How to Declutter Your Home: 22 Fast & Easy Tips
Updated: Dec 28, 2020
The biggest challenge most of us face in keeping our home in order isn’t dirt, it’s clutter. Here are 22 easy decluttering tips to get your home clutter-free in no time.
The biggest challenge most of us face in keeping our home neat and organized is clutter. In the bustle of day-to-day life, items get picked up, moved around, set down, and...left where they are. Every single item that's left where it lands - instead of where it belongs - becomes clutter.
Just as importantly, we bring lots of things into our homes, but very little ever leaves. When you bring more in than you take out, it's only a matter of time before you run out of room in your home.
How do you deal with this problem? You start by decluttering.
Why Decluttering is Important
Decluttering matters because home is more than a physical structure. Our home is also associated with some of our most meaningful memories, and it's where many of our most important family traditions take place.
When our homes don't function well, we don't feel happy there.
It's stressful to walk from room-to-room in your home and see things piled up on tables and counters, covering the floors and shelves of closets and cabinets, and strewn across the floor. Rooms look chaotic and disorganized. Seeing the chaos and disorganization around you leaves you feeling stressed and overwhelmed.
The best way to get rid yourself of those feelings is to declutter your home. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, taking things out of your home brings order, balance, and harmony back into the space.
The less clutter you see around you, the less stress you'll feel inside you.
4 Things You Need to Know About Clutter
Before you get started decluttering, there are a few important things to know about clutter, including what causes it and why you need to control it.
1. You can become clutter blind over time.
While you won't become completely blind to clutter, the longer it stays where it is, the less motivation you have to remove it.
You may justify leaving it where it is by telling yourself that, since it's been there this long, there's no reason to do anything about it right now. Or maybe you tell yourself you'll pick it up the next time you clean up.
Either way, the longer it stays where it is, the less likely you are to see it as something you need to deal with right now.
2. Clutter doesn't scream, but the stress of it nags at you.
What I mean by that is this:
You may not consciously think about the stuff piling up around you but in the back of your mind, you know it's there. As the thought of doing something about it weighs on you, you try to ignore it. But it's always there. The heaviness never really goes away.
In fact, that heaviness is unlikely to go away until you get rid of what's causing it.
3. Clutter isn't just an aesthetic issue, it's also a safety hazard.
It isn't just that clutter is visually unappealing, it's also a safety issue. No one wants to end up at the ER because they fell over something in their living room or on the stairs. Prevent accidents by keeping walkways and stairs free of debris or other items that could cause someone to trip or fall.
Make and strictly enforce a house rule that chemicals and other hazardous items are returned to their storage location immediately after use. This will help keep people and pets safe.
Follow the Golden Rule of Home Safety: If you can spill it, slip on it, or trip over it, take a few minutes to put it away when you're done with it.
4. Clutter isn't a one time issue, it's an ongoing challenge.
Decluttering never stops. As long as new items come into your home, there will be a need to take other items out. That's the only way to avoid running out of storage space.
Likewise, taking something out to use it creates the need to put them up again.
Sometimes people view decluttering as something you do to get rid of things when your home is so disorganized and cluttered that you can no longer tolerate it. While that's one way to look at it, it's also true that regular decluttering keeps your house neater and more organized all year round.
It's less stressful and overwhelming to spend 10 minutes decluttering once a week than it is to spend 10 hours decluttering once a year. As an added bonus, it's simply more enjoyable to be at home when your house is organized and clean.
Once you get rid of what you don't need, it's easier to find what you do need and actually use, and you're more appreciative of what you have.
How to Start Decluttering
You could hire a professional organizer to declutter your home for you (and there may be times when that's a good idea), but once you know how to start getting rid of clutter, it's often more rewarding (and cheaper) to do it yourself.
Here are 6 tips to help you get started decluttering your home:
Set a goal. The first step in decluttering is to set a goal. Decide what you want the end result to be and how much time it will take to reach that goal. You might set a goal to declutter the entire house over a weekend (or a few weekends), or you might set a goal to declutter your junk drawer. It doesn't matter what the goal is as long as it means something to you.
Make a plan to deal with sentimental items. Pictures, cards, gifts, and inherited items can be hard to let go of. Some people find it easier to let go of these items if they take a picture first. Some people think about how someone else might benefit from the item if they donate it. Some people put it in a box to deal with later. Choose whatever method works for you. Keep in mind that you don't have to get rid of something if it means that much to you. The point of decluttering is to make your life better, not to break your heart.
Sort things based on the value those things provide. If you use the item because it makes your life easier, happier, or more meaningful, then keep it. If you don't use it, don't want it, or it doesn't work, then don't keep it. It makes sense to keep the things that make life better and get rid of the things that don't.
Figure out what to do with the things you decide not to keep. Depending on the item, you could sell it, donate it, recycle it, or throw it away. When you donate or sell the item, there's a double benefit. Someone else gets to use the item for free or buy it at a low cost. Selling or donating the item extends its life, which is good for the environment.
Decide the most efficient way to declutter, given the size of the task at hand. If every space in the house needs to be decluttered, you need to decide which spaces are a priority and start with them first. Some people like to start with a smaller room (like a bathroom) or a smaller space (like a cabinet), so they can see quick progress. Others decide to start with a bigger job first to get it out of the way. Think it over and decide which means more to you - enjoy a quick win or get the worst job out of the way first.
Gather your resources and have them ready before you get started. Depending on the size of the space, you want to have garbage bags and boxes or storage bins on hand. It also helps to have any cleaning supplies or equipment (like a vacuum cleaner or broom) on hand to do a quick clean up after you declutter.
Once you have a plan to follow and the necessary resources in place, you're ready to take the first step and get started.
22 Fast Decluttering Tips: A Room by Room Approach
As much as I love to clean, I don't like to spend more time cleaning than needed to get the job done right. The same thing is true with decluttering. It's easier and more manageable when you can work through the process in a structured way, instead of working haphazardly through each room.
These 17 decluttering tips will help deal with your main living areas in an efficient and organized way.
The main living areas included in these tips are the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Feel free to work through each room in whatever works best for you.
Declutter the Living Room
The primary problem with the living room is that it becomes a landing pad for items from many other areas of the house. Part of the reason that living rooms get as cluttered as they do is that it's time-consuming to gather all these items and return them to their proper home. Here are five steps to get the living room back under control:
Remove junk mail, out-of-date magazines, and other paper clutter from the coffee table and either throw it away or recycle it.
Place tv and other remotes in a designated location, such as a basket or drawer.
Place glasses, plates, bowls, and silverware in the sink or dishwasher.
Remove books, electronic devices, and other miscellaneous items from coffee and end tables and put them where they belong.
Put away jackets, shoes, hats, gloves, backpacks, and other items that are not kept in the living room.
After you remove everything from the living room that doesn't belong there, do a final sweep of the room straightening lampshades and pictures, plumping pillows, tidying up unruly cords, folding throws, and arranging decor neatly on tabletops.
With that done, you're ready to move on to the next space.
Declutter the Kitchen
While the kitchen is considered the heart of the home, it's also a major source of clutter.
Kitchens often become cluttered because so much activity takes place in there. People eat, cook, clean up, hang out, and sometimes work, in the kitchen. With so much activity taking place in this relatively small space, it's not surprising that decluttering the kitchen is a priority for many people.
Here are 6 steps to get the kitchen back under control:
Clear the counters and table of dishes, food items, mail, purses, and small appliances that don't "live" there permanently.
Place dirty dishwasher-safe dishes in the dishwasher.
Hand wash any dishes that are not dishwasher safe.
Dry and put away all hand-washed dishes.
Wipe down the counters, table, and appliances.
Gather dirty kitchen towels, cloth napkins, and wash rags and drop them in the laundry hamper.
If cleaning out the fridge is on your list, you might find it helpful to pull everything out first. This makes it easier to throw away leftovers and check dates for expired food items. Throw away expired items and do a quick wipedown of shelves.
This is also a good time to check the pantry for expired boxed items, canned goods, and spices.
After you declutter your kitchen, it's time to move on to the next space.
Declutter the Bathroom
The bathroom is one of the hardest working rooms in your home. Bathrooms are used multiple times a day by everyone in the household. The biggest byproduct of all that traffic is messiness.
Towels and clothes are left on the floor or in the tub and shower areas. Small items you use like toothpaste, brushes, lotions, and make-up are often left out when people are in a hurry to get to work or school.
Putting things back in their place makes a big difference in how cluttered the bathroom looks.
Here are five ways to get the bathroom back under control:
Put away make-up and grooming items, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, hairbrushes, hair spray, and blow dryers.
Put away cleaning products, extra rolls of toilet paper, clean bathroom linens, clothing, and any other items that have accumulated on the counter or on the floor.
Close shower doors and pull shower curtains into place.
Throw away empty shampoo, conditioner, soap, or other containers in the shower or tub area.
Pick up clothing and towels from the floor and hang them up or put them in the laundry hamper.
If it's on your list, free up space in your bathroom cabinets by removing unneeded bath towels, washcloths, and hand towels. Also, throw away or donate unused toiletry items, like shampoos, soaps, and lotions.
Tidy up toilet paper, cleaning supplies, beauty supplies, and anything else tucked away in the bathroom cabinets or closet. Go through bathroom drawers and donate or throw away unused hotel samples. Properly dispose of any expired medications in drawers or your medicine cabinet.
When you've cleaned out everything, empty the wastebasket. Now, you're ready to move on to the final major living space in your home - the bedroom.
Declutter the Bedroom
The bedroom is a unique space because we spend so much of our time there sleeping. When we are awake, however, we want that space to be an oasis of peace and calm. The way you create that oasis is to getting rid of anything that creates clutter and unwanted visual distractions.
Making the bed is the best way to bring order to the bedroom. Beyond that, bring visual order to the space by putting away everything that has a permanent home somewhere else - whether that somewhere else is a closet, a drawer, a cabinet, or an end table.
Here are six tips to help you get the bedroom under control:
Put away clean clothing.
Drop dirty clothing in a hamper or clothes basket.
Make the bed and return bed pillows and shams to their proper spaces.
Look under the bed for anything you no longer use or want that you could donate.
Put away jewelry, watches, scarves, and other accessories.
Remove anything else that doesn't belong on the dresser or bedside table and return it to its designated home.
Now that you've decluttered the major living spaces, the whole house looks better. You have more room for the items you do have. You start to feel better about the state of your house. There's also a sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing you've put everything where it needs to be.
But, I think the best part is this:
You simply feel better about being at home and you get to enjoy looking at the spaces around you.
10 Decluttering Tips to Make the Process Easier [Bonus]
Once you clear out what you don't need, want, or use, and put away everything else, the next step is to keep your home clutter-free. The secret is to spend a few minutes straightening up every day.
Here's a list of 10 decluttering tips to help you keep your home neat and organized:
Set a timer on your phone for 10 minutes and straighten up as much as you can in those 10 minutes. Spend your time doing what makes the most sense in your situation. For some people, that might mean straightening the living room or bathrooms. For others, messy bedrooms are the problem. Work as fast and as efficiently as you can. When the timer goes off, stop.
Set house rules and enforce them consistently. If the rule is all backpacks are hung up on the entry bench when they're not being used, make sure everyone follows the rules. As long as house rules are consistently enforced, after some period of time, everyone will follow most of the rules most of the time. :)
Get serious about letting go of items that don't add value to your life or home. There's no reason to get rid of the items you use regularly, but there are a lot of items that we keep for reasons other than the value they provide. Value can be based on sentimental or utilitarian reasons, but don't keep it just because you've had it forever, or because you might use it in the future, or because it was a gift you inherited from a relative.
Schedule a deep clean and decluttering session on the same weekends you move your clocks forward and back. Completing a twice a year cleaning and cleanout session will keep spaces from getting completely out of control. Plus, you'll be able to complete it more quickly and with less overwhelm than if you do it infrequently.
Involve the whole family when deciding what to keep and what to let go. What's the best way to get buy-in when you're doing something new? Get everyone involved! Ask for their opinions. Add a bit of competition. Order a pizza. Make the experience feel like fun, instead of a chore.
Let kids help pick out items they want to keep, especially if they're items they keep in their room. This is another way to get kids involved. Of course, you'll want to supervise that process and double-check what they no longer want. Even though you're stepping into that process, they'll still appreciate being able to make some of those decisions.
Don't try to organize what you need to get rid of. Solve the problem of having too many things in your home by getting rid of those things, not by hiding them in drawers, baskets, or bins. Containers make spaces look neat and well-organized, but there's no need to organize what you don't really need. And, if you do try to organize without decluttering first, eventually those baskets and bins will be overflowing with items you don't need.
Don't buy storage bins or baskets until after you've decluttered. You frequently see a professional organizer put labels on containers and arrange those containers just so in closets or the pantry. What you may not see is the cleanout they did beforehand. The time to buy storage containers is after you've decluttered, not before. You'll save money and be less tempted to keep things that you don't really need.
Don't just toss medicines out of your medicine cabinet. To prevent possible environmental consequences, don't flush medications or throw them in the task. Check with your local pharmacy to see if they have a medication drop bin where you can dispose of those items safely.
Be prepared to experience some level of stress and doubt as you make decisions about which items you'll keep and which you won't. Sometimes the decisions you make are stressful because you feel guilty or like you might be letting someone down if you get rid of this or that. Or maybe you have doubts about the decisions you're making. Just know that sometimes the emotional roller coaster is part of the process.
One final thought... Don't expect the process to be without its challenges. As I mentioned earlier, we carry a lot of emotions related to our home and the items in it. Taking the actions necessary to create the order and balance you want in your home can be challenging.
Give yourself the time and space to work through those challenges without being self-critical or harsh. Depending on your circumstances, this may be more of a process than a quick fix.
Be positive, be proactive, be practical.
No matter how much you accumulated over the years, there is no situation that you can't declutter. Just come up with a plan and get the resources (people and otherwise) that you need to get control of the situation.
You can do this. It's time to take back your home.
What area(s) in your home attract the most clutter? Email me at anita (@) simplelife365.com and let me know.