Cluttered homes can be stressful for the inhabitants, ugly to outsiders, and sometimes even safety hazards. You risk stepping on something sharp or tripping on unnecessary cables in the middle of the night.
You also shouldn’t have to spend hours trying to find your car keys, phone charger, remote, or omelette pan. Here are some tips that should help you understand how to declutter your home. Some rooms will take more time than others, but there’s just no way around it.
- 1. Throw One Item Away
- 2. Make a List
- 3. Hold a Yard Sale
- 4. Rent a Storage Space
- 5. Use the Four-Box Method
- 6. Organize the Coffee Table
- 7. Take Care of Your Bookshelf
- 8. Organize Your Electronic Devices
- 9. Avoid Buying Stuff You Don’t Really Need
- 10. Sort Your Clothes
- 11. Assign Tasks
- 12. Hire Help
- 13. Rethink Your Storage Options
- 14. Adopt the One In, One Out Rule
- 15. Rethink How Many Decorations You Need
- 16. One Day at a Time
- 17. How to Tackle the Kitchen
- 18. How to Tackle the Bathroom
- 19. Declutter Other Non-living Quarters
- 20. Always Emphasize Organizing the Entryway
1. Throw One Item Away
This doesn’t mean that you have to become a minimalist in order to enjoy a clutter-free home. However, disposing of one item every day is a good starting strategy. Pick something as small or as big as you want but keep at it daily for a while. At least until you find that everything else in your home is necessary and non-disposable.
2. Make a List
When you’re trying to organize your home, it’s often tempting to just start throwing things out at random. Stuff you don’t think you need any more or that you haven’t used in a while. Avoid doing this before making a proper list.
List the items you absolutely need in each room. Start slowly disposing or putting away the rest. You can throw away, recycle, donate, sell, or put those items in storage if they still hold sentimental value.
3. Hold a Yard Sale
This probably won’t help you much if you live in an apartment. But, sometimes nothing helps you declutter your house more than holding a yard sale.
Tell your neighbors, put up some signs for people passing by to see, and don’t try to turn a big profit. List items at prices that will make people want to buy them and deal with transporting them off your lawn.
4. Rent a Storage Space
Clearly, not everything that takes up space needs to be thrown out. Baby clothes, toys, drawings, old family memorabilia – many people like to hold on to them. Renting a storage unit would help you keep them at the cost of a monthly fee. But there will be fewer accessories around the house and fewer boxes hidden in every tight corner of the house.
5. Use the Four-Box Method
This is another trick you can use if you have way too much stuff laying around in every room. The four-box method involves, you guessed it, four boxes.
Take four boxes and label them: give away, throw away, keep, and relocate. Take your boxes with you room by room. Analyze every item in that room and put it in the appropriate pile.
You’ll quickly realize just how much stuff you don’t actually need. Picking one randomly from a crowd may be hard, but once you put a label on it, it becomes a done deal.
6. Organize the Coffee Table
Sometimes rooms seem more cluttered than they really are. This can happen if you keep a lot of stuff in a small area. For example, keeping too many items on the living room coffee table can make it look like the entire room is cluttered.
Clear away old magazines, extra coasters, pens, pencils, snacks, and everything else you don’t use on a daily basis.
7. Take Care of Your Bookshelf
Do you have a bookshelf in your home? If so, chances are that’s were a lot of the clutter is. There’s always room to showcase model cars, vacation mementos, family photos, diplomas, and anything else of the sort in front of the books.
Anything other than books and maybe one or two photos will make your bookshelf seem unorganized. It’s enough to have one wall looking like that to ruin the appeal of an entire room.
8. Organize Your Electronic Devices
Do you have three or four smartphones and tablets in your home? – Don’t leave them laying around everywhere and don’t keep adaptors next to every outlet. Designate a charging station in your home and keep the rest of the house clutter-free, at least from cables.
Do the same thing with your home entertainment center. Keep anything TV or media-related in one spot. You might also want to consider investing in an external hard drive or two to replace those DVDs and Blu-rays.
9. Avoid Buying Stuff You Don’t Really Need
If you can borrow something instead of buying it, strongly consider this option. A lot of people have to declutter their home only to find that they throw away stuff they use maybe once a year.
10. Sort Your Clothes
It’s always a good idea to separate warm season clothes from cold. Whether you put them in storage bins in the garage or anywhere else, don’t keep more clothes than you need in the closet.
You may also want to start giving away some of your old clothes if you know you’re going to buy new ones anyway. You can use three boxes or piles for this. Go through every clothing item and decide whether to throw, donate, or keep.
This is probably the most work you’ll have to do when decluttering a home. But the difference will be massive once the task is done.
11. Assign Tasks
If you don’t live alone, decluttering becomes a lot easier. Assign one room to each person in the house. Create piles or use boxes to sort out all the items in each room. This won’t be the most entertaining weekend family activity but it will help to organize your home a lot faster.
12. Hire Help
Some people just can’t let go of stuff. Others may not have time to start looking at every item in the house and assign a value or priority.
Hiring help is no shame. You could hire a maid or a cleaning service and ask them to at least throw away the old stuff. Also, you could ask them to put everything where it belongs. You may not always have to donate or throw away items. Simply relocating or returning them to their proper place is enough to make your home look neat.
Once you see how nicer your home looks clutter-free, you might just see the value of further reducing the amount of stuff you hoard.
13. Rethink Your Storage Options
Are you still using a bowl for keys, small tools, and other stuff? – Try using a key rack instead. That way you’ll always find your keys in seconds and your coffee table won’t look cluttered.
It’s a good thing if you save receipts and coupons. But if you don’t have a drawer available for them, you have to put them somewhere else. Consider using small baskets or jars.
Invest in storage boxes or cubbies to organize your shoes. Shoes on the floor leave the appearance of clutter. They’re also just the things you might trip on or irresistible to your pet. Even if you get a larger cubbie for your shoes, that will still look better with the shoes organized and off the ground.
14. Adopt the One In, One Out Rule
People buy stuff every day. If you want to minimize the clutter in your home, stop it from happening. Don’t get anything new for your home unless it’s a replacement. If you do decide to get something, even a small decorative piece, you have to give away or throw out something in its place.
This is usually better to do by the room. But, even taking out something from any other room in the house is better than nothing if you come back home with, say a new plant holder.
15. Rethink How Many Decorations You Need
There are so many small decorative accessories on the market these days that it’s impossible not to find at least a dozen in any store that you think might fit in your home.
While decorative pieces are great to look at and fun conversation starters, there is such a thing as too many. You don’t need a fancy picture frame on every table in the house. You also don’t need lots of magnets from gifts or every trip you’ve been on.
Think about rotating your decorative pieces and keeping the rest in storage. Do the same with your refrigerator magnets. Honoring your kids by putting up their A+ drawings or papers is nice, but you don’t have to keep all of them in plain view.
16. One Day at a Time
Decluttering a home can be intimidating if you’ve never thought about it before. Where do you even begin and how can you find the time to do it?
To make things easier on you, you can start small. You tackle a certain objective per day. Take for example the living room. There’s no best way to declutter a living room since everyone’s living room looks different, more or less.
But, everyone has a sitting area, an entertainment area, a coffee table, and so on. The same goes for every other room. Make a grid of each room and organize one section of the grid each day.
For example, start with the coffee table in the living room, and the nightstands in your bedroom. If you want to organize your kitchen, start with the countertop. Then move on the next day to the drawers, then to the cabinets, and so on.
17. How to Tackle the Kitchen
Kitchens, living rooms, and entryways tend to have the most foot traffic. Keeping your kitchen clean and organized isn’t just about having a clutter-free home but also about safety.
You want your sharp knives tucked away out of the kids’ reach. You want your pots with your pots and your pans with your pans.
Having quick access to any piece of cookware saves time when cooking for the family. Also, although quality cookware can be expensive, not every piece lasts a lifetime. Start inspecting your pans and your chef knives and see which are ripe to be thrown out.
Store kitchen appliances that you don’t use that often. Unless you eat rice every day, there’s no need to have the rice cooker out on display. It may look nice but it takes up a lot of space. The coffee maker is perhaps a different story.
Again, don’t be afraid to remove decorations. You’re unlikely to entertain people with decorations in the kitchen. Guests go in there for a sample of your culinary treats, not to see your fridge magnets, plastic plant displays, or artistic decorations.
18. How to Tackle the Bathroom
If you don’t have wall-mounted hangers and holders, you should. They make use of the vertical space, of which you should have plenty. You will no longer have to keep your products on the edge of the bathtub, near the tap, or in the medicine cabinet.
Don’t forget that medications expire too. Go through your medicine cabinet and throw away everything you don’t use or shouldn’t use anymore.
19. Declutter Other Non-living Quarters
Do you have an attic, office, gym, or big garage? – Those areas also need to be organized. Even though you may use the attic as a storage space, don’t just pile boxes and containers one on top of each other.
Go through your storage items and sort them. See what you can give away, what you can sell, what you can keep. Try to create specific areas for the different rooms in your house. This means storing kitchen cookware and appliances on one wall and bedding, pillows, and other bedroom stuff on another wall.
Keep your tools organized in the garage. Don’t store anything that you might need exclusively in the house, like pole saws or chain saws. The garage should be strictly for cars and other things you may use outside for gardening or repair work.
20. Always Emphasize Organizing the Entryway
That’s the first area that you and anyone else that’s visiting will see when walking inside your home. Remove unnecessary decorations, don’t use big tables or shelves to hold all your keys, mail, and other small items.
Invest in a shoe rack and a coat rack. But don’t keep shoes, socks and clothes there for every season. If you have a clean entryway or hallway, it already creates a prettier image of the rooms to come.
A Final Thought
You don’t have to declutter your entire home in one go. Taking it slow is a lot better because you can avoid throwing away important objects in a hurry. Besides, doing it step by step, a little bit each day, can also be more rewarding.
It takes less time to see results, it can keep you motivated, and it shouldn’t interfere with your daily routine too much.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.