Largely driven by the culture of owning more, most people find their homes with overwhelming stuff. Well, that’s not exactly an issue if you know how to organize and when to toss them away. The problem surfaces when your home becomes a clutter jungle, brimming with mess here and there. In this case, you certainly need to fix a schedule for a much-needed decluttering session of your entire home.
Getting rid of clutter is not a simple feat. Time and labor are required. Some people may not just have the knack to go over their things. However, doing so will free you from the stress caused by the mess. In fact, in an average space, you get to eliminate 40 percent of housework simply by decluttering home.
To help you out in your routine, this comprehensive guide on how to declutter your house will be with you every step of the way! This will serve as your room-by-room reference to make sure you successfully declutter every corner in your home.
6 Signs that It’s Time to Declutter Your House
1. You Can’t Always Seem to Find Missing Items.
A hide and seek game can indeed be fun. But it’s definitely an entirely new story when you’re already late for work and the stuff you’re searching for has no way to surrender itself to you. Whether it be your favorite shirt, the necklace that your mom gave you, or even the car keys you keep fumbling in your pocket every morning, having a hard time finding the things in your home definitely calls for a must-done tidying up routine.
2. You Feel Embarrassed When People Come Over.
You know it’s time to declutter if the moment a guest steps foot in your house, one of the first things you’d do is apologize for the mess. Sometimes, you’d even wish you can magically hide traces of trash as your visitors walk around. Don’t let a disorganized home hinder you from hosting people. Decluttering a home may demand a fraction of your time and effort, but at least you can keep your space occasion-ready at all times.
3. You’ve Been Storing Products that Have Already Expired.
One way to know for sure that you’ve been long been holding on to things you no longer need is when you find products that have gone past their expiration dates. The eyeshadow that you bought three years ago, the chocolate that expired last Christmas, or the shampoo that you’ve been keeping in your travel bag since 2005 – all these should already be waving hello to your bin. If these items could talk, they would have snapped at you long ago.
4. You Find a Lot of Unopened Boxes.
This can mainly be applied to people who frequently move houses. If you happen to be part of that population, storing a lot of boxes is not new to you. Having too many boxes is fine, as long as you open them right after relocating. But if you are guilty of stacking unopened boxes in your attic, then here is a decluttering routine begging for attention.
5. You’d Rather Not Stay at Home.
Nobody probably wants to live in a place dominated by a jungle of clutter. Imagine having to be greeted by trash and mess as soon as you enter the door. Definitely not the most pleasant way to welcome the homeowners, right? This can sometimes give the urge to avoid being home and escape somewhere else. No matter how busy life at work keeps getting hold of your schedule, you should never neglect to declutter your house.
6. You Constantly Feel the Need to Organize.
Ever felt like the mess does not completely go away that you always find yourself picking up pieces of clutter around? In this case, a decluttering session should already be underway! Simply moving items around does not mean you’re cleaning up. It only means you’re transferring the clutter to a new position without completely getting rid of it.
5 Positive Effects of a Clutter-Free Space
1. Increased Focus and Productivity
A cluttered space means more points for distraction. The crumpled paper on top of the side table, the toys on the floor, and the books scattered on the shelves all compete to take hold of your attention. A study conducted at Princeton University found that clutter can negatively affect your ability to concentrate. If you take the time to tidy up the environment, not only will you embody cleanliness but you can also improve your focus and productivity.
2. Less Stress and Anxiety
Some people feel scared when things are not in order. Think, for example, of people with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. They find calm in cleaning, organizing, or counting things. But even for people who don’t suffer from this behavior, having a decluttered space can also alleviate stress. Researchers from UCLA conducted a study among mothers to determine their mood patterns based on self-guided home tours. It revealed that respondents who described their living space as “cluttered” tended to have an increased depressed mood the entire day.
3. Reduced Tension in the Family
Noticed how a simple mess can easily trigger fights at home? Think of the times you scolded your youngest child for leaving toys on the floor, or when you kept on complaining about missing items that you’d even find yourself running late for work. To some extent, a mess can truly cause stress. One viable solution for this is to learn how to declutter your house! This way you can help break the tension in the family and bring back harmony.
4. Improved Eating Habits
Did you know that those who live in an untidy home are 77 percent more likely to be overweight? Clutter has been linked to frequent consumption of sugar-rich foods, especially when they feel stressed roaming around a chaotic kitchen.
5. More Active Lifestyle
Knowing how to declutter your house can also reap physical health benefits. In the process of tidying up, you will be required to walk around, move stuff, bend and stretch. If you want to burn some fat the most productive way, then decluttering home can help supercharge this!
Not only will you be able to engage in some form of exercise, but you also get to divert your attention from work. Decluttering your house can serve as a way to hang loose while paving the way for some lightbulb moments. Moreover, it can make you feel energized, especially when you’re in a mood where you actively get things done.
The Process of Decluttering Home In a Nutshell
Step 1: Establish Goals
Decluttering home can be a grueling process. This is why it is important to make a plan before you start pulling things out. Otherwise, you’ll most likely lose motivation in the middle of the process. Just like in anything that you do, having goals is a smart move to help you attain the desired end. Make a thorough checklist to guide you. It will also allow you to monitor your progress and know which tasks are yet to be fulfilled. Here are two of the most important things that you need to consider when creating a house decluttering plan.
Involve every member of the household in the decluttering process. Agree on a common schedule that works for everyone. The expected completion date should also be included in the plan. You can either choose to make it a one-time big-time affair or go through it little by little. If you have the energy for it, you can take advantage of long weekends and holidays and finish the decluttering routine in one go. The problem with that is it can sometimes become unrealistic. You will most likely lose the energy and enthusiasm after about 8 hours. What others would usually do is allocate a few hours a day in a span of one month. It’s really up to you. The important thing is that you set a timeline and stick to it.
Order of Cleaning Up
If you decide to declutter on a room to room basis, make sure to plot which room will go first, what comes next, so on and so forth. It might be wise to begin with the top clutter hotspots first, then leading to the areas with lesser mess.
Step 2: Sort Things Out
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you are bombarded with stuff without knowing where to place each one of them. You put an item to a temporary location and the next minute you forget where it is. If you make a sorting system, you can easily organize things and decide right away what goes where.
In decluttering home, people ideally label the boxes where each has a designated purpose. For instance, in the “The-Box-Method”, you put out boxes or containers categorized into three: Keep, Put Away, or Donate. But the descriptions actually depend on your preference. You might even want to include two more boxes for “Fix/Repair” and “Storage”. As long as you adhere to the idea of using labeled containers, then you’re on the right track.
Step 3: Discard or Dispose of Clutter
This is when the clutter must get evicted from your home. Not only will your home feel spacious, but a heavy can also be lifted off your shoulders as you toss away a box full of trash.
Step 4: After-Decluttering Remedies
Remember those boxes that you set as you went along your stuff? They can come in handy even to this stage! Of course, not all the items you’d find deserve a spot in the garbage bag. Some might only require a few patches and stitches but are still good for use. Others might still be qualified for donation. You always have to undergo home decluttering with practicality in your mind. Here are some of the possible destinations for clutter that belong to neither “toss” or “keep” box.
How to Declutter Your House: Other Options Aside from Disposal
- Recycle. You might have found glass or jars that can still be transformed into a posh flower vase. Or pieces of paper that can still be a perfect candidate for an origami making activity.
- Donate. Got clothes that no longer fit? Or books you don’t mind sharing? Other people might still put them to good use. Line them up for donations.
- Fix or Repair. Before you completely discard of an appliance or tool, check first if a few tinkering touches can still be done.
- Garage Sale. Another good thing about decluttering home is that you can make cash out of what could have been put to trash! See if there are fashionable finds in the box or a bike that your toddler got tired of. Even if you sell them for a low price, that’s still way better than letting them collect dust in the darkest section in the attic or simply dropping them off in a garbage site.
- Hire a Dumpster. If you’re the type who wants to steer clear from the hassle of disposing of clutter by yourself, a few amounts on a dumpster service is an ideal option for you. This is especially helpful if you have many items that are larger in size.
12 General Decluttering Tips You Need to Remember
1. Keep in Mind the 80/20 Rule
Also known as the Pareto Principle, the 80/20 rule essentially says that 80 percent of results come from 20 percent of causes. Applying this decluttering tip into practice, it generally means you only use 20 percent of the things you own 80 percent of the time. For example, out of the 20 pairs of shoes in your storage, you only get to use 4 of those on a regular basis. So the goal is to get rid of the things you don’t use 80 percent of the time.
2. Let Go of Sunk Costs
The term sunk costs refer to the money that was already spent and cannot be recovered. This concept can better help you decide what items must be kept and the ones that should be evicted. Here’s an effective decluttering tip: think of the things in your house that are considered sunk costs. Consider them as clutter unless you believe it still carries worth that you can enjoy in the future. However, as you go along your stuff, remember that value increase may happen in rare cases. In this case, you might want to put it on sale instead.
3. Track the Last Time You Used an Item
You will know that something is necessary when you cannot go on for months without using it. Every time you find an item, try to remember the last time you used it. If you think it has been almost a year since the last time it fulfilled its purpose, line it up for disposal. It’s the core idea of this decluttering tip.
Unless it’s really not meant to be used regularly, such as hardware tools that you only pull out when something needs fixing. Even a clutter you haven’t seen for a long time that you already forgot you own it needs to be tossed in the bin as well.
4. Be Decisive
If you follow the box method, you should already know that the right process of decluttering home leaves no room for indecisiveness. Once you pull out something that’s been stashed away, make up your mind which container to drop it to. As a decluttering tip, remember that the boxes don’t overlap, and you should think that way as well.
5. Discard Expired and Unrepairable Things
If something is a lost cause, you don’t even have to think about it. Toss it in the “Get Rid” box right away. This decluttering tip basically tells you that any expired or unrepairable items only means that its eviction from your living space has long been overdue.
6. Begin with Small Decluttering Projects
When it comes to decluttering home, you’ll never go wrong with baby steps. Take things little by little, room by room and the next thing you’ll know, the entire house has been tidied up.
7. Keep Flat Surfaces Clutter-Free
Any flat surface in your home is notorious for harboring clutter. The human hands always have the tendency to drop the object they’re holding to countertops and shelves. Unknowingly, what was once a clear table has now been filled with books, keys, and water jugs. It’s not a problem if the things you put on top are meant to be there. Those that you intentionally put for display or the ones you use regularly. But if the clutter has been growing in stacks week after week, then decluttering home is the only way to resolve that.
8. Categorize Things
Categorizing is the not-so-secret decluttering tip for making your tidying up routine easier. You should apply this mindset not only during sorting the clutter for storage or for disposal. You should also keep things that are alike together when reorganizing stuff. When choosing a new home for the items, keep in mind to store them where you will use them.
9. Return Things You’ve Borrowed
Here’s a must-remember decluttering tip: if you’re having a hard time letting go of things that once incurred value in your life, then getting over stuff that you don’t own in the first place should be an easy feat. Whatever you’ve borrowed, return it to the rightful owner.
10. Use Space Creatively
The ability to keep things in order is commendable. But if you can inject aesthetics into what could have been a simple, bland space – that’s golden talent right there. Note that in learning how to declutter your house requires the perfect mix of having the right arrangement, color appeal, and visual presentation for display.
11. Take Before and After Pictures
Among all the decluttering tips mentioned, this might not exactly be an obligatory routine. But it can definitely turn that motivation button on once you see evidence of progress captured on camera. Taking before and after pictures will also help you figure things out on how you will organize the other rooms.
12. Sleep on it
Especially when you’re already tired from all the home decluttering to and fro, you might not be able to make sound decisions. This is the point where your main goal would be to finish things up right away. In this case, you’ll end up tossing everything blindly since. Here’s a friendly decluttering tip – sleep on it. Let your brain recharge and return in the morning with a more relaxed mood. You’ll never know, you might even have a few light bulb moments when you wake up!
The Ultimate Guide on How to Declutter Your House Room by Room
How to Declutter the Living Room
Designate Storage for Everything
One of the frequently-used areas in your home, making the living room free from clutter is generally a challenge. For example, the remote will often find its way on the couch, tabletop, floor, and maybe even in other corners of the house. But if you establish a fixed location for every item, you’ll develop a habit of storing things in their proper places.
Steer Clear from Excessive Decorations
Pinning a few art pieces on the wall is fine. Embellishing the tabletop with vase is also fine. But bombarding the living room with decorations here and there is definitely a no-no. As the popular adage goes, too much of anything is bad. If you feel like the decorative pieces in the living room are starting to feel like clutter, then you have to stop. Take down what seems to create more chaos. This is the golden rule on how to declutter your house.
Organize the Wires and Cables
A living room won’t be complete without appliances and devices. This is usually the gathering section for family and guests so it’s only important to supply it with forms of entertainment, such as a television set or sound system. However, the problem now roots from the wires and cables which will most likely tangle if not organized. To declutter this part of the home, make sure to keep them neat and orderly. Keep the devices close to the electrical outlet so you want have to walk around a maze-like path.
Declutter The Living Room on a Regular Basis
Once you start organizing the living room, try to keep it that way all the time. This way, you won’t have to feel embarrassed when guests pay a surprise visit. By simple ways of arranging the pillow case or returning the magazine in its rightful place, you won’t have a hard time keeping the living room clutter-free.
How to Declutter the Bedroom
Start with Bedroom Drawers
The drawers in the bedroom can be your go-to storage for almost anything, so expect it to be full of shuffled clutter. Well, for one it can easily hide evidence of mess. Empty all the drawers first and if you decide to retain or store an item. And as a decluttering tip, make sure to always categorize them.
Clear Off Flat Surfaces
Here it goes again with the flat surfaces. But you have to admit, the bedside tables have the tendency to become a source of clutter issues. Let them accommodate an item or two – that’s okay. But if you find the tabletops brimming with stuff you initially did not plan to put there, it’s certainly time to evict excess. Learning the art of decluttering your house requires knowing what items to toss away and when to do it.
How to Declutter the Closet
Begin with the Bottom Part
It’s probably part of human nature to start with the top part first. But when it comes to decluttering home, it should be the other way around. The initial clean up should begin with the lower spots. If the bottom is designated for the shoes, empty the racks first then clean the shoes. Arrange them back neatly and stick to a pattern as you do so. The same applies for clothes. Be it in terms of size, color, or kind, there should be a system for arrangement.
Toss Unused Clothes and Shoes
It’s normal to come across clothes and shoes that you last worn ages ago. Some may no longer fit you or the damage can tell. If you also happen to find apparels which you think do not fit your style, toss them as well. The rule on how to declutter your house isn’t always about throwing things away. In going through your possessions, always see if they can still be qualified for donation or garage sale. The goal is to keep only the things that you actually use and like to wear. After all, it’s not really a bad thing to donate or throw things that you never really liked in the first place.
Declutter Closet Shelves
Empty the entire closet shelves first, then go on with dropping each item in its designated box. When organizing, make sure that everything is visible and not buried under hanging clothes. If you want to utilize boxes and containers, you can do so but only for smaller items. Given that after the tossing part and you realized that a few shelf levels have been emptied, don’t be tempted to put back clothes you’ve already decided to throw! You can instead use the space for a vacuum cleaner or storage bins. Also, try adding hooks to the doors for brooms so you won’t have any excuses to delay your regular clean-up routine in the closet.
How to Declutter the Bathroom
Take Out Everything First
Similar to the process of decluttering in other parts of the room, you need to take out all the items first. This will allow give you an idea of how much clutter has been living in that area. It will also ensure that you’ve gone through every bit of trash in the bathroom. The drawers, countertops, shelves – everything has to be emptied. It is recommended to declutter several bathrooms altogether. You might be able to find soaps nearing its expiration date. You can then decide to place them on the go-to bathrooms that are frequently used.
Sort Like Things Together
The concept of category is always the best tool when decluttering any room. The towels, cosmetic products, toiletries, medicines, curtains – pile them up together like they’re one family.
Discard Items You No Longer Need
You need to learn the art of letting go if you want to master the process of decluttering your house. If you find expired products or ones that you think you can live without for the next few months, then they should find a home in the trash bag. In cases where you’ll find the same several half-used conditioner and lotion, embrace practicality and combine similar products in one bottle. Afterwards, bid goodbye to the other containers.
Use Small Boxes to Organize Drawers
If you already have a basic idea on how to declutter your house, you might agree that bathroom drawers always tend to magnetize clutter. Make your life easier and create small compartments inside it using small boxes (which you can also DIY) to clear the tiny items floating around. This way, you won’t have to fumble through the corners trying to find the shaving cream only to prick your finger by a blade.
Tip: If you want to free up more space in the bathroom, try these space-saving bathroom design ideas.
How to Declutter the Kitchen
Empty Each Space
In decluttering this section in your house, make it a habit to pull out all the items first, as this will also give you the chance to wipe off dirt and stains. Begin with the upper cabinets and pantry, moving to the lower sections and until you reach the space under the sink.
Organize Kitchen Countertop
The countertop is one of the spaces you need to focus on when decluttering the kitchen. This is usually inhabited by stacks of disorganized clutter such as household tools, mail, and other paperwork. Remember to minimize the amount of materials that sits on the countertop, ideally around 3 to 5 essentials only. Find a new home for other items, either in storage or in one of the boxes for disposal.
Assign Zones in the Kitchen
When decluttering the kitchen, it’s better to do it per section. The same holds true when relocating back the kitchen tools and essentials. For instance, if you are fond of baking, then reserve one part of the cabinet that is solely for baking materials. You can also place the pots and pans near the stove. Just bear in mind that the goal is to make it convenient for you to move around the kitchen. Creating zones will help you achieve that.
Try the One-Month Cardboard Box Test
It’s hard to know for sure whether to retain or toss away a kitchen tool. There are items you seldom use but will eventually come in handy at some point. Here’s a decluttering tip: try doing the so-called “one-month cardboard box test” in order to help you weigh the value of an item.
The idea is to put the ‘undecided’ items in a cardboard box first and you only take out an item if you’re going to use it. Once it has left the box, store it somewhere but never return the used item in the box. Come one month and some tools only remain. Those are the things that should be lined up for disposal.
How to Declutter the Dining Room
Have a Single Storage for Dining Essentials
If you set aside tools and essentials especially intended for hosting celebrations, make a separate storage for them. As a decluttering rule, sort out everything – the table napkins, wine glass, and utensils. If you have a cabinet with glass doors, you can also use it to display the items. Just make sure to arrange the items neatly. Most importantly, everything should be kept for utility and not for mere display.
Avoid Filling the Table with Unnecessary Items
As the name suggests, the dining room should be meant for dining. If you happen to do your paperwork in this area, you’ll probably leave pieces of paper or pens on the table. Make sure to clear it from clutter. Centerpieces, like fruits or flowers, are fine as long as they’re not over-the-top.
How to Declutter the Home Office
Deal with the Paper Trail
The paper trail is usually the main culprit for a large fraction of your clutter in the home office. The bills, documents, receipts, mails that have piled up due to your failure to attend to them call for some decluttering now.
To organize them, set out three categories – Keep in Files, To-Do, and Trash/Shred. Make sure to carefully check the paper before tossing it out in the bin, you might end up throwing an important document away. You can also make a digital copy by letting the paper go through a scanning device.
Organize Your Desk
Keep the top of your desk clear! Desks always have the tendency to attract clutter, so the goal of this rule on how to declutter your house is to include only the essentials – a desktop computer, lamp, etc.
Declutter Shelves and Drawers
Take out everything and throw away any trash that you’ll find. Afterwards, store the pens, staplers, folders, and other materials in drawers. You can create small compartments or containers to better organize small items. On the shelves, arrange the books and folders. As a rule of thumb in home decluttering, always sort like things together.
Arrange the Cords
Cords can easily be a source of irritation if not arranged properly. Loosen the tangled wires and keep them off the pathway. It’s also a smart move to tie unused cables and cords. Just be sure to label them with washi tapes so you know to which device it belongs.
How to Declutter the Laundry Room
Make Use of Vertical Space
Installing shelves on the wall is a step in the right direction, especially if you’re short on space. Use them as storage for your laundry essentials such as detergent, stain removers, and sheets. The vertical space has so much to offer if you know how to take advantage of it.
Store Detergent in a Glass Container
If you transfer detergent in a transparent jar, you can easily determine when the supply is running low. Another common mistake people do is to open another sachet without fully consuming the first one. This could mean clutter in the long run.
Pre-Divide Whites from Darks
Creating a pre-sorting system can be an effective motivator to keep your laundry room organized all the time. Make it a habit to divide white clothes from the dark-colored ones. It will help reinforce the idea of decluttering your home for good. Moreover, this can save you a lot of time when laundering.
Refrain from Putting Laundry on Top of Washing Machines or on Floors
It seems that finding pieces of clothes on the floor and on top of washing machines is not an uncommon thing at all. Decluttering home means breaking away from this bad practice and designating adequate bins for laundry.
How to Declutter the Attic or Basement
Pull Out Everything from the Room
The attic or basement is considered as a clutter-friendly environment. Here you will find stacks of boxes and bins that some, you might have already been long-forgotten. Take out everything that you can lay your eyes on! Just a friendly reminder to put on some mask as you declutter this area in the home unless you’re ready to be welcomed by dust.
Work from Zone to Zone
The next thing you’d want to do is establish zones in the attic or basement. It will be a strenuous decluttering activity to work in a room with a plethora of clutter. So make your life a little bit easier by dealing with one section at a time. Begin with the shelves, then proceed with the boxes and jars. If you want to make the room more spacious, there are space-saving shelving ideas that you can follow.
Keep Unused Things Outside the House
Here’s a must-know rule on how to declutter your house: everything that didn’t find its way to the “Keep” box must be moved out of the house. Let them go straight to the dumpsite unless they’re intended for donation or garage sale.
Label the Boxes
To make it convenient for you to determine what is contained in the boxes, label them accordingly. Decluttering home also entails grouping together things of the same kind – be it Christmas decorations, childhood pictures, toys, etc.
How to Declutter the Baby’s Playroom
Categorize Storage for Toys
Scattered toys are no news to a baby’s room, especially if you already have toddlers playing around. In decluttering this section of your house, make sure to create a system of classification for the bins and storage. For instance, all stuffed toys should go on the shelves. The tiny items, on the other hand, must be kept well in the box out of children’s reach. You probably don’t want to find a child with a toy truck in his or her stomach. While maintaining order in this room requires constant labor, doing so will render favorable results.
Keep Items Off the Floor
It’s only normal for kids to leave toys on the floor. After all, they’re still young and so are their minds. As an adult, it is part of your job to look after these mess. Everytime you see an item on the floor, pick it up and place it on the shelf or bin. You’ll be surprised, the kids might even learn this useful practice on how to declutter your house.
How to Declutter the Garage
Keep Like Things Together
You’ve probably read this too many times. But sorting things that are alike is a tried and true method to effectively declutter almost any corner in your home. Group the tools and equipment according to their kind and purpose.
Get Rid of Unrepairable Items
Among a myriad of things you’ve kept in the dark dungeon of your garage, there will most likely be finds that are no longer functional. There’s no reason to keep them in your possession if you think they’re already a lost cause. Once something can’t be repaired, it automatically belongs to the trash bag – that’s the central focus of decluttering your house.
Rent Extra Space if Necessary
This is supposed to be one of the things you should try to avoid. In fact, this is one of the reasons that drive people to declutter home – to avoid the costs of renting a pod for storage. However, if you are a hundred percent certain that all stuff are still of value and you got nowhere to tuck them in your home, then this option can do you good.
Did You Know? A quarter of people with garage intended for two cars can’t even park their car due to the overloaded clutter, according to the report of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Your home is not just a building. It is a place where you collect experiences and memories. This is why it is only necessary to keep it tidy all the time. Learning how to declutter your home is not an easy feat but it sure can do you a lot of favors. Remember that the process of home decluttering should not be a one time event but rather a constant routine for a clutter-free house for good. So stop holding on to your clutter-causing habits and start honing your skills for home-organizing!
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