, labels, or whatever you need to get and stay organized.
But be sure to do it after the first three steps have been completed. You don’t truly know what you need until you have sorted, eliminated, and assigned homes for your things. It’s also a bit of a puzzle to figure out what fits where.
Make sure you measure the height, width, and depth of shelves and cupboards before buying baskets and bins though – it’s no fun to choose them all only to realize they don’t fit the way you thought they would.
Don’t forget to shop your own house too for containers to corral all the mess and then check places like the dollar store and craft store for some great storage solutions.
06| Label it and put everything away
Use a Cricut to make pretty labels, or use a label maker for simple labels. Heck, you can even use a piece of masking tape and a marker if money is tight (try cutting the tape straight to at least make it look tidy). Just be sure to label everything so that you (and everyone else in your house) know where to put things away.
I’m one of those people who has finally – after years of not – decided it’s much better for my personal sanity to come downstairs to a tidy kitchen in the morning. It means that, yes, we’re loading dishes into the dishwasher and wiping down counters before bed (because we have teenagers, I feel like I do this a thousand times a day!) when we’re tired, but it also means that my morning doesn’t feel like it’s started ‘behind the 8 ball’ in a mess. I also put away the remotes and fluff the pillows on the couch before bed too. It just makes me smile to wake up to an organized and pretty version of our spaces.
07| Maintain your spaces by putting things away when you’re done with them
You now need to put things in their place when you are finished with them. If you can’t put things back right away, make sure you do it at the end of every day. It shouldn’t take more than five minutes in each room to get everything back in its place every day. You just have to do it.
For example, we used to keep our spices on a tiered rack that Dean made for our last kitchen. But after we renovated this kitchen, there wasn’t room for it anymore, so we switched to small ledges on the wall instead. The basics of our spice organization worked, we kept the jars sorted in alphabetical order, but we needed to tweak the other part of the spice organization.
Adjust your organization methods as needed. There’s no need to stick with systems that aren’t working for you or your family.
That’s the method I use throughout our house. If your house is chronically disorganized or if you feel overwhelmed by all the mess, just get started. Start with a drawer or a cupboard. There’s so much satisfaction in an organized home!
How to Declutter Your Home: Room by Room Instructions
The general method for decluttering and organizing is the same for every room. But often it can be helpful to have more detailed instructions for each room and space. Below are the room-by-room decluttering your home instructions.
Often our entries and/or mudrooms become a dumping ground for everything as we come and go.
To declutter your entry or mudroom:
- start by tossing anything that is clearly garbage or recycling
- then sort through coats and shoes to see who’s still actually wearing what
- donate any items that are in good shape and toss anything that’s irreparable
- assign hooks or a portion of the closet to each person
- place a tray on a table for mail if you find that mail is collecting in your entry or mudroom.
- put up hooks or put out a bowl for keys or other small items.
Bedrooms have a way of getting cluttered quickly because we tend to be in and out of them when we’re in a rush.
To declutter your bedroom, empty out each drawer, one at a time, and ask yourself:
- Is this item still in good shape?
- Does it fit?
- Have I worn it lately?
- Does it make me feel good?
If the answer is no to one or more questions, get rid of it. Put everything else away in an organized fashion. Sort through your clothes, shoes, and jewelry the same way.
Then clear off surface areas, like dressers and nightstands by asking yourself if each item belongs there. Put it away if it does not. It’s okay to leave a few things out, like a lamp, a candle, or a vase of flowers and the book you’re currently reading. But try not to let your surfaces be covered with things like clean or dirty clothes!
There is a special kind of relief that comes with cleaning out your closets.
Declutter your closet by going through each item and asking yourself the same questions you did of the things in your dresser:
- Is this item still in good shape?
- Does it fit?
- Have I worn it lately?
- Does it make me feel good?
If you answer no to any questions, get rid of said item. Then put the keepers back in the closet in an orderly fashion.
Use closed bins or totes to store out-of-season clothes if that helps you stay more organized.
Living Room/Family Room
Living rooms and family rooms are often cluttered because they see so much traffic and things don’t get put where they belong. Which can make it hard to unwind in the space.
Go through everything that’s out of place on surfaces or in piles and put it away where it belongs or discard it.
Then take a good look at what you use your living room or family room for.
- Is it reading?
- Watching tv?
- Playing board games?
- Playing with toys?
Whatever you use the room for, make sure you create adequate storage for the things you need for those activities: shelving, storage ottomans, baskets, whatever. Then put things away in their homes each time you’re finished with them and encourage your family to do the same.
You can reduce the visual clutter in living rooms and family rooms even further by hiding cables and cords behind things or by tying them out of the way.
Whether their own room or combined with another space in your home, home offices are not going away any time soon. And they can be a sore spot when it comes to clutter.
Sort through your papers. Recycle or shred any that you don’t need anymore. File the ones that you need to keep in paper files or scan them and store them electronically.
Clear your desktop surface and organize your desk drawers (if you have them). You really only need a few things out like a lamp, your computer and necessary daily-used items. This is especially true if your home office is in your kitchen, living room, or dining room. Store like with like in the drawers and eliminate excess.
Corral cords with zip ties or even just twist ties or bread clips. Run them down a leg of your desk or along the corner of the wall to keep them from looking cluttered.
In the kitchen, start by decluttering the kitchen counter. Remove all the unnecessary stuff and sort through it. Toss the garbage and put the rest away where it belongs.
Then tackle the rest of the kitchen in zones:
- Baking supplies and pans can go in a higher cabinet unless you bake daily.
- Cans and boxes should be stored in the pantry in a way that makes sense for you and your family. Toss any items that are past their expiration date.
- Saran wrap, foil, and Ziploc baggies should have their own space, as should Tupperware and Rubbermaid containers. Throw away or recycle any containers or lids that don’t have their match.
- Sort through your small appliances and donate any that you don’t use regularly. Then put them all in the same cupboard.
- Go through your pots and pans and keep only the ones you use regularly. Store any that you must keep for special occasions (like a turkey roaster) in the basement or pantry if you don’t have room in the pots and pans cupboard. The utensils, cookware, and even your most-used spices should be kept near the stove.
- Purge the refrigerator of all expired items and old leftovers. Wipe down each shelf and drawer. Then put food items back in in a way that makes sense for you.
Pull out everything and toss the excess. Combine things that have only a little bit left like the shampoo you always use. Clear off the surfaces like the counters and shelves.
Go through the toiletries and medicine cabinet. Then sort like with like – soaps with soaps, shampoos with shampoos, razors with razors, etc.
Finally, decide what will go where and grab any storage containers that you need. The dollar store is a great place to grab bathroom storage things like plastic bins and drawer dividers. Then put everything away, with the most used items in the most accessible places like the top drawer.
Each laundry room is different and people often choose to store different things in their laundry room. For example, before we built and organized our basement pantry, we kept extra food that wouldn’t fit in the kitchen in our laundry room because they are in close proximity to each other. Now we just keep the cleaning supplies and extra paper goods like toilet paper and paper towels there.
To declutter your laundry room, first, decide what does and doesn’t belong in YOUR laundry room. Next, put away anything that doesn’t belong.
Then use baskets and bins to store and sort your laundry room.
Basements and attics are often the dumping ground for all things. Family “treasures,” old decor, and all the “I’ll get to it later” type stuff. When you’re decluttering these spaces you may need to set aside a good deal of time to wade through everything.
To tackle the basement or attic storage space, divide the room into zones and then go through each zone, one at a time.
Toss the unneeded, broken items in a box or bag just for trashing. Then sort into “keep” and “donate/sell” boxes or totes. Remove the donate/sell containers (make sure to get rid of their contents asap) and then put the keepers away in containers. Use Rubbermaid totes with lids if water or critters may pose a problem.
The garage is another one of those spaces that can be tough to keep a handle on. Much like pantries when so much is in and out all the time and there are many categories of contents, garages need good systems in place to keep the clutter at bay.
To declutter your garage, you need to empty everything out. You can work in zones if that makes it easier. Toss any trash or obviously useless items.
Then sort the remaining items into categories, like sports equipment, lawn care, car care, etc.
Finally, implement storage and organization systems like bins or cabinets for each category.
The Bad News About Decluttering Your Home That No One Tells You
I’m not going to BS you and tell you that decluttering doesn’t take some effort. You have to set aside time to clean out those closets and drawers and bedrooms and living rooms.
But do you want to know the one thing that no one wants to tell you about decluttering your home?
No one tells you that the big decluttering purge – the how to declutter – is not the whole solution to your home problem.
Unfortunately, you can’t just declutter and purge once, and then your house is perfect forever. Even if you become more strict with what comes into your house, inevitably drop zones and closets and drawers will collect old things, broken things, and all manner of papers. That is just life.
There are actually three parts to a clutter-free home…the actual decluttering that I showed you how to do above, plus setting up organizational systems for your things, and the daily/weekly/monthly/seasonal maintenance that comes with good home habits and routines.
Your systems, routines, and habits are just as important as getting the clutter out, to begin with. You need to develop habits and routines that will help you KEEP the clutter out. And I’m going to share oh so much about those in the next little while.
The Good News About Decluttering Your Home
The good thing about decluttering your home though is that once you get your home cleaned out, there is a huge relief. Like a big weight lifted off your shoulders.
One of my good friends is always telling me I’m good at decluttering and getting rid of things. Which may be true. But I’m good at it because I can FEEL it when the house is crowded and messy and cluttered. And I don’t like the feeling.
So, every so often I set aside time (or just spur of the moment dump a drawer out!) to go through things. And my house FEELS so good because of the work I put in to make it feel that way.
I know that you can do it too, Beautiful! You really can!
You are smart and capable and you can organize your home efficiently. You’ve got this decluttering your home thing!
More Decluttering Your Home Tips:
- 50 Things You Should “Throw Away” Today + Free Printable Checklist
- Quickly Declutter These 10 Clutter Hotspots in 15 Minutes or Less
- 30 Things That Make Your Home Look Cluttered
- What Not to Do When Decluttering – 7 Things To Avoid + A New Quiz
- 7 Reasons You Have Clutter – And How To Prevent It
- 9 Creative Ways to Easily Declutter Your Home Right Now