A Guide to Decluttering the Home
Life can be busy. Responsibilities from work, family, social obligations and pets often pull us in a million directions as we rush around trying to keep up the pace. Things like papers, toys and unfinished projects stack up over time. Eventually, these messes may seem to be everywhere, making us feel stressed and exhausted just thinking about them.
Though decluttering can seem overwhelming, there are many ways to make the process easier and more fun. Whether you want to clean up because you’re moving, downsizing or just feeling weighed down by too much stuff, this guide offers tips and tricks to help. We’ll show you why you should consider taking on this project and give you plenty of ideas on how to get it done.
Benefits of Decluttering
In addition to making your home look nicer, there are several reasons you should try and tackle your clutter. After thoroughly organizing your space, it will be easier to keep clean, which can improve your health by reducing allergens and dust. When every possession has a designated storage spot, you can find what you need more quickly. You’ll also spend less time picking up, leaving more time to enjoy other activities.
Decluttering can save you money as well. You may discover you can repair, repurpose or restore some things to avoid repurchasing them. Doing so also helps the environment by reducing the number of items going to landfills.
Perhaps one of the biggest advantages of decluttering your house is how it can make you feel. University of Washington psychologist Brenna Renn, Ph.D., has said that getting rid of clutter helps improve focus and reduces the stress and anxiety that come from being surrounded by too many visual distractions.
Another study suggests that clutter in bedrooms can affect the quality of a person’s sleep, leading to symptoms like brain fog or an increased risk of depression. When a space is neat and organized, it is often easier to fully relax, making rest more rejuvenating and giving your mood a positive boost.
Decluttering by Room
Ready to dive in but unsure where to begin? We’ve created a simple declutter your home checklist to guide you through the process one step at a time.
Medicine cabinets, drawers and the shower are where items tend to accumulate in bathrooms. To tackle this area, it’s often easiest to remove everything and sort it out as you put items back where they belong. The tub is a good starting place because you can quickly see the results of your efforts, giving you the encouragement you need to keep going.
Start by tossing remnants of soap and adding an organizer to keep body wash, shampoo and conditioner within close reach. In the medicine cabinet, check the expiration dates on medications and properly dispose of anything out-of-date. For drawers and shelves, consider grouping together similar items, like makeup, shaving tools or hair products using bins or dividers.
Since living rooms are high-traffic areas, they tend to get cluttered more frequently. Having the right storage is a huge help when trying to keep these spaces tidy. Because there are so many options for decorating a living room, finding pieces that fit your needs, style and budget can be both easy and fun.
When brainstorming what you need, think about the activities your family does in this space. If you have children who watch movies or play video games often, TV consoles may provide the extra room you need for storing controllers, DVDs and other accessories. Make sure that children can reach items easily and that large, heavy pieces of furniture have proper anchors for safety.
Seating areas are also hot spots where clutter can build up. Use side tables with drawers beside the sofa for stashing remotes, charging cords and drink coasters. Bookshelves are another great storage choice and work well for much more than novels and cookbooks. Stack board games and puzzles together or add decorative baskets or fabric bins to hold papers, magazines and toys.
Bedroom and Closet
When it comes to relieving stress, a thoughtful bedroom design can make a huge difference. Be prepared to spend extra time here and keep in mind the purpose of each area as you clean. For example, nightstands are for keeping clocks, phones or lamps near the bed rather than a place to keep laundry or mail.
It’s best to keep surfaces cleared off so that the room feels spacious and clean. To do this, have designated places for your jewelry, shoes, clothing and extra linens. Go through dresser drawers and closets to pare down what you own by donating or discarding things that you no longer wear or need.
In your kid’s playroom or bedroom, use their age as a guideline when deciding what to keep. Encourage them to help you by allowing them to choose where to donate old clothes or toys. Getting your child involved may help avoid tears about giving up outgrown items. It also gives them a sense of control by helping them know where to locate things and where to put them back.
Foyers, especially smaller ones, can quickly accumulate clutter. The best approach to these spots is to make sure everything has its place. Depending on how much space you have, entryway storage solutions like small tables, hall trees or even some wall hooks and a shoe rack will keep things tidy.
When decluttering your entranceway, start by removing items that belong in other areas of the house. If possible, move coats, boots and sports equipment into a closet. Hang up pet leashes and umbrellas and designate a drawer or tray to hold keys and mail. You may also consider adding a storage bench or chair for a place to set purses, backpacks or bags.
Kitchen tables and countertops tend to pile up with all kinds of things, including books, papers and other odds and ends. Keeping clutter off of these surfaces can make the whole room feel cleaner, more open and less stressful. It also frees up more space for food preparation and makes it easier to enjoy meals with family and friends.
You can create zones for different types of items to help with organization and to make your kitchen more functional. Try setting up a coffee station with mugs at the end of the counter or storing all linens in the same place. Consider how often you need bulky, single-purpose appliances like bread machines or fryers and either get rid of them or store them in less accessible cabinets.
Use organizer trays to corral smaller tools like measuring cups, knives and silverware in drawers, and add removable shelves or bins underneath sinks to hold cleaning supplies like extra dish soap, sponges and gloves. If you need to utilize counter space, choose decorative containers for holding staples like pasta or flour.
Tips on Decluttering
Cleaning and organizing your space can certainly seem daunting, but the difference you’ll see in your home’s appearance and your physical and mental health is well worth the effort. These decluttering tips will help the whole experience feel more manageable.
Start with One Room
One of the reasons decluttering feels so overwhelming is because it takes a considerable amount of time. Try breaking the project down into smaller pieces, setting a goal for completion and sticking to it. Consider your other obligations when deciding how much you want to accomplish. Do one room each week or take a whole month if that’s all your schedule allows.
Work in Sections
If a whole room still feels impossible, opt for an even smaller space. Choose a single area like a closet or drawer in the kitchen before moving on to something else. You may find that you have more time than you anticipated or that you’re more motivated to keep going after seeing that you’ve made some progress.
Follow a Method
If you’re still trying to figure out how to declutter your home, consider one of these tried and tested methods. Some of the more popular techniques include:
- The Konmari Method: Created by Marie Kondo, this method focuses on eliminating clutter so you can enjoy the lifestyle that you want. By following a specific order and focusing on whether each item adds joy to your life, you can reassess how your belongings align with how you want to live.
- The Hanger Flip: This technique is specifically for addressing the clutter in closets. To determine what to get rid of, you switch the direction of the hanger when placing items back in the closet after wearing them. This leaves all the seldom worn pieces hung in the same direction, making it easier to decide what you should consider donating or selling.
- The 20-minute Method: This option is as simple as it sounds and involves picking a starting point and working on that area in 20-minute increments. Upon finishing a section, you move to an adjacent area, slowly moving around the room until the entire room is complete. This works well for those who only have small pockets of time to work.
- The Four Box Method: To use this method, choose four containers and label them. One should be for trash, another for donation or selling, a third for long-term storage and a fourth for belongings that need put away. Work your way around each room, sorting things into the bins until they are full and then emptying them according to the label.
- The Minsgame: Developed by two authors known as The Minimalists, this 30-day challenge uses a calendar as motivation. Begin by getting rid of a single item on the first day, two the next and so forth. This helps you get rid of your possessions a little at a time, reaching a total of nearly 500 items by the end of one month.
- The 90/90 Rule: To use the 90/90 rule to declutter, simply donate or throw away any items unused in the past 90 days. The idea behind this method is that if you haven’t needed that object in the last three months, the odds are good you won’t need it for the next 90 days, either.
- The 12-12-12 Challenge: This technique focuses on dealing with clutter in small batches by tossing, donating and putting away twelve items each day.
Celebrate Your Success
Although decluttering is often an ongoing project, be sure to take time to recognize your accomplishments. Use before and after photos to track your progress or treat yourself to a reward as you finish each area. Whether you host a dinner prepared in your newly organized kitchen or have a DIY spa day, make time to relax and enjoy your cleaner, more organized home.