Top 10 Clutter Hot Spots—and Quick Tips for Tackling Them

With just 15 minutes a day, a smart plan, and some pro tips, you can start to control the clutter that, up until now, has been controlling you.

  1. Clutter-Free

    Organized Closet

    When it comes to clearing out the mess, many of us fear we'll need to commit a significant block of time to finish the job. Not so, counters Donna Smallin, author of The One-Minute Organizer: 500 Tips for Getting Your Life in Order. "Set a simple goal—one shelf, one drawer at a time," Smallin says. "Just 15 minutes a day adds up to seven hours each month." Here are some of her specific clutter-clearing tips.

  2. Entry

    DIY Entryway

    Set up clutter collectors where items naturally tend to gather, like a bowl on a table for keys and loose change, a set of tiered baskets for mail and school paperwork, a coat tree or wall hooks for outerwear and backpacks. Place a basket or shoe rack near the door to hold shoes.

  3. Coffee Table

    Coffee Table Ideas

    Store remote controls in a decorative basket, box or tin on a shelf when not using them. Establish a house rule to place newspapers into the recycling bin at the end of each day, whether they've been read or not. If you're in the market for a new coffee table, choose a design that can double as storage space.

  4. Countertops

    Clean Countertops

    Clear countertops and put back only what you use at least twice a week. Store everything else in cabinets and drawers. Place items that you infrequently need, such as mixers, juicers, or ice cream makers, in more out-of-the-way areas.

  5. Kitchen Drawers

    Kitchen Organization

    Remove all items from every drawer. Throw away expired coupons and other trash, and put back only the stuff you need in the kitchen. Store items close to where you use them: utensils near the stove, food storage wraps near the refrigerator, and silverware near the dishwasher or table.

  6. Refrigerator


    Designate certain shelves or areas of your refrigerator for storing leftovers to increase the likelihood that they won't be forgotten. Label and date all leftover containers (keep labels and markers handy). Corral similar items, such as snacks or condiment jars, in a large plastic container that you easily can pull forward.

  7. Desktop

    Organized Home Office

    Clear your desktop and put back only what you use daily. Create a main storage area for office supplies in a drawer, cabinet or closet near your workspace. Avoid placing folders or papers directly onto your desk unless you are physically working on them.

  8. Bathroom Counters

    Bathroom Storage

    Clear off bathroom countertops. Put back the soap and anything else that absolutely must remain out. Store everything else in cabinets and drawers. Place daily toiletries in handled baskets or bags for easy storage and retrieval.

  9. Medicine Cabinet

    Storing Medicine

    Remove everything from your medicine cabinet. Throw away any expired prescriptions and over-the-counter products. Toss makeup that you never wear or is older than one year. Place back what only you need, leaving enough space on the shelves for future storage. For information on safely discarding old medicines, contact your local sanitation department.

  10. Clothes Closet

    Clean Closet

    Starting at one end of your closet, work your way across and remove any items that don't fit, don't make you feel good when wearing them, or you haven't worn in the past year. Donate them now and enjoy the extra space in your closet. If you're not comfortable doing that, store them with your out-of-season clothes and reconsider donating them later when you see them again in six months.

  11. Kids' Craft Tables

    Craft Storage

    Consolidate art supplies in a box or basket that can be stored away when not being used. To organize papers and your children's artwork, pick up a few large, clean pizza boxes and store them under a bed. Frame favorite pieces to decorate kids' rooms, replacing older art with newer creations every now and then. When it's time to recycle, take photos of your children with their artwork or school projects. Put the photos in an album and let go of the physical items.

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