Interior Cleaning

The Most Important Organizing Projects for Homeowners

When your home is organized, it's not only easier for you and your family to function smoothly, it’s also better for your emotional well-being. Numerous studies have shown a link between clutter and anxiety; when your surroundings are out of control, you feel out of control. Yet clutter persists, in part because many people are intimidated by the monumental task of cleaning it up. Others mistakenly believe that being organized is a personality trait that you either have or you don’t. The reality is, anyone can create a more organized home, and getting clutter under control doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing task. In fact, the best way to get organized without driving yourself crazy is to break the job down into smaller components. Get started with these 15 home organizing projects, along with handy products that make the undertaking easier. These don't take a lot of time, but they'll make a big difference in the appearance, functionality, and comfort level of your home.

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Look Under the Sink

What’s dark, small, full of pipes, and a notorious breeding ground for clutter? The cabinet underneath your kitchen sink! Bring calm to the chaos by tossing all those grocery bags that seem to multiply down there overnight. Then, add a hook or two to the inside of the cabinet door to hold dish towels and scrub brushes. Finish up by discarding any unneeded products and supplies stored in the cabinet, and then arrange the remaining items neatly.

Related: The 30 Easiest Organizing Tasks Ever

Check Out the Medicine Chest

If an avalanche of toiletries, grooming tools, and medications rains down whenever you open the medicine cabinet, it’s time for a purge. First, dispose of empty bottles, expired products, and toiletries that will never be used. After you’ve winnowed things down, use storage solutions to organize the must-haves. You can create your own by upcycling mason jars to hold hairpins, cotton balls, or toothbrushes, or you can purchase an organizer like this one from iDesign. Available on Amazon; $26.

Tame the Linen Closet

Over time, linen closets can become packed to the gills. Clear out the clutter by throwing worn-out towels and sheets into the rag bin or donating them to a local rescue shelter to help keep animals comfy and clean while they wait for forever homes. Keep only two sets of sheets per bed—add an extra if you have a young child who has occasional nighttime accidents—and three full sets of towels (bath towel, hand towel, and washcloth) for each family member. Add one beach towel for each person, and you’re done.

Clean Up Your Cleaning Supplies

Your cleaning supplies are there to help you maintain your house, not add to household clutter. Gather together all your supplies, take stock of what you have, then safely dispose of anything you don’t intend to use—whether it’s an air freshener with a smell you don’t like or a pet stain remover that has outlived a beloved pet. Once you’ve identified everything you’re keeping, wipe down the bottles or tubes to remove dust or sticky residue. Place the products on a clean shelf or caddy, and organize them according to frequency of use. For instance, bathroom cleansers should be within easy reach, while silver or jewelry polishes can occupy less valuable real estate. 

Tidy the Junk Drawer

Don’t eliminate your junk drawer completely. Where else are you going to store those odds and ends that simply have no other logical home? That doesn’t mean, however, that your junk drawer should be a hopeless jumble that prevents you from finding what you’re looking for. Once you’ve thrown out any actual trash—broken items, old takeout menus, chargers for electronics you no longer own—use a drawer organizer to neatly arrange what’s left.

Spruce Up Your Foyer

There’s a fine line between a front entry that contains everything you need when you head out the door, and one that looks like a cluttered mess. Take control of your comings and goings by setting aside a weekend afternoon to empty out the console table, storage bench, or coat closet and start fresh. Determine which items are entryway essentials. If something is merely taking up space, move it to a more suitable location, such as the home office, garage, or off-season storage. Repeat this process as needed throughout the year as the seasons change. 

Related: 11 Things to Keep by the Front Door

Round Up Your Kids' Toys

Children’s rooms present some of the biggest decluttering challenges. Restore order to your child’s space by getting toys under control. First, box up any toys and clothes that your child has outgrown and donate them to your favorite charity. If your child is young, consider packing away half of the remaining toys and switching them out every month or so; this reduces clutter and helps prevent boredom. Depending on their age, have your children help you with the task so they can learn responsibility, tidiness, practicality, and other important life skills.

Refresh Your Tub

Half-empty bottles of shampoo and conditioner, mushy bars of soap, rusty razors, and germ-laden loofahs—if this describes your tub or shower, then you’re not only bathing in a cluttered space, but also providing the perfect hiding spots for mold and mildew. Get your bathing area shipshape by creating designated spots for your supplies and grooming aids. If your bathtub or shower doesn’t have built-in storage, add some in the form of a corner caddy or over-the-shower-head organizer. Both give you plenty of room for your shampoo, conditioner, face cleanser, razor, and other necessities.

Organize the Pantry

In many homes, the back of the pantry is a black hole that swallows up shelf-stable food items until they expire, leading to food waste, overbuying, and busted budgets. The solution? Pull everything out of your pantry and then sort through items one by one. Throw out anything that has expired or that your family will never eat. Transfer cereals, flours, rice, and other grains to labeled plastic or glass storage jars to keep them fresh. Avoid storing food items in the furthest reaches of the pantry; instead, maximize the vertical space by outfitting tall shelves with cupboard racks or hanging a storage unit to the back of the pantry door.

Related: 30 Ways to Get Organized for $5 or Less

Make Room in the Fridge

Make more space and reduce the risks of food poisoning by pulling everything out of your fridge and freezer, including condiments. (Take this opportunity to clean drawers, shelves, and other inside surfaces.) Throw out anything that is no longer fresh, any expired or freezer-burned items, and anything unlikely ever to be eaten. Put away the keepers, designating zones for different food categories: for instance, dairy together on one refrigerator shelf, meats together in one section of the freezer, and leftovers toward the front of the upper fridge shelf where you’ll be sure to see them.

Spice It Up

Like all groceries, spices have an expiration date, and once they pass that point, flavor quickly diminishes. As a general rule, whole spices are good for up to four years, ground spices for up to three years, and dried leaves just a year. Go through all your spices and herbs, tossing any that are beyond their expiration dates. If you don’t know the expiration date, give the spice a sniff. If there is little fragrance or a dusty smell, it’s no longer good. Once you’ve gone through your spice collection, devise a new DIY storage solution to keep them organized.

Related: 8 Foolproof Places to Find Extra Storage Space at Home

Declutter the Bathroom Sink

A muddle of bottles, tubes, jars, and sprays around your bathroom sink slows down your morning routine and contributes to an atmosphere of stress. Regain control by paring down to only those items that you use more than once each day, such as your toothbrush and toothpaste, hand soap, and moisturizer. Keep hairstyling tools and other grooming necessities in bathroom vanity drawers or cabinets.

Keep Socks Together

Far too many sock drawers are overstuffed with hosiery that’s past its prime and lonely socks missing their partners. Make your morning routine faster and easier by whittling down your sock drawer, keeping only those pairs that deserve a place on your feet. Socks missing mates and socks with holes or worn-out elastic can be reborn as cleaning rags, draft dodgers, hot packs, and more. Keep your remaining hosiery neatly organized and preserve the life of elastic bands by adopting a new folding method.

Pair Up Your Shoes

If your shoes live in a tumbled heap on the floor of your bedroom closet—or even worse, on your bedroom floor—it’s time for an organizational overhaul. First, get rid of shoes that are uncomfortable, hopelessly stained, or otherwise damaged, or that simply no longer suit your lifestyle. Then, buy or DIY a new shoe storage solution that works for your style and space.

Make Space for Reading

Reading is a wonderful way to relax, broaden your mind, or learn a new skill. But the benefits of reading are no excuse for littering your house with out-of-control piles of books and magazines. If you have more reading material than shelf space, box up anything you’ve finished and don’t intend to read again, and donate it all to a local charity, shelter, or hospital. Organize your remaining collection by topic, title, or author—whatever system works best for you.

Clear the Clutter

Getting organized will make your house run more smoothly, and make you feel better, too.