Decluttering your home can seem like an exhausting task, and one that has no end. However, it doesn’t need to be difficult. It’s actually very possible to make it a lot simpler and less overwhelming than it initially appears. Decluttering can actually relieve a lot of stress, as you move the mess out of your home, freeing up more space and leaving everything feeling that much clearer. It has even been found that people feel more in control of their life when there is less mess and clutter. This guide to decluttering aims to take you through several easy steps that will help you to declutter your home.
When You Should Declutter
It might seem obvious to some that there is a point where you should be decluttering. However, this is not always the case. You need to clear your clutter when you spend hours searching through possessions to find something, or when the clutter starts to slowly overtake your home.
If you have issues with hoarding, it is even possible to become obese or depressed as a result of the growing clutter. If you are starting to feel this way, you should speak to a GP and also ask someone you trust to help you sort through the growing mess.
Don’t let clutter rule your life. It can be hard to get motivated and make a start, but in the end, it will be well worth the struggle. A tidy home is a tidy mind, and there are very few sayings that are truer than this one.
Preparing to Declutter
Before you can start the process of cleaning and decluttering, you first have to take a couple of steps to prepare yourself. Here are the things you need to do:
Make a list of the rooms in your house, with those that need the most work at the top, and the ones that need the least work at the bottom. This gives you a priority list and gives you an idea of where to start. It’s best to do the messiest rooms first and leave the lighter ones to last.
Create a sorting system
The best way to do this is using the box method. Get three boxes and label them ‘keep’, ‘charity’, ‘bin’. Alternatively, you can sell items instead of give them away if you think they might be worth some money.
Make sure you commit
Only start to declutter when you know you are ready to commit to the process from beginning to end. Make sure you are mentally prepared to get rid of most of your clutter, and follow the 80/20 rule. This rule states (and it is generally true) that we only really use 20% of the things that we own 80% of the time.
Set aside the day
Make sure you leave the whole day for cleaning your house, or maybe even a weekend. Don’t get distracted part way through either, and losing the will half way through will only leave your house half clean.
Tips for Throwing Things Away
Here are a few additional tips for deciding what to get rid of when you are decluttering:
- Does it work? If not, can you fix it? If you can’t fix it, bin it.
- When was the last time you used it? If you haven’t used it in the last year, chuck it.
- Do you actually like it? If the answer is no, get rid of it.
- Sleep on it. Once you have a box of things to bin, sleep on it first to make sure you can live without them.
A General Guide to Decluttering Your Home
#1 Start with the Small Stuff
While we did say to start with the messiest rooms first, you have to organise how you are going to go about it. What you need to do is split the room into sections. Start with one small corner and get that done. It will leave you feeling good about your progress, and a corner of the room looking much cleaner. Once this is done, you can move onto another section. A sense of accomplishment is vital for success, so don’t lose it.
#2 Clear Your Flat Surfaces
The places that clutter gathers most frequently are table tops, counters, desks, shelves, and other flat surfaces. We chuck our junk on these and forget about it. These should be the first places that you remove clutter from. Swipe it all off, and go through it piece by piece.
When it comes to paperwork, either throw it away or file it neatly where it is easy to find. Of course, some items are okay to stay on a flat surface, like a desk or kitchen counter, just make sure they are essential items and that it doesn’t build up to form more clutter.
#3 Keep Similar Things Together
You have to categorise while you clean. Keep everything together that is similar while you are sorting through your possessions. This will help you to stay organised later on when you are putting your belongings away. Make sure you store the items in question as close to where you will use them as possible, so you don’t forget that they are there.
Working Room by Room
#1 The Bedroom
For many, the bedroom is where the clutter starts. It tends to be a room that is only used for sleep, so we often don’t bother tidying the floor or the closet. The first thing you need to do is take everything off the floor and put it on the bed. You can sort through it all later, but seeing the floor will give you the motivation to keep going.
Start with your drawers and closet. Empty it all out and sort through it. Decide what you want to keep, bin, and donate or sell. As yourself if it belongs in the bedroom and if you have used it in the last year. If the answer is no, chuck it or put it in the room, it should be in.
Try to limit the decorations on your surfaces to five items per flat surface. This helps remove clutter, but also makes it easier to dust and clean. Plus, it looks a lot nicer too. Excess items can be put into storage, or you can get rid of them – it’s your call.
If you don’t have a laundry hamper in your bedroom and you have the space, get one. Most of us like to dress and undress in the bedroom, so it’s easier to have the laundry hamper there. It encourages you to put your dirty clothes away instead of leaving them on the floor.
If you have children, who like to leave their toys around, invest in a fun and creative toybox. That way, it motivates them to put things away, but also helps to keep the floor clear when they have finished playing. It’s a good way to teach them to stay tidy, and also to remove the clutter.
#2 The Bathroom
You would be surprised by how messy a bathroom can become over a short period of time. If you have more than one bathroom, declutter them at the same time. This really gives you an idea of how much excess stuff you have, and makes you think about what you actually need.
Pull everything out at once. The drawers, cabinets, and cupboards all need to be emptied. After this, organise them into sections. Things like soap, shampoo, and other bathroom items. This gives you an idea of what you have. After that, continue organising by sorting them into piles of unused, partially used, and empty containers.
Chuck out the empty bottles, and put the unused ones away. For those that are partially used, give yourself a month to finish them. If they are not finished in that time, throw them out too. Old towels can be donated to rescue centres for animals. Old towels building up can be a problem, and they should be replaced every few years to keep things hygienic.
Once that is done, organise your bathroom and put everything back. Make sure it is labelled, clear, and free from mess. Once everything has been put neatly into place, you will feel worlds better.
#3 The Office
Go through the paperwork first. It’s the thing that causes the most clutter in a home office, and it needs to be sorted out before you do anything else. Put your paperwork into one of the following piles: file, to-do, bin. Stick to this and be firm with your paperwork. Here are a couple of others tips for sorting through the endless papers:
- Scan them and make a digital copy. If you don’t need a physical one, bin it.
- Older paperwork (such as taxes) can be filed away in a plastic box and placed in the loft.
- Designate a space for new and important documents to avoid future clutter.
- File all your paperwork asap.
One of the toughest challenges will be the next one, clearing off your desk. Take everything off bar your computer, printer, and light. Now, go through the items on there and decide what you are going to do with them. Ornaments are fine, but try to keep them to a minimum. Your desk is a place of work, and its tidiness will help you to focus.
Office drawers tend to get pretty messy as well. We have all opened them up to find Armageddon, and quickly closed them to avoid dealing with it. Empty the drawers and get rid of the excess. Haven’t used it in the past year? Get rid of it. Organise your drawers, label them, so you know what is in each. You can even invest in dividers if you want to go to the next level.
You should also make sure that your cords are tidied away, keeping them neat and together is key for an organised office. You can use washi tape to label each one so that you know where it goes. Used ties to keep cables together, preventing them from tangling on their way down to the socket. You can make it look nice with coloured ties too, so it doesn’t have to look bad.
#4 The Kitchen
It is so easy for the kitchen to get messy. We’ve all been there. Just as it’s easy for this room to get messy, it’s also easy for it to become cluttered. The first thing you need to do is clear off the counters. Keep a few essentials on there. Things like the coffee machine, slow cooker, and the kettle. You’ll probably have between three and five main appliances left.
Put the clutter on the floor or kitchen table and start organising it. Decide what needs to go and what needs to stay. Leave the stuff that is going to stay to one side, and get rid of the stuff you don’t want right away. This leaves you free to move onto the next part.
Divide your kitchen into zones. This will help you to do one section of the kitchen at a time so that you don’t become overwhelmed. You can put the excess from the countertops away during this stage too. Here are a few tips for good kitchen zoning and organisation:
- Find a place for cooking utensils near the stove and oven.
- Store baking supplies away in a cabinet or on a shelf (unless you bake regularly).
- Cleaning supplies and storage containers/bags should have their own area. Under the sink works well.
#5 The Living Room
The living room can be another central location for clutter to build up in. The first thing you need to do here is to remove any items that should be in a different room and put them in there. This will help remove a good bulk of the junk. Next, follow the usual procedure of piling all the mess into piles for keeping, binning, and donating or selling.
Adding more storage solutions can be a great way of organising your living space. Coffee tables that have lifting lids for magazines and remotes. Ottomans that have lids to store cushions and blankets. Magazine racks and end tables or coffee tables with shelving. These little things can create a lot of extra space in your home.
The living room is a pretty easy space to declutter, and it won’t take you a great deal of time. If there is a lot to get through, just remember to split the room into zones and deal with it one section at a time. That way, it is less overwhelming.
#6 The Loft
The loft can be very daunting. It’s where we put all the stuff we would rather forget about. So, when you go up there, the first thing you need to do it section it into specific zones. Take everything out of each zone (working one section at a time) and sort out what you will be keeping and getting rid of. When one section has been completed, you can move onto the next one.
Make sure you move the stuff you aren’t keeping out of the area before you put the stuff you are keeping away. This prevents confusion, but also removes the clutter, leaving you feeling more relieved and as though you have accomplished something. You should also make sure you label everything, so you know what is what and where it belongs. This also helps with future organisation.
#7 The Garage
The garage can be just as terrifying as the loft to clear out, but it is a job that needs to be done. Pull everything out and get ready to purge. If there are worn and damaged tools, get rid of them and buy new ones. Damaged and worn down tools are no use to anyone. Similarly, if you won’t use it in the next few years, get rid of that one too. It’s good to renew your tools, so don’t be afraid to be ruthless.
Once this is done, you can start organising space for everything to go. Build cupboards and a workbench, and install some pegboards on the walls for extra space. This leaves everything visible and easy to access when it is needed. Plus, if you need a little extra storage space, then you always have the option to rent out a storage unit.
Keeping the Clutter Away
There is always the risk, and fear, that clutter will return to your home. However, there are a few steps you can take to try and keep it away as much as possible. It’s not always easy at first, but patience and resilience can take you a long way.
#1 Don’t Give In
When you go to buy something, ask yourself where it will go in your house and if it will take up too much space. Ask yourself if you really need it. If there is not an immediate or reasonable answer, then chances are you will survive if you put it back.
#2 Do a Little Often
Every day you should set aside 20 minutes to do a little cleaning and decluttering. That way, you will get rid of things that will end up taking you hours if left alone. Getting into the habit of doing a little every day saves you time, stress, and effort. If you can’t fit daily into your schedule, then make sure you at least declutter on a weekly basis.
#3 One in, One Out
When you purchase something new, one of your old ornaments or items has to go. Stick to this rule, and you will avoid clutter building up. It’s a great way to keep your home tidy and reduce the amount of clutter that builds up over time.
#4 Go Digital
While you may be a little wary of the digital age, there are actually a lot of benefits. By making all your music, films, and even books, digital you are saving more space than you can imagine. It keeps everything together in one place that is easy to access, and it means that you won’t have DVDs and CDs littered around the house. There is also no risk of discs being scratched – another great advantage.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you to figure out how you are going to go about decluttering your home. It will seem like a daunting task at first, but once you get into it, you will find that time really flies by. Make sure you mentally prepare yourself, and that you have a good system for the items you are going to keep, bin, and give away. You should also make sure that you organise which rooms you will clean first and last, so you know exactly what you have to do. When your house is free from clutter, you will feel so much better.