How to Declutter Your Home Once and for All
Transform your home into a tidy and peaceful oasis by following these decluttering tips.
No matter how hard we try to keep our homes tidy and organized, clutter inevitably creeps in over time. Not only is it unsightly, but clutter can actually lead to increased stress levels. Decluttering your entire home can be a stressful process in and of itself, especially when it comes to purging sentimental items. But when you’re done, you’ll have more space, less stuff, and a greater sense of calm. The following are useful tips and tricks for how to declutter your home.
Important Decluttering Tips to Keep in Mind
- Make a plan. The first step in decluttering is to make a detailed plan. Create a decluttering checklist that outlines each space that needs to be decluttered.
- Take your time. Decluttering takes time and effort, and it’s easy to become distracted by other decluttering tasks. Tackle one space at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
- Make three piles. As a general rule, sort things into three piles: things you intend to keep, items you can donate, and unusable stuff you should dispose of.
- Create subcategories as needed. Within your “keep” pile, make a separate pile for items that need to be repaired, tailored, or mended before they can be used.
- Employ the 80/20 rule. According to the Pareto principle, 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of action. Decide which decluttering tasks will make the biggest impact, and start there.
- Finish by cleaning. While it may be tempting to clean as you go, wait until you’ve decluttered an entire room before cleaning it.
How to Declutter Your Home by Room
While the decluttering process will be similar in different rooms, here are some specific tips on how to get rid of clutter in every room of your home.
- Establish the essentials. To declutter your living room, start by assessing what you really need. The living room is often the most used space in a home and can easily become cluttered with the detritus of everyday life. Pare it back to the essentials (furniture, electronics, etc.) and gather everything else in a pile to determine whether it actually belongs in the space.
- Relocate misplaced items. Many items cluttering a living room may simply belong somewhere else in the house; return these items to the places they belong.
- Ensure everything has a place. Living rooms are home to unattractive essentials like remote controls and TV cables. Reduce the appearance of clutter by corralling and hiding wires and using small organizers on the coffee table to store remotes and other living room must-haves.
- Toss expired food. The first step towards kitchen clutter removal is to throw out expired food from the fridge, freezer, and pantry to clear out valuable storage space.
- Purge unused items. Go through the dishware, glassware, cookware, and cooking utensils from your drawers, cabinets, and kitchen countertop. Determine which items you actually need and use regularly, and donate anything you haven’t used in a year or two.
- Store infrequently used items elsewhere. You don’t have to part with that fondue set or ice cream maker, but they don’t need to take up valuable kitchen real estate. Consider finding a place for them in the basement, garage, or attic.
- Organize based on frequency of use. When putting your kitchen essentials away, store everyday must-haves where they can be easily accessed, such as hidden inside an appliance garage, and relegate special occasion items to upper or lower shelves that are trickier to reach.
- Create a restful oasis. A bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary where you can relax at the end of a long day. Try to pare down the items kept in your home’s bedrooms to the absolute essentials. Use closed storage—like nightstand drawers or under-bed storage bins—to keep necessary items that you don’t want on display.
- Tackle the closets. Going through clothing is one of the most intimidating tasks when decluttering a home. Get rid of anything that you haven’t worn in over a year, as well as anything that doesn’t currently fit. Make separate piles for closet clutter you can sell, donate, and recycle/throw away.
- Make laundry simple. One of the most common culprits for bedroom clutter is laundry. Make sure your laundry baskets are easy to access so you won’t be tempted to leave dirty socks on the floor, and establish a spot to neatly store clothes that you intend to wear again.
- Get rid of unnecessary items. This includes expired prescription medications, old cosmetics, towels that are no longer needed or used, and beyond. Leave these items out so that they can be donated to charity, or disposed of immediately if they’re unfit for donation.
- Remove duplicates. If you have multiple items that serve the same purpose (for example, several bottles of sunscreen), choose one or two that work best for you and get rid of the rest.
- Create a new organizational system. Bathrooms store many small items, so it’s important to establish a system that will keep things organized. Group like items together by category and ensure your most frequently used items are easily accessible.
- Declutter your desktop. Create a serene work environment by clearing every item from your desktop and determining what belongs there and what can be stored elsewhere or discarded.
- Clear out desk drawers. Take everything out of your desk drawers and filing cabinets, and get rid of unneeded paperwork (take care to shred any sensitive documents you aren’t keeping). Think about which documents can be stored digitally; consider scanning and uploading those to a hard drive or cloud storage, if possible.
- Create a filing system. If you don’t already have one that works for you, create a filing system for important personal and/or work documents that uses a labeling system, ensuring everything can be easily found and accessed as needed.
- Remove anything that doesn’t belong. Laundry rooms can easily become catchall spaces for household cleaning supplies and other clutter. Start by culling everything that belongs elsewhere.
- Add storage. Laundry rooms sometimes lack storage, resulting in detergent and fabric softener being kept in inconvenient places. Add shelving in order to provide a place for all of the necessary laundry supplies.
- Use compartmentalized hampers. Ensure laundry is properly separated and easier to sort by using dedicated hampers for darks, colors, whites, and/or fabric types.
- Add a single sock basket. Collect lone, unmatching socks in a designated spot by adding a basket just for that purpose.
- Purge broken and unused items. The first step in decluttering any space is determining which items are actually used frequently and which can be donated or sold. Sort through everything in the garage and make piles for each category. Get rid of broken tools and equipment or make a plan to have them repaired.
- Clean up. After establishing what you’re going to keep, do a thorough clean-up of the entire space.
- Get organized. Sort through your remaining items and organize them by type: tools, sporting equipment, seasonal decorations, etc. Label storage bins so that it’s easy to determine what’s inside them. Add shelving units as necessary in order to store bins in an orderly manner.
Basement and Attic
- Divide and conquer. Cleaning and organizing basements and attics can be overwhelming because they’re large spaces often filled with junk. Make the task feel more manageable by dividing these rooms into distinct areas, and tackle a single corner or shelf at a time.
- Make the most of the space. Unfinished basements and attics provide prime organizational opportunities since they’re typically large, unused spaces. Visualize how you can take advantage of the space and make a plan for how to use it for storage.
- Save sentimental items for last. Basements and attics are where many homeowners store old photos, mementos, and other meaningful items. Since it may be difficult to sort through and discard some of these items, it’s best to tackle this task at the very end for extra time to reflect and hone your decluttering instincts.
Tips for Keeping Your Home Clutter-Free
- A place for everything and everything in its place. Once you’ve discarded the items you no longer need, ensure all of the items left have a designated place. As much as possible, put things back where they go after they are used.
- Try the one-in, one-out policy. Whenever you buy something new, get rid of something in the same room in order to prevent clutter from building.
- Use the one-minute rule. If a tidying task takes under a minute—like putting dirty clothes in the hamper—do it right away rather than leaving it for later.
- Declutter often. To keep your home organized and tidy, you’ll need to declutter on a regular basis. Luckily, once you’ve done a large purge, your regular decluttering should be quick and easy.
- Maintain a donation bin. Create a box or bin somewhere in your house that’s designated for donations.