Supercharge your results with these smart decluttering tips! Why not make clearing the clutter faster and easier? I love to learn what works for other people, to save myself time and energy. Here are great suggestions for every area of your home.
General Decluttering Tips
The universal steps of decluttering are simple enough to understand and follow. But you can boost your efforts with some small tweaks. So before we get to specific decluttering tips for your home, let’s look at some suggestions for how to clear any type of clutter.
- Understand your clutter.
We all have certain types of clutter, or areas of clutter in our home, that plague us more than others. What are yours? Once you recognize this, you’ll know where to focus your energy.
- Create a simple decluttering plan.
You may just jump in and get started, especially if you’re feeling very motivated. But for long-term success, it will pay off to create a simple plan to follow. Decide how you will include decluttering as a task in your regular schedule. If you’re not sure, consider a few times a week for 30 minutes.
- Be consistent and methodical.
Work through your home one room at a time, finishing it before moving on. Follow your plan for regular decluttering sessions. Do one small part of a room, then pick up the next time where you left off.
- Pick a target you can complete in the time you have.
If you have 20 minutes, maybe tackle one drawer. If you have 60 minutes, do more. Be sure to include time to put back what you’re keeping and move decluttered items out of the room. After a while, you’ll get a feel for how much you can get done.
- Make decisions right away.
Make it a goal to decide what to do with an item while you have it in your hands. You’ll often be tempted to set something down and get back to it later. The less you put off decisions the better!
- Remove all the decluttered items from the space.
You’re not done with a decluttering session until only the ‘keep’ items are remaining in the space. Everything else should be removed from the room. This way you won’t finish with more of a mess than when you started.
- Regularly remove decluttered items from your home.
It may not be practical to immediately get all your decluttered items to their new destination. But it’s important not to let them take up your space for too long. Have an out-of-the-way staging area to prepare items for transport, and empty it often.
- Create a short list of favorite places to donate/give/sell.
Trying to decide where things will go can create a roadblock in your decluttering efforts. There are lots of options. So make a list of your go-to places for each type of clutter (clothing, appliances, books, etc.) and you won’t have to think about it every time.
- Take before and after pictures.
Talk about motivation! Seeing your decluttering results in stark contrast to what you started with is worth remembering. Make it part of your routine to take some photos when you start on a new room and when it’s complete.
“Under the influence of clutter, we may underestimate how much time we’re giving to the less important stuff.” —Zoë Kim
The entryway is the first thing we see when we come home and the last thing we see when we leave. That calls for a little extra TLC to create an area that makes us feel good.
- Remove out-of-season items.
It’s easy for items to overstay their usefulness. Maybe a winter coat, or hat, or boots are still sitting in your entryway well into Spring? Or school backpacks are hanging there on the Fourth of July? Keep only items that are currently needed in this limited space.
- Remove items that belong further into the house.
The entryway is a good place for things that are used when you are out of the house, such as coats, keys, umbrellas, bags, etc. But it’s not the place for things that you actually use in the house. So identify those items and put them away.
- Have a place for everything your entryway needs to hold.
Limit what you plan on keeping there, and then make a place for all of it. That means hooks, baskets, shelves, cubbies, a coat rack, a shoe rack, a small table, etc. Whatever works for your space and budget.
- Rethink your home decor.
How many home decor items are competing for space in your entryway? Are they adding to a sense of clutter? Try editing your accessories a few different ways to find a streamlined version that still adds warmth and reflects your style.
The kitchen is probably the biggest decluttering project in the home. But since we all spend so much time there, it’s so worth it!
- Identify unnecessary duplicates.
Kitchens are a breeding ground for duplicates of many kinds. Some of them we need, like plates, glasses, and food containers. For these, keep what you’ll use but don’t go overboard. For items that you don’t really need multiples of, keep your favorite and let go of the rest.
- Rarely used small appliances.
You know that Mickey Mouse waffle maker, or the electric wok, or the Zoodle maker that you don’t use? Very specialized appliances are prime targets to declutter unless you genuinely use them regularly.
- Find *all* the expired items.
It’s amazing how fast these can accumulate. Before you know it, you’ve got 5-year-old spices that were bought for a recipe that was made once. Baking items, food items skulking in the back of a cabinet, and old nutritional supplements are common culprits.
- Designate one totally clear counter space.
Not every counter in your kitchen will be perfectly clear, and honestly that’s not even the goal. But the more open area you can create the better. A good tip is to designate just one section or length of counter to always be totally empty, preferably an area you use most frequently for meal preparation.
- Get rid of mismatched or damaged items.
You may be using them in spite of their condition, but take this opportunity and give yourself permission to purge them. This includes plastic containers with no lids, chipped glass items, scratched non-stick pans, old mismatched flatware, etc.
Bathrooms are often neglected when we’re the only ones who see them. But a tidy, decluttered space is more relaxing and refreshing.
- Limit personal appliances.
How many hair appliances, shaving appliances, and dental appliances are hanging around your bathroom? Some of them are bound to be old, broken, duplicates, or simply haven’t been used in ages.
- Eliminate trial sizes.
You might have grabbed these in a hotel while traveling, or purchased them to try out a new product. They’re cute, free or low-cost, and kind of irresistible. But they also often sit unused for years and grow into a collection. Consider donating unopened products to a women’s or homeless shelter.
- Pitch almost-empties.
Do you hate to waste the last few drops of, well, anything? Only to open a new bottle, tube, or package anyway? Just go ahead and throw away those almost finished products.
- Clear out the shower/bath area.
Things that you currently use regularly make sense to have here. But its a collecting place for bath toys, worn-out bath accessories, soap slivers, almost-empty product bottles, and other items that need to be cleared away.
- Minimize and tidy the countertop.
Whatever counter space you have in your bathroom is prime real estate. Clutter here can make the whole room feel messy and make you feel overwhelmed and disorganized. Keep it as free of items as you can, and keep what’s left as tidy as possible.
“When home feels out of control, no matter what the reason, unsettledness and anxiety can seep in, and then the chaos becomes internal as well as external.” —Myquillyn Smith
Bedrooms are our personal spaces. They’re the last thing we see before we sleep and the first thing we see when we wake up. Having a well-maintained bedroom is a form of self care.
- Resist the temptation to use your bedroom as general storage.
Has your room become a catch-all area for items that don’t really belong? It can be easy to stash things here, where you know the odds of anyone else seeing them are slim. But the bedroom is your most private space, so be intentional about what you keep there.
- Remember under-the-bed space.
Being out-of-sight can cause this area to be overlooked. But it’s valuable storage space so give it the same declutter treatment as the rest of the room.
- Edit your furniture.
Too much furniture can make a bedroom feel smaller and more cluttered. Removing one or two pieces can make a big difference in how a room feels. Also, consider using furniture with built-in storage.
Dining Room Tips
Is your dining room just for dining? Or does it serve double-duty for all kinds of activities? Decluttering lets you do all of it more comfortably.
- Don’t use your table as temporary storage.
Yes, you probably use the table for different tasks, such as eating, homework, folding laundry, or even doing crafts. But be sure there’s a place for everything to go so nothing “lives” on the table. This way you’ll be able to clear it off completely between uses.
- Reconsider that china, serveware, and/or glassware.
Even if it’s currently stored neatly away in a cabinet, sort through it all. You may find yourself ready to let go of pieces or sets that you no longer like or haven’t used in ages.
Closets are great. The more the better. When we take the time to create well organized closets, it helps our daily life run more smoothly.
- What type of closet is it?
Keep in mind the main function of the closet you’re decluttering. Is it an entryway closet, a clothes closet, a linen closet, a broom closet, an office closet? You want to open a closet and know what you’ll find there, not be faced with a hodge podge of unrelated items.
- Streamline your hanger collection.
Remove bent, mismatched, and broken hangers. Also, you may have accumulated lots of wire hangers or store hangers that you just don’t like or that don’t do your clothes any favors. Getting rid of excess and unwanted hangers will automatically improve your closet space.
- Zone your closets.
As you declutter, group like things together. Nothing complicated here. For example, in a linen closet keep the sheets on one shelf, bath towels on another, and hand towels and washcloths on yet another. You get the idea.
- Limit the amount of items.
We’ve all laughed at the image of someone opening a closet and getting buried in an explosion of the contents. But in real life you want to avoid this! Limit the items to what will reasonably fit and still allow you to have easy access to everything.
- Keep closets season-friendly.
This probably applies most to entryways, clothes and linens. While you declutter, only replace items that are for the current season, and store off-season items in a more out-of-the-way place until they’re needed. Then switch.
“You don’t have to face every skeleton in your closet before you can make some room in there!” ― Carmen Klassen
Living Area Tips
A living area can be a living room, family room, or other area where we spend a lot of time. They are definitely clutter magnets, and they deserve the attention needed to keep them looking and feeling comfortable.
- Edit your home decor.
You may love every single accessory that you’ve carefully chosen and placed in the living room or family room. And I am not suggesting that you remove all of it. But I am suggesting that you take an objective look at the room and try removing a few items to see how it feels.
- Edit your furniture.
Take an objective look to see if removing a piece would open up the room significantly.
- Clear flat surfaces and seating areas.
Declutter those flat surfaces like coffee tables and end tables. But also pay attention to the seating surfaces like couches and recliners, where excess pillows and blankets tend to accumulate.
- Edit your entertainment.
Living areas collect the most types of entertainment media: books, magazines, newspapers, CDs, DVDs, videotapes, game consoles, equipment, cables, remotes, etc. You’ll almost certainly be able to reduce this clutter easily.
- Corral toys.
Toys can take over, whether they’re a child’s or a pet’s. Get rid of old, damaged, or unused toys first. Then continue to declutter by narrowing down which ones you really want to keep.
Home Office Tips
Whether your home office is used for your job, a business, or the business of running your home, increase your productivity by decluttering.
- Limit the items on your immediate work space.
Visual clutter affects your ability to focus well. So keep a minimal number of necessary things on your desktop.
- Let go of old technology and software.
Old tech can feel hard to get rid of. You may be thinking “what if I need it”, or you may even be experiencing a sense of nostalgia. But once it’s obsolete or replaced by newer tech, it’s time for it to go.
- Archive or dispose of old projects and documentation.
Look at those binders you’re keeping of past projects, random documentation, or outdated courses/notes that really aren’t serving a purpose. Some can be thrown away entirely. What you decide you need to hold on to, consider getting digitally archived.
- Centralize all those lists and notes to yourself.
Is there an explosion of Post-it® Notes littering your office? And random, scribbled notes and reminders in various places? Gather them all together, then transfer each piece of information to where it belongs, whether that’s a to-do-list, calendar, etc.
Garages collect their very own type of ‘stuff’, and it requires some special tips for unique decluttering dilemmas.
- For a big garage, a dumpster can be a great idea.
This is true of any decluttering job, but especially a garage with lots of items (or large ones). It will cost a bit, but you may find it well worth the price.
- Get all the broken items together.
Gather them all into one spot. You may realize you’ve underestimated how many things you have planned on repairing or restoring. Then be intentional about what stays and goes.
- Remove things that can be damaged by the environment.
Garages are poor storage areas for certain items. They’re not usually climate controlled and they can have strong odors. Be sure to remove anything that would be sensitive to damage.
- Dispose of toxic clutter properly.
Old paint? Weed killer? Solvents? There are many poisonous products which are often stored in the garage. Get rid of all that you can, being careful to follow the proper safety and legal guidelines.
“Clutter is nothing more than postponed decisions” ― Barbara Hemphill
I’ve included these tips to declutter and purge your paperwork. Without clutter free paperwork, its harder to locate what we need when we need it, important documents can be lost, and we may even suffer financially.
- Know what paperwork you need to keep.
The first questions you’ll have about paperwork is what you should keep, why, and for how long. Before you begin to purge, be sure you have a grasp of legal guidelines and best practices for important documents.
- Digitize whatever makes sense.
It takes a lot less space to keep a PDF file than a physical document. So keep this option in mind for any routine items you want or need to keep (not including legal documents unless you want to have both a physical and digital copy).
- Sort and group before you take any action.
Start with a category of paperwork and gather all related documents into one place to begin. Not only will you get familiar with what you have, but you’ll automatically be more organized afterward.
- Completely destroy (shred, burn, etc.) paperwork.
Don’t depend on simply tearing it up, or assuming that no one would bother with it. When you decide to dispose of paperwork, make it permanent and do it then.
Becoming clutter free is not rocket science, thank goodness! But at the same time, there are tips and tricks that make it easier, faster, and more effective. This page has listed some of the best decluttering tips you’ll find, to give you an extra advantage against clutter.
Do you have a tip that isn’t listed? Please add it to the comments below.