If you’re feeling like the items in your home have taken over, you’re not alone. Most people have more than a little junk lying around, and it can feel overwhelming and difficult to tame the mess. But when your home is disorganized or overflowing with clutter, it can make you feel unproductive and even stressed out.
That’s why decluttering your home is such an important undertaking. Doing so will leave you with an organized and efficient space where you can relax and recharge so that you can be more productive. You’ll probably notice an improvement in your mood and a better sense of calm overall.
In this guide, we’ll help you begin decluttering your home in a way that is achievable and sustainable.
Top Tips for Making Decluttering a Little More Bearable
Before you get started, take a moment to read through our top tips for making your decluttering project easier and more bearable. Keeping these in mind as you go through your home will help you get through everything without burning out and leaving the home unfinished.
Begin in Your Most Used Rooms
We recommend starting your decluttering project in your most high-traffic room so that you will begin to feel the benefits immediately. This will help you gain some momentum for the other areas and show you how much of a difference it makes in your life.
For most people, this room will probably be the living room or the kitchen.
Start with Small Areas
If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of decluttering an entire room, that’s okay. You don’t have to do the whole room at one time.
Instead, choose small areas that will make a big impact. The areas you begin with can be as small as a single drawer or shelf that you use frequently – whatever you can reasonably expect to achieve without giving up. Getting that one area done will help you feel a sense of accomplishment which you can draw on for your next area when you’re ready.
Clear Flat Surfaces
No matter which room of the home you’re in, flat surfaces are a magnet for clutter. Bedside tables often get piled up, kitchen counters begin to house many things that could be stored elsewhere, and shelves get stuffed.
As you go through a room, identify all of the flat surfaces and try to keep them as clear as possible. This doesn’t mean having empty shelves, of course, but try to keep only what’s necessary or stylish. Carefully selecting some pretty objects to display can help reduce clutter, as intentionally styled areas will be less likely to attract piles of unneeded items.
Fix or Get Rid of Broken Items
If you find an item that you’ve hidden away because it isn’t working properly, either fix it immediately or get it out of your house. If you don’t fix it right away, it will end up in the same place, unused.
Don’t worry about the Cost
When determining whether to keep or get rid of an item, don’t worry about the cost. Unless you’re looking at a rare and expensive item, what matters most is whether you need it in your home.
In some cases, you may want to sell the item to recoup some of the cost, and that’s fine. But do so right away – otherwise, the item will continue to sit in your home.
Think about Whether You Actually Use It
When was the last time you used that item? If it was more than six months ago, you probably don’t need it. If it’s been over a year, you definitely don’t need it. If you have an item you use once a year, every year, then perhaps you can borrow or rent it the next time you do need it (except for seasonal decorations like Christmas trees, etc.).
Choose Storage Solutions Which Fit Your Personality and Style
When deciding how to organize the items that will remain in your home, make sure to choose storage solutions that fit both your personality and your décor. If you’re the type of person who will never look under your bed again, then putting seasonal or infrequently used items under the bed probably isn’t for you no matter how much advice there is to do it.
And if you need extra storage in rooms where it will be visible, you probably don’t want plastic bins. Instead, you might opt for wire or woven baskets which can be stored on shelves or under tables without taking away from the style of the space.
Establish a Sorting Process
Once you’re ready to get started, you’ll need to establish a sorting system for your things. You can use any system that works for you, but most people find that a three-category system works well. You can use boxes, baskets, or storage containers for each of the categories and put items in them as you find them.
Only keep items that you love or that serve some purpose in your daily life. If an item needs to be fixed, have it fixed immediately.
Donate or Sell
If an item is in good condition, you may be able to donate or sell it. Be realistic about whether anyone else would want the item.
Trash or Recycle
If an item is too worn out for someone to use or is broken, then it should go directly into the trash or recycling.
Remove everything from the space you’re working on so that you have a fresh slate and divide those items into your chosen categories.
When you’re done sorting through the items in your space, do not just leave these items in their boxes for another time. The items you’ve decided to keep should be put away neatly, the items you want to donate or sell should be taken to a donation center or listed for sale, and the trash should be emptied.
Decluttering Room by Room
Each room of your home brings unique challenges when it comes to decluttering and organizing items. Use our guide below to help you determine how best to approach each room.
Start with the flat surfaces of your living room. Make sure that your coffee and side tables are empty or have only a few styled pieces on them. Look through your shelves to see if you have any books, DVDs, or other items that you no longer use or need.
Next, take a look at your décor. Do you have too many pillows or blankets? Are your photos sitting on your tables and shelves instead of hanging? Do you have a bunch of figurines that don’t really add anything to your space? Pare these down to only statement pieces that add to the design of the room and hang photos when possible.
Then move on to your electronics. Set a place for remote control storage and find the best way to control all of the wires in your home entertainment system. You can use ties to keep cables together or hide them behind furniture. If your cords are too long to be managed, replace them with shorter ones.
Again, start with your flat surfaces – remove everything from your counters and tables and only put back items that you use every day. For anything else, you should find a place to store it. If possible, store each item close to where you use it. For example, cooking pots and utensils should be stored near the oven.
Once your counters are cleared, you should turn to your drawers, cabinets, and pantry, but not all at once. Choose an area to work through one at a time. Remove everything from that area, wipe down the drawers or shelves, and determine what’s needed. When you get to your pantry, check expiration dates and get rid of anything that has expired. As you put things back, try to keep like items together.
If you tend to keep a lot of items on your bathroom counter, start there. You counter should only house items you use every day, like your toothbrush and toothpaste.
Next, pull everything out of the shower, medicine cabinet, under the sink cabinet, and drawers so that you can determine how much excess you have. Many people have lots of extra things like soap or body lotion, but never realized how much.
Once you sort through your items, put away the things you’re keeping with like items remaining together. A good rule of thumb is to put your most-used items at eye-level if you have a medicine cabinet or in the top drawer if you don’t.
You guessed it: start with the flat surfaces. Clear off your nightstands, dressers, and chest of drawers, and anything else that collects clutter.
Next, clear out your drawers one by one and sort through the items. If an item no longer fits or you haven’t worn it in over a year, get rid of it. Fold and return the items you are keeping.
Quick tip: if you don’t make your bed every day, start doing so. A made bed makes the room instantly neater.
Closets and Other Storage Rooms
These areas are some of the hardest to declutter because we tend to shove things in them and shut the door, keeping them out of sight and out of mind.
In a hanging closet, start from the floor and work your way up. It’s okay to have storage boxes below your hanging items, but make sure they’re holding items you really need. Seasonal items are fine to put away when you’re not using them, but if you haven’t touched something in years then it needs to go. Make sure that all boxes are labeled or that you place an inventory sheet on top of them so that you can find things easily. Also try not to stack too many boxes on top of each other so you can easily get to everything.
For your hanging items, follow the same rules as everything else. If it is broken, doesn’t fit, or you simply haven’t worn it in over a year, get it out of there. If you really don’t want to part with it, give yourself a short timeframe to use it. If it doesn’t get used, you need to get rid of it.
Decluttering your home is a big job, but it is manageable if you break it into smaller areas and follow our tips. Once you’ve decluttered your home, you’ll feel so much better and more productive!